How to Troubleshoot Minecraft LAN Game Problems

Key Takeaways

Most Minecraft local area network connectivity problems can be traced to firewall issues, version incompatibilities, or underpowered hardware.

Minecraft is a fantastic game to play on your local network with friends, but it’s no fun when you have to spend half your time troubleshooting connection problems. Let’s take a look at how to identify and iron out issues with Minecraft LAN play.


How to Identify Your Minecraft LAN Problem

Thanks to its popularity and the number of parents wrestling with it for their kids, we get more emails about Minecraft than any other game, by a wide margin.

With that in mind, we’ve written this guide emphasizing helping the layperson, who is often a parent trying to understand Minecraft and help their child, quickly identify what they need to do to alleviate their specific problem. When your child (or friend) comes to you with one of these questions, you should be able to find the answers right here.

We’ve set the article up with the individual sections labeled based on the specific things the people who need your troubleshooting help might say, like “I can’t see the Minecraft game on the LAN,” or “I can connect, but I get kicked out.”

That said, there is a good chance you may run into more than one of these issues over the course of your Minecraft-playing days, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to read from top to bottom and even bookmark this article for future troubleshooting.

Also, if you’re relatively new to Minecraft, check out our guide to setting up a LAN game here. You may not need the advanced troubleshooting help, but just a quick overview of how to get things up and running.

“I Can’t See the Minecraft Game on the LAN”

This is, far and away, the biggest problem people run into when setting up Minecraft on their local area network (LAN). Everyone has Minecraft installed and fired up, but one or more players cannot even see the hosting player to connect in the first place.

Let’s break down the most common reasons for this issue, ordered by how common the issue is when troubleshooting Minecraft.

Your Firewall Is Blocking Java

Hands down, issues with the firewall on the computer hosting the Minecraft game are the single biggest cause of Minecraft LAN game headaches.

The problem occurs when Windows, or firewall software on any other operating system, blocks Minecraft from accessing the local network. This problem is so common because of confusion over what is happening behind the scenes with the Windows Firewall.

If Windows is going to ask your permission to run something and let Minecraft access the local network, you’d expect it to ask permission for “Minecraft” or some variation, right? Except Minecraft is a Java file executed by the Java program, so when it comes time for Minecraft to connect to the network, the Firewall prompt isn’t for “Minecraft”—it’s for Java.

Depending on the version of Minecraft and Java you’re using, you won’t get a firewall request to allow Minecraft, it’ll be for “Java Platform SE binary,” “Open JDK Platform Binary,” or similar, with publisher set as either Oracle Corporation or Microsoft, and the path pointed to a javaw.exe file on your computer.

In the screenshot below, you can see the firewall popup on a fresh installation of Minecraft Java Edition, version 1.19.4, running on Windows 11. But you’ll see a nearly identical popup on different versions of Windows and if you’re running older (or future) versions of Minecraft.

An example of the Java firewall popup you see in Windows when you try to host a local Minecraft game.

Most people will, by default, see the security alert, see Java (and either not know what it is or just know enough about Java to recall hearing about what a security problem Java has been over the years), and click cancel.

The problem is further compounded if you have your guest computer or the computer your child is using set up for non-administrative access (which you should) and that person tried to “Allow access” but couldn’t and just hit cancel. Or, in the case of young kids, they just really want to play Minecraft right that second, and they’ll close any window that gets in their way.

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve done troubleshooting for Minecraft only to have the person say “Oh hey, some Firewall box popped up but I just hit cancel”.

Fortunately, the solution for this problem is simple, as long as you have administrative access to the PC (meaning that the default account is the administrator or you have the administrator account password).

Simply navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Defender Firewall, or just type in “Firewall” in the Start Menu search box. (If you’re running a version of Windows older than Windows 10 version 2004, it will just be called “Windows Firewall” but the interface is otherwise identical.)

In the Firewall menu, select “Allow an app or feature through the Windows Firewall,” as seen in the screenshot below.

A screenshot of Windows Defender Firewall, showing how to access the firewall list.

Click the “Change settings” icon in the upper right corner to tell Windows you want to make administrative changes to the firewall list.

A screenshot of Windows Defender Firewall showing how to enable list editing by clicking Change Settings.

Scroll down to look for “javaw” or “Java(TM) Platform SE binary” in the firewall entries list—although you’re unlikely to see the latter option unless you’ve manually installed Java and are running it with a Minecraft launcher like MultiMC or the Curseforge launcher. Microsoft has bundled Java with Minecraft for years now, so if you’re just using the vanilla Minecraft launcher you’ll see “javaw.”

A screenshot of Windows Defender Firewall, showing javaw configured to access the local private network.

The version of Java that your copy of Minecraft uses must have a checkmark on the far left (in the “Name” column) to ensure the entry is active and then a check in the “Private” column to ensure Java is allowed to access your LAN.

While most people will only have one entry it’s possible that you may have two entries or more entries depending on how you use your computer and what you’ve installed. If you have more than one version of  javaw.exe listed and want to investigate, you can always right-click on each entry and select “Details” for more information.

