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Skype Goes Down, Along with 'Millions' of Meetings

Did you try logging onto internet calling service Skype today for an important virtual business meeting? If you did and got a message saying the service was "currently experiencing some problems with our network," you weren't alone. The network meltdown has affected millions of users around the world today, and (as of now) service is still down.

The lack of service left many small-business owners and other users in the lurch. Many took to Twitter to voice their frustrations. "Watching #Skype arrows go round and round... *sigh*" wrote one person. "#Skype is down. I think this is one of the signs of the Apocalypse," another wrote.

Skype executives took to Twitter this afternoon, too, alerting users that they were working on the problem. "Some of you may have problems signing in to Skype -- we're investigating, and we're sorry for the disruption to your conversations."

What went wrong? On Skype's blog, company "blogger in chief" Peter Parkes explained that Skype does not operate like a conventional phone network. Instead, its system relies on "millions" of individual connections between computers and phones. 

"Some of these computers are what we call 'supernodes' -- they act a bit like phone directories for Skype," Parkes writes. "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."

Parkes explains that under normal circumstances, there are many of these supernodes available. Today, however, a large number were "taken offline" by an unidentified problem affecting some versions of the service.

To help resolve the problem, Skype says it is in the process of creating "new 'mega-supernodes'" that should return Skype to normal operating service over the next few hours. 

That's good news for business owners who rely on the low-cost e-phone service for communicating with their remote staffers or clients.

At about 3:30 p.m. Eastern, Skype posted this to Twitter: "Skype is now gradually returning to normal -- we expect it may take several hours for everyone to be able to sign in again, however."

Do you use Skype for business? How reliant are you on the service? What did you do during the great Skype crash of 2010?

Related: Can't Live With/Can't Live Without: Skype for Business

Jason Fell is the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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