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Multiplayer Connection Issues (PC)

An issue with your computer is blocking the VAC system. You cannot play on secure servers.

Restart your computer

If this is a problem for you on all servers then you can try fixing this problem by exiting Steam and restarting your computer.

Repair the Steam Service

This may also indicate a Steam Service failure.  Please try repairing the Steam Service:

  • Exit Steam.
  • Click Start > Run (Windows Key + R)
  • Type the following command:

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\bin\SteamService.exe" /repair 

    (If you have installed Steam to another path, please replace C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam with the correct path.)

    This command requires administrator privileges and may take a few minutes.
  • Launch Steam and test the issue again. 

Conflicting Software

This issue can be caused by third party software interfering with your game or Steam. Please restart your computer, then launch Steam and the game without running any other third party software.

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Bad file server is enforcing file consistency

If you are getting disconnected from servers with the following error:

You have been disconnected from the server.
Reason: Bad file Server is enforcing file consistency for <various>".

This usually happens if you copied over some custom content from an old install or installed some custom content that doesn't match what the server is enforcing.

You will have to delete that offending custom content if you wish to play on that server.

Not all servers have the file consistency checking enabled, you can also try another server.

You'll want to look here for the problem file (for counter-strike as an example):

C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\<account>\counter-strike\cstrike
or
C:\Valve\Steam\SteamApps\<account>\counter-strike\cstrike

Since the error message tells you the file name, the fastest thing you can do is to use your operating system search to locate the file:

Start > Search > Find Files or Folders

Then select "all files and folders", select the partition or hard disk that your Steam is installed to (C: typically) and enter the name of the offending file in the "all or part of file name" area, then click on search.

If the search does NOT find the file, then this means you most likely have some corrupt data in your game cache file (GCF).  To fix this, you'll have to delete the local content for that game and re-download the content again.

Before you do that, you can also try renaming your game folder temporarily and let Steam create a totally default installation, do this by exiting from Steam, then go to (using the example from above):

C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\<account>\counter-strike\cstrike

and rename the counter-strike folder to this:

C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\<account>\~counter-strike\cstrike

When you start up Steam and then click on Counter-Strike in the games menu, Steam will quickly create a default installation.  Then you can go to the server where you were having the problem and see if you still get kicked.

If you still have the problem then you definitely have a bad cache GCF file and you'll need to re-download the content.

To delete the local content, go to the game that is causing you problems, so:
Steam > Games > then right-click on "Counter-Strike" (for example) and select properties.

There in that properties panel is the "delete local content" button.

 

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Client dropped by server and Warning: Connection Problem

If you are receiving these error messages, it is most likely a network connectivity issue interfering with game traffic between your machine and the server you are playing on.

 

Thomson / BT Home Hub users

Please use the following process and custom file to troubleshoot the issue:

  • Exit from Steam completely
  • Download these custom files: MasterServers.vdf & MasterServers2.vdf - If the files do not download when clicked, please right click this link and select "Save Target As..."
  • Place it in your \Steam\config\ folder (You will need to overwrite the current file already in place)
    • Default location: C:\Program Files\Steam\config\
  • Right click this updated file and select "Properties"
  • In the General tab, make sure the "Read-only" box is checked and click OK
  • Re-start Steam and test the issue
  • If the issue persists, please complete the rest of this article

 

Common Causes

  • You are using a wireless connection or a 56K modem (these devices may not be able to accommodate the bandwidth requirements of the game)
  • There is a virus, a P2P program, or some other background application running on your network or on your machine which is using up the bandwidth needed to maintain your connection to the game server
  • There are other computers on your local network which are using up the bandwidth needed to maintain your connection to the game server
  • The network connection for the server you are playing on is overloaded (this may result from having inadequate bandwidth to support the players who are joining the game or from other applications being run on the server)
  • Your rate, cl_updaterate, or cl_cmdrate settings are not configured correctly for your connection speed
  • There is a conflict with your router, modem and/or Internet Service Provider and Steam

 

Troubleshooting

  • Programs which May Interfere with Steam

    Please check this topic and disable any listed programs that could cause this issue.

  • Spyware, Adware, and Viruses Interfering with Steam

    Review this topic for instructions on scanning for viruses and removing malicious software from your computer.

  • Test your Current Network Connection

    Please complete this guide and make sure to bypass any router you currently have to test the connection.

  • Reduce Network Traffic

    Try shutting down any other machines on the network to increase the bandwidth available to the machine you are using.

