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Port Forwarding


So you have set-up everything and you still complain that nobody else than you can join the server... Welcome to Networking! Networking is the part where some people abandon their server and some take on the challenge. Why? Because it's the most difficult section of setting up your own server. Remember that setting up a game server is almost three times more complicated than setting up the game itself!


Before starting, I want to decrease that dropout rate by giving you this handy "What to do list" list if you don't understand what you're reading:

Emergency procedure if the text in
the "Networking" Section
 isn't understood

  1. Search for the following terms on HLDS 101 Search (powered by Google):
    Windows Networking
    Networking tutorials

  2. Buy the following books:
    Networking for Dummies
    TCP/IP for Dummies

  3. Use the SEARCH feature in the Steampowered and HLDS 101 Forums. Use search because most of the questions have been asked thousands of times and searching a lot before posting is a great way to avoid getting flamed!

  4. Find networking courses in your community (in real life, that is).

  5. Kiss your problem goodbye and proceed to continuing to make your HLDS server!

Shall we start? The first thing you now need to do is look how your server is connected to the internet! Usually, you'll be connected through an Ethernet cable, and if you're telling me that you're using a 56K modem then you can't create a server.

Now, time to go to the my server room* and find some cables and hardware to show. Here is how the Ethernet's cable plug looks like, compared to a telephone jack (yes, they look similar):

Ethernet Cable (RJ-45)
8 cable connectors ("pins")

Telephone Cable (RJ-11)
4 cable connectors (pins)

The end of the Ethernet cable will be connected to a Ethernet card that may look like this:

Otherwise, if you don't see any of these cables you may have a wireless network. Wireless networks aren't recommended for server as they'll increase the ping by ~20ms and generate lag spikes during bad weather such as thunderstorms. If you however want to run a server on a wireless connection, make sure your server is located as near as possible from your access point, base station or router.

*No servers were harmed while taking photos. All hardware was taken from BACKUP_SERVER0.

Next, we need to know if you have to skip the most complicated step of all times, port forwarding! You now need to trace that Ethernet wire and see where is goes...

  • Is it connected to a modem (a box with a phone or cable jack)

  • Is it connected to a router (a box with a lot of Ethernet ports)

If you're connected directly to the Internet you don't even need to forward ports! Your server should be working right away. Just remember to give to your friends the IP that you see on www.ip.gstutor.com and by adding a :27015 at the end of the IP (if 27015 is your port). 

If you're connected using a router then things get a bit complicated, a whole sub-section exists that will tell you which ports to forward. I highly recommend reading your router's manual to know how to do that. Click here to go to that section now! Otherwise please carefully read the remaining content on this page.

IP Addresses
In the TCP/IP world, there are two types of IP addresses: Internal (LAN) and External (WAN)...

  • Whenever you want to connect to your server from a compute that's in the same network as your server, you use your internal IP.

  • Whenever you want to connect to your server from a computer that's outside of your network you use your external IP. (You have to give our external IP to people who want to join your server)

How to find out the IP address? Simple. Follow these steps

For internal IP:

  1. Click on Start, click Run, type CMD in the dialog and click OK.

  2. When the console appears type IPCONFIG

  3. Your internal IP address is shown there where you see "IP Address . . . . . . . . . . 192.168.x.x"
    Note: Internal IP addresses usually start with 192.168.X.X

For external IP:

  1. Open your Internet browser (I recommend you to Get Firefox)

  2. Type http://ip.gstutor.com and look at the IP address at the top!

Remember that which ever IP you use you need to use you need to suffix :27015 at the IP you're giving to the person. Change 27015 by your port if you selected a different one.

Joining your server
Joining your server is easy. In your Steam servers list click the LAN tab and your server should appear. If it does not, make sure your network has been properly setup and try these steps:

  • Try to ping your server

  • Add the server's IP manually (either with the connect command or in Favorites)

  • Make sure your firewall lets HLDS access the internet

If you're creating a server and playing on the same computer (HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED!) you need to add your internal IP to your favorites. The internal IP usually starts with 192.168.X.X or, if you don't have a router, use your external IP.

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