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How to change NAT type on a PC

You just got a new amazing game, and it’s time for an exciting match with your friends. You connect and start playing, but, all of a sudden, you start losing points because of an annoying lag. Your NAT type might be one of the culprits, so we’ll explain below how to change it on your PC.

Paulius Ilevičius

Paulius Ilevičius

How to change NAT type on a PC

What is NAT and what is its purpose?

Network address translation (NAT) is a method of remapping an IP address by modifying the information in a data packet’s header. Network packets are the packages of information that make up your traffic when it travels across a routing device.

NAT operates in the router and allows it to translate the private addresses of the entire network to a single public IP address. It turns the router into a mediator between your local network and the internet.

NAT connectivity issues

To have a better connectivity and gaming experience, take into account these connectivity issues that you might have to face due to stricter NAT settings:

  • Slower internet speed. It won’t be a big issue for daily browsing, but the slower connection speed could be much more noticeable while gaming. NAT is a firewall, so it can slow down your speed by restricting the flow of certain packages.
  • Unstable connection. Some packets might not reach their destination if NAT is configured incorrectly and/or devices don’t support end-to-end connectivity, which may result in internet connectivity problems.
  • Restricted voice chat. You might not be able to talk to other players or join lobbies until you adjust your settings.
  • You might not be able to host or play multiplayer games.
  • Matches don’t load and matchmaking is restricted. With a Strict NAT type, you might not be able to host matches or join a game hosted by an Open NAT, and matchmaking might take longer.

A safer alternative would be a VPN for PC. A VPN replaces your actual IP address with the IP address of the server you are connected to, wherever it is located, so you are no longer identified with the IP address of your real location. High quality VPN services also have fast servers for you to connect to that do not limit your internet speed. But the main benefit of a VPN is that it encrypts your internet traffic and protects your digital identity, which eliminates more than one security risk, while some NAT types simply do not do that.

What are the different NAT types?

NAT functions and technical specifications vary depending on the device, so we recommend checking them before changing your settings.

Open / NAT type 1

Open NAT has no restrictions. All the devices can freely send and receive data, and it has no firewall. It also easily connects with other NAT types.

While open NAT guarantees a smooth online experience with minimal lag and buffering, it is not a very safe option. It doesn’t provide firewall protection, so you are more vulnerable to hacking attacks when using it.

Moderate / NAT type 2

This NAT is more secure and leaves only a few ports open. It also employs a firewall to secure your network. While it is more secure, it may also slightly slow down your internet.

Strict / NAT type 3

This is the strictest and the most secure NAT type. It restricts the data entering the network and is also the safest of the three. Strict NAT protects you from various attacks and is enabled by default in most routers.

Its downside is that it slows down your internet, and you may experience more lag while gaming. This type can only connect to networks with open NAT, so you may experience connectivity problems more often.

NAT type comparison table

Is it safe to change your NAT type?

Different types of network address translation provide different levels of security. Change your NAT type only if you really understand what you’re doing, and if you know exactly what you are trying to achieve. NAT type 1 is less secure than type 2 or type 3, so by changing your NAT type, you might be putting your security at risk.

Where can I find my NAT type on a PC?

If you want to find your NAT type on a PC, you have to log into your router’s settings. Your router (also called a default gateway) has an IP address, which you need to type into your browser. It might look something like this: 192.168.0.1. After typing your login credentials, you will be able to access your router’s settings and find your NAT type on a PC.

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How to change your NAT type on a PC

Here are a few methods to change your NAT type.

UPnP method

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is a set of protocols that help devices in your network find each other. It also enables automatic port forwarding.

Before turning UPnP on, make sure to enable a static IP. The steps might differ depending on the router model, but they usually go like this:

  1. Open your router’s control panel in your browser and log in.
  2. Go to the settings and set UPnP to on.

Just beware that using UPnP makes you much more vulnerable online. UPnP devices usually lack authentication mechanisms, making you more vulnerable to cyberattacks. It also experiences the so-called CallStranger loophole, allowing attackers to exploit it for DDoS, enumeration, and other attacks. To avoid these threats, make sure to implement the latest upgrades for the UPnP system.

Windows Network Discovery method

If you use Windows, you can use Network Discovery to change NAT:

1. Click the “Start” menu button.

Windows Network Discovery instruction - Click the Start menu button

2. Go to “Settings.”

Windows Network Discovery instruction - Click on Settings

3. Click “Network and internet.”

Windows Network Discovery instruction - Click on Network and internet option

4. Choose “Wi-Fi.”

Windows Network Discovery instruction - Choose Wi-Fi

5. Then click “Change advanced sharing options.”

Windows Network Discovery instruction - Click on Change advanced sharing options

6. Enable the “Turn on network discovery” option and check the “Turn on automatic setup of network-connected devices” box.

Windows Network Discovery instruction - Select Turn on automatic setup of network-connected devices box

Port forwarding method

The is one of the easiest methods to change NAT. First, enable the port forwarding function in your router settings. Here is how to do that:

  1. You will probably find the port forwarding option in the settings section of your router’s control panel. Enable it.
  2. Then you should find out the port numbers your games use and enter them in the list. Do not forget to add your IP address next to it.
  3. Select a device you wish to point the traffic to.
  4. Select the TCP and UDP options.
  5. Save the changes and reboot your router.

Configuration file method

For this method, you should:

  1. Go to your router’s configuration panel.
  2. Find “Save or Restore Configuration” or a similarly named option.
  3. Choose the option to back up configuration.
  4. Save the file when a window pops up.
  5. Make an extra copy of the file for the backup.
  6. Open the file.
  7. Then find the “last bind”.
  8. Under “last bind”, type in “bind application=CONE(UDP) port=5555-5555” (replace the port number with the ones used by your game). If you wish to open several ports, add as many lines as needed with different port numbers below the one you typed in.
  9. Save the file, return to your router’s configuration panel, and find the option where you can load the configurations from your hard drive. Then load the file you’ve just modified.
  10. Click “Restore configuration” or a similarly named option.
  11. Restart your router after the configuration loads up.

Is it possible to change the NAT type on other devices?

Yes, you can change NAT types on multiple gaming consoles. If you are having connection problems and other issues that diminish your gaming experience, you can always change the NAT type on your device, including Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.

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Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius is a technology and art enthusiast who is always eager to explore the most up-to-date issues in cybersec and internet freedom. He is always in search for new and unexplored angles to share with his readers.