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LSL Wiki : Troubleshooting

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Troubleshooting Second Life

A note from Catherine:
Because there wasn't a proper place for this at the time, it ended up here on the LSLwiki. The LSL wiki deals with how to script. The current troubleshooting resource is the SL Wiki.

(Also see newview.)

Most technical problems with SL can be fixed or at least explained by corrupt cache, bad drivers, overheating, bad power, or a bad network connection--usually in that order. These suggestions are intended to help you track down the specific issue you're having and hopefully resolve it. Note: most of these solutions are intended for Windows users. Most of the problems Windows users have aren't issues the Mac client has to deal with.

  1. My SL client is crashing!
  2. Why is everything black? I can only see a few things.
  3. SL runs really slowly! What gives?
  4. I can't connect!
  5. General Advice

A) My SL client is crashing!

Assuming that you've rebooted your computer, try the following suggestions:

  1. Wipe your cache. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to simply delete the "cache" directory. Un-/reinstalling SL is a more drastic, and usually unnecessary, option.

  2. Check your drivers. Are you using the newest version of your video drivers, motherboard chipset drivers, BIOS, and DirectX? When you start SL, it should give you an error message if you're not up-to-date. Follow the links the error dialog box gives you.
    1. When installing a new video card driver, the best thing to do is to first download the new driver, then uninstall the old one, reboot, then install the new one and reboot again.
    2. Make sure you're using the official drivers from your video card's chipset manufacturer (usually either nVidia or ATI). OEM (original equipment manufacturer) drivers produced by the company that manufactured the card itself (Chaintech, Asus, etc.) will usually suck, as will those available from major OEMs like Dell or IBM.
    3. If you're running a desktop system with ATI video and you're using third-party drivers, such as the Omega or DNA drivers, switch back to the official ATI Catalyst ones if you can.
    4. If you're running a laptop with ATI graphics, you should first try to see if you can install ATI's official Catalyst drivers. Failing that, try either the Omega or DNA drivers. Update: This site seems to have modified Catalyst drivers that may work on your ATI-based laptop. It's my understanding that they work in the same way that Phil Metalhead's suggestion does.
    5. Are you sure you're actually running the driver you think you are? Windows can be really uncooperative at times. Check out this thread for more information on how to properly remove the Microsoft driver and install the correct nVidia or ATI one.

  3. What is your network connection like?
    1. I don't know, how do I figure that out?
    2. Try running DSL Reports' BandwidthTester to find out your connection's capacity.
    3. dial-up (56k modem / ISDN)
    4. Your connection is too slow and low-capacity for you to run SL properly. SL is intended for use with a broadband connection. You're probably crashing or freezing at the "Accept Licence Agreement" screen, right? If you used a broadband connection to get past the licence agreement, you could theoretically connect to SL, but I wouldn't expect to do things like move around or necessarily even talk to people.
    5. broadband (DSL or cable)
    6. This is good. You should check your ping times to the SL server. (Alt-1 in SL, or type "ping" at your OS's command prompt.)
    7. broadband (wireless)
    8. If you have a wireless LAN, try plugging your computer directly into the router and seeing if that helps. Some wireless networks are subject to interference. You should also check your ping times. A good Windows-based tool for determining whether or not you're getting wireless interference is NetStumbler, (try MacStumbler if you have a Mac) which allows you to see how many wireless networks are nearby. If you find that all your neighbours are on the same channel as you, try switching to a different channel. If your wireless card supports it, NetStumbler allows you to see the signal:noise ratio as well. Remember, if you have an 802.11b or 802.11g network, everything from cordless phones, to microwave ovens to Bluetooth can interfere with your LAN.
    9. "wireless dual T1"
    10. This doesn't exist. You need to find out what you're actually using. Check your bandwidth capacity and ping time.
    11. satellite (bidirectional or satellite downstream/modem upstream)
    12. Wow, that sucks. Too bad for you. It's quite possible to play SL, at least on a bidirectional connection, but the extreme latency of such a connection will make it really painful.

