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Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 12/30/2010

Skype outage explained, now how to move forward?

By Hayley Tsukayama

Skype has now provided a post-mortem on its massive outage last week.

The Cliffs Notes version is that a bug in an older version of the Windows client of Skype couldn't process a backlog of offline instant messages from overloaded servers. The bug wasn't in the latest Windows client, the Mac client or the clients for iPhone, TV, SkypeConnect or Skype Manager, but it did take out approximately 20 percent of all Skype users.

This in turn took down a large number of supernodes, which are essential to running the peer-to-peer network, causing widespread outages. (For a more complete explanation of the outage, go to Skype's Big Blog and for a good primer on supernodes, check out this post.)

Skype has a few plans moving forward to prevent outages like this in the future. For one, it's going to release the new, non-buggy version of the client again to encourage users to upgrade. People are often wary of updating for fear of new bugs, but in this case upgrading would have fixed a lot of the problem.

Secondly, Skype will take another look at its review and recovery processes to figure out ways to identify and bounce back from problems like the one that caused the 24-hour outage.

And finally, the company said it will be keeping a closer eye on the "capacity of our core systems" and expanding on an investment program it initiated a year ago that "significantly increased our capacity already."

How were you affected by the outage, if at all? Skype has explained and apologized for the outage. Are you back to using it? Or has the outage made you a little Skype-shy?

By Hayley Tsukayama  | December 30, 2010; 10:46 AM ET
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At first I didn't realize Skype was down because there was a power outage in Orange County, California, where I live. When the power came back on, everything but Skype came back up. At first, I thought it was a local problem and so reset the cable connection and downloaded new Skype software when that didn't work. Only later did I notice a teeny tiny announcement on the Skype site that some users were experiencing difficulties and Skype was trying to correct the problem. So I just stayed off Skype for the day. When I rebooted the computer the next day, Skype came back up. Skype is very cheap and convenient, so I will continue to use it, but the outage was irritating.

Posted by: shoeone | December 30, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Go Mac!!!

Posted by: Dice211 | December 30, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

What is "Windows" and why does anyone use it?

MacBook: most stable operating system, most secure computing environment, and longest battery life. Does it cost more than a Windows box? Yes, because you get what you pay for.

Posted by: hisroc | December 30, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Well, you get what you pay for! "Free" phone service doesn't come with "Free" reliability. So much for the notion that the internet was originally built to survive a nuclear war. Ha!

I hope no one was dumb enough to rely solely on Skype or any other VOIP for their needs. If the internet service or Skype's proprietary network is down, you are toast. If you have no power, you are dead in the water.

If you want reliability, nothing beats a landline. If you have a corded phone as a backup, you will still have service when the power is out.

Posted by: coakl | December 30, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I quickly ascertained that Skype had a problem soon after the outage started as I tried to make a Skype call. To be honest I was not overly concerned as minor outages happen all the time in IT. However as a result of the information they posted I knew the issue was a little more serious, knowing what was happening I was therefore not spending time chasing my tail ascertaining if there was a problem with my end of the operation which can often be the case with odd or never before experienced problems such as this one.

Considering the lack of information, outright denial or disinformation that is available when some telco's have an outage, what Skype did to inform customers was excellent! It will certainly not adversely affect my decision to use Skype, rather I think as a result of this issue where there engineers quickly identified a single point of failure, formulated a solution, honestly told customers what they were doing about it and more importantly what to expect when trying to get connected... For this they should be applauded. This is what good good service is all about in my book.

Posted by: boffin | December 30, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Anyone stupid enough to rely on an Ebay product deserves what they get.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | December 30, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

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