In the vast, vast, majority of cases, this simple tweak is all it takes to banish your connectivity woes.

Your Computers Are on Different Networks

Second only to the Java problem is the different-network problem. This problem can take several forms, and if you’ve resolved the Java issue (or it wasn’t an issue in the first place), you should carefully work your way through these potential scenarios.

Ensure that all computers are on the same network. With Wi-Fi devices, especially laptops, it’s always possible that the device is connected to a nearby open Wi-Fi network or a neighbor’s Wi-Fi you’ve used before. Double-check that all computers are on the same local network with the same name (e.g. player 1 isn’t on “Wireless” and player 3 is on “Wireless_Guest”).

If any computers are connected to the router via ethernet, ensure they’re connected to the same router that the others are connected to over Wi-Fi.

Check for AP Isolation

If everyone is connected to the same network, but you still can’t connect, it could be due to a feature on your router called AP isolation. You can check to see if each player’s computer can reach the computer hosting the game with a simple ping test.

Start by opening up the command prompt on each computer and typing “ipconfig” for Windows users and “ifconfig” for Linux and Mac users. This command will output various data about the IP address and state of the computer’s network card.

Make a note of the “IPv4 Address” for each computer. For the vast majority of home users, this address will look something like 192.168.1.* or 10.0.0.* as these are the default address blocks on most routers and are reserved specifically for internal use.

A screenshot of an the results of the ipconfig command showing the local IP address of a computer.

Once you have the addresses of the different computers, check to see if they can reach each other over the network with the

 ping 

command. While still at the command prompt, enter the command

 ping [IP address of the host player's computer] 

.

So, for example, if you have two computers–one with the address 10.0.0.88 and one with the address 10.0.0.87–log onto the first computer (88) and run:

ping 10.0.0.87

Then repeat the process on the second computer (87):

ping 10.0.0.88

The ping command will give you an output that tells you how fast it was able to connect to the other computer as well as how many of the individual packets were returned successfully. On a home network, the success rate should be 100%.

If both computers can access the Internet but fail the ping test, there is a final thing to look at: user isolation. Some routers have a security feature (which is typically only applied to Wi-Fi users and not hardwired Ethernet users) that isolates users from each other so that everyone can connect to the Internet, but individual users cannot connect to each other.

This setting is usually labeled as “AP isolation,” but you might see it as “Access Point Isolation,” “User Isolation,” “Client Isolation,” or some variation thereof. Some routers also automatically apply AP isolation to all guest networks without specifying that setting to the user so, again, double-check that none of the players are logged into your router’s guest network or temporarily turn off AP isolation for the guest network for your Minecraft party.

If one or more computers fail the ping test and you suspect AP isolation might be the cause, you’ll need to consult with the documentation for your specific router to see where the setting is and how to turn it off. If you find the documentation for your router lacking and you’re left to dig through the menus yourself, check out our guide to AP isolation here for some pointers on finding and enabling/disabling it. While you’re at it, now is a perfect time to review your guest network settings.

Try Manually Connecting

If the above sections don’t fix you’re problem, then it’s likely the only issue you’re really having is that Minecraft, for some reason, is not properly polling the network and updating the available LAN game list.

This doesn’t mean you can’t play the game on the LAN, but it does mean that you need to manually enter the address of the host player to do so.

The multiplayer screen for Minecraft with the direct connection button highlighted.

If you see a screen like the one above, where it continually scans for LAN games but does not find them then click on the “Direct Connection” button and enter the local IP address and port number of the host player’s game in the format [Host Player's IP Address]:[Host Game Port] . For example, 192.168.1.100:23950 or 10.0.0.89:56845 .

How do you know what port to use? The game port for Minecraft LAN games is randomly assigned each time the host player’s map is opened for LAN play. In older versions of Minecraft, you can’t specify it, and in newer versions of Minecraft, it is still randomized (but you can override it if you wish).

As such, you need to either check the port when you open the game on the host machine (it is displayed on the screen immediately after you open the game, as seen below) or you need to look at the listing for the game on the multiplayer screen of another client on your network that can successfully connect (where it will list both the IP address and port number under the name of the open game).

A closeup view of a Minecraft game showing the port number of a local game.

If you play Minecraft frequently on your LAN, you can avoid the “What’s the IP!?” and “Argh, text me the port number!” frustrations by streamlining the process.

You could, for example, set static IP addresses for the computers that frequently host the games, that way, the IP address is always the same. In newer versions of Minecraft, you can agree to use the same port number for every session, such as 55555.

You may even opt to run a dedicated local Minecraft server, which makes it easy to use a static IP address with a fixed port number and has lots of other benefits (like advanced settings and the ability to let the server run in the background whether a particular player in playing or not).

“I Can Connect, But I Get Kicked Out”

If you can see the other game on the local network but get kicked out before you can play, the culprit is usually one of three things: different game versions, identical user IDs, or incompatible game mods (in that order of probability).

The Outdated Server/Client Error

Out-of-sync Minecraft version numbers is the biggest source of the join-but-get-kicked phenomenon and occurs when the client player and the host player are running different versions of Minecraft.

