Have you been setting up your PlayStation for online gaming and been curious about the NAT type? NAT is one of the more crucial elements when considering how your computer or console connects. Today’s guide will cover the ins and outs of NAT, how it relates to your network, and the different types in use.
There’s a lot of acronyms and jargon in play when looking at how networks actually work. NAT isn’t a complicated thing to understand, though it does get pretty in-depth if you go digging. You don’t have to be a network administrator to understand how it relates, however.
NAT is short for network address translation. You’ve got two sets of IP, or internet protocol, addresses in play at any given time. There are private ones, as you might have on a local area network. Then there are the public ones, like the ones you interact with when browsing the web. NAT acts as a middleman between these two differing sets of IP addresses.
NAT is a crucial factor when looking at how your computer actually connects to the internet. If you’ve worked in an office, you understand the importance of the local area network. You’ll have the same sorts of IP addresses to interact with when going out to the wider web, or any other network for that matter.
How It Applies to Your Connection
You are constantly using NAT, and the type in use does affect how you connect. Just doing something simple like pulling up a web page has a multitude of processes running in the background, all of which rely on network address translation to function.
Anytime you’re online playing something like Fortnite, you’re also using NAT. You might notice connectivity issues with the console, which does reflect on the NAT type. Further, as networking needs surpass the available number of IPv4 addresses, there has to be a translation from IPv6 to IPv4.
NAT helps with this, making sure you still retain the same private IP addresses while allowing you to interact with IPv6 resources on the web. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive primer on the whole of networking, but NAT is one of the key factors in how anyone accesses anything online.
The Different NAT Types
There are different types of NAT to keep track of. Honestly, if you’re just using your computer, tablet, or another device to browse the web these won’t make a huge difference. However, you will see some issues arise if you do a lot of online gaming.
The NAT type for your console or PC can play a huge role in how effectively you connect to online gaming services, since these often encompass more than just a direct connection. Thankfully, changing your NAT type can be easily done provided you have a bit of patience and a little know-how.
Type 1 refers to a device being directly connected to the internet. However, as this isn’t generally advised for your own personal safety, there are ways around this. You can place your intended game console or computer behind something known as a demilitarized zone. DMZs are great for placing a device out of band so you can have more access to online services.
Typically, it isn’t advised for most gamers or computer users to go for a Type 1 NAT. However, this might be required by certain consoles like the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 to maintain connectivity and utilize the voice services required on PlayStation Plus.
If you’re using your computer for browsing the web or social media, it isn’t advised to have a direct connection to the internet. Most consumer routers have some safety features that prevent things like unwanted connections and intrusions. They can also prevent known malicious addresses from being accessed.
A Type 2 NAT refers to a computer or console being connected to a router or one that has an active firewall. You might have some form of port forwarding enabled, which allows freer access to certain network connections. If you do a lot of online gaming, a Type 2 NAT is a great compromise. You aren’t flying solo necessarily, as you still retain a lot of security.
However, it is more open than other types of connections. This means there is still an inherent risk of intrusion, especially if a hacker is targeting a port or connection used by common services. That said, you should be fine using a Type 2 NAT for most things online.
Microsoft’s Xbox recommends a Type 2 NAT for connecting to most online services. You can also use this readily on a PlayStation console. However, you might have to set some port forwarding rules in place for certain services. For PC gamers, it can be a mixed bag that you’ll have to adjust per game.
Type 3 is the most restrictive NAT type. This assumes your computer or gaming console is behind multiple routers or firewalls. Most household networks aren’t going to have this level of security, but it can happen. This isn’t really a usable NAT Type for online gaming. Where it excels is in making sure a computer or other device has the necessary connections without compromising the network.
Type 3 NATs are highly secure but might leave you out of online gaming. Online voice chatting services like Discord might also have poor functionality. Type 3 NATs are more common in enterprise environments, where you’re typically not doing company-wide Fortnite sessions.
How NAT Types Affect Your Connectivity
So, with all this in mind, how does this affect your connection? The NAT Type you have configured can make a major impact on the overall strength of your online life.
What Type Is Best for Gaming?
A Type 1 or Type 2 NAT is going to be the best overall fit for online gaming. Playing multiplayer games has different sorts of requirements than you might find in an office or general browsing needs. There are a number of ways to get a more open NAT, like Type 1. It isn’t generally recommended to go fully open, however.
This is especially true on PC games, as you’re opening a very delicate system up to the internet as a whole. Type 2 is a better general fit, but you’ll have to be comfortable with your router’s settings to get what you really want out of the configuration.
What Type Is Best for General Use?
Type 2 or Type 3 should provide enough security for the average user. In an ideal world, most users would be running on a more restrictive NAT type. Cyber security is a growing concern, especially in light of recent federal initiatives in the United States to safeguard against intrusions and breaches.
Type 3 is highly restrictive in terms of concurrent connections and services allowed. However, it does provide the greatest degree of security possible. Type 2 is a great compromise, giving at least an umbrella of safety with provisions for a firewall or whitelist of some sort.
You might need a little networking know-how to get things up and rolling, however. Which, in all honesty, is probably a good thing for any user to be aware of. Being conscious about the decisions you’re making with your home network and the potential risks posed is a vital skill to have in mind.
As a general rule of thumb, Type 2 NAT will be your best for overall efficacy. If you run a business from home or you’re a sysadmin, Type 3 is pretty much a given.
Hopefully, you come away with a better understanding of NAT. As has been said, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive primer on how the internet and network connections function. Instead, it’s a top-down view, meant to illuminate what things mean if you’re a big online gamer or in need of a way to connect on Zoom.
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