In the simplest terms, network address translation, or NAT, makes it possible for multiple devices - either computers or smart devices - to connect to the internet while simultaneously minimizing the number of IP address required. A NAT essentially serves as a middleman between a large-scale network and the general internet - but how exactly does a NAT implementation work?
To answer that question, we must first answer a few others.
What is an IP Address?
An internet protocol (IP) address serves as a unique identifier of your computer or internet-connected device. It's ultimately the network address for your device, and it makes it possible for your device to communicate with the internet. The modern IP address is an essential component of modern online computing.
When the process of assigning IP addresses was originally conceived, experts were under the impression that there were enough available addresses for every possible future need. As the internet exploded in popularity, and as networks became increasingly expansive, it quickly became evident that this assumption was false.
As such, data scientists needed a way to one, single IP address across multiple computers. The solution was to use NAT in conjunction with another device, such as a router, to do just that.
There are three different methods to use when configuring NAT for your home or organization.
Now that we know the basics of NAT and the various configurations, it's time to look at the some of the biggest advantages and drawbacks.
Pros and Cons of NAT
Like most types of technology, NAT has its benefits and disadvantages. Some of its most notable advantages include:
Conversely, some disadvantages include:
As you can see, NAT has viable uses for both home and business environments. While it's not for everyone, it does offer a lot of benefit to those who need it the most.
You may read more about NAT devices in Wikipedia: Network address translation.