Minecraft Server Can’t Keep Up
Last modified on Sep 2, 2022 in Server Errors
By Nathan Young
Many server owners want to give players the ability to have farms, machines, and even modded items or blocks. Hosting a Minecraft server requires allocated memory, which is used for all in-game activities. Sadly, having too many activities can decrease the server’s performance for all players. For example, a world with countless mob farms or redstone machines will overload the server, causing issues. In some cases, crashes or intolerable lag will occur, and none of your players on the server will want that. Managing all operations on the server is essential so all your players can enjoy the game.
Understanding how an overload happens is an excellent start to optimizing your server. All server owners want a smooth, enjoyable experience, so learning what causes a server to overload will help prevent and resolve any tick lag. We care about your server’s health, so this Apex Hosting resource defines an overloading Minecraft server and its causes. That way, you can fully take control of your server and protect it from lag.
What does Server Can’t Keep Up mean?
All Minecraft servers, modded or vanilla, use ticks per second (TPS) for operations like movement, breaking/placing blocks, entities, generating chunks, and everything else. The “Can’t Keep Up!” console message indicates tick lag, which is caused by in-game activities. If you see that message, the server will likely not meet the perfect TPS value. By default, that value is 20 and can decrease to extremely lower numbers such as 5. The lower values mean lag, and higher numbers mean less lag, which impacts your players’ experience on the server. You can review an example of a server overloading from the Console here:
Can’t keep up! Is the server overloaded? Running 8567ms or 249 ticks behind
Causes for Overloading Minecraft Servers
The ticks are not determined by the server’s allocated memory or the size of the world but rather the activities in-game. Some of these activities are noticeable, such as too many redstone machines, but other times they can be difficult to detect, such as too many mobs spread throughout the world. There are many ways a server can become laggy and overloaded, so it’s ideal to understand them before fixing them.
Too Many Entities
Sometimes, many Minecraft players seek to create many mob farms such as chicken, iron golem, creeper, skeleton, and other types of grinders. However, making too many farms can result in server lag, especially in the same region or chunk. The farm(s) themselves are not the reason for the server overloading, but rather it’s the number of mobs in them. Additionally, mob drops like eggs, bones, rotten flesh, etc., can return in ticks falling behind, resulting in lag for all players. Other entities include item frames, armor stands, and minecarts. In some cases, the entities can turn into ticking entities and result in a server crash. In other words, having too many mobs and entities in the server may cause the world to overload.
Clever players of Minecraft may use automatic machines, but having too many of them in the world, especially in the same region or chunk, will impact the server’s performance. That goes for servers with any mod-related machinery, so keep that in mind. The definition of an auto machine is anything that involves redstone functions or automated blocks/entities from a mod. Removing or limiting their use would be optimal for performance. Remember, the tick rate on the server controls the world operations, and having too many activities at once may cause a reduction in the TPS.
If you have minimal mob farms, entities, and machines, but still experience lag, then the server settings are likely the cause. There are tons of options for bukkit-based and modded servers, so it can be difficult to know which ones help with performance. Typically, the settings relating to entities, chunks, and redstone are the ones to check first. Vanilla servers by default are not optimized, so using Spigot or Paper would be advised for better performance. That also grants more control over the settings to optimize your Minecraft server. In some cases, modded servers will require tweaking mod config files to reduce lag.
Now that you know how servers overload and what that means, managing your server may be easier. Since ticks control all in-game activities, you can choose many options through optimization settings, but it depends on how you configure the server. You want to ensure that players have a safe and reliable connection to the server without interruption caused by tick lag. Limiting farms, machines, and entities combined with tweaking the settings will improve the server’s performance. The provided material in this resource will help you tackle critical lag causes for your Minecraft server to hopefully prevent it.