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Connection issues are one of the most difficult things to troubleshoot. There are a myriad of things that can affect your connection, some of which are completely out of the hands of Blizzard and you. Here are a list of things you can do to help troubleshoot your issue, and hopefully get it resolved.
The first thing to do when you're having connection issues is to reboot everything. Turn everything off. Computer, router AND modem. Then, in the following order, turn the modem on. Let it come completely up and sync with the network. Then turn the router on, again, letting it sync with the network. Then turn your PC on. Check to see if the issue persists.
Wireless Connections Edit
If you're having connection issues, one of the first things you should do is hardwire your system directly to the modem. Does the issue persist? If not, check the following.
- 2Wire modems are notorious for being just plain junk. Try changing your wireless connection from Wireless G to Wireless B.
- While the standard has been finalized, many are using routers that were made before the Wireless N standard was finalized. You may need to go to Wireless G or B in order to obtain a stable connection.
- Move closer to the router. Walls, electronics, etc., will have an effect on your wireless connection. If at all possible, you should be in the same room with the wireless router. If this is not possible, get a repeater and place it half way between your computer and the router. Most repeaters require that they be hardwired to the router itself. One, the Linksys WRE54, does not. However, unless you're VERY good with networking and working with your TCP/IP settings, they can be very challenging to set up.
When you're having connection issues (wireless or hardwired), you should check your router to ensure it has the latest firmware installed. Also verify that the following TCP ports are not blocked: 3724, 1119, 4000, and 6112-6114. As for port 3724, if you use the built in voice chat, you'll need to ensure 3724 UDP is also opened.
Some things to check on your computer. Is your firewall set to allow the game client through to the network? Have you tried with the firewall off? Some software packages claim they allow you to turn the firewall off, but in reality, it's still active in the background. Norton is famous for this. If you're having issues, you may want to just remove it from your machine until you've narrowed the issue down. Better yet, get rid of it totally and get something better.
Sometimes, the DNS cache on your computer gets corrupted, or something changes on the Internet and conflicts with the DNS cache on your machine. What you'll need to do is flush the DNS cache. To do this, click on Start, go to your Accessories folder and open the Command Prompt (note: if you're using Vista or Windows 7, you'll need to right mouse click on the command entry and select Run as Administrator).
Once the command prompt is open, type: ipconfig /flushdns
Bear in mind, this will often drop your Internet connection, so a machine restart may be in order.
There have been some issues with the Windows firewall and Netgear routers. If you run this combination, turn the Windows firewall off and see if the issue clears up.
Network Interface Cards (NICs) Edit
Most users will go their entire life without seeing an actual network interface card. With today's PC, they're built into the motherboard, and they tend to last as long as the PC does. However, I've seen those "onboard" NICs go bad for one reason or another. (I had one go due to a transformer explosion around the corner of the house. Rest of the PC was fine, NIC was toast.) It's always a good idea to have a spare NIC or two on hand for troubleshooting purposes. They're not expensive at all (10-20 bucks on Newegg).
There are times where Tech Support may have you modify the settings of your NIC. We're not going to get into that here, but we will show you how to bring those settings up. Go into the Device Manger and expand the section "Network Adapters". You should see some type of Ethernet Adapter listed there. If you double click on that entry, you'll then see something like this:
Click on the "Advanced" tab and you'll find the settings that Tech Support wants you to check and/or modify.
Some network cards not have any settings like this in Device Manager, so don't panic if you don't see the same thing.
Often, a user will be asked to provide the results of a traceroute. This is useful to determine if there are any issues between the user's computer and the realm servers. Users should bear in mind that even if your trace looks good, that doesn't mean there isn't a network issue. Networks utilizing packet shaping on specific ports will not show as having issues with the Windows version of traceroute.
Your typical traceroute will look like this:
The timeouts from hop 18 to 30 are normal. You'll also notice that the actual realm server IP is never shown at the end of the trace. In fact, some traces will show the IP as "unreachable". This, too, is normal. ICMP packets are often blocked or dropped at the server level to help mitigate DDoS attacks.
