PunkBuster Guide

This guide is extensive . Most problems can be solved by going to Simple Solutions, so if there's too much text you should go there. I however recommend reading it all :) - it should cover all games that has Punkbuster enabled including the Battlefield, ARMA, Far Cry, Medal of Honor and Red Orchestra series.
I take no responsibility for how you use the information in this guide. Use at your own risk.

Welcome to my guide

It was made with a lot of love to help people with all their Punkbuster issues and should cover most of the problems and solutions you will ever need.

Should you need help with a Punkbuster problem with an EA game I'm active on Answer HQ:

http://answers.ea.com/

Should it lack anything or did it help you feel free to write it in a comment below. Happy gaming.

/Carbonic

Glottis vs Hardline Inspired Profile Picture

 

What Is Punkbuster

Punkbuster is anti cheating software made by Even Balance (www.evenbalance.com).

It's a service that servers can choose to use if they want to. It does it's job by scanning the memory of your local machine and is thus required to be running, have access to your computer and be able to update itself by downloading the newest files when this is required.

Punkbuster will install these to your computer:

How Punkbuster Works

Punkbuster can stop working for many reasons. It might not be able to update itself or even run.

This can be caused by many things like updated/changed software/hardware security, changed Windows settings or corrupted files.

Now lets get to it!

 

Help Us Help You

The following information is always a good idea to provide should you need help with a Punkbuster problem.

 

Error Messages Explained

This list contains typical errors given by Punkbuster and a short explanation of what they mean.

If you think I've forgotten one feel free to message Carbonic on Answer HQ.

 

Simple Solutions

Simple Solution 1 - Update Punkbuster

  1. Download the updater by downloading pbsetup from: http://www.evenbalance.com/index.php?page=pbsetup.php
  2. Rightclick the updater and click "run as administrator".
  3. Pick the game you have trouble with from the list.
  4. If needed click "browse game" and go to the location of your game, click "ok", then click "add game".
    Punkbuster Setup With pbsetup exe
  5. Click Update Punkbuster if it doesn't update automaticly.
  6. Let the updater finish, then reboot the computer.

 

Simple Solution 2 - Reinstall Punkbuster

Reinstalling Punkbuster can be done using the installer called "pbsvc.exe" from your local game directory in the "__Installer\punkbuster\redist" folder.
It should look like this:

Punkbuster installer
If this installer does not do the trick you can Reinstall Punkbuster using the latest installer downloaded from Evenbalance:

http://www.evenbalance.com/downloads/pbsvc/pbsvc.exe

 

Simple Solution 3 - Complete Uninstall, Reboot, Reinstall

  1. Completely uninstall Punkbuster using the installer pbsvc.exe from your local game directory in the "__Installer\punkbuster\redist" folder. A picture of this installer is shown in Simple Solutions 2.
    If this installer does not do the trick you can Reinstall Punkbuster using the latest installer downloaded from Evenbalance:
    http://www.evenbalance.com/downloads/pbsvc/pbsvc.exe
  2. Reboot your computer, then reboot it again
  3. Make sure you can't find Punkbuster under programs in Windows.
  4. Install Punkbuster again by right clicking the installer mentioned in step 1 and then click "run as administrator".

 

Simple Solution 4 - Make sure Punkbuster Services Run

  1. Go to the Start Menu and enter "services.msc" in the Run/Search bar.
  2. Find "PnkBstrA" and "PnkbStrB".
  3. If the services have not started do so by right clicking both and select and select "start".
  4. Then right click both, click properties and make sure they both are set to start automatically
    Enabling Punkbuster in services

Simple Solution 5 - Update Your Software

Sometimes security software mistakes Punkbuster for a virus or similar. To avoid this try manually updating all your security software like Windows, antivirus programs, firewalls, security suites, antimalware etc.
After this reboot your computer.

 

Simple Solution 6 - Give Punkbuster Access
Your antivirus / firewall and other security software might block Punkbuster. You need to explicitly allow Punkbuster through your firewalls and whitelist its services with in your security software.
This will tell you how to let Punkbuster through the Windows Firewall, for your other third party applications you will have to look through help files about how to do it.

