Playing games online is great when everything goes smoothly, but a complete headache when you run into issues. You often get unhelpful errors like Something went wrong or Check your connection, so it’s hard to know what you’re supposed to do.
Your console’s NAT type might have the answer. NAT types impact your connectivity and determine who you can play with online. Read on to learn how you can find your NAT type, what it means, and how you can change it to improve your game.
What Is NAT Type and Why Does it Matter?
NAT stands for Network Address Translation. Your firewall, router, or computer use this process to translate your device’s private IP address into a public one when it communicates on a larger network (like the internet).
The reason we use NAT is because we’re running out of available IPs. Every device on a network is assigned an IP address. This address uniquely identifies it. Since the early days of the internet, we’ve relied on IPv4 as the system to assign IP addresses.
IPv4 is one of the core protocols for networking, but it was developed on a 32-bit code. This restricts the number of available IPs to approximately 4 billion until we adopt IPv6. IPv6 uses 128-bit code, so it would allow for 340 trillion trillion trillion unique IP addresses.
In response to the dwindling number of available IPv4 addresses, John Mayes developed NAT in 1994 as a temporary measure to safeguard the remaining unregistered IP addresses. We currently have three NAT types that describe your network’s accessibility. Playstation uses numbered types that correlate to the common names we use to describe NAT types.
|NAT Type (Common Name)||NAT Type (PlayStation Name)|
PlayStation defines the three types in its user manual as follows:
- Type 1: The system is connected directly to the internet
- Type 2: The system is connected to the internet with a router
- Type 3: The system is connected to the internet with a router
The manual makes it clear your PlayStation 4 can’t communicate with other PlayStation systems if you’re using Type 3 (Strict). Your system’s network features might also be limited.
NAT and How Data Travels Online
To understand NAT types, let’s first learn how network packets travel. You communicate on the internet through packets. Packets are sets of data that are passed through networks, more commonly from your device to a server.
Your device sends packets with a private IP address to your router. Your router modifies the packets by replacing your private IP with a public one. Without a router, you’d have what’s called a static NAT. Static NAT means your IP address doesn’t change from private to public, which poses a security risk.
With that in mind, let’s see what NAT types look like. Sony is one of the few companies to categorize NAT types using numbers so it can get a bit confusing. Let’s go through each type and see what they’re all about.
Type 1 – Open NAT
Open NAT types have no restrictions in place. This type disables your firewall settings, so nothing will prevent external connections from accessing your systems. Open NAT usually means you’re connected directly to the internet without a router, or that you opened the ports on your router to allow direct packet flow.
Open NAT is the best setting for online gaming, since it allows seamless connections to game servers and doesn’t affect speed or ping. That said, it’s the most unsecure option and leaves your connection vulnerable to cyber threats. This is because your router’s firewall normally does some heavy lifting when it comes to filtering out malicious activity.
Type 2 – Moderate NAT
Moderate NAT types are the middle ground between open and strict. Your connection goes through your router, which acts as your first line of defense online. Moderate NAT types operate with a few open ports. This enables your connections to third-party servers, but still offers some protection from external traffic.
Your router modifies your private IP address. You can play games online with NAT Type 2 but some options might be limited.
Type 3 – Strict NAT
Strict NAT types prevent data from traveling freely to and from your network. Your router modifies your IP address but doesn’t forward incoming traffic to your device. This makes online gaming difficult or impossible. You won’t be able to connect to most game servers, and you’ll experience considerably slower speeds since your traffic has to be filtered.
The Strict NAT type is the most secure and private setting. For example, it can help mitigate cyber attacks like volumetric DDoS attacks. It’s also the type most likely to cause connectivity issues with the PlayStation network.
NAT Type Compatibility
Your NAT type has a huge impact on your online gameplay. Different NAT types communicate differently with other networks.
|NAT Type||Type 1||Type 2||Type 3|
If you’re on an NAT Type 3, you can only join servers where everyone else is an NAT Type 1. This means it might take a long time before you find a match. You also can’t host sessions, which might limit your options more. Games like Call of Duty are notoriously hard to play on NAT Type 3.
NAT Type 1 makes it easiest to connect and play online but you have little protection from malicious servers or domains. That said, you can switch NAT types to suit your needs. First, you need to check what NAT type your PS4 has.