  • Change your rate setting

    These are the default rates based upon connection speed:

    • 56K Modem: 3500 to 5000
    • DSL: 7500
    • Cable/T1: 9999

    Use the rate # (where # is the rate setting for your connection) command in the in-game console to change your rate setting. The console can be accessed using the ~ key while in-game.

  • Change your cl_updaterate setting

    The default cl_updaterate is 20, setting the value to a higher number increases the download demand on your connection.

    Use the cl_updaterate 20 command in the in-game console (~ key) to change your cl_updaterate setting to 20.

  • Change your cl_cmdrate setting

    The default cl_cmdrate is 30, setting the cale to a higher number increases the upload demoand on your internet connection.

    Use the cl_cmdrate 30 command in the in-game console (~ key) to change your cl_cmdrate setting to 30.

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Client.dll mismatch

If you get an error about a "client.dll mismatch" when you connect to a server, this means that your version of the "client.dll" file for that particular game doesn't match the version that the server is running.

This error is more typical for 3rd party mods rather then for the regular Steam Games.

If you're playing a third-party game (i.e., one listed under "Third Party Games" in your games list), make sure you have the latest version of the game.  The Server you are are trying to connect to might be out of date too.

If you get this error on a regular Steam Game, it's most likely that the Server is out of date, try a different server.

 

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CL_FlushEntityPacket

If you are getting CL_FlushEntityPacket Warnings this typically means that either:

  • Your internet connection or the server's internet connection is having problems.
  • Your connection is overloaded, for example running a peer-to-peer filesharing application in the background.
  • There are other computers on your local network using your internet connection.
  • The server you are on has its network connection overloaded.
  • You are running on a wireless connection with a poor or inconsistent signal.
  • You have a Virus or Trojan or Internet Worm infection that is generating traffic.
  • You are connected to the internet using a dial-up or other low-speed connection.
  • You have your rate or cl_updaterate or cl_cmdrate settings too fast for your internet connection.

You can help to identify and eliminate the source of your problem by:

  1. Shut down all unnecessary programs on your computer before playing.
  2. Disconnect all other computers in your household to see if they are causing the problem.
  3. Scan all computers on your home network for virus/trojan and spyware. Please see this guide for further instructions.
  4. If you are running on a wireless network, try connecting using a direct ethernet cable and see if the problem goes away.  You will probably have to disable the "Wireless Zero Configuration" service while you are playing as well. 
  5. Safe rates for dial-up connections are typically around 3500-5000, while broadband connections should be able to safely run 30000 or better. You set this in your game console (~ typically) by entering: rate <value>
  6. The default cl_updaterate is 20, setting the value to a higher number increases the download demand on your connection. Set this in your console: cl_updaterate 20
  7. The default cl_cmdrate is 30, setting the cale to a higher number increases the upload demoand on your internet connection.  Set this in your console: cl_cmdrate 30

 

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Configuring a router for multiple clients

To configure multiple clients to play from behind the same router, you may need to change one of the clients to use a different clientport number.

  • Each machine must have a unique Steam account with different game licenses registered to the account.
  • Each machine must have a different clientport setting.
  • Each machine must have a unique Mac address.
  • The router must be up-to-date.
  • Your Firewall and router must have the required ports for Steam open.

The default clientport is 27005 and you can only have one game with that port active on the same lan.

 

Specifying a Clientport as a Launch Option

To specify a client port, please perform the following steps for each computer on the LAN

  • Go to Steam's My games menu
  • Right-click on the game you wish to play
  • Go to Properties
  • From the General tab, click on the Set launch options button
  • Add a different client port number on each machine between 27005 and 27032 in the following format:
    +clientport 270XX
    Note: Do not use 27020
  • Click OK

NOTE: This solution only works if you launch the game through the My games menu.

If you have already set other launch options, leave a space between the last character of your previous launch option and the + of your clientport setting.

 

Specifying a Clientport in the Userconfig.cfg

The benefit of this method is that the clientport will remain set whether you are launching the game from the My games menu or from a shortcut to the game.

  • Navigate to the folder that holds the config.cfg for your game
    Example: The config.cfg for Counter-strike: Source can be found here:
    ..\Steam\steamapps\<user name>\counter-strike source\cstrike\cfg
  • If you have a userconfig.cfg in that directory, open it. If you do not already have a userconfig.cfg:
    1. Right-click in the folder
    2. Go to: New > Text Document
    3. Rename the file userconfig.cfg
    4. Open the file with Notepad
  • Type into the document clientport 270XX where XX are the last two digits of the clientport number. Acceptable values include 05 - 19 and 21 - 32
  • Save your userconfig.cfg
  • Launch your game

 

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Error verifying STEAM UserID ticket

Important:

If the Steam Network is down or too busy you may not be able to connect to a Game Server - to determine whether or not this may be the issue, please check the Steam Status Page - if the last update for that page is more than 20 or 30 minutes behind, there may be a Steam network outage.

