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Network/Connection Issues

How do I diagnose and report network problems?

Different types of network problems

The first thing to do is categorize the type of problem. Pay close attention to what's happening on your screen, and any FPS or ping readouts, to be clear about the nature of the problem.

  • Client-side frame rate problems are not network problems, but people often confuse the two, and use words like "lagging" or "hitching" to describe both problems. When you have a client-side frame rate problem, the whole screen will freeze ("frame rate hitching") or the animation of the entire screen will stop being fluid. In contrast, if your frame rate is smooth, but characters walk in place or warp around, or some screen elements continue animating while others are jerky, or if you have an FPS indicator and it doesn't drop, then you probably have a network problem.
  • High latency is when packets consistently take a long time to reach the gameserver and back. (This roundtrip time is usually called the "ping".) This can manifest itself in a few different ways, depending on the game. There might be a noticeable delay between the time you perform some input, such as clicking to issue an order or fire a weapon, and when you see the appropriate response on your screen. Another sign of high ping, common in first person shooters, is when bullets seems to miss their targets even though it looked like it should have hit them, or when you get shot "from around a corner." Or if you run near an obstacle and you seem to slide around after a little delay, even though on your screen you didn't hit the obstacle. This is because your computer is trying to predict what will happen on the server, but what happened on the server didn't match up with that prediction, and your computer is trying to correct the situation after it gets the update from the server of what "really" happened.
  • Packet loss happens when packets are sent by your client or the gameserver, but they are not received by the other side. In most of the world, packet loss above 1% is relatively rare, and a small amount of packet loss on this scale is usually not noticeable. Depending on the game, packet loss of 10% or higher can seriously degrade the experience. Packet loss can share many of the same symptoms as high latency, so if you don't have an in-game readout, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two problems. In general, packet loss tends to be a bit more erratic and "bursty".

    Typically packet loss is symmetric, meaning that packets sent to the gameserver are dropped about as often as packets sent by the gameserver to your client. However, sometimes one direction has more loss than the other. When this happens, it might prevent packet loss readouts from diagnosing the problem, depending on the method used to measure packet loss. For example, if the game measures packet loss based on gaps in sequence numbers attached to incoming packets, it will not be able to detect outgoing packet loss. The ping test described below is based on loss of roundtrip packets, so it can detect packet loss, even if it's asymmetric.
  • NAT problems can prevent your computer from accessing more than a small number of remote hosts in quick succession. For example, if the game needs to ping multiple servers or regions to find out which one has the best connection. Server browsing in games like Counter Strike and TF2 ping thousands of servers. If your computer only shows a few servers when there should be hundreds or thousands, or if you experience network problems immediately after using the server browser in these games, then it's likely that you have a NAT problem.

    NAT problems are almost always caused by old home routers, and the solution is to buy a newer one.

These problems are not mutually exclusive. Before reporting a problem, please take the time to try to identify what kind of problem(s) you have. When reporting a problem, provide data whenever possible: the symptoms you're experiencing, what your network configuration looks like, your ISP, what connectivity tests you have tried, etc. Problems reported without data are very difficult for us to help you with.

Running a ping test

Here's a simple but very useful diagnostic tool you can run to test network connectivity. First, you need to pick the host that you want to measure connectivity with. Usually this will be one of three options:

  • A gameserver you are trying to connect to. You'll need to find the IP address of the server you are actually talking to. Don't assume that you can just ping a domain name such as "valve.com" or "dota2.com"; those are web servers that don't have anything to do with gameplay. The exact method to find the IP address you are playing on differs by game. In most Valve games, you can open a console and the IP address of the server will be in there somewhere.

