Alternative types of session can keep strangers away from you. Unfortunately, because Rockstar wants to foster PvP and other types of competition between players, it does not allow you to grind without worries about other unfriendly players in those sessions. So, if you want to manage your businesses, you have to join a Public Session. Is there a way to join a Public Session with only yourself? Luckily, there is!
This kind of session is usually known as a Solo Public Session. “Solo Public” is not a session type, but a description that specifically refers to a Public Session with only yourself in it.
Since the Public Session only contains yourself, you can do any kind of missions in it without disturbance from others (at least for a while).
- There is no effective way to completely prevent other players from joining your session without external networking tools. Once you have made a Solo Public Session, other players would not be matched into your session for a while. But after some time, the game might add one or a few players to the session. When your session has at least three players (including yourself), GTA Online’s matching system will make its best effort to put more and more players into your session, and the lobby will populate very quickly.
- You need to do some critical activities that must be done in a Public Session, such as selling goods from your businesses.
Solo Public Sessions are not officially provided by the game; a networking glitch is required to create a Solo Public Session.
The basic mechanism of the glitch is to exploit GTA Online’s behavior upon a network disconnection. If you are disconnected briefly, GTA Online will try to re-establish the connections to Rockstar’s servers and other players. Yes, there are direct network connections between you and other players in the same session, as GTA Online uses peer-to-peer connections for player movements and actions. The game also maintains a separate connection to Rockstar for player stats, cloud saves, and transactions.
If you don’t get back online until after a few seconds, then GTA Online can reconnect you to Rockstar, but not to other players who were in the same session. In this case, you will observe that all other players have left the session; but the real situation was that you have left the session you were in. GTA Online handles such disconnections in a special way: you won’t receive an alert for being disconnected but still stay in the game, so your gaming experience is uninterrupted. The original session can keep running without other players on your machine, hence a Solo Public Session is created.
Thanks to how GTA Online gracefully handles brief network disconnections, you can deliberately disconnect your machine from the Internet for a short moment to make a Solo Public Session. Disconnect for about 10 seconds, which is neither too short so that the peer-to-peer connections can be re-established nor too long to make the game think you are really offline.
For both PCs and consoles, you can unplug the cable from your router to create a disconnection. After 10 seconds, plug it back in, and you should see things similar to what the screenshot above shows in a moment.
For PCs, you can also unplug the cable from your computer. If you are using Wi-Fi, you can turn it off for 10 seconds or use the Airplane Mode if your operating system provides the functionality.
For PS4 and Xbox One, I have seen people saying unplugging the cable from the console itself does not work. I can’t verify this because I don’t own a console, but please keep this in mind if you encounter any failure.
Of course, reaching out to routers and cables every time when you need a Solo Public Session might not be an optimal solution, and there are some other platform-specific methods below.
There are two methods I often use on PC to make a Solo Public Session: right-clicking on the title bar, and using a firewall rule.
This is the fastest way to create a Solo Public Session, but is also subject to the limitation mentioned above.
Change the game to windowed mode if it is not already windowed. If the game is currently in full screen, you can press Alt-Enter; or, you can adjust it in the game settings.
Hold Alt-Tab and move your cursor around to get it out of the game window. Right click on the window’s title bar, and leave the pop-up menu open for about 10 seconds.
When the menu is shown, the game’s process suspends, and its network connections are also blocked. So, this method effectively causes a temporary disconnection. However, don’t leave the menu there for too long, or the game will crash!
Left click in the game window to dismiss the menu. In a moment, you should see other players “leaving” the session. The game might behave as if the right mouse button is stuck, which can be resolved with a right click.
This method can completely block peer-to-peer connections between you and other players. It uses a different mechanism from other methods and should also be used differently. Because there are many details to cover, I have placed information about this method in a dedicated page.
Since I don’t have a console, I cannot offer any instructions for PS4 or Xbox One, but I’m glad to refer you to some methods shared by community members on the GTA Online Subreddit:
- Solo Session Tips n' Tricks, for both Xbox One and PS4
- The MTU method for PS4
- The NAT test method for Xbox One
I have not heard of anyone who is banned for making Solo Public Sessions yet, so I would assume it is safe to do.