Please check to see if there are other players having the same problem on the SteamPowered Forums.

If it does appear as though the Steam network is down, you must wait until the problem is resolved.

If you continue to receive this error message, the issue can most likely be resolved by restarting the Steam client.

If restarting Steam does not resolve the issue, please exit Steam and delete the following files from your Steam directory:

The files should be found at C:\Program Files\Steam\ (the location on your machine will vary if you specified a different installation folder, or if you have moved your Steam installation).

 If you continue to see this issue, please contact Steam Support:

Contacting VALVe Billing and Support

 

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Game regularly lags for several seconds

This issue may be caused by Windows XP's Wireless Zero Configuration Service (WZC) when the service suspends the current connection list while it scans for available connections.

Please see the instructions below to disable WZC or to create a batch script which can turn the service off and on quickly.

 

Disable WZC

Note: Disabling WZC will prevent your system from establishing a wireless connection. If you must connect over a wireless connection, please use a batch script to disable WZC on demand.

  1. Click the Start button and open the Control Panel
  2. Open Administrative Tools
  3. From the Administrative Tools window, open Services
  4. Right-click on the Wireless Zero Configuration service and select Properties
  5. Select Disabled from the Startup type drop-down menu
  6. Click Apply and then click OK to save your settings

 

Write batch scripts to start and stop WZC

You will need to create two batch files: one to stop the WZC service after it loads when Windows starts, and one to restart the WZC service if necessary.

StopWZC.bat
  • Open Notepad
  • Type or copy net stop wzcsvc into the file.
  • Save the file as StopWZC.bat
StartWZC.bat
  • Open Notepad
  • Type or copy net start wzcsvc into the file.
  • Save the file as StartWZC.bat

Once the StopWZC.bat and StartWZC.bat files have been created, you can start and stop the WZC service by opening the appropriate file.

 

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Invalid Steam UserID Ticket

Restart your computer

If this is a problem for you on all servers then you can try fixing this problem by exiting Steam and restarting your computer.

Repair the Steam Service

This may also indicate a Steam Service failure.  Please try repairing the Steam Service:

  • Exit Steam.
  • Click Start > Run (Windows Key + R)
  • Type the following command:

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\bin\SteamService.exe" /repair 

    (If you have installed Steam to another path, please replace C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam with the correct path.)

    This command requires administrator privileges and may take a few minutes.
  • Launch Steam and test the issue again. 

Conflicting Software

This issue can be caused by third party software interfering with your game or Steam. Please restart your computer, then launch Steam and the game without running any other third party software.

If you are trying to connect to your own server

If you have a server and a client behind the same router:

You will not be able to connect your client to your server from behind the router using the external IP address. You will not be able to connect to the Server by clicking on it in the full server browser window.

In fact, you will probably not be able to even see your Server in the ServerBrowser Window.

You must use the internal IP address.

What you do is go to:
Steam > Servers > Favorites then add your internal Server IP and port

For example: 192.168.1.100:27015 if this is what your Server says when you type in "Status" in the Server console.

Then always connect to your server from the favorites menu.

Two or more clients behind the same router

You might get this or an "expired" SteamID ticket if you are behind a router with other players and you are all trying to connect to the same server. Here is a detailed FAQ with information on how to fix this:

How can I have multiple clients playing games behind a router at the same time?

Check your Clock Settings

If this doesn't work then you need to check the date, time and year on your computer to make sure they are set properly. This should not be an issue with Steam itself, but it is a good idea to ensure it is set properly.

Two Computers, one Account Problem

Something else that can cause this is if there is another computer that is using the same Steam account.

When you log into a second computer with the same account that is running on the first, the Steam Ticket will invalidate on the first machine and transfer to the new Session.

This means that the first machine will then eventually prompt for a login to establish a new SteamUserID Ticket, and if the person on that machine logs in, then the ticket will then transfer back to him.

You need a unique Steam Account for each computer that is going to be online at the same time.

Stand-alone Server Uses a Steam Account

Stand-Alone Steam Dedicated Servers use a Steam Account, and if you are using the same Steam Account for your Stand-Alone Dedicated Server that you are using for your Client then this problem can occur as well.

