Fast Connection, But Skype Still Slow, A Solution

If Skype is performing badly, or saying ‘The connection speed between you is slow’ or ‘medium’ but you know that both sides of the call have fast internet connections with adequate bandwidth then you may have ran into a problem that we witnessed ourselves recently.

Having already checked the internet bandwidth at both ends using speedtest.net we were sure that Skype should be working fine, as the figures for that showed over 1Mbps upload and 5Mbps download in both cases.  But we kept getting error messages from Skype saying the connection has been lost or the ‘speed between you is slow’. 

After some analysis the culprit was found to be ZoneAlarm Firewall.  Disabling that or putting it into ‘Game mode’ fixed the problem completely the Skype connection went from slow to fast and the video and audio quality was clear and as good as you would normally expect from Skype.  This problem could be caused by any firewall or possibly even virus checkers.

So if you are getting poor quality connections within Skype or any other voice or video chat program use this checklist to try & rectify the problem –

1)  Test both ends of the connection using speedtest.net then compare your upload/download results with the table below…

Call type                                 Recommended download  / upload speed   
Voice Calling                           100kbps / 100kbps
Video calling /Screen sharing 300kbps / 300kbps
Video calling (high-quality)     500kbps / 500kbps
Video calling (HD)                   1.5Mbps / 1.5Mbps

If both ends of the connection meet or exceed the above criteria for the type of connection you are establishing then move on to step 2, otherwise the issue lies with one or both of your internet connections in which case you need to ensure you are not running other applications that may be using your bandwidth, try rebooting your computer and router/modem then test again.  Failing all of that, talk to your Internet provider to see if they can help improve your bandwidth speeds.

2)   Use Skype’s call quality test tool as shown in the image below.  Click the green bar graph icon then click the ‘Test now’ button.  It will then tell you your connection speed.  It should say fast.



3)  If the call connection is still performing badly, try disabling your firewall software.  In ZoneAlarm this can be done by right clicking on the system tray icon then entering ‘Game Mode’, or you can disable it altogether by exiting ZoneAlarm.  Other Firewall software will have similar options.  Once the Firewalls are disabled on both ends of the call, try the connection again.  If it now works ok you have a solution, just disable the firewall when you are making Skype calls then re-enable it afterwards.  You should also report the problem to the company that makes the firewall software.

4)  If the call is still performing badly then you may wish to try some of these other ideas that may improve call quality.  Temporarily disable your virus checking software. Try to avoid using wi-fi connections to make the calls if possible.  Try to avoid heavily shared networks such as cafes and libraries unless their connections are extremely fast. 

5)  If the problem persists ask the experts at Skype to see if they can help - https://support.skype.com/


 


(11) Comments

  • afzalgulamo at yahoo dot com dot brTuesday, March 25, 2014

    quando faco uma chamada de grupo a qualidade do audio baixa, e so tenho um bom audio quado nao for uma chamada em grupo.qual e a forma de ter um bom audio numa chamada em grupo de 5 amaigo? ~ When I make a call from low audio quality group, and so have a good audio when it is not a group call. What is the way to have a good audio on a call at 5 amaigo group?

  • AdministratorSunday, November 24, 2013

    Thanks for the comment Shark, but we have noticed these issues with other chat clients too, and this makes sense as these firewalls simply check every network packet regardless of the underlying software used. In our opinion security software is starting to hinder productivity. Users need to be more aware of which security options they need enabled depending on their scenario. It's a tricky one for sure, and trying other programs is always a good idea.

  • SharkSaturday, November 23, 2013

    yeah you shouldn't be making these exceptions for a program like skype if skype is being like this then its time for a change

  • JohnnyFriday, November 8, 2013

    Ich habe das umgekehrte Problem: Meine Internetverbindung egal ob mit Chrome, FireFox oder IE ist extrem langsam (Google Suchergebnisseite benötigt 15-20 Sekunden zum Aufbau und kompletten Anzeigen). Auch FTP Verbindungen (Up- und Download) ist extrem langsam (wenige kB, tlw. nur 10kB), die Verbindung per Skype (Ton inkl. Video!) ist aber sehr gut!leider komme ich nicht dahinter, was denn meine HTTP und FTP Verbindungen so extrem ausbremst. Irgendwer eine Idee, woran dies liegen könnte?

  • 1 skype userTuesday, July 30, 2013

    wow it worked!!!

  • administratorMonday, June 3, 2013

    Thanks Rosel, ping is a useful test but we have noticed problems relating to firewalls even when ping is fast. Also pings over long distances are likely to be far higher than 100ms. Latency becomes a problem around half to 1 second so pings over around 750ms will start degrade the call noticeably.

  • rosel kharaySunday, June 2, 2013

    hey everyone..i have found the actual problem...its ur network...note the ip of the person u want to video call withand make a ping test to that ip...for ping test...open command promtthen type ping (ip address u noted)see if the ping is below 100 of nearby 100..then only u can have a good video call...otherwise u ll not be able to do it anyhw

  • administratorMonday, April 8, 2013

    A new ZoneAlarm problem? The process vsmon.exe is using a lot of CPU & causing other apps to slow down. This was noticeable with jittery playback of YouTube Flash videos. Putting the firewall into game mode (allow all) did not stop vsmon.exe from eating CPU. So I had to exit the firewall. YouTube videos then played smoothly. There comes a time when a firewall is doing more harm than good. Luckily this is a desktop PC behind a NAT router so a software firewall is not essential.

  • Linda KingSaturday, November 3, 2012

    I have been having problems with Skype lately, it says I or they are offline. Also my video calls have been choppy. I selected 'pause protection' on my firewall and was amazed to see it worked. My Skype is now working real smoothly. So now I pause the protection whilst on a Skype call and resume it afterwards. Thanks for the advice. In case others have the same as me, my firewall is Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 ver.11.0.2.556

  • administratorThursday, November 1, 2012

    Firewall issues can affect all chat clients. It's a sensible troubleshooting method to disable a firewall to see if it makes a difference. Typically viruses do not get in when firewalls are turned off but they may get out, so if your machine is already infected turning the firewall off may be a problem. Turning a firewall off whilst using only tools you trust such as Skype, is safe. Viruses come in via email, devices, file transfer etc, bypassing firewalls anyway.

  • Skype UserWednesday, October 31, 2012

    Oh great more people will now get virus's due to your post, DON'T Stop your firewall get a better chat client !

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