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 today.
There are a number of reasons one cannot log in or stay logged into Second Life. One of the more significant reasons is a poor connection. You may have a good Internet connection and a bad connection to SL. A poor connection can be caused by multiple problems in different locations. In this article, I try to give you some troubleshooting 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 and Linux users. The Mac and Linux users will have to translate Windows commands. Sorry. I just don’t know them.
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. Or look at the concurrent user graph at Etitsup.com. You should see a smoothly curving line. An abrupt drop shows a general problem.
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.
Update: Jan 2018 – SpeedTest.net has changed. They no longer allow you to test to a city or server of your choice. So, for these tests. The site is useless for our purposes. You’ll have to Google for Internet speed test to a specific server and hope to find a good one. I’m looking… Found – see: Internet Speed Tests.
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 44/45. If the values are below 0.8 and 30, the server hosting the region is lagging, which can be from any number of causes, which you can’t do anything about. If the region server lags significantly, it can distort the Viewer’s Ping making it unrealistically high and also cause packet loss.
If DT and PFPS are bad, 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. Etitsup.com will only show when general login issues are keeping people out.
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 (18.104.22.168:13004). The last number is the IP address with a port after the ‘:’. You won’t need the colon and port number for testing your connection.
SpeedTest.net will let you test your general Internet connection. Run it at its default settings or point it to San Francisco, USA (SF) for a basic test. If you have good numbers with that test, point it to the server name or IP address you got in Help (or the one above) and try it again as a more specific test.
Update: Jan 2018 – SpeedTest.net has changed. You can’t test to the city or server of your choice. You will have to Google for: Internet speed test to a specific server. Or… Found – see: Internet Speed Tests.
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 it will show where the problem is. Google tracert with your Windows version 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. One * in the line is not good but, not serious. Retest every hour to see if it persists. Two * are a problem and 3 * pretty much means a failure.
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 [22.214.171.124] 5 68 ms 36 ms 25 ms xe-2-2-0.cr2.sjc2.us.above.net [126.96.36.199] 6 33 ms 23 ms 24 ms xe-1-0-0.cr1.sjc2.us.above.net [188.8.131.52] 7 23 ms 26 ms 30 ms 184.108.40.206.available.above.net [220.127.116.11] 8 31 ms 82 ms 32 ms xe-0-1-0.mpr3.phx2.us.above.net [18.104.22.168] 9 34 ms 32 ms 31 ms 22.214.171.124.allocated.above.net [126.96.36.199] 10 44 ms 42 ms 42 ms sw-core0-83.phx.lindenlab.com [188.8.131.52] 11 42 ms 43 ms 41 ms sim9849.agni.lindenlab.com [184.108.40.206]
If times, in this case over 30ms, were in my hardware, the first two lines, I would 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 lost 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, some may have more or fewer routers between your ISP and SL. fewer is better.
If the long times and lost packets are in the Linden Lab hops, I would complain to SL and include the output of tracert in the trouble ticket.
Fixing Your End
If the problem is on your end, restart your computer, router (if any), and modem/gateway. 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. When restarting the router helps that indicates that overloading may be the problem. Allowing people to piggy-back can use up available connections causing your Sl connection to overload the router.
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. Once you are safe, 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 your current router. Google for the ‘How To’ on firmware updates. Use your router’s model and brand in the search.
If you suspect the modem/gateway, 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 in any case. 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.
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 troubleshooting. 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 your ISP provided email addresses. Your email client may suddenly not be able to find your ISP’s 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 the problem. With wireless connections, fluorescent lights and the new Chinese curly lights can be a problem (the latter also being a fire hazard).
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 still gives bad numbers, 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 widespread and really their problem. That can take 2 to 4 hours.
Once you are sure it is the Lab, contact Linden Lab. See: Contacting Second Life/Linden Lab
There are various problems that will give you error messages about why you can’t log in 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.
You can post those error messages in the SL Forum and ask for help with specific problems. If you can log in, you can also ask in large in-world groups to see if others are having similar problems. If everyone is suffering then it isn’t your hardware.