Client Listen Servers and Client Dedicated Servers use the SteamID Ticket for the Client that they are run from so they don't have this problem.

Incompatible Networks

Complex Computer networks might be configured in such a way that the Steam client gets NAT translated twice before it can get to the Server. NAT translation is the process where many computers can share one IP address.

Steam works very well with NAT, but will not work with double NAT, Steam must be able to verify the identity of the client and validate the SteamUserID Ticket and double NAT will prevent this from happening. There are no plans to modify Steam for this situation.

Router Issues

Another cause of this problem is if you are trying to connect to your own server and both the server and client are behind the same router.

In this case, you must connect to the server using the internal IP address and not the external IP address. An easy way to do this is to add the Server internal IP address and port to your client "Favorite Servers" and connect that way.

Dual WAN Networks and Routers

There are a few routers available that will accept two Internet connections and then manage the bandwidth so the client computers get better performance than just one connection. Unfortunately, since each WAN connection has a unique IP address, and client packets have a 50/50 chance of traveling through either path, this will also cause Invalid SteamUserID Tickets to happen.

If you are trying to connect to a local server where your LAN has two paths to the internet (two parallel NATs) and you are hosting a Server on one side, you can try to connect via the "external" IP instead of using the LAN IP. It might be best however to dedicate one WAN connection to just the Server and then have the other WAN dedicated for Clients. Clients would use the external (normal) Server IP then.

The bottom line is that one of these two things must be true:

a. The IP that the Game Server sees you connecting from is the same IP that the Steam network sees you connecting from, or

b. It must appear to Steam that your Client and the Game Server are using the same IP (you are both behind the same NAT).

If you are unable to meet these requirements then your network will be incompatible with Steam.

Other Possibilities:

If this happens when you try to connect to a server, it might be because the Server or the Steam network is having problems. You need to try a different server or check on the Steam Status page and see what the current status is:

http://www.steampowered.com/status/status.html

Normally, if this is a problem on your client (game) it will prompt you to renew your Ticket.

 

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Reliable Channel Overflow

If you are getting Reliable Channel Overflow messages this suggests one of the following issues:

  • Your internet connection or the server's internet connection is having problems.
  • Your connection is overloaded, for example running a peer-to-peer filesharing application in the background.
  • There are other computers on your local network using your internet connection.
  • The server you are on has its network connection overloaded.
  • You are running on a wireless connection with a poor or inconsistent signal.
  • You have a Virus or Trojan or Internet Worm infection that is generating traffic.
  • You are connected to the internet using a dial-up or other low-speed connection.
  • You have your rate or cl_updaterate or cl_cmdrate settings too fast for your internet connection.

You can help to identify and eliminate the source of your problem by:

  1. Shut down all unnecessary programs on your computer before playing.
  2. Disconnect all other computers in your household to see if they are causing the problem.
  3. Scan all computers on your home network for virus/trojan and spyware.
  4. If you are running on a wireless network, try connecting using a direct ethernet cable and see if the problem goes away.  You will probably have to disable the "Wireless Zero" service while you are playing as well. 
  5. Follow recommended tuneup procedures for your 56K modem connection (but expect this error to happen from time to time with dial-up modems). Dr Tweak's Advanced 56k help guide
  6. Safe rates for dial-up connections are typically around 3500-5000, while broadband connections should be able to safely run 30000 or better. You set this in your game console (~ typically) by entering: rate <value>
  7. The default cl_updaterate is 20, setting the value to a higher number increases the download demand on your connection. Set this in your console: cl_updaterate 20
  8. The default cl_cmdrate is 30, setting the cale to a higher number increases the upload demoand on your internet connection.  Set this in your console: cl_cmdrate 30
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Secure connection failed, No Steam logon, or A connection to the VAC servers could not be made

This issue stems from four main sources: connection issues, security software, background applications and third-party anti-cheat applications.

Connection Issues

  • Firewalls and Routers

    If your computer is behind a router with a firewall, you must open the ports that Steam uses to connect to the Internet. Most embedded firewalls require you to open ports manually (they do not automatically learn your used ports). Routers without firewalls rarely need to have ports opened for a game client, but usually do for game servers.

    If you can specify ports to open, please use the ports specified in the following article: Required Ports for Steam

    After making any changes to your router and firewall settings please EXIT STEAM AND RESTART before attempting to connect to a secure server.

