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External Access from the NAT Network

In general, any protocol using TCP or UDP can be used automatically by a virtual machine on the NAT network so long as the virtual machine initiates the network connection. This is true for most client applications such as Web browsing, Telnet, passive-mode FTP and downloading streaming video. Additional protocol support has been built into the NAT device to allow FTP and ICMP echo (ping) to work completely transparently through the NAT.

On the external network to which the host is connected, any virtual machine on the NAT network appears to be the host itself, because its network traffic uses the host's IP address. It is able to send and receive data using TCP/IP to any machine that is accessible from the host.

Before any such communication can occur, the NAT device must set up a mapping between the virtual machine's address on the private NAT network and the host's network address on the external network.

When a virtual machine initiates a network connection with another network resource, this mapping is created automatically. The operation is perfectly transparent to the user of the virtual machine on the NAT network. No additional work needs to be done to let the virtual machine access the external network.

The same cannot be said for network connections that are initiated from the external network to a virtual machine on the NAT network.

When a machine on the external network attempts to initiate a connection with a virtual machine on the NAT network, it cannot reach the virtual machine because the NAT device does not forward the request. Network connections that are initiated from outside the NAT network are not transparent.

However, it is possible to configure port forwarding manually on the NAT device so network traffic destined for a certain port can still be forwarded automatically to a virtual machine on the NAT network. For details, see Advanced NAT Configuration below.

File sharing of the type used by Windows operating systems and Samba is possible among computers on the NAT network — including virtual machines and the host computer. If you are using WINS servers on your network, a virtual machine using NAT networking can access shared files and folders on the host that are known by the WINS server so long as those shared files and folders are in the same workgroup or domain.

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