As far as this trace is concerned, it's fairly normal. It's showing a slight issue at hop 15 and 17, but it's not something to be overly concerned about.
Notice hop 1? All the times are less than 1ms. This is a good thing, and your trace should show something similar. (And this is on my wireless connection, too!) If you're showing anything higher than 5ms on your first hop, you need to work on getting that lowered.
To do a traceroute, do the following. Click on Start, go to your Accessories folder and open the Command Prompt (note: if you're using Vista or Windows 7, you'll need to right mouse click on the command entry and select Run as Administrator).
At the command prompt, type: tracert xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
(where xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is the IP address of the server you're tracing to).
WoWpedia has a complete list of realm servers and IP addresses. However, these IP addresses can change and you may be tracing to an IP address that no longer belongs to the realm server you play on. To determine the actual IP address of your realm server, do the following.
Start WoW and log into your realm. Once you're logged in, press Alt-Tab and go back to your desktop. Open the Command Prompt again using the procedures listed above. Once it's open, type: netstat
You should see something like this:
Notice the entry that shows: TCP 192.168.1.100:55190 220.127.116.11:3724 TIME_WAIT
The port number :3724 is what you're looking for. The set of numbers just before that is the IP address of your realm server.
Another excellent program is 3D Traceroute from www.d3tr.de. You can leave this program running in the background, and it will provide a graph of your latency between you and the target server. Very useful for determining if there's an issue between you and the realm server. You can save the images and provide them to your ISP as proof there's something going on. While it may not be on your ISPs network, they're still required to pass any issues up the chain as a peer partner.
Speaking of ISPs, don't try to argue with the Tier I script monkey. If you're seeing network issues, insist on speaking with Tier II. THOSE are the guys you'll want to deal with if you're seeing any issues on the network itself. And again, this isn't just for issues found with your ISP. Remember, as a peer partner, they're required to pass any issues found up the chain until it gets to the proper provider. And no, this is NOT the responsibility of Blizzard.
Packet shaping Edit
As mentioned earlier, the Windows version of Traceroute will not always show there's an issue with your connection. The reason for this is traceroute sends the packets using ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol). This is a special set of instructions designed to query for errors on the network. And with the Windows version of traceroute, you can't specify the port you wish to trace to. Bear in mind, just because you have a good trace to the server, doesn't always mean that everything is fine. Your ISP could be using packet shaping on port 3724 which will kill your latency to the realm server. Packet shaping is used for a few reasons, the primary reason being bandwidth throttling. By using packet shaping, an ISP can allow unfettered access to webpages via port 80, yet delay the connections on port 3724, resulting in extremely high latency in game, and trace after trace will look just fine.
Most ISPs won't tell you if they're using packet shaping (although some university campus IT departments will). Comcast was one of the most recent providers caught doing it, although they vehemently denied it. It's rumored that some Australian providers also use packet shaping.
The Glasnost Transparency Project can be used to assist you in determining if you have an issue with the higher ports on your connection.
College networks Edit
Many universities have locked down the required ports needed for game play due to file sharing issues. Many are under the misconception that they must lock these ports down, or face loss of federal funding. This is not the case. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act require universities to actively seek out and punish those who participate in illegal file sharing practices. However, instead of doing that, many campuses just block all peer to peer ports in an effort to comply with the law.
And even though the ports may be open, they may enforce packet shaping on them. This will result in higher than normal latency between you and the realm servers. And this practice isn't limited to just campus networks. Some ISPs have been known to utilize packet shaping as well. The problem is, you can't determine if this is the case by a simple traceroute (unless you're using Linux). ICMP packets are sent differently and are usually allowed unimpeded through the network (although some campus networks will block ICMP packets as well).
About the only thing you can do is approach your campus IT department and inquire if they use packet shaping. If they do, Blizzard will work with them to open the required ports for traffic destined to the realm servers, while leaving the rest of the packet shaping intact for all other traffic. Some IT departments are open to doing this, others are not. Your mileage may vary.