As the Internet expands, it is used throughout the home in many home devices. Cell phones, televisions and even kitchen appliances are connecting to the Internet. The need to easily connect the devices to a local network forced the creation of a new type of technology called UPnP, or Universal Plug and Play.
The term "Universal Plug and Play" comes from another computer-based technology called "Plug and Play." The idea of Plug and Play, a technology used by computers today, is that a device connected to a USB port is automatically recognized and installed by the computer. The computer installs a basic driver so that the device operates correctly. Once complete the device can be used immediately. Universal Plug and Play works similarly.
Universal Plug and Play works in a local network environment. Once a device is connected to a local network through Ethernet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection, the device automatically connects to other devices on the network to allow instant access. There are three specific functions that may be used by UPnP devices; IP configuration, port forwarding and device discovery. IP configuration is used if an IP is not automatically assigned by a DHCP server. It sets a specific location at which the new device can be located. Port forwarding is set up automatically by UPnP devices and allows those outside the network to connect with the device. This would be used with voice over IP phones for example. Device discovery connects with other devices and usually sends information to that device. Audio and video sharing devices use this function primarily.
With Plug and Play devices, the computer was the primary device that connected all the rest. In a network the router is the central device. As a result, getting a router that is compatible with UPnP devices is important. There are many routers that are compatible with UPnP devices including the D-Link DGL-4100 GamerLounge Broadband Gigabit, the Linksys WRT150N Wireless-N Broadband, and the NETGEAR WPN824NA RangeMax Wireless Router.
If the UPnP settings are working properly, the most that you should have to do is enable UPnP on the router. This is done using the router's Web interface. To access this, type in the IP address of the router into a Web browser and then put in the username and password for the router. The enable or disable option can be found on the "Administration" tab of Linksys routers and UPnP settings can be directly access from the main menu of Netgear routers. Refer to your router's manual if you are having trouble locating how to enable or disable the settings.
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