  • Router Problems

    Routers can cause connectivity problems, especially Wireless routers. If you have a stand-alone router and you are having connection problems, you can always bypass the router and plug your computer directly into your modem to see if the router is the problem.

    If you determine that the router is the source of the issue, please follow the Using a Router with Steam guide.

    Dual WAN Routers are not compatible with Steam.

  • Internet Connectivity Issues

    Check the stability and reliability of your Internet connection. An unstable connection can cause Steam to download improperly and connections to game servers time out.

    There are many online tools that help you to check for problems with your connection, here are two of the most popular ones:
    http://www.dslreports.com/tools
    http://www.speedguide.net/analyzer.php

    If you suspect that you are having a problem related to your Internet Connection, please contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Security Software

  • Security, Firewall, and Anti-Virus Software

    If you're using Internet security, firewall or anti-virus software, make sure they are set to recognize Steam.exe and all instances of HL.exe and HL2.exe as trusted programs. Please consult your security program manuals for instructions.

    Problems Directly After a Steam Update

    If you have a connection problem immediately after a Steam update, it is most likely being caused by a firewall.

    The best solution is to go to the firewall permissions and remove all references to Steam.exe, HL.exe and HL2.exe and let them be relearned again. Just because there are existing permissions does NOT mean they are correct permissions. Every time the Steam client is updated, your firewall permissions need to be reset.

    Multiple Firewalls

    Never run more than one firewall program at a time while using Steam. They can conflict with each other and cause many different connection problems. Examples of running multiple firewalls include:

    • Running the Windows firewall with your router's firewall simultaneously
    • Running the Windows firewall with Zone Alarm, Tiny Personal Firewall or some other third-party firewall application
    • Running the Windows firewall with your motherboard's built-in firewall (mainly an issue with nForce motherboards)

    After making any changes to your firewall, anti-virus or security software settings please EXIT STEAM AND RESTART before attempting to connect to a secure server. Once you have restarted you should be able to connect to VAC servers.

  • Peer Guardian

    Peer Guardian is not compatible with Steam. Please disable Peer Guardian before launching Steam to avoid connection issues.

Background Applications

  • P2P, FTP and Web Server Applications

    Do not run Peer-to-Peer (P2P) programs like BitTorrent, Kazaa, eMule, LimeWire or Exeem in the background. These programs can consume large portions of your bandwidth. The same is true for FTP and Webserver applications such as Apache, MySQL servers and Microsoft's IIS services.

    After exiting your Peer to Peer software please EXIT STEAM AND RESTART before attempting to connect to a secure server. Once you have restarted you should be able to connect to VAC servers.

  • Viruses, spyware and malware, netlimiting, anonymous IP masking programs

    Connection problems can also arise if your system is infected with a virus or spyware. We strongly recommend running virus checks while you are not using Steam if you suspect there is a virus or trojan on your system. For more information, please follow the Spyware, Adware, and Viruses Interfering with Steam topic.

    Programs like Cybersitter, Netlimiter, X-Fire and Stegnos Anonymous Internet can also interfere with normal Steam operations. Please disable these programs before launching Steam.

Third-party Anti-Cheat Applications

Using third-party anti-cheat applications, both server and client-side, is not necessary and may result in the errors outlined above. Do not use third-party anti-cheat applications while playing on a VAC secured server.

 

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Server uses different class tables

This error will commonly occur when an update has been released to a game through Steam and the server administrator has not yet updated the dedicated server which you are attempting to connect to.

The best solution would be to connect to advise the server administrator to update the dedicated server (if contact information is available) and connect to another server until the updates have been applied.

 

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Server Verification Failed

This error message indicates that the game server which you are attempting to connect to is unable to contact the Steam Authentication Servers.

Please observe the following process to determine whether the error is a result of a Steam outage, issues with the game server connecting to the Steam Authentication Servers, or an issue with your internect connection.

  1. Try joining several different game servers - if you are able to connect to a different game server, there is an issue with the game server which reported the Server Verification Failed error
  2. If you are not able to connect to any game servers, check the Steam Status page - if the Steam Players and Game Servers graph shows a very sharp decline in players, there may be a temporary Steam outage
  3. If there does not appear to be an outage, check your connection to the Steam Authentication Servers through the Steam client:
    1. Ensure that you are set as Online, Away, or Busy (not Offline) in the Steam Friends list (Friends > View Friends List...)
    2. In the friends list, ensure that you do not see a message indicating that you have lost your connection to the Steam Friends network.
  4. If Steam reports that you have lost your connection to the Steam Friends network, please exit and restart Steam. If you are still unable to connect upon logging back in and you have confirmed that there is not an outage, please see the Troubleshooting Network Connectivity topic to troubleshoot your connection problems.
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Unpredictable Server Browser behavior

 

NOTE:

This will delete all servers in your favorites and in your history.

