– Ben Martens

Remote Access to Home Network

Let’s say you’re the kind of person who is running a website within your home network and you want to access it while you’re away. Let’s also imagine you’re the kind of person who has at least a loose knowledge of your router configuration and what a VPN does. Yes, this one gets a little geeky, but maybe it will be helpful for someone else out there.

I run Teslamate to record a bunch of stats about our car, but one the reasons I check it most often is to see whether the car is asleep or not. Sleep mode for a Tesla is like standby on your computer. There’s normally a constant drain from the car when it’s sitting there, but if it goes into sleep mode, it uses almost no power. This is important especially in situations like when we’re away from home and I’m leaving it parked outside a hotel overnight. I like to be able to check in on whether it’s in sleep mode as well as the current battery state. Teslamate lets me check that without waking the car up. But Teslamate only works on my home network. How can I view it while I’m away? Obviously I could just open that port to Internet traffic but it’s an unsecured connection and I don’t really want to share all that personal info with anyone who happens to sniff my password. So how can I view that website securely while I’m away?

The first option I tried was using a feature of my Synology router. That router has an installable app called VPN Plus Server. There are a few different modes, but the simplest one gives me a VPN tunnel into my home network and the ability to browse to any internal website. During setup, the app walked me through creating an SSL certificate so that the traffic would be encrypted, and the app provides a nice portal experience where I can have links to any internal websites that I might want. There’s a more complicated version of the app that actually lets me set up a Windows VPN connection to my home network but I haven’t played around with that yet. It would be overkill for the scenario described here.

The second option is via NordVPN. I like to have a VPN subscription like NordVPN to encrypt my traffic when I’m on public WiFi like in a hotel or at a store. A side benefit of NordVPN is their MeshNet feature (but they recently announced that MeshNet is now free for everyone!) MeshNet allows for VPN-protected communication between two devices from anywhere in the world just as if they were on the same network along with other features like file sharing. So this also lets me access that Teslamate webpage from anywhere.

There are plenty of other ways to tackle this scenario, the most obvious of which is “this is dumb, stop worrying about it”, but these are two have that worked for me. The NordVPN is definitely the simpler one, but the Synology option gives me more control and more options.