How to Fix Skype Lag
By David Weedmark
Updated August 23, 2018
Delays between text messages, video that is out of sync with the audio, frozen video or even dead silence in the audio can all be symptoms of Skype lag. Fixing the problem is something both parties should work on, since there is no way of knowing at first what may be causing the lag. A slow Internet connection may often be the culprit, but computer software, firewall settings or a busy network in your office may also be the culprits on either end of the call.
If you or the person you are talking to experience lag, make sure you both have the latest version of Skype installed. You should both close any other programs that access the Internet, play music or video, and cancel any active file downloads. Antivirus software may also interfere with Skype. If you have a slow computer, you should close all other applications and restart your computer, since insufficient memory can cause lag. If you are using a USB webcam and the lag is happening on the other end, disconnect other USB devices like your printer or flash drive, since overloaded USB drivers may also cause video lag.
If you are working at your office, ask your network administrator if Quality of Service can be configured on your network, which can give Skype priority over other network traffic. Where Quality of Service isn't available, ask others in your office to refrain from downloading files or streaming audio and video while you make your call. If you are using Wi-Fi, move your computer to a location where all of the bars are displayed on your desktop Wi-Fi icon. If this isn't possible, you should consider connecting to the network with an Ethernet cable before using Skype.
Skype automatically relays signals through another server if your firewall isn't configured to allow Skype direct access. This can often cause a video lag. To see if your signals are being relayed during a Skype call, click the "Call" menu and select "Call Technical Info." If you see the words "RELAY_UDP" or "RELAY_TCP" beside the "SessionOut" or "SessionIn" entries, your call is being relayed. Both you and the person you are calling should check your firewall settings and allow Skype direct access to the Internet. You will need to restart Skype before firewall changes will affect signal quality.
Optimizing your computer and network won't help lagging video if your Internet service is too slow. For example, many small businesses use an ADSL, or Asynchronous DSL, Internet service. ADSL offers fast download speeds but very slow upload speeds, which may be insufficient for streaming quality HD video from your webcam. Contact your Internet service provider and a few of their competitors to see what options you have in your area, such as fiber Internet or Synchronous DSL.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.