How to Find Out Your PS4’s NAT Type
From your PS screen, you can check your NAT type in 3 simple steps:
- Open the Settings menu
- Choose Network
- Select View Connection Status
How to Change Your NAT Type on PS4
Changing your NAT type isn’t as simple as rummaging through your PS4’s settings. You have a few options but each has its own set of challenges.
Set Up a DMZ on Your Router
Just like in military jargon, DMZ stands for demilitarized zone. A DMZ is a subnet that separates your local area network (LAN) from open networks like the internet.
To set up a DMZ for your gaming console, you’ll need your PS4’s IP address. The exact steps you need to perform depend on your router’s manufacturer and firmware, but here are the basics:
- Open the browser on your PC or phone
- Enter your router’s settings
- Log in with your router’s username and password
- Find the network or firewall settings
- Look for a DMZ or DMZ Host option
- Enter your PS4’s IP address
- Save your settings.
For exact details, feel free to consult your router’s manual.
This option is a good alternative to port forwarding, which we’ll discuss next. Setting up a DMZ doesn’t require as much networking knowledge, and it leaves less room for error. That said, it’s highly unsecure, leaving anything in the DMZ completely exposed to external threats.
If you’re familiar with specific ports or knowledgeable in networking, you might consider opening a few of them instead of facing the security risk of using DMZ.
Open Ports on Your Router
Opening ports is sometimes called port forwarding. It’s a mechanism that allows incoming traffic to be redirected to a specific device on your network, like your PS4, through your router. Keep in mind opening ports can pose some security risks, since you’re essentially telling your firewall to let in external connections. Even though your firewall will still scan incoming connections to your PS4, it might not stop all malicious traffic anymore.
Port forwarding automatically changes your NAT type on your PS4 to NAT Type 2 (Moderate NAT).
Some ports are more common, and are generally considered safe. These are:
- TCP: 80, 443, 3478, 3479, 3480
- UDP: 3478, 3479
Specific game servers may use other ports. Even different versions can have different configurations. For example, Minecraft uses TCP port 25565 with the exception of Minecraft Bedrock Edition which uses UDP port 19132. You’ll have to research the games you want to play to find the ports they use.
Like with the DMZ option, the steps you need to take to open ports depend on your router and firmware. The basic steps are:
- Open the browser on your PC or phone.
- Enter your router’s IP address to go to its settings.
- Login in with your router’s username and password.
- Find the ports or port forwarding option in your router’s settings (this might have different names and be located in different places depending on your router).
- Type the port number or port range you want to forward — you’ll likely use the same number for both internal and external ports.
- Choose a protocol (you can choose both TCP and UDP if needed).
- Type in your PS4’s IP address.
If you’re not sure how to proceed, check your router’s manual.
Call Your ISP
If all else fails, contact your ISP. Sometimes, the company implements settings that restrict your NAT type. For example, your modem might have a firewall that limits the ports you can use, or your network’s firewall simply caps your connectivity.
Your ISP can either remove these restrictions or suggest a different plan that doesn’t cause issues for your PlayStation’s NAT type.
Should You Enable Port Forwarding on Your NAT Router?
Port forwarding lets devices in private networks (like the one you have at home) communicate with other external devices or servers via the world wide web. This option is available through NAT routers.
Opening ports can help you change your PS4 NAT type, and solve a variety of network issues. These include:
- No sound for voice chat
- Matchmaking issues
- Online or co-op connection issues
- Getting booted off servers with no apparent cause
- Inability to host online matches
- Others not being able to connect to your server
Forwarding ports can improve your connectivity, provide better stability, and enable P2P connections among different players. The process of opening ports isn’t risky, but malicious actors can access your devices via unsafe ports once you open them.
Most consumer routers don’t have very rigid security settings when it comes to ports. This is a problem because the majority of people don’t know what ports are open on their routers, and never receive any security warnings.
For example, cybercriminals used TCP port 3389 to exploit Remote Desktop Protocol which is used to share Windows desktops. This allowed them to gain entry to their victims’ systems so they could steal data and distribute malware. Even the FBI published a warning about this type of attack.