  4. Do other computers work on the same internet connection you're using? On the same cables and everything?

  5. Are you trying to run SL on two computers on the same internet connection? If so, what kind of hub or router are you using? Some brands are exceptionally bad at it.

  6. Does SL crash or give errors when it's the only thing running, or just when you're running other software? If so, what are they?
    1. file-sharing apps like Gnutella or BitTorrent: These are especially notorious for SL. Keep them turned off.
    2. Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya and 3DS Max, all at the same time: These are heavy-duty applications. It's unrealistic to expect that you can run them all and SL at the same time.

  7. Is your pagefile fragmented? Running Windows' Defrag utility won't get it all. Try Sysinternals' PageDefrag utility.
    1. After defragmenting your pagefile, try defragging your entire hard drive just for good measure.

  8. Are you running Windows 95/98/ME? Try upgrading to Windows XP. If your computer's fast enough to run SL, it's fast enough to run XP.
    1. If you can't get XP, but you can get 98, consider upgrading to Windows 98 over either 95 or ME. They're horrible. Yes, 98 is better than ME, even though ME came out later. Note however that SL isn't officially supported on 95/98/ME.

  9. What combination of RAM are you using in your PC? If you know what you're doing inside a computer, try removing all but one memory module and seeing if that helps. (Assuming you have SDRAM or DDR SDRAM, that is. If you have RAMBUS, you likely aren't crashing in the first place.)
    1. if it turns out that one of your memory modules is causing SL or computer to crash, try running memtest86 with only that module. It may be bad RAM.

  10. Is your computer adequately cooled? Download a CPU temperature monitor like Motherboard Monitor. Also, make sure that your CPU isn't radically overclocked. Get WCPUID to check. If your computer's only crashing when it's been turned on and running SL or a similarly video/CPU/memory-intensive application or game, it's possible that it's overheating. If your computer room is very hot, try waiting until it cools down before you connect.

  11. Is your computer's power good? Check the voltages Motherboard Monitor gives you. What capacity is your power supply, and how old is it? How many devices do you have hooked up to it? A 300W power supply with four hard drives and a GeForce FX 5950 Ultra is not going to work very well.

  12. When did your problem start happening? If the answer is, "when a new version of SL was released" or "when I got my new video card", that can be helpful in tracking down the problem.

  13. How much free disk space do you have? You should ideally have a couple gigabytes on the disk your pagefile's on, as well as the C: drive if your pagefile's on another drive. (Second Life doesn't let you specify the location of the cache files yet.) If you don't have enough disk space, it can cause SL to give you errors when trying to create or access the cache.

  14. It's unlikely, but possible that your computer has a virus or trojan that's contributing to an existing problem, or even causing your problems with SL in the first place. I recommend Trend Micro's free virus scanner and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware for dealing with viruses and spyware, respectively. Some spyware apps are notorious for affecting system stability and performance.

  15. Are you using any third-party desktop extensions or multi-monitor stuff? Stop it.

  16. If you have local lighting or bump mapping turned on in Preferences, turn them off. You don't need that stuff anyway. Note that this is more a performance tip, but there are still potentially crash issues related to them.

B) Why is everything black? I can only see a few things.

You're probably using a very old graphics card, or a new card with very old drivers (especially ATI users).

  1. In Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Display -> Settings, make sure you're using 32-bit colour depth. SL won't work in 16-bit. If you've been able to get into SL before and now it's suddenly all black, this is what's likely causing it.

  2. Turn off anti-aliasing in Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Display -> Settings -> Advanced

  3. Make sure you are using the latest graphics card and mainboard (AGP) drivers (see "Check your drivers" above).

  4. If you can see the menus and controls, but not the world, it's possible that it's "night" in SL and your computer's brightness settings are set incorrectly. You can change SL's brightness in Edit -> Preferences -> Display -> Gamma.

C) SL runs really slowly! What gives?

