Debugging Second Life performance problems

Your avatar tries to walk, but goes nowhere, then after finally making some progress suddenly gets whipped backward. If it continues happening, what should you do?

Problems like this are examples of lag, and can be caused by either the Second Life server, your network connection, your computer, or your Second Life Preference settings. This article will survey some basics of what you need to know to diagnose the problem, and will provide links to sources of more complete information.

Before getting into diagnosis tools and procedures, there are some basic questions to ask:

– Do you have a dial-up or satellite internet connection? If so, there may be little you can do to get satisfactory performance. Second Life requires a minimum of a dsl or cable internet connection.
– Does your computer meet minimum requirements to run Second Life? These vary depending on your hardware and operating system; you can look up minimum requirements for your system on the system requirements page. Bear in mind that you’ll require more than minimum requirements for a rich Second Life experience.
– Are you using a wired or wireless internet connection? Second Life allows but does not support wireless. In many or most cases a wireless connection may work satisfactorily, but if you’re having problems, first try connecting your computer to the internet with a wired connection before doing further diagnosis.

After you’ve eliminated those possible causes of your performance problems, you can move on to other possible causes. One key piece of information you’ll need is where you’re experiencing the problem and whether others are also experiencing it. Try teleporting to several unrelated sims. If you have the same problem in all sims, you can probably eliminate the server as a source of the problem. If no one else is experiencing the problem and you experience it in several different sims, then the problem is probably in your computer or your internet connection.

Second Life now has a handy tool for helping to isolate the cause of your problem. It’s the Lag Meter. You can open in by clicking the Help menu and selecting "Lag Meter". It’s shown in the picture above. All three buttons should be green. If any are orange or red, then there’s a problem, with red problems being the more serious.

Client button: "Client" refers to the Second Life software (the Second Life viewer) running on your computer. If the Client button is orange or red, it indicates a problem with your client, probably in your Second Life Preferences settings. Some settings to look at are your Graphics draw distance, putting a check mark next to "Avatar Imposters", turning off particles, and setting the Avatar Mesh slider to a lower setting. You can get more options in the links provided at the end of this article.

Network Button: This indicates a problem with your internet connection. Possible causes include your router, your ISP, your antivirus and firewall software, and other programs running while you’re in Second Life. If you’re having network problems, then clearing your Second Life cache may help. You can clear your cache by clicking Edit/Preferences/Network and then clicking the Clear Cache button.

Server Button: This indicates the problem may be on the Second Life server running the sim that you’re in. The problem is not necessarily the server itself. There may be too many scripts running, or too many avatars in or looking into the sim.

Here are some links for getting more information and for reporting problems:

Information about using the Lag Meter

If you’re technically minded, the Statistics Bar (you can select it from the View menu) can be very useful. Read about it here.

If you read these links and explore the Knowledge Base but can’t find an answer, you can get information about filing a trouble ticket or chatting with support. Note that only Premium and Concierge Second Life members can file trouble tickets. Basic members can learn what support services they qualify for here.

The following video will give you information about using the Lag Meter.

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