How to Access your Localhost Servers from anywhere

Developing Apps and Sites for Clients on Localhost is easy. But the next step i.e. showing the clients what you did can be painful. It involves uploading all the work to your server and then modifying the urls so that everything works perfectly.

Luckily, there is an easier way to do it where you can show the clients your work without uploading it anywhere. There are several services that will allow you to make your localhost go public but we will be sticking to ngrok.

What is ngrok?

ngrok is a tunneling service that exposes your localhost webserver to public over secure tunnels. ngrok will provide you with a publicly accessible url which you can share with your clients and will forward all requests to the url to your localhost server.

ngrok is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS systems. Basic features are available for free with some restrictions. Paid accounts will allow you to set custom subdomains/domains for your tunnel. Remember, with free account, your tunnel url will change on every restart of the service.

ngrok demo

How to use ngrok

./ngrok authtoken your_auth_token_here

Head over to ngrok.com to create your account. Then extract the zip file on your system using your preferred archive software and then fire up the terminal/command prompt(if you are on Windows). Run the following command

Mac OS: /Users/example/.ngrok2/ngrok.yml

Linux: /home/example/.ngrok2/ngrok.yml

Windows: C:\Users\example\.ngrok2\ngrok.yml

This command will link your ngrok account to the app you have installed by creating a configuration file named ngrok.yml on your system. This file can be found at following directories depending upon your systems

Run the following command to start ngrok on your system which will automatically generate a random url where you can access your localhost server.

./ngrok http 80

This command links up the 80 port of your localhost to its own service which allows it to forward all requests made to your localhost server over to ngrok’s tunnel. You can modify the command according to the port you are using for your localhost server.

That’s it. Your local site is now live on the web. But wait. That’s not all? If you want, you can protect your online url by enabling http authentication. Use the following command for it

ngrok http -auth="username:password" 80

If you are a paid user who has access to subdomains, then use the following command to launch the tunnel on a custom subdomain.

ngrok http -subdomain=nspeaks 80

There are lots more features which you can check in its extensive documentation.

You may face one hurdle with ngrok and that is it does not run as a service. Unless you are using ngrok link service, there is really no native support for running ngrok as a service. Fortunately, someone at Stackexchange figured out a way and has posted a solution. Head over to there if you want to know how to run ngrok as a service.

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