How safe is your Skype name?

If you are like me you have come to depend on Skype for easy, free communications with friends and colleagues. Skype has become a simple way to chat or call any of your contacts and carry on discussions, no matter where the two (or more) parties might reside in the world. Skype recently released a new beta version, 2.0, that adds video capability, among other promised goodies like better audio quality. Sucker that I am for new versions, this morning I downloaded and installed the new beta version. Big mistake.

One of the neat features that Skype added a few versions back was storing your contacts on the Skype servers so no matter what device you log in from all the people you want to chat with are right there where you need them. This has saved me a ton of trouble since I test a lot of PCs and devices and I never have to worry about finding all my contacts online again. But I found today this can be a bit of a gotcha that I didn’t plan on.

Installing the new Skype beta was simple and once done it asked me to log in to my account which I did. Unfortunately, Skype told me my password was incorrect and wouldn’t let me into my account. Bear in mind this is the same password I have used since installing the very first beta version of Skype several years ago. So I was stumped at this point and unable to get into my account. No problem, I thought, I’ll request a password change and when I get into the account I’ll change it back. This is where it gets really dicey and long-time Skype users should pay particular attention. To change my password Skype asked for my Skype ID and the email account I used to register Skype for the very first time, which in my case was years ago. I ran through every email address I use now and when those didn’t work I started trying old email addresses I have used in the past (companies I used to work for and organizations I no longer belong to) before hitting on the correct one. It was an old email address I used when I was sys admin on the now defunct PocketPC Tools web site. I thought I was OK at this point and that it would let me into my account to reset the password. Nope, silly me for thinking that. Skype informed me it had successfully reset my password and the new password had been emailed to the old email address. The problem is, this web site has long since shut down and that email address is no longer valid. So I am hosed at this point.

I traipsed around the Skype help web site where I found the only option I have is to “open another account under a different user name”. What? To do this means I lose all my prepaid credits for SkypeIn and Out, Voicemail, etc. But the very worst part is losing all my contacts. Dozens and dozens of them. I have to notify each and every one of them that my Skype ID has changed and to please let me see when they are online so they will get added to my new account. This is frankly unacceptable. I have submitted a support ticket to Skype customer support and received an automated reply that said I would receive a reply within 48 hours, unless it takes longer. I swear that’s what it says.

I am the first to admit that it is not Skype’s fault that my old email address is no longer valid, but I’ll bet many Skype users have the same situation. Do you remember what email address you used to register Skype the first time? That problem aside it is definitely Skype’s fault that the new version installation would not recognize my tried and true password, that one I still don’t understand. Until I get some resolution from Skype customer support I will be using the following Skype ID so if you were in my contact list please add me so I can see you on Skype:

jkontherun

I really apologize for this inconvenience and I hope this is temporary as I shudder to think I will lose my original Skype ID. Shame on you, Skype.

I should add that this situation with Skype is what scares me about web-based applications and data storage. I can easily see a similar situation where you are blocked out of your data for a day or two until it gets straightened out. Can you imagine needing to access your own data stored on the web and not being able to?

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