How to Make Second Life Run Better on Old Computers


Second Life can be a fun and interesting platform to explore, but it can also bring even a high-end system to its knees. If your system's performance is an issue, even the best experiences can be compromised by lag time. But a few tweaks can make Second Life playable even on an older system. The Second Life platform scales well between lower-end systems and high-end systems, with plenty of room in between for individual needs.

  • Click the "Me" menu in the top left corner of the viewer, or the "Edit" button in older viewers. Click on "Preferences," and then click the "Graphics" tab. In this window, use the slider at the top to lower the graphics quality, which will cause less stress on your system. You can also choose which graphics options to use if you like more fine-tuned control.

  • Check the preferences of your viewer for options you don't need. Turning off voice if you don't use it can improve performance. You can also turn off typing animation, Name Tags and Lip Synch to bring small gains from within the viewer itself under the "View" menu. You can speed game play by turning off the game's music or video, which can also be disabled completely in the Preferences menu.

  • Increase your network bandwidth allowance in the Preferences window by clicking the "Setup" tab, then under the "Network" heading, moving the slider up. Do not increase the bandwidth allowance beyond available Internet bandwidth.

  • Create a larger disk cache for the constant stream of textures Second Life downloads on the fly. In the Preferences menu, click the "Setup" tab. Under "Cache Size," move the slider all the way to the right. This speeds up the client access to textures by caching them locally instead of downloading them each time.

  • Try the alternative Snowstorm Viewer, available from Linden Labs. Using Second Life does not mean you are stuck with only one choice for a viewer program. The Snowstorm Project is continually developing the Snowstorm Viewer as an open-source choice for people who want more performance from their Second Life experience.

  • Add more RAM to your computer. Older systems especially can benefit from increased RAM, and current prices can make this an inexpensive upgrade. A Windows XP system can run Second Life on 512 megabytes of RAM, but it will not run well. Upgrading to one gigabyte of RAM will help speed performance, and two gigabytes would make the game run even faster.

Tips & Warnings

  • The busier the region you are in within Second Life, the more performance issues you will have.
  • Large and elaborate regions in Second Life cause more textures to be processed and decrease performance.

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  • Photo Credit Agri Press/Lifesize/Getty Images
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