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Skype & PC Performance
Skype is a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) program that uses a considerable amount of processing power during voice and video calls which can create performance drops in other programs and call/video quality. If you find your Skype is causing PC performance issues or is struggling or unable to handle Skype services alongside other programs there are several things you can do to improve call quality or make the program run correctly or at least smoother.
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Skype System Requirements
You will want to look over these system requirements and see if your computer does not meet the minimum or recommended requirements to run Skype. Not meeting the requirements will almost definitely cause significant problems with the Skype service especially when in use with other active programs.
System Requirements for Skype 5.0 (Most Recent Version as of Feb. 2010)
PC running Windows® XP, Vista or 7, both 32- and 64-bit operating systems.
Internet connection – broadband is best (GPRS is not supported for voice calls).
Speakers and microphone – built-in or separate.
For voice calls recommend broadband connection with 100 kbps down / 100 kbps up.
For group video calling everyone on the call needs Skype 5.0 for Windows or Mac or higher plus webcams, and at least one person needs a group video calling subscription. For best quality we recommend you use a high-speed broadband connection of 4Mbps down / 512kbps up and a computer with a Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz processor. As a minimum you’ll need a high-speed broad connection of 512kbps down / 128kbps up and a computer with a 1 GHz processor.
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Call Quality Poor
If your call quality is poor there can be a number of things affecting it. You can test your call's quality by calling Skype's free Echo Test Service by adding 'echo123' to your contacts list and calling them. The Test service will record a message you send and play it back to you shortly after, allowing you to test for any microphone quality issues.
- Make sure that you are using the most up-to-date version of Skype and that your call partners are doing the same.
- Something I've had first hand experience with is that if someone in the call sounds robotic or if you're getting complaints about sounding robotic it is often an Internet connection issue. Usually the host of the call's Internet connection will need to be checked.
- If you are hosting a call between more than 3 people, the call quality tends to drop. Try and limit calls to about 3 people at maximum if at all possible and see if that improves the call quality.
- Microphones play a big issue with call quality. Make sure that your microphone's cable isn't damaged and that your microphone isn't muted or is recording loud enough. If your microphone requires drivers, make sure that they are up-to-date.
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If calls are consistently dropping, this is often a sign that your Internet connection is unable to handle the call. This can be fixed a number of ways.
- Ensure that Skype's ports are open. Skype assigns you a port when you first register which can be found in the 'Advanced > Connection' menu. Alternatively, ports 80 and 443 if you check the box which can be found in the same Connection menu.
- Ensure all Internet connection cables are properly plugged in.
- Stop any downloads or uploads that might be preventing your bandwidth.
- If you feel like your Internet connection is too slow visit http://www.speedtest.net/%20for%20a%20download/upload%20test%20and%20compare%20it%20to%20the%20rates%20you%20are%20paying%20for%20and%20the%20national%20averages.%20Contact%20your%20Internet%20Service%20Provider%20if%20they%20are%20below%20these%20standards.
- If you are connected to the Internet through a router make sure that you are properly connected to the network and that no one is downloading or uploading to bog down the download and upload limits.
- If you notice that your calls are dropping inconsistently there may be a problem with the other user's Internet connection. Ask them to check their connection and open ports if they haven't already.
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Video Conference Issues
Video conferencing requires users to own a webcam that can record and broadcast or video capture software that can stream desktop or TV video. Video conferencing is the most resource intensive service Skype offers. If you find your PC is unable to handle video conferencing there are several things you can do to hopefully get better service.
- Update any webcam or video capture drivers to the most up-to-date version.
- Explore your webcam or video capture software to see what resolution and how many frames per second it is trying to broadcast. Lower these settings and see if this improves the quality.
- If the person you are conferencing with is using high settings it may be difficult for your computer to process the amount of information they are trying to send. Ask the them to lower settings and see if this improves quality.
- If none of the above strategies work it may be a hardware problem. Test your camera to ensure it is working properly and that your video card is up-to-date on drivers. It may also be a memory problem which will require more RAM.
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Skype/Programs Suddenly Closing
Skype or other programs are closing as a result of Skype can be a serious issue that may not be easy to fix. Usually this behavior is indicative of hardware or memory failure which may require upgrading your hardware to meet the system requirements of Skype.
- If Skype is closing suddenly while calling or in the middle of a call it may mean that your computer has no memory available to handle the call or that your sound card is having issues.
- Make sure that any unnecessary programs are closed and that any extraneous processes are ended.
- Troubleshoot your sound card to see if there are any hardware problems that might be affecting your speakers or microphone. Also make sure that your sound card's drivers are up-to-date.
- Ensure that Skype is allowed by your firewall or anti-virus software as it can sometimes cause problems as Skype tries to connect with other users during calls.