A Look At What Caused Skype To Shut Down

What Caused Skype To Shut Down

Skype has become one of the most popular and widely used communications services on the Internet. Individuals who have Skype accounts can “call” other users over the Internet, and actually talk to one another out loud using standard microphones plugged into their computers.

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For a small fee, traditional telephone calls from standard landlines can be received and routed to a Skype user through their Skype account. The toll rates for traditional calls through Skype are generally much cheaper than the rates for standard calls, and computer-to-computer calls between Skype users are free.

This pricing structure is one of the things that has made Skype especially popular. However, in 2007 (August 16 and 17, to be exact), Skype was forced to temporarily shut its service down due to a system crash. This article gives a brief look at what caused the system to shut down.

One of the most significant factors that lead to the crash was a security update that occurred on the Microsoft Windows operating system. Microsoft periodically sends security updates to Windows users, and for many users the update process runs in the background, so that users are sometimes unaware when an update occurs.

In order for the security updates to be fully installed and operational on Windows, the user needs to restart their computer. According to some reports that came out of Skype, there was an unusually high amount of Internet traffic on the days in question and it seemed that nearly all of their users were rebooting their computers at approximately the same time, and then attempting to log into the Skype service. This rush of activity is certainly a key factor in understanding what caused Skype to shut down.

Another related issue in explaining what caused Skype to shut down was the fact that there was certain code in the underlying Skype program, and the particular code was written in such a way as to cause Skype to shut down when it detected an excessive amount of activity. It’s not entirely clear how this coding error made its way into the software product, but almost immediately after it was discovered, Skype took steps to remedy the error so that a similar system crash wouldn’t happen again.

To be precise, Skype described the error that caused the system failure as being a “deficiency in an algorithm within Skype networking software.” The algorithm was explained to be an interaction that facilitated a connection between the Skype network and the client that the individual Skype user has to connect with. Given the outcome (that being the system-wide outage), some commentators have stated that Skype was simply unprepared for this particular type of error.

There are several other factors that contribute to the cause of the Skype shutdown. One of the more significant issues is the sheer number of users that have begun using Skype in recent years. The additional load on the Skype servers and infrastructure would have made it much more likely that any coding error or other latent problem would eventually be exposed, with significant results.

Just how popular has Skype become in recent years? During the first part 2006, there were under 100,000,000 Skype user accounts (in the U.S. and worldwide). Fast forward to July 2007, and that number has more than doubled, with more than 220,000,000 users worldwide.

On average, there are roughly 9,000,000 users logged into the service at any given time. With those kinds of usage numbers, and the bandwidth and infrastructure costs that go along with them, it’s easy to see how the success of the service itself could have led to the system outage.

For now, it appears that Skype has fixed all of the original coding issues that led to the system outage. They are certainly working hard to make sure that a similar outage does not happen again.

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