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Your Guide to Eliminating TF2 Lag Once and For All

Posted on March 18, 2019

Released more than a decade ago, Team Fortress 2 is still one of the most popular games on Steam and boasts an average of 50,000 concurrent players. But even the most popular games have their own connection issues, rubberbanding, and spotty lag.

This can make gameplay infuriating or downright impossible.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to diagnose your connection woes and get back to expanding your hat collection.

Don't let lag or disconnects ruin your TF2 experience. 

Our lag fixes are as simple as flipping a few switches or plugging in a loose cable. To minimize or prevent TF2 lag spikes, follow our simple lag guide.

1. Meet the System Requirements

While TF2 is an old game, you could be running on a system that's even older. It's important to make sure your system has enough power to keep up with the action.

Here are the recommended system requirements:

  • OS: Windows® 7 (32/64-bit)/Vista/XP
  • Processor: 1.7 GHz Processor or better
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 15 GB available space

Even premade laptops are likely to have both the processor and memory speed needed, and a graphics card isn't even required. Unless you're on a legacy system it's likely you already meet the system requirements.

To make sure, locate your hardware components by searching for "System Information" in your start menu.

If everything checks out, it's possible one of your computer components may not be functioning correctly -- especially if these problems persist in other games.

Verify the health of your system by diagnosing your HDD or SSD and testing your processor's performance.

There's a final trick to discern if your problem is related to your computer performance. While in-game, access the video options and turn Team Fortress 2's settings down to their minimum.

If TF2 lag spikes persist even on the lowest system settings, it's probably not related to your computer's performance.

2. Verify Your File Integrity

Sometimes when you download a game from Steam's network, a file will become missing or corrupted. While your game may appear playable, hitches, rubberbanding, or disconnects may occur.

Verifying the file integrity of TF2 is easy. While looking at your games library on Steam, locate Team Fortress 2.

Right-click Team Fortress 2 and select "Properties" at the bottom of the dropdown menu. From there, locate the "Local Files" tab and then select "Verify Integrity of Game Files."

A loading bar should appear. Steam will briefly search TF2's files. If it detects an error or missing file, it will automatically replace and repair your game.

If Steam alerts you that it has made changes to Team Fortress 2, start the game and hop into a game lobby to see if this fixes your connectivity issues.

3. TF2 Lag? Check Your Internet Connection

The Internet can be finicky. If your lag persists in TF2 and other games, your internet connection is the likely culprit.

Test your internet connection to make sure both your download and upload speeds are stable and powerful enough to maintain a secure connection during gameplay.

Do you use a wireless connection? Wi-Fi is notorious for sudden lag spikes and dropped connections and can also become spotty when other wireless devices interfere.

All multiplayer games will benefit from a stable, wired ethernet connection. If you're on wireless, making the change to a direct connection should improve your connectivity and could reduce your TF2 lag entirely -- along with lag in other popular online games.

4. Disable Other Programs

So many programs battle for your internet usage: Skype, Discord, iTunes, and more. If you use several programs at the same time, some can interfere with your connection and cause lag in Team Fortress 2 and other games.

Disable as many unnecessary programs as you can. While Discord or Skype might be necessary for you to communicate with your friends or teammates, close your browsers when they're not in use. Google Chrome is a notorious memory hog, just for one example.

Additionally, your antivirus may inhibit some of TF2's internet processes. When the Heavy charges in, both you and your antivirus may take a beating with a sudden burst of interactions.

Whitelist TF2 on your system's antivirus. Your antivirus program won't slow down your gameplay or check every game interaction once you make clear it's a trustworthy program.

Freeing up these computer processes allows your hardware and connection to be focused on one thing: your game.

5. Join the Best Server

Choosing the wrong game server, host, or lobby is all it takes to have a terrible experience. Although a server may appear to have low latency, many run on outdated technology.

In-game, your connection to the server may drop suddenly. You could be disconnected, or there could be severe rubberbanding. This might have nothing to do with your end.

If you just recently started experiencing TF2 lag, the simplest fix could be to change servers. Make sure you try a few servers so you know your lag spikes are based on your connection and not a server with poor maintenance.

Find hosts with less latency, or better yet, just host a server yourself for the best TF2 experience.

Ready to Up Your Game?

With so many laggy servers, TF2 lag can sometimes seem like an inevitability -- and it might not even be on your end.

Stop wasting time searching for the best server with open slots for you and all your friends. Instead, consider hosting your own server.

Not sure if it's the best solution? Try our free trial and decide for yourself.

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