    In some situations, you can run a test on an IP address that you have good reason to believe has equivalent network characteristics, if you don't know the IP address you are trying to talk to. For example, if you know the address of one of the gameservers in the US East region for a certain game, you might be able to use that IP address for a general test to all gameserves in US East. But only do this if you cannot get the exact IP address, and always share that information in any report, to make sure it doesn't invalidate any information you gather.
  • Your home router. Communications problems to home routers are extremely common, especially over wireless networks. To find the address of your router, type "ipconfig" on Windows. Your router's address is the "default gateway." It's very common for routers to have an address like "192.168.0.x" or "10.0.0.x".
  • Some other major website. Confirming connectivity with another site can help rule out general Internet connectivity problems. For these sites, you don't need a numeric IP address, you can use a domain name, such as "amazon.com", "google.com", "facebook.com", "netflix.com", etc.

Once you have decided which computer you want to test connectivity to, follow these steps to run a basic ping test:

  1. Open up a command prompt.
  2. On Windows, run the command: "ping -t address", replacing address with the IP address or domain name you want to test.
  3. Your computer will ping the given server repeatedly until you stop it with Ctrl+C.
  4. Pay attention to how often the pings fail, and what the ping times are.

Note that some hosts will block ping requests and will never reply to them. When this happens, you may see "Request timed out" instead of a ping response. If you experience this, you may need to try another host.

You can keep one or more of these tests running in the background while you play the game. This is especially helpful if the problem is intermittent. When the problem happens in game, switch over and examine what's happening to the ping test(s).

If ping is reporting lost packets, you may be able to narrow down where the problem is by running another tool:

  1. Open up a command prompt.
  2. On Windows, run the command: "pathping address", replacing address with the IP address or domain name you want to test.
    On Linux, you can use the similar "mtr" command (you may need to install the "mtr" package to use it). For example: "mtr -n -c 100 --report --report-wide address"
  3. Wait until the test finishes. It may take several minutes to complete.

Pathping/MTR will report the latency for each hop your packets went through, as well as the loss at each hop. If a hop reports 100% packet loss but subsequent hosts do not, then it may be blocking ping requests and does not represent a network problem. If your first hop is reporting loss, then there is a problem between your computer and your router (wireless connections are often to blame for this).

MTU problems

If the ping test doesn't show any problems, but you are having connectivity issues with a game, it could be because of a difference between how ICMP packets (used by ping) are being handled compared to the type of packets (probably UDP) used by the game. One of the most common problems is that the game packets are larger than your maximum transmission unit (MTU). MTU is a measure of the size of packet that your network allows before either fragmenting it (which increases the chances of packet loss) or dropping it completely. MTU limitations could be present on your local network, or possibly somewhere further away, with your ISP.

On Windows, you can add "-l 1300" to force the ping test to use larger packets. If those pings stop working, then your home router or ISP might be enforcing a smaller MTU than the game expects.

What information to share when reporting a network problem

When communicating with Steam support or a Valve employee, or just posting on a forum asking for help, your odds of getting help increase dramatically if you share the appropriate details. Here are the most important things to share:

  • A detailed description of the problem. If you have a ping or packet loss readouts, share that. Is there any sort of error messages or console output? Share that. Also, always make sure that you share what you are actually seeing on your screen, not just your guess as to what the problem is.
  • Is the problem intermittent or pretty constant? If it happens only in certain circumstances, what are those circumstances?
  • If you know the IP, a "trace route" is extremely useful; always take the time to gather and share this information. It's really easy. On Windows, run "tracert address" from a command prompt. On Linux, run "traceroute address" Share the complete output.
  • Where are you in the world? What server are you trying to connect to? If you have the IP, share it. How did you decide that was the correct IP to use? If you only know the geographic region, share that. Network problems are EXTREMELY localized, if you do not describe where you are, you're unlikely to get help.
  • Describe your home network environment. Are you playing over wireless or wired? Are you in a dorm room? A house? Who else is using your network?
  • Who is your ISP?
  • If you have done ping or pathping tests, share those. Don't just share the result summaries. If possible, share the full output of the test.
  • What steps have you taken to confirm that the problem is not with your local network or ISP? Have you done the ping test with your router, and with another major web site? Are you consistently able to access other web sites?

