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

Xbox One S
Xbox One S (Image credit: Windows Central)

When encountering connectivity issues on Xbox One, your Network Address Translation (NAT) type is the first place you should 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


Fortnite (Image credit: Epic Games)

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 end goal for the best connectivity, this has proven to be difficult for many users. One of the common solutions is port forwarding, helping to route gaming traffic directly to your console.

Understanding UPnP in gaming

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 end 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 in the past, due to a long list of security flaws associated with the technology. Malicious programs can leverage UPnP vulnerabilities, simply as a result 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 Open NAT

Xbox One 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.

Xbox One networking gear you'll love

Take your Xbox One networking setup to the next level with these affordable accessories.

AmazonBasics RJ45 Cat-6 Ethernet Cable (opens in new tab) ($10 at Amazon)

Link your devices with this affordable ethernet cable under the AmazonBasics line. Leading Cat-6 technology grants up to gigabit speeds, reaching 25 feet without breaking the bank.

D-Link DGS-108 Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch (opens in new tab) ($25 at Amazon)

When hooking up a variety of devices over a Local Area Network (LAN), an unmanaged switch is an essential pickup for the average wired household. This five-port managed switch is ideal for small offices and homes, boasting diagnostics, QoS, and more despite the budget price.

TP-Link Archer A7 (opens in new tab) ($58 at Amazon)

TP-Link's Archer A7 has two Wi-Fi bands, one 2.4 GHz at 450 Mbps for 802.11a/b/g/n devices and one 5 GHz at 1,300 Mbps for 802.11ac devices. A USB-A port on the back of the router allows you to connect external storage for media sharing across all devices in your home, and it includes Amazon Alexa integration.

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.