Troubleshoot Your #SL Connection

Troubleshoot Your Second Life Connection

I made this post to avoid typing this information into the SL Forum a gazillion times. I was answering this type question for the third time to day.

There are a number of reasons one cannot login or stay logged into Second Life. One of the more significant reasons is a poor Internet connection. The problem with a poor connection is that it can be caused by multiple problems in different locations. In this article I try to give you some trouble shooting tips to help find where the problem is and who can fix it.

The problem may be in your computer, router, modem, the ISP’s hardware, the backbone hardware, Linden Lab’s hardware, or their software. We need to figure out which.

I’m Windows based. So, this article is Windows oriented. But, all the same problems exist for Mac users. The Mac users will have to translate Windows commands to the Mac commands. Sorry. I just don’t know them.

Troubleshooting

In the Viewer

If you can log into Second Life, do so. If not, check the grid status to make sure it is not a problem with Second Life. Also, try logging into a different region. Before logging in open Preferences->General->Start Location – show at Login and enable the option. After closing Preferences, you’ll see a new field by the login button, ‘Start At:’. Try a Linden owned region like Pooley or Furball. If you still cannot login skip down to On Your End and SpeedTest.net.

Once things rez to the point you can see anything, press Ctrl-Shift-1 to toggle on Viewer Stats. Look for Ping and Packet Loss. They should be <250ms and 0%.

If they aren’t good, look for Time Dilation (DT) and Physics FPS (PFPS) farther down the panel. These should be 1.0 and 44. If the values are below 0.8 and 30, the server hosting the region is lagging, which can be from any number of causes. If it lags significantly, it can distort the Ping making it unrealistically high and cause packet loss.

Move to another region. Use the World Map and look for Pooley or Smith. Look for a region without any people. Deserted is best. The less stuff there the better too. Pooley, Furball,  and Smith are in areas that are often deserted and that is the only reason to use them. Any empty region will do.

Check your Ping and Packet Loss again. If the numbers are still bad and DT and PFPS are bad too then you need to check the Grid Status. If there is no cause applicable to your problem try another region. Three bad ones in a row strongly suggest a connection problem over an SL problem. But, wait at least a couple of hours before you do anything drastic and keep checking grid status because it may still be SL.

On Your End

While still in the viewer and logged in click Help->About and get the server name and IP address, e.g., You are at 287,444.0, 265,656.0, 21.4 in Tuzandi located at sim9849.agni.lindenlab.com (216.82.45.183:13004). The last number is the IP address with a port after the ‘:’. You won’t need the colon and  port number for testing connection.

SpeedTest.net will let you test your Internet connection. Run it at its default settings or point it to San Francisco, USA (SF). If you have good numbers now, point it to the server name or IP address you got in Help (or the one above) and try the test again.

If you get bad numbers to SF, the connection problem is Linden Lab, you, or somewhere in the middle. You can open a command window and try tracert to see if the problem shows. Google tracert for information on how to use the command and read the output. You can use the read out in a trouble ticket to SL or your ISP.

The results of tracert are showing the time for a network packet from your computer to reach each router in your path to the SL servers. They start with your computer, router, and modem and move on to your ISP’s and then the backbone routers. Then into the SL network. Below is an output showing a good connection. It goes from my computer to COX, my ISP. Then to the backbone Above.net. Then it goes into LindenLab.com. The longest time is 43ms ( milliseconds). You see the time increase as the distance is farther. So the last value is the longest.

You can see in line 8 one packet had a little problem and took almost 3 times as long to get there and back (82ms). A bad connection will start to show long times. Lost packets will show as * in place of a time.

1    7 ms   8 ms  13 ms  [Removed my local stuff]
2    8 ms  11 ms   8 ms  [Removed my local stuff]
3   11 ms  15 ms  10 ms  [Removed my local stuff]
4   24 ms  26 ms  30 ms  paltbprj02-ae0.0.rd.pt.cox.net [68.1.0.235]
5   68 ms  36 ms  25 ms  xe-2-2-0.cr2.sjc2.us.above.net [64.125.31.70]
6   33 ms  23 ms  24 ms  xe-1-0-0.cr1.sjc2.us.above.net [64.125.30.137]
7   23 ms  26 ms  30 ms  64.125.26.25.available.above.net [64.125.26.25]
8   31 ms  82 ms  32 ms  xe-0-1-0.mpr3.phx2.us.above.net [64.125.28.69]
9   34 ms  32 ms  31 ms  64.124.161.254.allocated.above.net [64.124.161.254]
10  44 ms  42 ms  42 ms  sw-core0-83.phx.lindenlab.com [216.82.7.226]
11  42 ms  43 ms  41 ms  sim9849.agni.lindenlab.com [216.82.45.183]

If long times, in this case over 30ms, were in my hardware, the first two lines, I need to troubleshoot my hardware and settings. It won’t kill the connection by itself but it indicates a problem.

