Sunday, July 26, 2009

HOW TO FIX LOCAL ISSUES TO CONNECT YOUR XBOX 360 TO THE XBOX LIVE SERVERS

A few weeks ago I had to reset my router because Windows Vista was giving me problems with my desktop’s wired LAN & WAN connections (note: problem fixed when I upgraded to Windows 7).

The thing is that when I re-configured my router using the file with the last-saved settings, my XBox was having problems when attempting to connect to XBox Live’s channels (both, arcade and indie). In fact, from time to time I used to receive messages saying my connection got lost due to errors 80072741 and so on (as you will see in a moment, I just forgot to persist to disk the proper configuration values of my router. Sigh!).

When that happens, and assuming that the XBox Live Team isn’t working on the servers(testing, updating, etc.), then something wrong must be happening on your side (like in my case).

So, what could be possibly wrong?

  1. Your router is broken,
  2. Your router has a faulty/corrupt firmware,
  3. You’re connecting your XBox 360 using a faulty wire,
  4. Your 360 cannot retrieve a local IP address from the router,
  5. Your router’s firewall is preventing your 360 from connecting to the Internet,
  6. Your router is performing some strict or moderate Network Address Translation tasks (NAT),
  7. You get some weird error messages and or lose connection when playing some games online on multiplayer mode, and
  8. Other connectivity problems.

If one, a few or some of these happened to you, then maybe the following tips could help to solve the issues with your connection. Meaning? No solution guaranteed.

SO USE THESE TIPS AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Now that you were warned, read on carefully …

Your router is broken.

Buy a new one in case it’s not easy or worth repairing. In the meantime you can try to connect directly through your (DSL) modem.

Your router has a faulty/corrupt firmware.

Go to the manufacturer’s support page, download the latest firmware for your router’s model, and update it (first, read your router’s manual to find out how to do the update).

You’re connecting your XBox 360 using a faulty wire.

Just change the latter and try again.

But what if I’m using a wireless connection? Then check your router’s wireless settings, like, say the security method and password.

Your XBox 360 cannot retrieve a local IP address from the router.

First check your network settings on your XBox 360: whether you want to get a dynamic or static IP address, the values for primary and secondary “Domain Name System” (DNS) addresses, the IP address of the gateway, etc.

Now, check on the router the maximum number of connections allowed at the same time. Maybe you are already using all of them.

If the router is currently providing a “Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol” service (DHCP), then any computer, console and or LAN/WAN device may be configured to attempt to get an IP address from the router, dynamically.

This should work fine with your XBox 360 console for supported routers, but in case it doesn’t, just configure the console to get a static IP address.

Which one? Well, simply put, an IP address that you know other systems won’t normally use (for instance, if you have two computers and your console and you are allowing, say, 8 connections, then set the last one as the static one for your console and you’ll probably do just fine).

In order to set a static IP address, on the 360’s Dashboard browse to “System –> Network Settings –> Edit Settings”, and then enter:

  • The static IP address for the console,
  • The Subnet mask (same than the one set in the router),
  • The Gateway IP address,
  • The Primary and Secondary DNS addresses.

Try the connection again, and if everything goes well, your 360 now should have access to the LAN.

Your router’s firewall is preventing your XBox 360 from connecting to the Internet.

Having access to the local network doesn’t mean that the router has also granted access to the Internet. Sometimes, the firewall of your router stops any attempt of your device and or a set of IP addresses to reach the Internet.

If that is the case, then check all security rules set on your router. Most routers allows you to specify either each IP you want to allow access to the Internet, a range of IP addresses and even your devices’ “Media Access Control” addresses (MAC).

Since at home, in my case, the number of devices that connect to the Internet is low, I just specify each MAC address and presto!

It may also happen that Internet access is only available to certain days and hours per day. So you should check those rules, too.

Your router is performing some strict or moderate NAT tasks.

This is one of the most popular issues when an XBox 360 console attempts to establish a secure connection with the XBox Live’s servers.

In short, not all ports and protocols needed to establish an optimal communication are (properly) set.

Ok … uhh … what?

Do the following: test your 360’s connection to the LAN, the Internet and finally Live’s servers, and if you get the result that two out of three work fine, being the latter the one that “partially” fails, then your router’s NAT functionality is not “Open”.

In fact, if that is the case, you can connect to Xbox Live but the connection is not optimal for cases when you want to play, chat, talk and even accept a friend’s invite online.

In order to configure the ports and protocols needed to establish a “sound” connection to the XBox Live services, you either:

  • Place your console in the “demilitarized zone” (DMZ), or
  • Manually configure the specific values using “Port forwarding”.

Note: in order to do one of these, you must first set a static IP address on the console.

DMZ means, in short, that you open all ports and protocols in order to communicate to a certain device with a specified IP address. So your device is placed inside an unsecured zone or if you prefer an unrestricted area. DMZ is too risky!

The alternative (the one I prefer): to manually set only the pair of ports & protocols actually needed for the connection for a certain device with a static IP address (in this case, your 360’s IP address).

All you have to do in the latter option, is selecting the “Port Forwarding” tab in your router and the setting something similar to:

  • Applications name (say, “XBox360Live”),
  • Each port range (“from 80 to 80”, and so on),
  • The accepted protocols (UDP/TCP/Both),
  • The local IP address (that is, your 360’s static IP address value), and
  • Check “Enable” (or whatever option you need to activate the rule).

Read this article in order to know which ones you must set.

As I said at the beginning of this post, the above-mentioned issue was the one preventing my 360 console from connecting to Xbox Live, properly. In short, the configuration file I had saved long ago as a backup didn’t include these settings. Fixed!

Now, continuing with the topic …

Optional: some recommend (I don’t) that when you receive the error code 8007274c, unchecking an option similar to “block anonymous Internet requests” on your router’s firewall may help. Plus, in some cases, clearing your console’s cache (warning: doing the latter will also erase all software updates! You will have to load the updates again) and or verifying that the proper DNS values are set.

By the way, port forwarding only works for one application at a time, which means that if two applications on the LAN attempt to get access, say, to the Internet using the same port, a conflict occurs and if your router cannot resolve the situation, connectivity gets affected … maybe your 360 is one of the devices in conflict!

If your router’s firewall has a log, check it to see which device and application is the source of the conflict. You can also try to check the log of your devices’ respective firewalls –if any.

If you cannot identify what’s causing the port conflict, I guess that turning off all devices but the 360 console, should fix this connectivity issue, so you can play some games online again.

You get some weird error messages and or lose connection when playing some games online on multiplayer mode.

If you do have a valid Live Gold Membership, then this is somewhat related to the port issue.

Some games need a few ports open for certain protocols (TCP/UDP/Both), which differ from the ones listed here.

Again, if you don’t want to set (the IP address of) your console on DMZ, then you should manually set both, port plus protocol, for that game.

Ok, how can I know which pair should I set? Well, you can either do an Internet search to find out or visit sites like http://www.portforward.com/, which have a lot of info in this respect, for a list of routers and services (including 360’s connections).

Other connectivity problems … plus fixes?

Say, your router must support a minimum MTU (“Maximum Transmission Unit”); in case of XBox Live that is: 1364. Or your ISP’s DSL modem is not good enough (request a change).

It would be great to know both, the problem you experienced when connecting your 360 to XBox Live and, of course, the fix.

Well, this is it. I hope you find this info useful.

Enjoy your games!
~Pete

> Link to Spanish version.

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