Frequently Asked Questions about PunkBuster

I see messages related to PunkBuster files involving invalid certificate or invalid image hash or unsigned kernel module on the screen or log files ... how can these be resolved?

Our services and drivers are digitally signed using Authenticode technology hosted by Verisign. Some users report having problems reliably reaching Verisign from time to time. Directly importing our certificate should resolve these issues. The best way to import our latest certificate (we sign with a different certificate each year) is to download our PBSVC tool, then use Windows Explorer to find the pbsvc.exe file where it was downloaded to your computer and right click, then choose properties. Click the Digital Signatures tab at the top of the form, highlight our signature (you should verify that it shows as signed by 'Even Balance, Inc.'), then click the 'Details' button. In the next window, click the 'View Certificate' button, then the 'Install Certificate' button and follow the prompts until our certificate is installed.

My game crashes with an error in pbcl.dll or a General Protection Fault. Why?

This issue can be from a program that conflicts with PB. There are a few known program that cause this:

  • Get Right
  • DU Super Controler
  • Macro Toolsworks
  • Girder 3.2
  • PRTG Traffic Grapher
  • CyberCorder: cybrcrdr.exe
  • Paessler Router Traffic Grapher: prtg4.exe
  • 3dnasys.exe
  • mIRCStats
Closing those programs, or any like them that contain user or kernel level debuggers should stop the problem.

How come I never get a reply to emails I send to Even Balance?

Because of the spam and junk email problem that has proliferated over the Internet, more and more mail systems try to automatically filter out email based on where each email originates. Unfortunately, some of these filtering schemes are imperfect. Our support staff makes every effort to answer every single email (we get hundreds per day), usually the same day an email is received. If you have sent us an email and you do not receive a reply within 48 hours, that is almost certainly because your incoming mail server is not reachable from our outgoing mail server. Often this is a DNS problem that prevents our mail server from "finding" other mail servers. However, we have also learned that some "blacklist" services have blacklisted the whole subnet which contains our mail server's IP Address. Not because of anything we have done (we have never sent out spam and we do not allow our mail server to act as an open relay). If you do not get a reply from us, we recommend that you use our new web based support system. Follow this link to create a new trouble ticket HERE.

How do I get PunkBuster to work on an SE or GRSecurity enhanced Linux system?

WARNING: Modifying your Linux security settings may increase the vulnerability of your system and lead to an increased likelihood of exploitation. Before following these suggestions, please fully understand their impact and proceed if and only if you are completely aware of the consequences.

  • If you are running SELinux, you can either disable SE Linux all together by modifying SELinux's config file (typically /etc/selinux/config) or removing any extended restrictions from the pb .so files by typing "setfacl -b *.so" in your pb sub-folder.
  • If you are running a Linux system with the GRSecurity patches, you need to tell your system to not protect the PunkBuster shared-object files. To do this, type "chpax -m *" in your pb sub-folder. This will allow the pb .so files to run properly.

NOTE: You may have to re-apply these changes after updating automatically or manually as newly created files will inherit the base permissions.

I keep getting kicked off of servers and I see messages about INIT FAILURE or technical errors about pbcl.dll or pbag.dll, or messages about DISTRESS or Update timeout ... what is wrong?

These problems are almost always caused when your PunkBuster can't keep itself updated for some reason. Sometimes they are caused when the server you are trying to play on is running an old version of PunkBuster. If this problem happens only on one or a few PB Servers, then the cause is likely that those servers are outdated; in that case, you should avoid those servers. If this happens to you on every PB server you try to play on, then please click here for help on getting your PunkBuster updated.

Why does PB spam "PB Server running Old Version" on some servers and how do I make it stop?

Some PB Server admins are not able or willing to fix their firewall so that their PunkBuster server can keep itself always auto-updated to the latest version. Therefore, when a new PB update comes out, their server(s) will continue running the old version until updated manually. When players join a PB Server that is running an old version, that old PB will try to 'downgrade' each player's PB to match the old version running at that server and the "PB Server running Old Version" message is generated every few seconds during this process. We encourage players to avoid servers like this as PB often does not work efficiently nor catch the latest cheats when old versions are running. If the attempts to 'downgrade' your PB fail, then you will be kicked. If you trust the server admin, you can enter "pb_security 0" into your console to allow your PB to be downgraded. If you know how to get in touch with the admin, please let him/her know of the problems caused by not having a properly functioning / auto-updating PB Server.

My computer locks up or "chugs" sometimes while I'm playing with PunkBuster Enabled, what can cause this?

