Static port forwardings can usually be defined in your router’s administration tool (this is often an ugly web interface to which you can connect with your browser; Please refer to your router’s manual). You do not need to specifically activate or deactivate them once they are stored, they are just permanently active. And you can set them up for free in your router, so why should you be using a dynamic port mapping utility such as Lighthouse then?
Well, consider the following usage scenario: Alice is sitting at her Powermac, working on a text document in her favorite editor, SubEthaEdit. She loves this editor because it enables her to work together with her colleague Bob on the same document, interactively over the Internet. However, to enable Bob to connect to her document, she has to set up a port forwarding. A few days later, Alice is sitting on her porch with her MacBook, writing some emails. Suddenly, Bob calls in and asks Alice to see the document they’ve been working on again because he realized he made a mistake that he wants to fix. Alice fires up SubEthaEdit again and Bobs tries to connect. It doesn’t work. After a period of frustration, Alice finds out where the problem lies: Her static port forwarding is set to her Powermac, not her MacBook. Therefore, she can only work together with Bob when she’s on the Powermac!
If Alice had been using Lighthouse, it would have been no problem: As soon as she would have started SubEthaEdit, Lighthouse would have automatically started the appropriate port forwarding, no matter if she was sitting at the PowerMac or the MacBook. Alice would have had no additional configuration to do, it would “just have worked”.
Still not convinced? How about another scenario!
Jim is meeting with his girlfriend to watch a DVD movie together. As he’s connecting his MacBook Pro to his girlfriend’s TV, he suddenly gets this uncomfortable feeling of having forgotten something. Darn, he left the DVD at home! But then he realizes he could just download a copy of the movie since he owns the rights anyways. He fires up his favorite BitTorrent client, Transmission, and starts downloading. It doesn’t work though. Jim is puzzled. At home, he never had a problem with that. Well, then he realizes he has set up a static port mapping at home that is required by that BitTorrent client. Naturally, as his girlfriend never uses it, she doesn’t have the forwarding set up.
Now what if Jim was using Lighthouse? Once he would have started Transmission, the port mapping profile would have been started automatically. Since his girlfriend’s router supports UPnP, everything would have worked perfectly. Nothing to worry about.
And there are even more reasons not to use static port forwardings: Finding out which ports require forwarding for a certain tool can be a tedious task sometimes: You have to read through the manual usually. Now if you have to buy a new router later, all your port forwardings will have to be typed into the new router again… Not so with Lighthouse since it stores all port forwardings on your computer, not your router. And if you buy a new computer, you can just copy the port forwardings over!
Static port mappings also often constrain you to using static IP addresses. However, this puts more administrative load on your shoulders as you not only have to keep track of all the static IP addresses you assign to your own computers, but if a friend comes over, you’ll have to assign them a static IP address as well. When using Lighthouse, all this fussing around is not necessary: Just use DHCP (the default on most routers) and all that IP address assignment stuff will be handled automatically. You can just connect new computers to your network and it “just works”.
Not to forget that you often have to reboot your router when you add a new static port mapping or change an existing one. Also not necessary with Lighthouse.
And everything we’ve presented here are just some advantages of dynamic port mappings. Think about it! We’re sure you can come up with a situation or two when static port mappings came in your way! Give Lighthouse a try and don’t worry about your port forwarding settings anymore!