Skype Returns

Skype disclosed what happened to its services last week. Turns out the problem was related to its new software update and the reboot process.

On Thursday, 16th August 2007, the Skype peer-to-peer network became unstable and suffered a critical disruption. The disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our usersâ'' computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update.

The high number of restarts affected Skypeâ''s network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact.

Normally Skypeâ''s peer-to-peer network has an inbuilt ability to self-heal, however, this event revealed a previously unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm which prevented the self-healing function from working quickly. Regrettably, as a result of this disruption, Skype was unavailable to the majority of its users for approximately two days.

SKype went on to say that it was their fault, and not due to hacking. They also pointed out that, in effect, to expect more of the same in the future.

This disruption was unprecedented in terms of its impact and scope. We would like to point out that very few technologies or communications networks today are guaranteed to operate without interruptions.

Thee was a nice little commentary last week in the London Times on our increasing interaction and dependence on the digital that is worth reading in light of the Skype outage. To quote from part of it:

Yet I think we underestimate the extent to which our lives are now lived in a sort of digital dream world, in the same way we underestimate how much we drink. If you're honest, how much time do you spend in front of a screen, your mind somewhere other than where you are in physical time and space?

I recommend you give the rest of it a peruse.


It didn't take long, but there is a lot of skepticism being given to Skype's reasons for its outage. A taste can be gleamed here.


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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City