If the times for COX were long or showing lost packets then the problem would be with my ISP. I can complain to them.

If the long times and loast packets were in the backbone, Above.net, I would complain to my ISP and SL. In a way the backbone is the ISP for COX and SL. You may have more backbone providers showing. I’m routing from San Diego to San Jose, a short hop. However many you have your only contact point is your ISP and SL.

If the long times and lost packets are in the Linden Lab hops, I would complain to SL and include the output or tracert in the trouble ticket.

Fixing Your End

If the problem is on your end, restart your computer, router (if any), and modem. Repeat the test to SF. If that fixed the numbers you found the problem, you. It is either your modem, router, or computer.

If you have multiple computers using the connection, turn them off and see if that makes a difference. If you are wireless, make sure you have a password lock on your wireless connection. If it is an open connection, check to see if others are using your connection.  You’ll need to find out how to open the control panel on your access point device. It usually must be done via a wired connection. If you have people piggy-backing you’ll need to secure your connection.

Update: On wireless routers made in the last couple of years WPS security has been breached. If you are using it, it may be compromised. Switch to one of the other security systems and disable WPS. On Linksys disabling WPS is an option, but it does not work. Look for firmware updates for your router. – In the router controls you can usually see how much traffic is passing through the router. If you are not online and the traffic is high, you have probably been compromised. Google for more information.

Access points and routers have a limit on the number of connections they can handle. Each computer opens numerous connections and an SL connection opens way more connections than most programs. It is possible to overload some access points and routers. Restarts help and indicate that overloading may be the problem. Allowing people to piggy-back can use up available connections too.

If you still get bad numbers and you have a router (not just a Cable/DSL modem/router but a separate device), remove it from the connection path. You will need to Google for instructions if you don’t know how to remove the router from the connection path. You will also need to have your operating system up to date and a working firewall. Putting an unprotected computer on the Internet is high risk. A computer with an open exploit can be found and infected in less than a minute. Try the test again without the router.

If removing the router solves the problem, you have found it. Routers and modems are tricky in that they may look fine and allow everything but Second Life to run. Second Life uses a lot of connections. About the only way to know if you have a router problem is to remove it from you connection path and connect to SL. If the problem goes away, you need a new router. You may be able to do a firmware update and save the router. Google for the ‘How To’. Use your routers model and brand in the search.

If you suspect the modem, and it belongs to the ISP contact them. They can test it in place. They may test it for you even if you own it. Ask anyway. Or borrow one and try swapping them out. These devices have settings in them. You need to know the settings to swap them out. Again, you can Google to learn how.

UPDATE: 7/18/2012 – Recent testing has shown that two router models are failing to handle Second Life, now that we are in the IPv6 era. The Belkin G Series and LinkSys WRT series routers have problems carrying Second Life. (Reference) This information was provided to Third Party Developers in an Open Source Dev meeting in July. So, if you have one of these , it is time to update. Routers from 2000 to 2005 are likely to have Network Address Translation (NAT) problems with IPv6. Older routers have no chance. 

DNS Problems

You may notice that some lines in your tracert output have no server name. Or maybe the route stops short of Linden Lab and you never see the LL server. All you get is *’s after a certain point. For whatever reason; your computer is not resolving names. Some routers have no name, so it is not absolutely definitive. But, that can be caused by a bad DNS server. DNS problems are common on Mac’s trying to use SL… or so I’m told.

To correct DNS problems on a Windows machine open a command window and type ipconfig /flushdns. This will clear a bad name resolution and possibly allow the correct look up to come in.

If that does not help, add a different DNS server to your DNS Server List. See this Google Public DNS page for help doing that. I have way less Internet problems with Google DNS Servers added in than when just using my COX DNS servers.

A DNS Gotcha

When you add the Google DNS servers to your DNS list be sure you keep at least one from your ISP. Some ISP’s have special addresses in their DNS servers for email services, support, and trouble shooting. If you do ever have to call your ISP for help, having removed those DNS servers can really confuse an ISP’s support staff. Plus your computer may not be able to find some URL’s support tries to send you to.

Removing all the ISP’s DNS server from your list may also break you ISP provided email addresses. Your email client may suddenly not be able to find your ISP’s the POP and SMTP servers.

Other Problems on Your End

Network cards and cables do go bad. Wireless connections can be subject to interference. If you have problems with everything Internet then the card or cable can be a problem. In wireless fluorescent lights can be a problem. The new Chinese curly lights can be a problem.

