Networking and Online Gaming

I’ve been thinking about writing this piece for a long time and I tend to be a stickler for online performance when it comes to online gaming. I believe that I’ve dreaded it long enough and decided for my reference and yours as well, I will attempt (loosely at first) to combine some links and common practices that I’ve established on my home network in hopes you can benefit from it as well. I will not assume that you know already what I will discuss and if any questions arise later on, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer them as best as I can according to my experience with my network.

My home network consist of 10+ clients (hardware that connects to the internet). Some are wireless while others are not. The wireless clients include three Android phones, a Kindle, a Roku box and 2 wireless laptops. The wired units include two Xboxes, a PlayStation 3 and my laptop. In order for these units to play well with one another you have to get familiar with your router’s capabilities.

Your Internet Service Provider gives you internet and your router gives the units in your home internet wired and wirelessly. Some individuals may not be able to stomach their provider but I’f you’re getting decent numbers on your speed test then you are ahead of the game.

Speedtest taken at [spp-timestamp time="5:21"]P EST.

Decent numbers I’d say would be anything around 3 Mb/s on the download and upload side, or anything above that. One of the router’s functions is the ability to dish out I.P addresses to the clients in your home. While this is good in a unmanaged network, it does have its disadvantages at times (e.g I.P conflicts). By unmanaged, I mean that if you’re not constantly checking your router’s configurations, seeing if there’s a firmware update, analyzing which unit is pulling most of the bandwidth than I would consider your network unmanaged in that context. I currently have my router dishing out the I.P addresses automatically and if I make any changes on my network, I check the attached units to see if anything has changed and adjust my ports accordingly – more on ports later.

Your router and online gaming

Let’s talk about the router, once you have a router, it is to your benefit that you spend some time setting it up and learning its capabilities. I hear a lot of talks around me about folks having bad connections online and that they are paying an arm and a leg for their internet – but have you ever considered the setup of your router? Imagine trying to direct a perfect stream of water to a community and each home in that community needs water – and without the water they cannot survive under any circumstances. Some homes are bigger than others in that community so you have to direct the proper flow of water according to the measure needed. It is the same with your router and the clients that connect to it and you have to tell the router exactly how to address each home (client). So, when you look at your router now, what do you think about it? Is its just another piece of hardware in your home? Is it an essential piece to your network? That decision is up to you.

For the router setup I’m going to touch on a few things that I believe will make a difference if you acknowledge their existence in your router’s configuration setup.

For the wireless setup I will assume that you have a unique name and password for your access point. I hope that as you’re reading this that your router isn’t open to just anyone that can sit in a car close enough to your home while they leech off your unsecured connection. Even if you reside in a “pleasantville” type of town – have your wireless setup secured.

Next we have Quality of Service, this is where you give more bandwidth (flow of water) to said device. My gaming units (Xbox 360, PS3) will always have “high priority”. Why? because when you are playing online you want your router to direct the major load of bandwidth towards these devices – that alone may improve your performance. So I set up these devices to “high priority” to their MAC Addresses. Even if the I.P changes for some reason and I go online, the Mac Address doesn’t change on the units so you will be on safe ground in terms of the bandwidth they are receiving.

Last but certainly not least is the Port Forwarding. When you are gaming, many companies suggest that you forward some ports to your consoles I.P for the best online experience. For this article I will point your eyes to the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Playstation Ports – Since my experience extend to only these two. If you have no idea port forwarding is then every disconnect and lobby errors you’ve faced “may” have something to do with your ports. This is not something that the company felt like writing because they had nothing better to do. This is an essential part of you hosting, chatting and playing with your friends online – I submit to you that it needs to be done before you break your controller.

Is your networking lacking? Are there changes you need to make to your router? You will be surprised what theses changes can do to your networks performance and your overall online experience.

Got comments? Leave them below and happy gaming 🙂

 

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