Skype outage caused by massive PC restart by users

August 21, 2007

It has been established that the blackout that left millions of Skype users without the ability to make Internet phone calls from their PC for two days in August was, in fact, triggered by the users of the service.

The recent outage happened after a massive restart of its users' computers across the globe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update.

The high number of restarts in a short time period clogged Skype's network, causing a flood of log-in requests. These, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact. The disruption was unprecedented in terms of its impact and scope.

Skype offers a P2P (peer-to-peer) VoIP software service, which allows users to make phone calls, instant messages and videos over their computers with a broadband Internet connection. The service is free for users of the Skype network and is extremely popular, with more than 220 million users worldwide.

Skype's peer-to-peer network has the ability to fix itself for just such problems. However, the outage revealed a software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm that prevented the self-healing function from working.

Skype has augmented its software so that its users will not suffer from an outage in case this problem happens again, but it is perceived that some damage to the company’s image in the marketplace may have occurred.


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