    Please note that while the inability to access these web sites is strong evidence that there's a local problem, the lack of such problems is NOT usually conclusive evidence that everything is working properly. Likewise, internet speed test results, bandwidth metrics, or the fact that you are on a fiber connection are typically just not relevant. Game traffic is significantly different from web traffic and is handled differently by your router and your ISP.
  • If you are posting on a forum where a Valve employee might read it, make sure and share a link to your Steam community profile. This helps us locate your account, access recent matches, server connections, etc.
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No Steam content servers are currently configured to deliver content for this game

There may be a temporary issue with the Steam content servers in your region.

Please follow these steps to the change the region of the content servers you connect to:
 
Launch Steam and log into your Steam account.
 
Click the "Steam" menu and choose "Settings".
 
Go to the "Downloads + Cloud" tab. 
 
Under "Download region", select the region closest to you. If the closest region is already selected, select the *next* closest region.  
 
 

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Required Ports for Steam

Steam Client
  • UDP 27000 to 27015 inclusive (Game client traffic)
  • UDP 27015 to 27030 inclusive (Typically Matchmaking and HLTV)
  • UDP 27031 and 27036 (incoming, for In-Home Streaming)
  • TCP 27036 and 27037 (incoming, for In-Home Streaming)
  • UDP 4380
Dedicated or Listen Servers
  • TCP 27015 (SRCDS Rcon port)
Steamworks P2P Networking and Steam Voice Chat
  • UDP 3478 (Outbound)
  • UDP 4379 (Outbound)
  • UDP 4380 (Outbound)

Note:

Many university networks and proxies block required ports for Steam operation - please consult your network administrator to ensure the required ports are open if you are using a university network or a proxy. Ports required for Steam can not be re-mapped to HTTP or reconfigured to a custom port range.

Advanced

For generic Steam HTTP/HTTPS requests, your proxy should allow the following domains:

  • steampowered.com
  • steamcommunity.com
  • steamgames.com
  • steamusercontent.com
  • steamcontent.com
  • steamstatic.com
  • akamaihd.net

Most of the non-web traffic is usually UDP but can be TCP as well. For that, the IPs will all be from the Valve network (AS32590), and a list of those IP blocks can be found here:

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Slow Downloads and Connection to Content Servers

Is your download actually slow?

  • Comparing Steam download speeds to your Internet connection speed:
     

    Internet and other network connection speeds are typically measured in multiples of bits per second. However, Steam downloads, like many other file downloads, are measured in multiples of bytes per second. A byte is a group of 8 bits.

    To compare your Steam download speed to your connection speed, multiply your Steam download speed by 8. For example, if you are getting 768KB/s (kilobytes per second) as your Steam download speed, you are getting 6144Kb/s (kilobits per second) or 6 megabits per second download speed according to most Internet service providers.

    Example download speed conversions
     
    Advertised Connection Speed Est. Max Steam Download Speed
    3 megabits/second 384 KB/S
    5 megabits/second 640 KB/S
    15 megabits/second 1.9 MB/S
    20 megabits/second 2.5 MB/S
    30 megabits/second 3.75 MB/S
    50 megabits/second 6.25 MB/S
  • What is your actual Internet connection speed?
     

    The speed displayed in your System Tray or network connection properties is typically the speed you are connected to your local area network (LAN) and does not represent the speed you are connected to the Internet at. Please refer to the materials for your connection plan or contact your Internet service provider (ISP) for information on your connection speed. You can also use one of the numerous speed testing sites available online such as SpeedTest or DSLReports to test your connection speed.

Content Servers

Steam uses content servers that are located all over the world. Steam attempts to select the best content server based on your location.  If Steam downloads are going slower than expected, please double check your current download region:

  1. Start Steam
  2. Go to Steam > Settings > Downloads tab
  3. Under Download region, select the region that you are in or that is closest to you.
  4. You can also try various regions near your location to see if a better connection is available.
     