Fixing the ISP

All you can do is call them and work with them. The problem may be their hardware, the cables and lines that connect you to them. Or it may be the Internet modem in your home/office. I suggest restarting the modem and computer before calling the ISP. Then recheck your connection again. If it is still bad numbers, jump in and call.

Fixing Second Life

Make sure you are not fighting any known problem by checking the Grid Status page. Check it every hour or so while you are trying to track down the problem. They won’t post a problem until they know it is wide spread and really their problem.

Then contact Linden Lab. See: Contacting Second Life/Linden Lab

Other Problems

There are various problems that will give you error messages about why you can’t login or why you got logged off. They can be connection related or not as there are other causes. See: Can’t Login Second Life for more information on other issues.

13 thoughts on “Troubleshoot Your #SL Connection

  1. Pingback: Natales’ Things & Stuff | Troubleshoot Your Second Life Connection « MetaLibrary

  2. Wireless systems can be interfered with by 2.4 Ghz home phones. Check your labels on your wireless (not cellular) phones and other wireless gadgets to see if they are 2.4 Ghz. Shut them off and see if your connection improves.

    Try plugging your system into the back of the router with a wired Ethernet connection. Turn off or disable your wireless connection when you do this.

    If your cable modem has built-in wireless and you connection works well when wired but sucks when wireless, do not despair or fight the cable company. Just get a cheap Netgear or other brand wireless router and plug the uplink port into your cable modem. Turn off the cable modems wireless part, and use your new connection. Most old cable routers are 54 mb and WEP encryption, which is slow. A new wireless-N router with WPA is encyption is far faster with much less overhead and has more range.

    Check the wireless channel settings in your router. Change the channels in 2-channel increments to see if your packet loss and connection problems go away. You can also search with Google for get free tools that will show you what channels your neighbors are on. Try to be at least 2 channels away from all other wireless adapters in your area.

    The FPS setting in the Viewer Statistic window is a combination of video and network and CPU. If packets come in faster than the video card and CPU can process them, the system will slow drastically down and even crash as it retries packets. :Lower your bandwidth in the Second Life Ctrl-P tab to only a hundred kb/sec or so. Try gradually raising the network speed setting, waiting a minute or so between each change. You can see how much it needs in the Statistics window. Set it slightly higher than what it is using.

    If you have lots of crashes after just a few minutes, It is not he network. Go into the Ctrl-P menu and get to the video section. Go to Advanced and Hardware and uncheck the “Use OpenGL Vertex Buffer Objects”. Older video drivers will crash with this enabled. And yes, even a brand new $$$ Alienware Dell laptop comes with older drivers.

    This setting is not sticky on upgrades. Every time I am forced to download a new client, I have to go back and uncheck this setting.

    Most private label computers use customized drivers than the standard Nvidia and ATI drivers, and can be years behind.

    See https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-26533 for how the newest and latest video cards can cause major issues in Second Life.

    • Thank so much for taking the time to add this information. I had not thought about wireless phones.

      The tip about Modem Wireless verses a new router with wireless is also something I had not thought about.

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  6. Thanks Nal you are a wealth of info!
    my numbers are awful up to 122ms after my home which was <1ms.
    wired DSL. and router tested fine.
    HAve been dealing with non-stop crashing even after tech was here-so back to calling them.

  7. Pingback: Help I keep crashing! - SLUniverse Forums

  8. they moved my connection to a new address at the first HOP. And changed my 2wire modem OFF “Interleaving”
    and my connection is no longer dropping to zero and staying there or bouncing up & down.
    I can now transport to new heavy areas and they rez quickly!
    How ever my CPU is still quite high even though it is a core two duo.

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  10. It’s always DNS getting blamed, but that’s far from the source.

    2013-03-08T04:43:11Z WARNING: newview/llxmlrpctransaction.cpp(426) : process: LLXMLRPCTransaction CURL error 6: Could not resolve host: login.agni.lindenlab.com (Could not contact DNS servers)

    this https://login.agni.lindenlab.com/cgi-bin/login.cgi uses SSL with a Signature Algorithm md5WithRSAEncryption which gets refused as valid on some systems/libraries. Touching it with a webbrowser allows adding an exception rule. Not a solution for Firestorm/Phoenix/LindenV3 (all affected the same. It’s the linked in library)

    before reaching there been editing resolv.conf, increasing timeouts and getting more redundant
    options rotate
    options attempts:3
    options single-request
    options timeout:10

  11. Pingback: Second Life Clean Install | Nalates' Things & Stuff

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