Thought I'd run through some of the basic troubleshooting steps for connection based issues. This post is intended as an addendum to the "Network Troubleshooting" sticky so refer to that one first.
When troubleshooting your connection, how far into logging into the game you get can indicate where the connection issue is occurring.
(For example if the servers are down for maintenance you may get stopped just as soon as the launcher comes up usually with a message on the launcher of "Getting Data Centers" and a retry counter or "connection to http://gls.lotro.com/GLS.DataCenterServer/Service.asmx failed" error.)
Below are some of the most common messages/behaviors and their common causes.
Cannot connect right from the start:
You open the game launcher and you receive an error regarding the connection to:
http://gls.lotro.com/GLS.DataCenterServer/Service.asmx or "Getting Data Centers"
Check the following:
The launcher itself. If the servers were brought down for maintenance the launcher should have a message about the servers being down, if not check the main forums page here for any updates indicating they are down.
If there's nothing on the launcher or forums and other players aren't reporting issues connecting on the forums this disconnect may be your system or network.
Your Firewall - Make sure that it is allowing "turbinelauncher.exe" full inbound/outbound access to the internet. (You might need to manually refresh your firewall by taking this file out of its list of allowed programs or "exceptions" and adding it back in)
- Can Internet Explorer connect to the internet, and is it configured to use a Proxy server?
This step is critical, I.E.'s system-wide connection settings are what the game uses to connect. It does not need to be the "default" browser but it does need to be installed, able to reach the internet and not disabled/misconfigured or in "Work Offline" mode (under the "File" menu).
Also is it erroneously using a proxy server? To check first open Internet Explorer and click on "Tools" > "Internet Options" > "Connections" (tab) > "LAN Settings" (button) and check to see if "Use a Proxy Server" is selected.
If it is using a proxy then confirm with your internet service provider (ISP) that these settings are required for you to be able to connect to the internet and that they are correctly configured.
Regarding proxies does the "Proxy Server" list as "127.0.0.1:####" or "LocalHost:####"? If so it might be malware setting itself up as a local proxy "host". In these cases de-select the "Use a proxy server" option, click ok and immediately update and then run a full system scan with your antivirus and antispyware tools. Once you do that check to see if I.E. can now connect and then also the game.
- Does your router, network card or modem have a built-in "hardware" based firewall?
You may need to configure it to allow the game files (turbinelauncher.exe, lotroclient.exe and also turbineinvoker.exe on Vista).
- Do you have any "Bittorrent" or other file-sharing apps, or Skype or Voip** hardware/software? Any of these can use some of the same connection settings as the game and can block it from connecting (usually because they are "listening" on the same ports the game is trying to connect on). Try disabling these or perhaps performing a "clean boot" of Windows to test.
**We occasionally get reports of players experiencing connection issues in the game that are using Voip (Voice over I.P, or "Internet Protocol") hardware (eg. a Voip router). What usually is happening is that the Voip router is between the PC and the router and/or modem used to connect to the internet. Usually re-configuring the network so that your PC is not going directly through the Voip router remedies the connection issues caused by the Voip router not handling the packets/ports of the game correctly.
Lost connection just before or just after "Character Select":
You login past the launcher, select your server and start to load the game client and either just before you get to character select or after you pick a character and try to login to them you get "Connection to the server has been lost" or "Client timed out the connection".
Check the following:
Your Firewall (again)- This time make sure that it is allowing "lotroclient.exe" the necessary inbound/outbound access to the internet.
Your Router. You might in some cases need to setup port forwarding on your router to allow the game client to connect. Find your router model (it's usually on a sticker somewhere) and search for directions on configuring port forwarding on that model, your router maker may have steps on their site or check portforward.com (not a Turbine affiliate).
Your ISP. Check with your ISP and ask them if they have any outages or know of any issues with connections that use "Encrypted UDP Packets" on ports 9000 to 9013 and 2900 to 2913. They might also have started "traffic management" of these connection types or setup a "fair use" bandwidth limitation, ask them about these. If they set these up to combat peer-to-peer/file-sharing use of their network (and many have lately) then the game, since it uses a similar appearing connection (from a networking standpoint) is also affected. (You might need to ask to speak with a supervisor at your ISP when you ask about those though).
---------------------------- Lost connection during gameplay:
While playing you are getting "Connection to the server has been lost" after awhile or more commonly when changing in-game areas or "zones". (Not a "crash" or "crash to desktop"/CTD but a black screen with that message)
Check the following:
Your router (again, seeing a trend here? ) When you move around in the game world your connection is using the various ports detailed further up in this how-to. If your router isn't handling port transitions well you can get connection drops because of it. (Imagine a good juggler being able to pass and catch bowling pins while juggling and one who can't basically). You would want to setup port forwarding on the router.
- Does more than one PC connect to the game at the same time?
With two computers connecting at the same time they could be "stepping" on each others connections somewhat. Open the userpreferences.ini file, which is kept in the "My Documents" (XP) or "Documents" (Vista) > "The Lord of the Rings Online" folder and in that file under the [Net] section find the "UserSpecifiedPort" option and set it to 9000 (eg. UserSpecifiedPort=9000) on computer "A" and on computer "B" change it to 9007 (eg. UserSpecifiedPort=9007). Be sure to save the changes you make before launching Lotro to test.
(Also in cases of two PC's connecting you might need to configure port "triggering" on your router, it's essentially the same as port forwarding but less "specific" it just opens ports in a range you specify anytime a request comes in or goes out on one of those ports)
- Do you connect using "Satellite" or residential/city "Wireless" broadband?
Connection issues are unfortunately quite common for these connection types due to a.) the distances involved (satellite beams your connection to orbit and back down ) b) the "burst" nature of these connections and c) the interference that wireless signals are prone (and federally mandated) to accept/receive. Try reseting your modem (and router) and logging into another character if you can.
- Have you reinstalled the game at all recently?
If the game is loading corrupted data this can also sometimes cause timeouts (usually it causes crashes but in some rare instances it can just cause the game to hold up loading long enough to time out the connection). File corruption is fairly more common with MMO games due to the higher amount of read/writes to the installed files (imagine how many times a day player "X" runs by on screen wearing armor of the "Y" and all the textures, sounds etc the game has to load, plus all the patching and updates to the game as well). Uninstall the game via "Add or Remove Programs" (XP) or "Uninstall a Program" (Vista) in the control panel and after the uninstaller completes delete the "The Lord of the Rings Online" folder in C:\Program Files\Turbine prior to reinstalling. If you need the install can be downloaded here
All in all that should help any connection issues you're having but there's always the knowledge base and you always followup with Technical Support also via the "Submit a Ticket" option under the "Home" tab on that page.