Skype blames Patch Tuesday for triggering blackout

Service was restored Friday after a two-day outage

Skype has blamed last week's Windows security updates for triggering a bug in its software that brought down the Internet telephony service for more than 48 hours.

Service was restored late Friday.

The Skype peer-to-peer network became unstable and suffered a critical disruption" beginning last Thursday, said spokesman Villu Arak in a statement posted on the company's site. "The disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our users' computers across the globe within a very short time frame as they rebooted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update."

According to Arak, the large number of restarts started a chain reaction that brought down the service. After users' machines rebooted and came back online, Skype was hit with a "flood" of attempted log-ins that, combined with a smaller-than-usual number of systems available to handle the peer-to-peer traffic, caused the blackout.

Although Skype fingered Tuesday's Windows updates for triggering the outage, it said the root cause was "a previously unseen software bug within the network resource-allocation algorithm" that prevented the network from recovering on its own, as it was supposed to do.

"Skype has now identified and already introduced a number of improvements to its software to ensure that our users will not be similarly affected in the unlikely possibility of this combination of events recurring," Arak added. The company did not specify what that combination of events may have been and did not explain how this month's updates were different from past rounds of patches.

For example, Microsoft's security updates have been on their current schedule of the second Tuesday of each month since October 2003, before Skype left beta testing. And required restarts are the norm for many of Microsoft's security updates. Nor was the quantity of restarts last week -- five of August's nine updates required a reboot -- out of line with previous months. In July, for instance, four of six updates also restarted affected PCs.

Some Windows users weren't buying the explanation. "If a 'massive restart' was the cause of the problem, it should have happened long ago," said Marcus McCurdy in a comment posted on the istartedsomething blog. "Definitely calling BS on this one."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?