How to get Open NAT on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One by enabling UPnP — and why you should

Xbox One S white console with controller
Xbox One S (Image credit: Windows Central)

When encountering connectivity issues on Xbox One, your Network Address Translation (NAT) type is the first place to look. NAT determines how easily you connect to other players, potentially limiting who you can enjoy games with. While various solutions can alter your NAT type, enabling Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is generally accepted as the first step.

Why you need Open NAT on Xbox One

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When connected to Xbox Live and playing online games, you may have seen terms indicating the leniency of NAT types. This somewhat represents your compatibility with other players, with stricter NAT types often experiencing issues with multiplayer connectivity. A good way of showing how NAT influences connectivity is through a handy grid (below). This shows the compatibility between NAT types and why aiming for Open NAT makes for the best overall experience.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 OpenModerateStrict
ModerateRow 1 - Cell 3
StrictRow 2 - Cell 2 Row 2 - Cell 3

Users with Open NAT will usually see the best experience on Xbox Live. While getting your NAT open is ultimately the goal for the best connectivity, this has proven difficult for many users. One of the standard solutions is port forwarding, helping to route gaming traffic directly to your console.

Understanding UPnP in gaming

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Ports are digital channels for your router, used for sorting incoming and outgoing internet traffic. UPnP essentially allows applications to forward ports automatically, avoiding the hassle of manual "port forwarding." Although they often achieve the same result, UPnP allows the console to request a port seamlessly rather than requiring specific port numbers to be entered manually. And for many, it's a simple flick of a switch.

You should note that UPnP has seen heavy criticism due to the technology's long list of security flaws. Malicious programs can leverage UPnP vulnerabilities simply because of its open nature. So there might be some related security risk here. The technology is also far from standardized, meaning implementations can vary between routers, especially on older or less reputable models. It's a case of slightly relaxing security for convenience, though generally, the risk isn't high for home users.

To maintain higher levels of security, port forwarding only creates specific port maps but requires a bit of manual work.

How to enable UPnP for Xbox One

Xbox One settings screen demonstrating Open NAT (Image credit: Windows Central)

If you want to enable UPnP on your router, the setup process is simple. Steps will vary between router models, though we've provided a general guideline of what to expect.

(Note: Do not use a combination of UPnP, port forwarding, or DMZ when configuring your Xbox One's connectivity. Make sure these are all disabled before moving forward.)

Just follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to your router login page. (For more details on logging in to your router, search online for guides related to your specific model.)
  2. Log in to your router using the required credentials.
  3. Navigate to the UPnP menu on your router. (This action once again varies between models, so search for specifics on your router. If UPnP isn't available, we recommend port forwarding.)
  4. Enable UPnP.
  5. Save your changes.
  6. Open the Settings app on your Xbox One.
  7. Select the Network tab.
  8. Select the Test NAT type tile. (You should now have Open NAT on your Xbox One.)

If the above steps didn't work for you, we recommend trying port forwarding with your Xbox One. For a step-by-step explainer, check our Xbox One port forwarding guide.

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Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

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