Most of us in the world are in a pretty difficult spot right now – locked away in our own homes with not a lot to do, and no clear answer yet as to when we can get back to work.
Understandably, to alleviate the boredom many of us turn to online pursuits of various forms (video, gaming, social media, films), with the result that internet usage in the developed world especially has soared in the last few weeks.
This can put pressure on both local networks in the home (everyone stuck indoors using the internet at the same time) and also on ISPs more generally, as they struggle with increased traffic demands at peak times as people that would normally be at work are gaming online to pass the time.
So far, the evidence is that most ISPs are handling this increased demand OK so far, with some minor hiccups. PSN has already said that download speeds may be slower, and Netflix and Youtube have also said streaming quality may be slightly lower because of increased bandwidth use – see here.
What steps can PS4 online gamers take to still get the best experience during the Covid-19 lockdown? Lag or ping can be a big problem whenever network congestion (lots of people using the internet at the same time) is a factor.
Here are some quickfire steps which can help reduce lag or ping during periods like this where internet use is higher across the board, both internally within homes and externally within entire countries in lockdown:
1. Wherever possible, online gamers should use wired connections wherever possible and get off Wi-Fi if they can.
2. Online gamers can use router settings like Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize their gaming traffic on the home network to keep ping down.
3. Manually configuring DNS servers on your PS4 can sometimes help deliver better download speeds.
4. Using other settings like DMZ configuration on your router can get the best possible connection to other gamers.
Let’s look at each of these points in turn in more detail – actionable steps to help online PS4 gamers get a better experience during high demand times.
1. Use Wired Connections Instead of Wireless Whenever Possible
This is a crucial first step for all online gamers, whether on PS4 or any other platform. It is far better to be on wired ethernet connections than on Wi-Fi for any fast paced online multiplayer game.
For slower turn based games, and at times where there is less overall internet use, Wi-Fi can for sure sometimes be OK. However, when you have so many people trying to use the internet at the same time in one house, this is when the weaknesses of Wi-Fi with network congestion and lag can start to show up.
If you are trying to game online on Wi-Fi upstairs, while someone else is also trying to use Netflix, and someone else is trying to stream YouTube, all on the same network, the router is having to juggle all these bandwidth demands at once. This can put pressure on the router as it cannot do everything at once, and this is when you can start to lag when playing online.
Moving onto a wired connection for gamers avoids a lot of these problems, since a wired connection represents a dedicated, uncluttered communication channel between your games console and your router. You are not competing over the same frequency or “space” as you are with wireless connections.
Wired connections are also simply better than wireless in general for online gaming, avoiding so many of the problems with signal degradation and inconsistency which are common with Wi-Fi anyway, whether lots of people are using it or not.
Long ethernet cables are readily available on Amazon anyway, but what if your PS4 is so far away from the router that you can’t (or don’t want to) run a long cable all the way down to your router? How can you get off Wi-Fi while keeping your PS4 where it is?
This is where powerline adapters can come in as a clever home networking solution, allowing you to run a wired connection to your router without using long cables.
They consist of a pair of adapter plugs, one of which is plugged in and connected to your router; the other of which is plugged in and connected to your games console. The two plugs then communicate through the existing electrical wiring of the house to deliver a wired ethernet connection to your device without any DIY or long cables needed.
They are an excellent way of getting off Wi-Fi and onto a wired connection, without needing long wires running through the house, and once you are on a wired connection, you avoid so many of the problems with lag and congestion on Wi-Fi.
See the video below for a 2 minute demonstration of how powerline technology works.
Click here to view the basic TP Link Nano Powerline Adapter on Amazon.
Other models are also available – see our page on Powerline Adapters for a breakdown.
2. Use Quality of Service Settings to Manage Congestion on Your Home Network
This is another good option for managing network congestion when you have the situation that is very common at present with the lockdown – lots of people stuck in the same house trying to use the internet at the same time.
If you find you are lagging a lot playing online multiplayer games when other people are using the internet, then some routers have a Quality of Service or QoS setting that allows you to manage traffic demands on the network.
This is especially important if you are stuck on Wi-Fi and can’t get on a wired connection at all – moving onto a wired connection as we suggested above helps a lot with congestion issues – but is useful for all gamers to implement if available on your home router.
Implementing Quality of Service settings tells your router to process traffic demands in a very specific order, prioritizing your PS4 first over other devices, hopefully reducing lag during peak use times.
Here are the steps to configure Quality of Service or QoS settings (note – this feature is not available on all routers unfortunately):
- Make a note of the IP and MAC address of your games console. They can easily be found in the Connection Status/Settings menus of your console.
- Login to the router using it’s IP address and password, IP commonly 192.168.0.1 (or 192.168.1.1)
- Go to Quality of Service or QoS settings, often under “Advanced” settings or similar.
- You should see a list of devices on the home network. You should be able to identify yours by the MAC and IP address you noted down earlier. Your device might need to be on for the router to recognise it.
- Set your games console to “Highest” or “Maximum” priority and make sure any non latency essential devices are set to a lower priority. Streaming devices should still be given a high priority if not quite as high as gaming devices.
- Apply or save settings and exit the router. You should now have Quality of Service enabled for your games console!
- See our full article on QoS for more details.
- QoS is not available on all routers.
A Demonstration of Quality of Service Settings in Action
This can be another excellent way of getting around the “busyness” of home networking at this strange time of lockdown.
When used correctly by gamers, it can be as though you are the only one on the internet at home, even if you aren’t.