 

Please exit Steam and rename the following files in your Steam and Steam\config\ directory:

  • ClientRegistry.blob
  • serverbrowser.vdf

By default, the files may be found at C:\Program Files\Steam\ (the location on your machine will vary if you specified a different installation folder, or if you have moved your Steam installation).

Steam will re-create these files for you the next time you run but it is a good idea to keep the old versions on hand.

 

Steam Rates

It is very important that you make sure your Steam rate is set properly. If, when opening the browser or pressing the refresh button, servers appear very slowly, then your rate may be set incorrectly. Please see the Setting Client Rates article for instructions on setting the proper rates.

 

Router Problem

Some routers may have firmware that experiences packet loss with high traffic, such as when a large number of servers are responding during a server browser refresh.  A symptom of this is starting a server refresh and always getting the same (or a similar) number of servers before the refresh stops completely, rather than simply pausing.  These routers will also typically go offline for a minute or so when this problem occurs.  The only solutions for this are to update your router's firmware or replace the router. Please see Troubleshooting Network Connectivity, step 1: "Test Your Router" to determine if this is your issue.

 

CyberCafe

If you are in a CyberCafe and there are a lot of players refreshing their browsers, this may cause problems in the CyberCafe network.  Reducing the Steam rate for all the workstations will help this problem.

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Your map differs from the servers

There are two specific things to watch for with this error.

Stock Maps
First, this usually only happens with "stock" maps which are automatically downloaded to clients when Steam releases updates to the maps.

Blame the Player!
Players that have extracted GCF content or offline downloaded maps and put them into their MAPS directory will have out of date Stock maps in their MAPS folder the next time that Steam updates those maps.

Players that try to connect to a Server that is running the new updated map will get this error.

Blame the Server!
On the flipside, when maps are updated some Servers may not have this new updated map, so when you try to join that Server of course it will differ from your Client map and you will also get this error, but the Server is at fault this time.

What you need to do is make sure is that you do not have the "old" Stock maps in your mod/maps folder, just your custom maps.

If you join a server and you get this error, then you just need to try another server until they fix the problem.

Watch for Problem Downloads
If you connect to a server and see it downloading one of the stock maps, you will want to quit and not allow that to happen, something just isn't right with that server.  If this happens then you will have to fix the problem by deleting the bad map from your maps directory.

Custom Maps
If you get this error with a custom map then either you have an old map or the server has an old map, you'll have to go look on the web for the latest version and install that if you wish to play.

There are two additional possibilities if the above situations still can't be resolved.

GCF Problem
There is a small chance that the stock map which is stored in your GCF might be damaged. In that case you will have to delete the local content for the game and re-download the content again to fix the problem. (just click on the game again and it will download)

Here are specific instructions on how to debug your problem:

Problem Fix - go back to Default
First thing to try is to rename your game folder temporarily and let Steam create a totally default installation.

You do this by exiting from Steam, then go to (for example):

C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\<account>\counter-strike\cstrike

and rename the counter-strike folder to this:

C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\<account>\~counter-strike\cstrike

When you start up Steam and then click on Counter-Strike in the games menu, Steam will quickly create a default installation.  Then you can go to a server running the map you were having a problem with and see you still get the error.

If the problem goes away then you know it's a bad map in your MAPS folder.

Still Have the Problem - Delete the GCF
If you still have the problem then you definitely have a bad GCF cache file and you'll need to re-download the content to fix your problem.

To delete the local content, go to the game that is causing you problems:
Steam > Play Games > then right-click on "Counter-Strike" (for example) and select properties.

There in that properties panel is the "delete local content" button.

You'll then have to re-download the content before you can play, just click on the game again and that will get things downloading again.

Special CZ Case
If you have this problem with CZ and you've done both items above without fixing your problem then you need to also delete the local content for CS.   CZ uses some of the CS Maps so if the problem persists then delete the local content for CS as well.

Router or Modem Problem
The other possibility is that you have a problem with your router / modem / internet connection that is garbling the communication from the server to your client.

If you are able to play on the stock maps at times but then without changing anything you can't, or you occasionally get disconnected from the server due to bad parse errors or some other misc host_errors, then you'll need to look into the problem with your equipment.

Do a search here for "parse error" or "host_error" for more information about that problem.

 

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