PunkBuster "pushes" hardware and the Windows Operating System more than most software and uses functions in the Windows API (low level functions) that aren't used by most other programs. As such, there are a few cases where using PB can actually expose flaky hardware or other situations that don't cause problems for other software. Here are a few things that have helped other users make these problems get better or go away completely:

  • Make sure you are using the latest version of PunkBuster (the latest version is always on our Download page) - also this link may help manually update your PB to the latest version when necessary
  • From the game's main screen, press the tilde key (the ~ key) to bring down the console (note: some games do not have a console) and enter the following line (without the quotes): "/pb_system 1".
  • Never close other programs from your Windows Task Manager before playing the game, either leave them running or close them through the proper interface - killing a process doesn't always work completely even if it stops showing in the Task Manager and renegade threads seem to conflict with PB more than other programs that may be running in memory. There is a free utility that some players use called EndItAll to close all extra programs before they play to avoid software conflicts, crashes and lockups. You can get it from here.
  • Check the add/remove programs list in your Control Panel and uninstall any programs that you don't use or that you don't know what they are.
  • One program that seems to conflict with PB more than others is Norton Anti-Virus. If you have it installed, try uninstalling it to see if the lockups go away. Some players have reported that when this is the culprit, they can reinstall Norton Anti-Virus and the lockups don't come back.
  • Other background programs that seem to conflict with PB for some users are Sound Blaster Live software and helper programs that come with video cards (especially ATI keyboard shortcut programs).
  • Some players discovered that they had a computer virus and that the lockups vanished after it was fully removed.
  • Experiment with the pb_sleep setting ... try setting it to 20, 250, or 500 to see if that affects your game performance. A few players have reported that all the problems go away when they "tweak" this setting.
  • In extreme cases, a few users have reported that replacing their RAM (memory) or video/sound cards fixed the problem.

How do I know if I am PunkBuster Authenticated?

Old versions of PunkBuster went through "Authentication" procedures every few minutes and announced when each player had been Authenticated.  The newer, integrated version is constantly Authenticating players during gameplay.  To check your current status, press the tilde key (~) to bring down the Game Console (note: some games do not have a console).  Enter "pb_plist" into the Game console (without the quotes) and then press the Tab key so the Game knows you are entering a command, then press the Enter key.  The current PunkBuster status of all players will be displayed - use the PageUp / PageDown keys if necessary to scroll the console text up and down.  There are 3 modes of PunkBuster status: INIT, UPDT, and OK.  If it says OK next to a player's name, then that player is currently Authenticated.

What is a guid?

In general, GUID is an acronym that stands for “globally unique identifier”.  The guid inside PunkBuster is used to identify players with something more solid than their playing name or IP address.  Your guid is loosely based on the cdkey that was used to install the game on your computer.  When Server Admins kick or ban a player from their server(s), PunkBuster uses the player's guid to enforce the kick/ban.  Since it is based on the game installation, it is a better way to identify individual players than by looking at their IP address or playing name.  For those concerned about privacy, PunkBuster uses a 128-bit one-way hash (a mathematical function) to generate the guid from the cdkey so that no one can figure out or compute your cdkey by knowing your guid.

What do the AuthRate and RecentSS columns mean in the pb_plist output?

The AuthRate column shows how many times per minute PunkBuster has successfully Authenticated each Player.  This value should normally settle to between 2 and 3 for all players after they have a status of "OK".  The RecentSS column indicates how many screenshots the PunkBuster Server has requested from each player during the past few minutes.  This value is available to all players so that "home team" Server Admins don't abuse the screenshot facility, for example by only capturing screenshots of opponents.

Why do I get a message on some servers asking me to change my name and how do I do that while playing?

PunkBuster includes a "BadName" Facility that some Server Admins use to prevent players from including "bad" words (such as racial slurs or profanity) in their playing names.  If you wish to play on such servers and you get a message asking you to change your name, then you will need to change your name quickly to avoid being removed from the Server.  Depending on the game, changing your name may be as easy as dropping the console and using the /name command or for some games you may need to make a new account.

What does "Received Master Security Information" mean?

During gameplay, the PunkBuster Client will be contacting the Master PunkBuster Servers about new PunkBuster system, database and data files (see section PB Subdirectory and File Information for more information about these file types) as well as other crucial information.  This message states that the new information has been received successfully from the Master PunkBuster Servers.  If new versions of PunkBuster are transferred to the PunkBuster Client from the PunkBuster Server to which the player is connected, the received files will be validated for integrity based on this Security Information.  PunkBuster Server software also confirms the integrity of newly obtained files based on similar Security Information.  This is all part of a complicated system designed to prevent Server Admins (and other people) from sending viruses or other unwanted files to your computer using the PunkBuster auto-update system.

How do I uninstall PunkBuster?

If you do not wish to use PunkBuster any longer, you may remove the entire "pb" folder inside your game folder.  By removing this folder, the PunkBuster software will no longer be available.  PunkBuster does not save information to other locations of your hard drive, nor does it change your system registry.

Can I link to your site?

Yes, but please do not mirror our download files.  One of the following buttons can be used to link to us if you like.


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Even Balance, PunkBuster and the PunkBuster logo are trademarks of Even Balance, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.