 

Third Party Applications

Some third-party applications such as ESET NOD32 Anti-Virus can cause Steam to use incorrect content servers. Any sort of Internet security and/or packet filtering software may have a similar affect. This can also lead to connection issues.

If you are not using NOD32 but a different program might be causing the issue, please follow the Programs Which Interfere with Steam guide to test the issue.

For NOD32, there is a work-around that may help:

  1. Go to NOD32's settings
  2. Under Antivirus and antispyware, locate Web access protection
  3. Find Web browsers and locate Steam.exe
  4. Click the box until a red X is displayed
  5. Click Ok and close the settings

 

For example:

Nod 32 Filtering

 

Network Connectivity

Please follow these directions to make sure the correct ports are open and double check the list of ISP's that are known to have issues with Steam: Troubleshooting Network Connectivity.

 

Connection Rate

Ensure that your Steam connection rate is set appropriately. For more information, please see Setting Client Rates.

 

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Solving Download and Game Install Issues

Change your download region

Try launching the stalled game by double clicking it.  This may allow the download to finish.

If the issue persists, please double check your current download region:

  1. Start Steam
  2. Go to Steam > Settings > Downloads tab
  3. Under Download region, select the region that you are in or that is closest to you.
  4. You can also try various regions near your location to see if a better connection is available.

 

Router Issues

The issue is usually from a router interfering with the download process. Please unplug your router and connect your computer directly to your internet connection to test the issue. If this corrects the issue, please resolve the router issue using this guide: Troubleshooting Network Connectivity

 

Connection Speed

Make sure your Internet Connection setting is correct for your current connection:

In the Steam application, Click Steam > Settings > Downloads tab and make sure the speed is correct, as incorrect settings may affect your Steam downloads.

 

Still not working?

You can also try clearing your download cache.

Or the issue could be due to another program interfering with Steam.  Please complete these guides to further test the issue:

Programs Which May Interfere with Steam

Disabling Background Applications

 

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Steam Downtime and Server Maintenance

Why isn't downtime scheduled in the mornings? Seems kind of silly to schedule downtime right in the middle of the peak usage period (e.g. 9pm).

There are several different reasons. First, some downtime isn't planned. If we have a hardware failure, a problem with the network, or a problem with our point-of-presence provider, the event is unexpected and we can't schedule it. It happens when it happens.

When downtime is scheduled, we try to perform the activity during business hours at our office in the Pacific time zone (in the United States). This way, as many team members as possible are available to help with issues that might arise and get the work done. We try to stagger the events at different times of day.

It's important to remember that Steam is a global service, so there are always users online. Our peak user load is around noon at our local time, and our lowest user count is around 2300 local time.

When we have planned downtime, it usually lasts less than an hour. As such, we'll do it in the early morning or in the late afternoon (again, local time) trying to avoid the peak time of the day. If we have plans for extended downtime, we'll do what we can to schedule the time as late as possible in the evening--with the caveat that we still need staff available to do the work or to help with any problems that might occur.

 

Why was downtime scheduled? I patiently waited, but didn't see any new features!

Sometimes, we take the servers down in order to perform maintenance. We might be patching software for security issues, updating operating systems or drivers, or installing new hardware, for example. These activities don't result in new features, but allow Steam to continue to run stably and efficiently.

Other down time events are used to publish new features in the server code. Sometimes, those features might not be immediately visible; making the servers use less memory, for example, allows them to support more users and have faster response times. Keeping the system up and running efficiently is our top priority. As time allows, we add features and publish them when they're available.

 

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Steam Servers Are Currently Unavailable or Too Busy

Error Code 53

This error can often be resolved by disabling background programs that may interfere with Steam. If you are running McAfee, please try disabling real-time scanning and launching your game again.

