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Skype Goes Down. Millions Impacted. Skype responds

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Updated with response from Skype: If you are one of Skype’s many users who use the service to make a living or to talk to your remote users, then you may be straight out of luck. The service this morning is down and the outage is affecting millions of users. So far there is no word from Skype or no comment on their blog as such. On Twitter, Skype posted: “Some of you may have problems signing in to Skype – we’re investigating, and we’re sorry for the disruption to your conversations.”

Sorry, not good enough! Skype is one of the key applications of the modern web. According to a recent study, Skype accounts for about 0.57 percent of all Internet traffic. It has become a major telephony provider. For the first six months of 2010, Skype had 6.4 mbillion billing minutes versus 10.7 billion minutes during entire 2009. Skype logged 88.4 billion Skype-to-Skype minutes during first six months of 2010, versus 113 billion Skype-to-Skype minutes in 2009. Clearly, it is already a hit with consumers, and over past few years it has become part of the economic fabric for startups and small businesses around the world. I am not sure we can comprehend the productivity cost of this outage.

Here is a visual interpretation of the Skype outage and its impact, via Phil Wolff at Skype Journal. He points out that in terms of impact this is a much bigger outage than Skype outage in 2007.

In theory, Skype, which is based on peer-to-peer networking technology shouldn’t see an outage. But that is not really the case – the company has a massive infrastructure that it uses for purposes such as authentication and linking to the traditional phone networks. It is not clear why the current outage happened, but it is something that makes me pause. (Updated: Skype responded. See their response at the bottom of this post.)

The outage comes at a time when Skype is starting to ask larger corporations for their business. If I am a big business, I would be extremely cautious about adopting Skype for business, especially in the light of this current outage. I think Skype is at a critical point in its life – its investors are trying to shepherd the company towards the big corporate customers. The hiring of new CEO Tony Bates from Cisco Systems (s CSCO) is only firms my belief that Skype is slowly starting to ignore its core and passionate user base who are happy to spend money on its products – consumers and small businesses.

More importantly, Skype is facing increasing competition from new services, many of them having shown that they can keep pace with the Internet telephony behemoth. It is not six years ago when Skype had an advantage of riding on the back of the file-sharing service Kazaa to attract new users. In the age of Twitter and Facebook, word of mouth has taken on a whole new meaning. The recent launch and fast growth of Viber, a no name free VoIP company, shows that Skype can’t rest on its laurels.

More importantly – it needs to ensure that it is doesn’t go down. Even for a few minutes.

Skype just responded

Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network – instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’ – they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. If you want to talk to someone, and your Skype app can’t find them immediately (for example, because they’re connecting from a different location or from a different device) your computer or phone will first try to find a supernode to figure out how to reach them.

Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype. As Skype relies on being able to maintain contact with supernodes, it may appear offline for some of you.

What are we doing to help? Our engineers are creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal. This may take a few hours, and we sincerely apologise for the disruption to your conversations. Some features, like group video calling, may take longer to return to normal.

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139 Responses to “Skype Goes Down. Millions Impacted. Skype responds”

  1. Yoyo Master

    Spare us the drama, please. ‎”Even for a few minutes”… C’MON! What are you expecting from a service that offers the best VOIP experience so far (largely for no fee)? a 99.9999% SLA? And it’s not like other systems (landline or mobile networks) offer better availability. People will survive, especially those small startups the writer’s worried about. There is still email while Skype is down for… what? a few hours. Take a chill pill, man.

  2. Christina

    I for one, am glad that I found this article. And to those who are giving the author crap, please chill out. I use Skype every day, and I’m very upset at the outage. But I’m not a geek, and I’m not “flipping out” for no reason. The reason I’m upset is because my fiance lives overseas and Skype is the only way I have to see him in person until we get married. So of course I’m upset. But to those giving him grief for his article, just stop. He probably has a legitimate reason to be upset as well. Thanks Om, it’s nice to finally know that the problem isn’t on my end, and that I’m not the only one who’s having to deal with this.

  3. Anyone for bringing back the Bell system? .

    It may be cheap (for most free) which just means in this case that we’re getting WAY more than you pay for.