SL is a very CPU-intensive program. If you don't have a really fast CPU, it won't run very quickly. Even the very fastest CPUs available run SL slower than you might think. Because SL is CPU-bound, your CPU and memory bandwidth tend to be the most important parts. Having a good video card is less important than having a really fast CPU.

  1. If you have local lighting or bump mapping turned on in Preferences, turn them off. You don't need that stuff anyway. Note that this is more a performance tip, but there are still potentially crash issues related to them.

  2. Switching off ripple water also helps, as well as reducing the terrain detail.

  3. If you're running other software, turn it off. Did that help?
    1. If it was an application like Photoshop, how much RAM do you have? If it's less than 1GB, you may find that you don't want to run it and SL with less than 1GB of system RAM.

    2. If it was a filesharing application like Bittorrent, Emule, or Gnutella, it's possible you don't have enough bandwidth to use SL at the same time. If your filesharing software supports it, use a bandwidth limiter while running SL.
  4. In Preferences, turn down your draw distance. Default is 128m, which works best for most people.

  5. Also in Preferences, reduce the bandwith used for SL. Things will load more slowly, but as the client won't be as busy with processing all the incoming data, it will have more time for other tasks like rendering.

  6. Is your pagefile fragmented? Running Windows' Defrag utility won't get it all. Try Sysinternals' Pagefile Defrag utility.
    1. After defragmenting your pagefile, try defragging your entire hard drive just for good measure.

D) I can't connect!

  1. Reboot your computer.

  2. Does Sl say it can't resolve the userserver? It's possible you have a minor problem with your DNS. Try connecting again.

  3. Does SL say you need a valid Certificate Authority File? That means your computer's clock is likely off by a couple years. Set it to the proper time and SL will be able to connect. Other applications may also be affected by this problem, so it's good to keep current.

  4. Does SL say that it's down for maintenance? That means it's down for maintenance. Check the SL Announcements Forum for details.

  5. Does the SL system status page indicate SL is down? If so, you have to wait to log in.

  6. Make sure you can actually connect to the SL website in your web browser.

  7. What time is it? If it's nighttime, PST, check the New in Second Life" forum. If there's a bunch of messages along the lines of "Is the grid down?", "SL is down", "I can't connect", etc., it usually means that something has failed. The Lindens will have been paged, but as they generally prefer to sleep at night, they may not respond as quickly as you might prefer.

  8. Are you having trouble connecting to other websites? The problem is likely with your entire network connection.

  9. Open a console prompt. (Use your OS's Help files to find out how to do that.) Can you ping If not, there's something wrong with your network.

  10. Assuming everything has checked out fine so far, you may need to open some ports on your firewall. If you've previously been able to connect, but now can't, and you haven't changed anything in your network configuration or setup, you can generally disregard this suggetion. If not, read on: SL currently uses the IP ranges of (all IP addresses from to,, and -, on ports 12020 - 13050. If that port range is too large, you can safely limit it to ports 12020 - 12050 and 13000 - 13050. In practice, just opening all ports on the SL IP range is probably the best idea.

E) General advice

  1. Run Windows Update. Yes it's annoying, slow, painful, you might have to reboot your computer several times and it sends your pirated Windows serial number to Microsoft. Do it anyways, it will ensure that your Windows has the latest security fixes, drivers and will also offer you the most recent version of DirectX. Install everything in Critical Updates and Service Packs and also everything in Drivers, with the exception of the graphics driver, which you should get from the chip manufacturer, as described above. In the Windows section you should download DirectX, if a newer version is offered. Repeat this about once per month.

  2. Use a virus scanner. There are several free ones available, for example AntiVir. Make sure you run it's auto-update about once a week, so it can find the latest uninvited guests. Strange things and unexplained crashes can often be caused by a virus/worm infection. If you don't want to have a permanently running virus scanner, you should at least use an emergency tool like Stinger once in a while. It only scans for the most recent cases though.

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