3. Changing DNS Settings to Give Better Speeds on Your PS4
This is another quick thing we can do to try and resolve connection issues on the PS4. Quite simply, sometimes game servers, Sony, and ISP servers in general can be overloaded by increased traffic demands, causing DNS error codes and other connection issues to come up, or else very slow download and upload speeds when we test our internet connection.
Changing your DNS servers to Google DNS, or a different pair, can sometimes resolve this issue by connecting you to game servers through a different route to the one your ISP would normally choose for you (Default DNS Settings).
Here is how you manually change the DNS servers on your PS4:
- Go to Settings….Network……Set Up Internet Connection
- Select Wi-Fi or LAN depending on your connection. Plug into your router and use wired if the wifi doesn’t work.
- Select Custom setup
- Run through all the settings as they are, without changing them, until you get to DNS Settings
- For DNS Settings, switch to Manual
- Input these Google DNS servers: Primary: 126.96.36.199 Secondary: 188.8.131.52
- You can also use other free DNS servers; here are two common pairs:
- Cloudflare DNS – Primary 184.108.40.206 Secondary 220.127.116.11
- Open DNS – Primary 18.104.22.168 Secondary 22.214.171.124
- If one pair don’t work, try another pair. In times of peak internet use, keep trying different DNS servers if you keep getting this problem.
- If you are already using your own custom pair of DNS servers and are getting this error, then try switching to another pair of manual servers, or else switching back to Automatic settings for DNS.
- See just below for a video demo of how to do this.
Here is the lowdown on what changing DNS servers can and cannot do for PS4 users and other online gamers:
Reducing Latency/Lag/Ping – No real evidence to suggest it helps with this, unless you have really low upload speeds to begin with, and changing your DNS servers significantly improves them. Can in rare cases help. See our article on this.
Improving Download/Upload Speeds – Can make a real difference changing them if your default DNS servers are providing very slow speeds. Can help with streaming and downloading. Be aware though that Sony has slowed down speeds anyway because of the lockdown. Changing them may or may not allow you to get around this to some extent.
4. Using DMZ Settings To Get The Best Possible Connection to Other Gamers
We have already covered what steps we can take to manage congestion on your home network, but is there anything we can do to get the best connection possible to other gamers on the internet?
The best answer to this is to use DMZ settings on your router. Placing your PS4 or other games console into the DMZ section of your router fully opens it up to the internet for the best possible connection to the wider internet, and game servers and other players in general.
The general benefits of using DMZ are as follows:
- Removes all firewall filtering and fully opens the console up to the internet.
- As a result, delivers best possible connection. Is a quick and easy way of opening up all ports to your PS4 (other more complex ways of doing this are possible; DMZ is relatively easy).
- Can help to reduce lag and connection issues with other players.
- Can help to bypass restrictive settings on some home/campus networks that can make it difficult to connect to online lobbies.
- Puts you on Open NAT Type (Type 1) – the best NAT Type for gaming – allowing the best connection to most players. Great if you keep getting lobby connection issues or party chat errors.
- Is safe to do for games consoles (not always safe for other devices).
Here are the general steps to place your PS4 or other games console in the DMZ part of your router:
- Prep – Log into your router using it’s IP address (often 192.168.0.1 or 1.1 for last two) plus password found on the back or online. Find DMZ settings and check whether it asks for an IP address or MAC address to configure. MAC address is easier option. If it requires IP address then follow the steps in the video to set a static IP address.
- Find and note down your console’s IP and/or MAC address in the Connection Status/Settings menu depending on what the router needs entering. These settings are easy to find within the menus of all games consoles.
- If required make the current IP address fixed or static by reconfiguring your connection manually with the IP address as described in this video. We also have an article on how to do it here. If the router only requires a MAC address entering in DMZ then you don’t need to do this step.
- Log into your router using it’s IP address and password, found on the back or on Google. 192.168.0.1 or 1.1 is most common for the IP address. Type this into your browser’s address bar and enter the router password.
- Go to DMZ settings, usually under “Security” or “Advanced” or similar.
- Enter in your console’s static IP address you just configured if needed, or MAC address depending on what it asks for. If it asks for just the MAC address the whole process is easy; some routers ask for an IP address which requires we configure a static IP as detailed above.
- Save settings and exit router. You have now placed your console in the DMZ for fully open ports and Open NAT type.
- See our article on DMZ for more on this.
Other Things to Bear in Mind
We have tried to give readers some “best practice” steps to take to get the best possible connection to other gamers online, as well as try to get around any congestion issues with home networks and the wider internet in the current lockdown.
However, there are some things which may be out of control of gamers stuck in their homes. Here are some other factors which can come into play:
- PSN may simply be down at times due to very high demands, maintainence or server issues. So far the Playstation Network seems to have held up well during the Covid-19 crisis, but this may change.
- You can check the current status of PSN here. In cases of outages, there is not much to do but wait for the servers to come back online. See our article on PSN outages.
- As we already mentioned, Sony have already said that they will slow download speeds on their network to compensate for the increased usage at the moment. So you may not be able to get the speeds you did before the lockdown, though it’s always worth trying the steps we mentioned.
- See our article on some tips if digital downloads are taking a long time – which is likely during this lockdown with slower speeds in general. Downloading in Rest Mode is the best hack here.
- Some network congestion may be unavoidable, and it may be better to wait until off peak times when the home network and wider internet in general is less busy, especially for downloading larger files on your PS4.
- Also expect slightly poorer quality on YouTube and Netflix streaming as these providers are already managing bandwidth demands.
If you are getting PS4 connection error codes, see our library of solution articles – we’ve got guides to fix most of the common NW- error codes.
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