    This also makes for a nice trigger for the net neutrality debate: If I pay for my Skype, should mine survive while the vast unwashed go “best-effort?”


  4. I agree that this is completly BS! I know about 75 army wives who would agree right now.. skype has been down for a few hours for me.. I was hoping to talk to my husband tonight but since skype seems to be a failure that wont be happening..

  5. Seriously, most people don’t even pay for this shit.

    So for anyone to be having a pussy wax about an outage which skype have pissing apologized for is a little bit whack, frankly.

    The tone of this hissy little article veers towards twatty. But that’s just my opinion. i don’t work in media and i’m not a massive prick.

    • You sound like one

      You sound like a massive prick. Hey genius, does it occur to you that the people complaining DO pay for the service. millions of skype users pay for the service you ignorant prick.

  6. Yes peer to peer but first you need to know when “joe_user” is located. i.e. There is some server infrastructure for authentication and directory and online status of users. Also a DNS-like scheme so users can find each other as their IP addresses change.

  7. Although I agree it’s frustrating and it is making me take a second look at how much I rely on the cloud (Skype, Google Docs, etc.) this is the first time Skype has been down for me in years.

    I had to move one Skype to Skype interview from today to tomorrow so it’s not the end of the world.

    It’s a great free service. Reminds me of the folks who freak out about the Twitter fail whale. We just need Lighten up, Francis.

    Now if it starts happening all the time then I would agree there is something serious going on and lets freak out but for now they’ve earned my benefit of the doubt.

    The poor communication from Skype was my only gripe. I was re-booting thinking it was me. Checked their site nada. Their forums are history. So I had to go to Twitter to confirm I wasn’t alone. :-)

  8. jnbrooklyn

    I was a bit surprised to not be able to use my phone this morning (I subscribe to skype unlimited calls and I have a landline through skype) but it cleared up reasonably quickly…..looking at this historically, this is barely a glitch….want to go back to verizon?! I don’t think so. I am saving a fortune using skype and I am sure they will work this out. It can only get better.

  9. First time user

    well I am extremely disappointed because just today I decided to actually use Skype for once and get call credits because my flight in Europe has been delayed 4 days and it seems that I will almost be spending a not-so-good christmas alone. Now that there are some flight changes and that I just got back home to contact my relatives and get the airlines sorted out, amid this european airport chaos, Skype is down!

    I cannot even imagine how it would be for business relying on heavy communications. My 50 minute calls to airlines across the pond would be extremely expensive if done from a regular telephone.

    • Devout Skyper

      Keep with it FTU. It is simply the best VoIP service by far and while it is annoying, especially if you’re waiting for a plane that you were supposed to be on days ago, it’s worth waiting for. It looks like it’s up and running again now anyway as I have my lovely green tick back!! =) Stick with it! You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

  10. Om, normarily i enjoy your articles and you’re clearly a writer worth reading.

    This, however, is a disgrace. 50 minutes outage by a company that’s led VOIP and GIVEN it away for free, without bullshit or hassles for as long as i can remember.

    Have a word my friend and make an apology. Your indignation is as best pretentious, at worst a prissy little fit from some jumped up shit at a site that has traffic but could disappear tomorrow and no one would give a f**k

    • Skype is not a free service!!! at least not for the following:
      – have a number that people can call
      – call land lines or mobile phones

      Skype made 740 000 000 $ of revenue in 2009.

      So CUSTOMERS have the right to be pissed off, especially if it hurts their business

  11. I hope this was just a one time problem and is fixed asap. I’d like to hear a detailed report of the issue in the future though, I have a few business customers with the intention to switch their phone system to skype. I don’t know the full extend of the outage, but if forwarding the skype number to a landline or cellphone is also affected, then I would not know of any other way for the business to still receive calls. Outages happen and regular phone service providers are not save from that as well, but I never lost service longer than a few hours, unless a hurricane offered as a visit. When forwarding still works, then there is somehow a safety net for phone calls still to be received. Skype vs. ATT (2 phone numbers) is 12$ vs. 268$ (already haggled down from 600+), and when this really was a rare case, then well worth it.

