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Xbox Is Slow? Port Forwarding Vs. Port Triggering

There are 65,535 ports on a computer. Think of them as doors.

There are 65,535 ports on a computer. Think of them as doors.

My Xbox 360 is slow or intermittent.

If your Xbox is slow or intermittent, you may need to login to your router to enter specific port numbers. Without these, often you will notice the Xbox lag or latency, games getting stuck in the same spot every time, or even worse, dropping games. You may be unable to download from the Xbox 360 Live servers as well. Entering these port number settings in your router will often eliminate these problems and improve the performance of your Xbox immediately.

If you have never heard of this before or are unsure of what all of this means, most likely this is the problem. Please keep reading.

What are the XBox 360 ports?

Your router has a firewall inside of it. It's job is to stop and analyze the traffic coming into your network and filter out unwanted communications. It does that to help protect your computers and devices inside your network, or home. Think of a port as an electronic door. Most ports are blocked by your router by default (the door is locked). If it does not know of any good reason it should be unlocked (putting in the port information), it keeps them locked even when traffic is coming in and banging on the door.

With that said, throughout your game play, the Xbox tries to communicate out of these special ports to the Xbox Live servers. When it communicates out and is waiting for a long period of time for a response, it can cause the game to hesitate or run slowly until it gives up. That is why the Xbox is slow, it drops your game or can not communicate with the Xbox Live Servers.

So what ports do I need to open to improve the performance of the Xbox?

The following ports need to be opened for proper communication to Xbox LIVE:

  • Port 88 (UDP)
  • Port 3074 (UDP & TCP)
  • Port 53 (UDP & TCP)
  • Port 80 (TCP)
  • Port 1863 (UDP & TCP) — If you use Video Kinect

Port Forwarding Vs. Port Triggering for Gaming

Port Forwarding requires you to point the port numbers you enter to the IP address of your game station by hard keying the Xbox IP address into the router.

By default, the Xbox is set up for dynamic IP's, which means that the router gives it a IP address when the Xbox powers up. If you were to leave the Xbox set to its default IP settings of dynamic, it would stay the same until you shut it down. Every time you boot the Xbox back up in the future, there is a possibility that the router could give it a different IP address than the one it had originally (that you keyed into the router). If the router is Port Forwarding to an IP address that the Xbox no longer has in the future, you would experience the original problem once again.

To fix this Port Forwarding / Dynamic IP address problem, it gets more complicated. You could manually set up a static IP (one that you assign to the Xbox and will not change), but is it worth all this trouble and settings if there is a simpler solution that works just as well?

Port Triggering does not require you to enter any IP address information. Port Triggering eliminates the problem described above and is quicker and easier to set up and for the Xbox usually works great. Make it easy on yourself and try Port Triggering first.
Port Triggering is kind of like autopilot for ports. If it sees an IP trying to communicate out of a certain port or ports, when traffic comes back on those ports, it assumes that it goes back to the originating device.

To set up either Port Forwarding or Port Triggering, you would need to log in to your router first. Inside the router you want to look for the sections possibly called Gateway, NAT or Virtual Servers. Inside there you should see the Port Forwarding and Port Triggering section. Every router is a little different, so you may have to hunt around to find it. Give Port Triggering a try first.

I am having trouble figuring out how to enter the Ports.

It should be asking for an internal start and end port and an external start and end port. You would want to do the same number in all spots. For example, the first port on our list is Port 88 and it needs to be a TCP. You would want the number 88 in every port number start and end spot and then choose what type (for port 88, TCP). Then continue entering the other port numbers on the list.

The reason it asks for a starting port and an ending port is in case you had a range of numbers. For example, if Xbox so happened to use ports 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94 and 95 (which it does not) you could put the start ports at 88 and the end ports at 95. That way you don't have to do eight separate lines of entries in the router... just one. This is not the case, it is just and example so that you would understand it is for entering a range of port numbers if needed.

If you chose the Port Triggering it should not be asking for any internal or private IP address information. If it asks for any External IP address information, leave it blank or all zeros, the default setting. It is not necessary to enter an IP. The purpose of the external IP address is in case you were trying to limit traffic from just a certain IP address from the outside world.

While you are in the router, also look for a setting called UPnP. Xbox recommends that UPnP is enabled. You may have to browse through all the screens in your router looking for it. It is usually a check box item on a page with a lot of other check box items. If you have a Gateway option on the menu, it is usually under there and then click on Options. If not, just keep clicking trough the different menus, it's in there. Different wireless routers have different menu options, but they all have this basic setting.

Ethernet a Slow Xbox


The Xbox is slow even after entering the Xbox port numbers.

You can also try to temporarily move the Xbox over to where the modem is and hardwire it (connect it with a network cable) directly to your modem. Now give it a try. Does it work better that way? Answering this question should determine if the wireless is the issue or eliminate it as the cause.

Xbox wireless is slow, but if I connect it with a network cable, it works great.

If wireless is the issue and your Xbox 360 is to far away from the modem to keep it permanently wired, there is a really nice and simple solution. It is called a Netgear Powerline adapter. What is nice is that there is no real setup, just plug them in and you will get "wired" speeds up to 200Mbps!

Obviously it is much faster than Xbox 360 wireless. It works by using the electrical wiring in you home as a network or Ethernet cable. One Netgear Powerline adapter device plugs in to an electrical outlet by the Xbox in one room of the house, the other into the electrical outlet by the router in the other room of the house. Both of the Powerline electrical adapters have an Ethernet port on each box. Connect the Xbox to its adapter in the same room and the router to the Powerline adapter in the routers room and you are done. You have just ran a wired connection from one side of the house to the other without fishing wires through walls or climbing around in the attic.

The best part is that in the future, if you ever decide to move the Xbox to another room or move from one house to another, it is quick and easy to reconfigure. You just unplug the Netgear Powerline adapters, and plug them back in where you need them in the future. Now you have just "rewired" the house to a different configuration in seconds. I highly recommend them as it will save yourself the frustration of a slow Xbox and the time and expense of running a networking cable through the walls and the attic.

It really pays for itself every time you move houses or move the equipment from one room to another. It has saved me from rewiring houses many times and has more than paid for itself.

I just want to try to improve my slow Xbox wireless.

If you determined earlier that the Xbox does work well wired, but not wireless, the first thing you would want to check is the signal strength on the Xbox:

  1. Go to Settings and choose System.
  2. Choose Network Settings.
  3. Choose Test Xbox LIVE Connection.

If you see that you are at two bars or less, or would appreciate some helpful tips, please see my article on how to improve slow wireless issues in general.

The Xbox is slow connected wired and wireless.

If this is the case, there may be an issue with your internet connection itself. The best thing to do in this case is to properly test your internet connection. If you are having problems with the internet connection itself, it will reflect on the Xbox's performance as well as the performance of any other networked devices, wired and wireless. You may also want to consider a gaming router over a standard router.

Slow Xbox Issue