If the host is running Minecraft 1.19.4, for example, but you’re running 1.18.2, you’ll see a message like this one:

An error message indicating a player is trying to join a Minecraft server with an incompatible client.

The simplest solution is to adjust the version number of the client player’s Minecraft to match. We strongly advise against changing the host player’s version if the host player’s world is already explored and built up with creations because major differences in Minecraft versions can wreak havoc on maps.

To do so, run the Minecraft launcher on the client machines (all the non-hosting players). Click on “Minecraft: Java Edition” in the sidebar, click the “Installations” tab along the top, and then click the “New installation” button.

A screenshot showing how to add a new Minecraft version to the Minecraft launcher.

Within the installation menu, just create a new instance using the version of Minecraft you need based on the host client’s version number. If they’re playing with an old version of Minecraft for fun and nostalgia, pick that older version. If they’re running the latest snapshot release to try out upcoming features, switch to that.

Once you’ve created a new installation with the appropriate version of Minecraft, you can click on the “Play” tab and change the version before relaunching Minecraft to join your friends.

The Identical ID Error

If the secondary players log in into your hosted game and get the error “That name is already taken”, then it’s likely you only have one Minecraft account. A single player can’t log into the same world twice.

A Minecraft error message indicating a player cannot join a server because the player name is already in use on that server.

You can deal with the issue one of two ways. First, you can buy a copy of Minecraft for each player. This is, by far, the simplest way to deal with the problem. Everyone has their own account, it makes it easier to manage gameplay and server settings, and so on.

Or, if you’re just trying to throw together a LAN party or let a kid brother play too, change a few file settings and make some adjustments so that a single Minecraft license to be used for a local game with multiple players. We detail the ins, outs, and pitfalls of this technique in our detailed tutorial on the matter.

The Missing Mods Error

When you add mods to your Minecraft game, like those for cool biomes or additional creatures, every player that connects to your game has to have the same mods (and the same versions of those mods) installed. You can read more about mods and the ins-and-outs of using them here.

The exact text of this error can vary from not even getting an error message (the game is stuck perpetually at “logging in…”) to very specific error readouts listing what mods and what versions are missing.

If you run into this problem, there are two ways to fix it. If the host is running the mods, then you need to add the same mods to the clients trying to connect. If the client is the modded one, and the host is running vanilla Minecraft, then the client needs to switch back to the stock Minecraft game. In such instances, it is extremely handy to use an instance manager like MultiMC; you can make a specific instance for each combination of vanilla and modified Minecraft you need.

“I Can Connect, But Game Performance Is Poor”

Unlike the previous sections of this guide, this section is a bit more ambiguous. Many times players can host a game and connect to other games on the network but, while they don’t get outright kicked from the game, performance is really cruddy. Putting aside some unseen but severe network issue that is causing connectivity issues, there are a few things you can do to make Minecraft a smooth experience for everyone.

Host the Game on the Best PC

First, have the player with the most powerful computer host the game. Minecraft is a very resource hungry game (even if the graphics look very retro and simple). If you’re experiencing poor playback across the board (not just on the weaker machines), it could be that the hosting computer isn’t up to snuff.

If you’re hosting a Minecraft party and the computers you have on hand are the party host’s gaming PC and a handful of older laptops, it just makes sense to host the game on the more powerful desktop PC and let the less powerful laptops connect to it. If everyone shows up with a gaming laptop, that’s less of a concern.

Install Optifine to Maximize Performance

Second, we can’t say enough good things about the Minecraft mod Optifine. Even if you have no intention of doing anything but playing vanilla Minecraft, you should install Optifine.

It is a collection of code optimizations that, frankly, should be in the default Minecraft code. Whether your computer is wimpy or beefy, Optifine will make Minecraft run so much smoother.

For every Minecraft player out there with a cutting edge gaming PC, there are thousands upon thousands of players loading Minecraft on computers with old hardware. Optifine is a lifesaver when you need a bunch of old laptops to run Minecraft well enough to host a party.

Run a Dedicated Server

Finally, if the hosting computer is well suited for the task, but you’re still getting low frame rates and other signs of a struggling game, you can offload some of the world to a separate server application.

Mojang offers a stand-alone server application for download, and it takes next to no time to set up a simple vanilla Minecraft server. In our experience, it really helps smooth out performance issues if the host’s copy of Minecraft isn’t simultaneously trying to handle gameplay for the host player as well as serve up the game for all the other players.

Splitting things up so that the host player’s PC is still hosting the game (via the dedicated server app), but the host’s Minecraft app isn’t churning away at both tasks, can really improve performance for everyone.

Even better: if you’re still having performance issues you can install the Minecraft server on a totally separate machine on your network and let that machine handle the heavy lifting, so the players’ PCs don’t have to.

When you, your friends, and your kids really want to play Minecraft, it can be very frustrating when setting up a local game isn’t easy peasy. With a little bit of troubleshooting, however, you can get up and running with no problem, and you might even find that thanks to mods like Optifine and running a distinct server app, you’re better off than when you started.

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