  12. frankly i’m glad that skype went down. teaches people not to rely too much on one form of communication. Redundancy is key to survival in the tech world.

    visit (it’s a crazy blog) all ad $$ is donated to #help find a cure for #melanoma #cancer. just visit and you’ve donated! ok fine shameless plug.

  13. Thanks Skypo…

    You have cost our business headaches today, cancelled skype meetings and more.

    dumping skype and moving to another service.

    bad boy skype, now go to your room and pray.

    non skype user as of today

    • Devout Skyper

      Grow up you pathetic little girl.
      Like so many of the other posters on here today, you should always have a contingency plan, did you miss that day at school, and not complain about a service that has only gone down once since its conception.
      I expect that Skype will be glad to be rid of a sour faced bitch such as yourself anyway so get a life and a different VoIP provider, twat.

  14. holdenpage

    Om, I think after 6 years of near perfect service, you could cut them a break. Facebook has suffered more major outages these past two weeks. I’m sure the people at Skype want their product up and running again with even better failsafes than better, and I am sure they are doing this with as much passion, if not more, than you have for Skype.

    Is it alright to be upset? Ya. But to say they are completely unreliable, and to essentially burn them at the stake? No.

  15. Completely ridiculous. The server went down less than 10 minutes ago. It’s not like it’s a complete disaster. Has it occurred to you that they might be going through technical difficulties?

    • How do you know that I am in that 99%. Frankly, we do a lot of business on Skype and it is my main phone resource and I spend a bundle on it. And no, no one flipping out. Of course, that is something you might choose to imagine :-)

      • Da Boi Bruce (SwaggBreezy Fresh)

        Lawl, this scrub right here.
        Seems like the 99% are flipping out. Get on Yakity, god stop whining and use other types of communication.
        Oovoo, Ventrilo, Team speak. god stop blabbing bout nonsense.

      • Mike Gunsel

        I love how most people just want to complain guess they have nothing better to do. I see why you posted this your reporting a big Issue like you I use it for work and run my business on the back of it. but i am also old enough to remember the Ma Bell of the old days when just digging around would put 1000 phones down so i have a backup like land line and google voice so something like this wont affect me dont know why more people dont and yes i am a old biker geek!!! LOL

        Keep up the great work Malik

  16. I appreciate your outrage, Om, but in the end, every cloud-based service is going to have outages from time to time. That’s just the nature of things. This is why many people, like John Dvorak for example, argue against relying on the cloud too much.

    But frankly, it isn’t just the cloud that this happens to. Airplanes break, and flights get canceled. Cars break down, and subways get delayed – people miss face to face meetings this way. Anything technological is going to fail at some point or another. Expecting something – anything – to work 100% of the time just isn’t realistic.

    And no, I don’t own stock in Skype :P I’m just sayin’…

    • Agree, Verizon has trouble with there landlines, T-1s all the time yet people still buy.

      I do agree though Skype’s response is just like traditional companies which means it sucks. They need to not aspire to being Verizon but a Zappos.

      • +1 –
        live long enough in Tech. world and you know – nothing is 100% fault proof (even a distributed system like skype.

        all in all i think they manage their growth in subscribers and MoU fairly well (remember the 5 9th threshold?)

        (on a side note i find this is an interesting lesson to learn about the soft spots of such architecture)

    • Sami Sale

      Well said Nergol.

      Om Malik, I appreciate your outrage as well. But the outage happens with everything and every company. Not achieving the absolute 100% up-time is not enough grounds to think Skype may lose grounds with businesses.

      Thanks all.

  17. Blackberry still has massive centralization prone to go down and take mass users with it. But the network effect isd what sets bb and skype apart. Assuming this is a glitch it won’t really have an impact. But sdomeoner somewhere is not having a good morning at skype.

