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I would like to install a webcam (better if an independent ethernet based object) at home, and access it from outside while I'm abroad, so I can check if there's mail. However, my internet connection at home provides me a dhcp address from an internal network. What kind of cam product and/or network trick can I use to securely access a webcam from outside ?

Edit: clarification. Unfortunately, I don't have any public IP address granted by my setup at home, so I cannot set up any port forwarding. From outside, I cannot access any machine that is connected to my ADSL router, simply because there's no internet IP to connect to. As far as I see, the only solution is to have the cam connect and send its stream to a server on the internet, whom I can connect to, and harvest this stream. Things like setting up a VPN are also a possibility.

I would like to know if there's a prepackaged product that allows this solution easily and without hassle.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Probably the easiest option would be to have it publish a snapshot every x minutes or hours to a website, which you could then control with some sort of password-based authentication. Accessing the camera directly will be much more difficult and probably not worth the hassle if all you need to do is check your mail.

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We had an ethernet based security camera like this at work. We accessed it remotely by:

  • have the router assign it a fixed IP, like
  • the web camera has a built in webserver on port 8080, so internally we access it like "". The webserver also had a java plugin that shows the live video feed.
  • forward your external-IP-address:8080 to You can then check your security camera by

Also, our security camera allowed you to choose the port for webserver access, though you could just handle that with the router.

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What you propose does not sound possible with my situation, as I only have a ADSL router that gives to the plugged in device a DHCP assigned internal IP address. I don't have any external address in my setup, except a personal website with ssh access I could use, but in any case I could not forward anything from this website to the private ip address I obtain at home. – Stefano Borini Jul 22 '09 at 21:50
You always have a public IP address ( If it's not static, you can use DynDNS. – hyperslug Jul 22 '09 at 22:16
What brand ADSL router do you have? It should be capable of port forwarding. If your DSL is residential class, your ISP will probably block a few ports (80, 25, etc.). – hyperslug Jul 22 '09 at 22:26
Of course I have a public IP address, but it's the address of the NAT host, which is managed by my provider. – Stefano Borini Jul 24 '09 at 20:14

You can use DynDNS to maintain a single, memorable address which is mapped to your IP such as Your PC will update the DynDNS website every time it acquires a new lease providing it your routers IP. Then simply set up port forwarding on your router to your PC, and make sure that PC has a DHCP reservation in place from the router so it can always connect.

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There are a number of IP cameras out there on the market with a whole slew of specifications that may meet your needs.

Will you need night viewing? (IR Cut Filter, IR emitter, auto iris) Do you need to store a recording? (NVR software) What resolution and framerate do you need? Do you have an outlet near the camera for the power supply, or a PoE injector/switch?

If watching a mailbox is all you need, then you don't need anything fancy at all. Axis cameras, which was linked in hyperslug's post would probably be overkill since that tends to be a higher end brand. I am fond of ACTi for the value, but even then, they still may be too much camera for what you need. Shop around, look for a camera that will do what you need - almost any IP based CCTV camera would have a built in web server. That's part of why they cost more than analogs, they do a lot more on board.

The solution of port forwarding is a pretty solid one though, I'd vote it up if I had the rep here.

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  1. Make sure the computer/device that you'll be accessing from the internet is as secure as possible (firewall, security updates, intrustion detection, etc.)
  2. Assign a static IP to the webcam/wherever the camera output is located.
  3. Have your router do Port Forwarding to the webcam/wherever the camera output is.
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