 

Change your Download Region

Try changing your Download Region to see if it affects the issue:

On Windows

  1. Start Steam
  2. Go to Steam > Settings > Downloads tab
  3. Under Download region, select a different but relatively close region.
  4. Try launching or installing the game once more 

On Mac

  1. Start Steam
  2. Click on Steam > Preferences > Downloads tab
  3. Under Download region, select a different but relatively close region.
  4. Try launching or installing the game once more 

 

Repairing corrupted Steam files

It is possible that over time your Steam files have become corrupted. Try the following to repair your Steam files.

On Windows

To fix this error use the following steps:

  • Exit Steam
  • Navigate to your Steam installation directory. (C:\Program Files\Steam\ by default.)
  • Delete everything in that directory EXCEPT the following:
    • steam.exe
    • steamapps directory (All of Steam's game files are kept here.)
  • Restart Steam to test the issue

On Mac

To fix this error use the following steps:

  • Exit Steam
  • Navigate to Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/Steam by default.)
  • Delete everything in that directory
  • Launch Steam.app from your Dock or Applications folder

 

Connection Issues

Note:

Steam does not support connecting through a network DMZ (de-militarized zone), so this setting must be disabled in your router for Steam to function. For more information, please follow our guide to Using a Router with Steam.

Many Steam issues can be caused by a firewall, anti-virus, or a problem with your router or internet connection.

Please use the Troubleshooting Network Connectivity guide to ensure that your network is properly configured for use with Steam.

 

Disable any programs which interfere with Steam

Please consult the topic linked below and make sure any programs on the list are either disabled or uninstalled:
Programs Which Interfere with Steam

 

Remove Spyware, Adware, and Viruses

If the issue persists it is possible that a virus, adware, or spyware may be interfering with the installation process. Please see the topic linked below for instructions to remove the offending program:
Spyware, Malware, Adware, and Viruses Interfering with Steam

 

Steam Network Outage

If the Steam Network is experiencing a large amount of traffic or if the network is temporarily off-line, you may not be able to use Steam immediately. Please follow the link below to check the Steam Network Status page:

Steam Network Status

 

Recent purchase not recognized yet

If you experience this error while trying to install or register a game, log out of Steam and log back in to determine whether or not your purchase was successfully processed:

  1. Right click the Steam icon
  2. Select the Settings option, then Log in as a different user...

After Steam restarts you will be prompted for your username and password. After logging in you should be able to download and/or install the games.
 

Empire: Total War

If you are receiving this error when attempting to install or launch this game, it may be a result of activating an extra content key (Additional units, etc) without activating the primary key for this game. Please make sure you have activated the CD Key found on the back cover of the game manual.

 

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Troubleshooting Network Connectivity

Troubleshooting Network Connectivity Issues

Please follow the steps below to diagnose network connectivity issues within Steam:

  1. Check Steam Server Status

    Please check the Steam Server Status page to ensure the issue which you are encountering is not related to system-wide downtime. If you encounter any timeout errors when attempting to access Steam sites, it is very likely that there is a system-wide issue and Steam will not be accessible until the issue is resolved.

  2. Test Your Router

    The Using a Router with Steam topic includes steps to isolate problems if they occur at the router.

    Wireless and powerline connections can cause intermittent failures due to interference. If possible, test Steam with a direct wired connection to determine if this is a problem. An Internet speed test may also help you identify problems related to local link quality.

  3. Troubleshoot all Firewalls

    See the Using a Firewall with Steam topic for instructions to test and configure your firewall for Steam.

    Note: If you are installing Steam for the first time or Steam has recently been updated, a firewall may be preventing Steam from connecting to the Steam Network - even if Steam worked correctly before the update was applied.

  4. Disable Background Applications

    Review the Programs Which May Interfere With Steam and reconfigure, disable or uninstall any programs which may be preventing Steam and Valve games from connecting.