      • Agreed. The assumption we mistakenly make is that these large companies have massive redundancy and fail safe systems in place such than an outtage, however unlikely, would only impact a small batch of customers. As we’re seeing here, and with the BB outtages, that this is often not the case. Facebook went down and they had to “reboot the server” recently. The thing I like about Vonage is that it offers a fail safe routing # that re-routes calls to that number in the event of an outtage. It’s a nice little feature. Sometimes simple solutions are enough to appease the audience. Skype really should consider such a solution.

  18. Anonymous

    Jesus. Why did you even make this article? Skype has been down for maybe 50 minutes. 50 minutes… and you’re blabbing about how it can’t be trusted and about how it’s let down millions of people?

    You pretentious little prick.

      • It’s not like he isn’t right. It was still working less than 10 minutes ago here. Has it occurred to you they might be having technical difficulties, as opposed to “wanting more money”.

        Does your business do everything perfectly every single time?

      • It’s been down for at least 3 or 4 hours, so don’t be an asshole. Imagine if you showed up to work and you couldn’t talk to any of your customers. You’d lose patience pretty fast.

      • 50 minutes? If only. I haven’t been able to use my skype accounts on various locations and various systems, at all.

        One success was to connect directly to an already open chat window from last night, but that was it. Nothing else. I can not even login and it’s been nearly 6 hours.

        50 minutes. I wish!

    • Anonymous, what part of “over past few years it has become part of the economic fabric for startups and small businesses around the world. I am not sure we can comprehend the productivity cost of this outage.” didn’t you get? Some people’s livelihood is connected through Skype. Sure, there are other ways, but Skype is a great way to keep in touch with clients and connections. More professional than Twitter or Facebook.

      Besides, it’s not like San Diego Comic Con’s website going down, or World of Warcraft going down for a couple of days. Those are luxuries.

    • I agree. For a service as innovative and free for many applications, I think we should be grateful and allow Skype to take us into the next generation. Are we disappointed, sure, but do the majority of us understand? And will most of us go back who currently use Skype? Yes. I hardly think one outage is going to bring society and Skype to its knees.

      Lesson learned…move on.

      Did you write about BP, by chance, Om?

    • Block this person!

      1) Uses non-constructive language, to say the least.
      2) His problem may have been 50 minutes, but I’ve
      been out of Skype for over 10 hrs now, and am in the middle of an international collaboration.

      That said: this service has been free of charge so far.
      And it’s been one of the truly great break-throughs of the 21-st century in terms of international communication.
      It’s been a blesssing !
      Still, no reason to go name-calling for either side.

    • This affects my business tremendously because I converse with a ton of my customers on Skype. As much as some want to play this down, if it keeps up it will cost us and many others a lot of money.

      I am not a geek by the way:)

      • Why does Vio think you get the service for free.
        I pay more to Skype than I pay my Adsl provider.
        It may well be the case for John too!

        I have a phone number that rings on Skype on my laptop, and for that i pay every month.

        People need to understand that not all is free on the Internet, and the companies like Skype who get hundreds of millions of revenue from their customers must provide a matching level of service.

      • I don’t get the service for free either… I pay for my SkypeIn, I pay for SkypeOut, and I rely on it to communicate with family members overseas and with some customers…

      • After reading through all the posts, and since I deal with different people and personalities almost every day [I am sure you can guess what business field I am in], most of you guys/gals that don’t pay for Skype or pay for Skype, I predict

        A. You will get angry enough and ask for credit while threatening to cancel which is a bluff behind the scenes
        B. Complain to Skype support, like that will get you anywhere. It may to an extent. LOL
        C. Say that you will go with another provider, then cave, and end up staying.

        By the way, You will go through another outage. 60% chance that they will have another one within 3 months.

        D. You will use another service and try to migrate your customers, but will most likely fail because people DON’T LIKE CHANGE.

        YOU WILL COME BACK TO SKYPE. It is only human nature.

        E. Continue to vent to yourself and others on multiple communication tools like twitter, facebook, gigaom, the Skype support site, etc

        F. You will try to forget this ever happened and be a “carefree business owner”, but;

        By the way, You will go through another outage. 60% chance that they will have another one within 3 months.

        G. What ever business processes you have integrated with Skype that you cannot do like, communicate; LOL, you will blame it on Skype.