Sadly, you won’t find any accurate databases to find out which ports have been used in attacks and are prone to exploitation. This means you’ll have to do some research into the specific port you want to open.
Can CyberGhost VPN Protect Your PS4?
A VPN is a great security tool that hides your IP address and reroutes your internet traffic through an encrypted connection to a remote server. This layer of encryption secures your private information from third parties and staves off digital threats like DDoS attacks. You’ll find cybersecurity experts recommend you use a VPN to secure your connection when you do port forwarding.
CyberGhost is a leading VPN provider with security features that protect you online including IP masking, 256-bit AES Encryption, and a strict No Logs policy. We also have features to enhance your gaming like ultra-fast VPN servers in 90+ countries, unlimited bandwidth, and gaming-optimized servers reserved for gaming traffic only.
Although CyberGhost VPN has apps for all major operating systems — Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux, PlayStation consoles unfortunately lack the network settings to support native VPN apps. CyberGhost is compatible with your PS4 and other gaming consoles via two pathways: Smart DNS and your router.
Use CyberGhost VPN Via Smart DNS
CyberGhost VPN’s Smart DNS feature is perfect for gaming consoles. Smart DNS works by using our own DNS servers rather than your ISP’s servers. DNS is what helps translate web addresses into domains we know and recognize. For example, every time you type in youtube.com, a DNS server lets your device know you actually meant 220.127.116.11.
Using CyberGhost VPN’s Smart DNS servers lets you bypass local network restrictions. It’s easy to set up from your PS4.
That said, Smart DNS doesn’t offer encryption like the VPN service does. While this option is great for fast speeds and low ping, it doesn’t offer much protection against cyber threats. If you want DDoS protection, you’ll need a different option.
Add CyberGhost VPN Via Your Router
You can install CyberGhost VPN on your router. This will cover all devices on your household network, including your PS4 and other game consoles.
You can set up a manual configuration to one of our servers. For this, you’ll need a router with the following firmware:
- TomatoUSB Merlin Build
You can find step-by-step setup instructions on our dedicated page. Alternatively, you can check out VPN routers that come with CyberGhost VPN pre-installed. It’s the most convenient option.
Improve Your PS4 Connectivity
NAT types can make or break your PS4’s online gaming experience. NAT Type 3 can prevent you from playing with your friends. It can also cause issues with voice chat, and even with your connection to the PlayStation Network.
On the other hand, NAT Type 1 can pose security risks, even if it’s your best option for connectivity. Type 1 bypasses your router’s security settings, so be careful with this option.
Type 2 is the middle ground between the two. Your connection will lose some security, but you’ll be able to play without the degree of interference type 3 causes.
No matter what NAT type you choose, consider installing CyberGhost VPN for extra protection. Using CyberGhost on your router provides secure VPN encryption for your data and keeps cyber threats like DDoS attacks and swatting at bay. You’ll also be able to improve your ping with our ultra-fast VPN servers.
According to Sony itself, the Open NAT type or NAT Type 1 is the best option for gaming due to its speed and connectivity. That said, NAT Type 1 is the least secure option. It requires you to have open ports on your router, or to connect your PS4 directly to the internet.
This leaves your PlayStation exposed to potentially harmful external connections. To get the best of both worlds between security and performance, consider testing out a NAT Type 2 connection.
NAT Type 2 is a moderate NAT type. This means your PS4 connects over your router, which secures your private IP address. At the same time, it filters external data through a firewall but doesn’t totally restrict it.
It’s the best option that balances fast speeds and security. Most gaming consoles operate just fine with NAT Type 2.
If your PS4 reverts to NAT Type 3, it might be that your network has some restrictions in place or closed ports that prevent external connections. NAT Type 3 is the most restrictive NAT type, and it’s likely to cause issues for your connectivity. Check your router to change your settings, or consult your ISP.
Yes, you can. CyberGhost VPN has a Smart DNS solution that allows you to connect to our servers on a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. You also have the option to set up CyberGhost VPN on your router directly. This will cover all devices in your household, and protect your data with the most secure VPN encryption available.
Leave a comment
Posted on 16/03/2023 at 09:34
Very very helpful. Great article!
Posted on 17/03/2023 at 11:17
Glad to hear you found it helpful, Armand!