How to Connect an Xbox to the Internet

By Seth Amery

Updated September 22, 2017

When you're ready to take your gaming skills online, you can connect the Xbox 360 online to play with -- or against -- other gamers. Connecting to Xbox Live also gives you the ability to purchase new games, movies and songs via the Xbox Live Marketplace. Some Xbox Live features are exclusive to Gold members, or those who pay a subscription fee for the service.

Creating an Xbox Live Account

Before you can connect to Xbox Live, you'll need to create an Xbox Live profile. You might already have something you use to save your achievements, but if you didn't give an email address and password, you're not connected to Xbox Live. You can create an account through the Xbox Live website or directly on your console by selecting "Join Xbox Live."

There are two options for Xbox Live subscriptions:

Silver membership: Silver members don't pay anything out of pocket, but they also can't do much besides chat with friends and purchase games. In 2014, an update was made so Silver members can access Netflix and Hulu, giving you the option to stream shows as well.

Gold membership: Gold members have to pay an additional yearly subscription but get to play multiplayer games online and have no restriction for available apps.

Connecting a Console to the Internet

Depending on your console, the exact setup process will vary.

Older consoles: If you have an original Xbox 360, you need an Ethernet cable or a separate wireless adapter. The adapter takes up the two USB ports on the back of the console.

Newer consoles: Newer versions of the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One already have a built-in antenna, so you won't need extra hardware to go wireless.

Connecting the Console: Once your hardware is established, turn on your console and navigate to the Settings menu. You'll need your Internet's SSID and password as you follow the onscreen instructions to establish network settings.

Bridging a Connection Through a Laptop

If you don't have a wireless adapter for your Xbox console, you're not out of luck yet; you can still get on Xbox Live using some devices around your house.

First connect the console to a laptop using an Ethernet cable. Make sure the laptop can connect to the Internet.

Then you'll have to bridge the connection between the laptop and the Xbox console. This means the two pieces of hardware will be linked, and the console can act as if the laptop's antenna is its own.

Finally, go into your console's Network settings and continue setting up as if you have a wireless connection. If you set everything correctly, the console will be able to reach Xbox Live using the laptop's hardware.

Improving Connection Speed

If you're experiencing a heavy amount of lag and high latency in an online game, you can try a few different solutions to improve performance.

Use a wired connection: Simply put, wired connections are faster than wireless. If you can use a wire long enough to reach your closest wall jack, give that a try.

Swap the cable: If you're already wired and still experiencing problems despite having the minimum recommended network speed, something could be wrong with the cable or wall jack.

Call your ISP: If all else fails, give your ISP a call and ask about improving your connection speed.