  5. Viruses, Trojans, Adware and Spyware

    Scan your computer for Spyware, Malware, Adware, or Virus Interfering with Steam.

 

Required Ports for Steam

All required ports to run the Steam application are listed here.  It is possible that other games available on Steam will require further ports to be available.

Note:

Many university networks and proxies block required ports for Steam operation - please consult your network administrator to ensure the required ports are open if you are using a university network or a proxy. Ports required for Steam can not be re-mapped to HTTP or reconfigured to a custom port range.

 

 

Known Issues with Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

Important:

If you notice that your Steam connection only has issues during certain hours of the day (for example in the evenings between 5pm and 11pm), it is possible that your ISP is blocking or "shaping" your connection.  Please test your connection at other hours of the day and contact your ISP directly if you believe this is causing the connection issue.

Some ISPs have been found to block ports required for the proper operation of Steam and Steam games:

  • 012.net (Steam traffic blocked)
  • Bluewin (Firewall blocks Steam from provider side - must be disabled through provider's service portal)
  • Dutch Telecom (Steam traffic blocked)
  • ISPFree (Steam traffic blocked)
  • Micronet Broadband (Steam traffic blocked)

 

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Using a Firewall with Steam

Important:

If you are installing Steam for the first time or if there has been a recent Steam update, a firewall may be preventing Steam from connecting to the Steam Network.

 

You may be asked to re-authorize Steam after a client update. Some Steam games may also prompt for firewall authorization after a game update.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Close the Steam client application.
  2. Open the configuration view for your firewall program, and remove any instances of the following executables from the permissions:

    • steaminstall.exe
    • steam.exe
    • hl.exe
    • hl2.exe
    • steamTmp.exe
  3. Start Steam. Your firewall should prompt you to set new permissions for steam.exe. If it does not, the security settings may be too strict - you will need to change these settings so you will be prompted to set permissions.

    Give the Steam executables permission for all TCP and UDP ports when prompted.

  4. Restart your computer and start Steam.

 

If you are still having connectivity problems, you may try the following test:

  • Exit the Steam client.
  • Temporarily disable your firewall.
  • Restart Steam and test connectivity.
  • Re-enable your firewall.

If Steam operates normally only when your firewall is disabled, please recheck your firewall configuration. You may wish to contact the provider of your firewall for configuration help. We do not recommend leaving your firewall disabled.

If you still experience problems with the firewall disabled, please see the Troubleshooting Network Connectivity topic for further troubleshooting recommendations.

Firewall Provider Resources

  • Microsoft Windows Firewall is the most commonly-used firewall program used by Steam customers on Windows.
  • Apple provides the Application Firewall for all current Macos versions.
  • Norton provides support for Norton Personal Firewall
  • McAfee provides support for McAfee Personal Firewall and the McAfee Internet Security Suite
  • Zone Labs provides support for ZoneAlarm
  • nVidia - Historically, nVidia's Network Access Manager was known to be incompatible with Steam and other network client software.

 

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Using a Router with Steam

Basic Router Troubleshooting

It may seem obvious, but it's worth rebooting your modem, router, or modem/router combination device before trying anything else.

If your modem and router (or wireless access point) are separate devices, test with a direct connection to your modem:

  1. Close the Steam client application.
  2. Bypass your router by plugging your machine directly into the modem.
  3. Test that your internet connection is working, then restart Steam and check connectivity.

If you are able to connect to Steam after bypassing your router, it indicates a router configuration or compatibility issue.

Router Configuration

Certain router services can cause problems with Steam. If any of the following services are enabled on your router or access point, try disabling them:

  • Stateful inspection
  • Dynamic packet filtering
  • QoS (Quality of Service)
  • UPnP (Universal Plug 'n Play)

 

Required Ports for Steam

All required ports to run the Steam application are listed here. It is possible that other games available on Steam will require further ports to be available.

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