  1. On Windows 8.1 navigate to "Control Panel\System and Security\Windows Firewall\Allowed apps".
    On other versions of Windows you will need to find its equivalent.
  2. Click "Allow Another App..." and navigate to "C:\Windows\SysWOW64\" and select first PnkBstrA.exe and then PnkBstrB.exe and set their settings to be allowed through public and private as shown in the picture below.

Enabling Punkbuster In Windows Firewall

 

Simple Solution 7 - Jiggle The Compatibility Settings
Punkbuster should run well on all versions of Windows. That being said certain computer hardware/software setups can mess this up.

First thing you should do is make sure every .exe file used to run the game doesn't run in compatibility mode of any other Windows version. Like this:

  1. Right click .exe file
  2. Click Properties
  3. Click the Compatability tab
  4. Make sure Compatability Mode is not enabled like in this image
    Changing Punkbusters compatibility settings
  5. Keep doing step 1-4 for all relevant .exe files like the game executable, the punkbuster .exe files, gameclients like Steam, Origin etc.

Advanced step (kept in simple solutions to keep things together)

If the above does not work people have reported almost all combinations of compatibility settings and .exe files have helped them. This should not be needed but if things is not working or you are running a beta version of Windows or something weird is happening you might want to run step 1-4 mentioned above but instead of not having compatibility mode enabled you now enable it with another version of Windows than you are running now.

 

Advanced Solutions

Remember, it's always a good idea to take a backup of your system before messing too much with it! Ye, be warned.

Advanced/Rare Solution 1 - Clean Boot
Check if a third party program is interfering by trying to play after a clean boot where the two Punkbuster services are still running. A guide on how to do so is located here: http://help.ea.com/en/article/how-to-clean-boot-your-pc/

Pictures on how to do this can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929135

 

Advanced/Rare Solution 2 - Check Hard Drive For Errors And Corrupted Files

All files can become damaged. This is just the nature of hard drives. If this affects the Punkbuster files this can cause errors and it's therefore a good idea to scan your hard drive. Do this for all hard drives that has Windows, Punkbuster and the game installed.

  1. Go to "This PC" in Windows and right click the hard drive and click "properties"
    Rightclick harddrive
  2. Go to "Tools" and and press "Check"
    tools then scan drive
  3. Click "Scan Drive" and let it scan for errors.
  4. If it finds errors let the program fix them
    (If there are errors it could mean nothing, but it can also suggest that it might be time to format your computer and/or replace the hard drive)
  5. Reboot your computer
  6. Run the scan again
  7. Keep repeating step 3-5 until no errors are found.

 

Advanced/Rare Solution 3 - Reinstall DirectX

Should some program have modified DirectX you need to remove all traces of that and reinstall DirectX.

You can find the DirectX installer here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35.
It's also typically located in your game folder in the "__Installer\directx" folder.

 

Advanced/Rare Solution 4 - Disable Shader Injectors

Uninstall "SweetFX" and whatever else can modify what is shown on the screen.

 

Advanced/Rare Solution 5 - Check Windows for Errors

A broken Windows Installation can cause all kinds of trouble. To scan your Windows installation for errors open a command prompt with admin rights and run the command: "sfc /scannow". A more detailed guide on how to do this can be found here:

http://help.ea.com/sg/article/how-do-i-run-the-system-file-checker/
sfc /scannow

 

Advanced/Rare Solution 6 - Restart Your Network Hardware

Like your computer, network hardware will get sluggish and makes mistakes if it has not been rebooted in a long time. Usually this takes weeks or months to happen but some routers or modems need to be rebooted more frequently. Take the time to unplug your modem and router for 30 minutes. Then reboot your modem first and let it load before starting your router. It is also a good idea to reboot your machine after doing this.

 

Advanced/Rare Solution 7 - Improve Punkbuster Permissions Beyond Standard

  1. Right click your game folder, make sure the "Read Only" setting is not ticked off.
  2. Enter "services.msc". (picture can be found in Simple Solutions 4)
  3. Find "PnkBstrA" and "PnkbStrB".
  4. Right click both and select "properties", click the "log on" tab and check the box that says "allow services to interact with desktop".

 

Punkbuster Bans

Answer HQ or EA cannot help with bans. Even if you have not cheated. See this link for more details included how to dispute the ban: 

 

Resources

 

 

Please don't copy without asking first - [email protected] V.1.2.0