Skype through VPN – bug fixes

Hello! Our new blog post is about using Skype with VPN. After reading this article, you will find out whether Skype can work with VPNs in general and what problems can arise when using the two simultaneously.  The article will also feature useful tips and recommendations on choosing a VPN service that is compatible with Skype.

A few words about Skype

Skype is the world’s most popular online voice and video communication software. Using Skype, you can communicate with other users of the service completely free of charge, and call mobile and landline phones for a fee. The program also allows you to send instant messages, exchange files and conduct video conference calls. Skype also has an app for all popular OSs. Currently, the service is used daily by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Microsoft acquired the program in 2011, so you must have a Microsoft account to register with Skype.

Skype for Business

Skype for Business mustn’t be confused with regular Skype. Skype for Business is Microsoft’s all-in-one commercial software designed for small and medium-sized businesses. (Currently, Microsoft has abandoned the further development of Skype for Business, in favor of the cloud service Microsoft Teams.) The distribution of the program consists of two parts – the server part, integrated into the Microsoft Exchange Server and the client, which is part of the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) package. The server part is installed on the corporate server (running Windows Server), the client part is installed on the employees’ computers.

Skype for Business has considerably more features than regular Skype. In addition to voice and video chats, company employees get the opportunity to hold video conferences with up to 250 participants, call from a corporate phone while away from the office (even abroad!), exchange files, work on a document simultaneously with other people, organize votes, etc. Skype for Business also provides the management with complete control over the activities of its employees, including those working remotely.

Skype for Business is commercial software
Skype for Business is commercial software

In what countries is Skype banned and why?

Strange as it may seem, Skype is actively blocked not just in authoritarian countries, but also in states considered the bastion of Western democracy. The reasons for Skype getting blocked in authoritarian countries is obvious – the governments of these countries seek to establish total control over the activities of its citizens, and this includes what they do online. And, since Skype uses modern encryption methods when transmitting data over the Internet, it is difficult to intercept and listen to conversations conducted using this program. That is why Skype is blocked in countries such as China, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and some other Middle Eastern countries. By the way, many popular services and social networks are blocked in China, but there is still a way around the restrictions if you visit this country. Read here how.

But Skype is blocked not only for censorship reasons. Economic reasons often come to the fore. Due to the massive use of Skype, many telecommunications companies are losing profits and even suffering losses. This is especially true for mobile operators. According to some reports, about 50% of international calls are made via Skype. To eliminate a successful competitor, some governments block or restrict Skype.

Protectionist policies essentially make Skype illegal in places where the state has a monopoly on the provision of communication services, for example, in Belize and Ethiopia. In some South and Central American countries, including Brazil and Mexico, certain telecommunications companies and ISPs also block Skype. Even in Western European countries, some telecom operators are trying or have tried in the past to prevent their customers from using Skype.

How ISPs block Skype

To understand how an ISP can block Skype, you need to understand the basic principles of how the program works. Like torrent clients, Skype employs the technology used to create peer-to-peer networks. In other words, during a voice or video session, computers or other devices of the participants, which are basically nodes of the peer-to-peer network, connect to each other directly, without using an intermediary server.

However, in order to establish a connection, the Skype client must contact an identification server, which stores the data of registered Skype users with their contact list and current IP addresses. Additionally, if for whatever reason, direct communication between the devices of the participants isn’t possible, Skype clients resort to using an intermediary server called a supernode. Currently, all supernodes are hosted on Microsoft servers. Thus, to stop Skype from working, the ISP needs only to block access to the identity server and the supernodes.

At the same time, to unblock the service, Microsoft just needs to change the IP addresses of the supernodes and identity servers. That’s why ISPs now use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to stop Skype from working. And blocking Skype is relatively easy, since this program still uses its original data transfer protocol. ((Since 2014, Microsoft has replaced the Skype protocol with its own, newly created Microsoft Notification Protocol 24, which, according to the corporation’s leadership, is more reliable and secure.) Thus, the software on the ISP’s server, having detected that the traffic from the client goes over Skype, just blocks the Internet connection entirely.

Can a VPN unblock Skype?

Yes, a good VPN is guaranteed to unblock Skype no matter where you are in the world. When you use a VPN, the ISP is unable to detect that your Skype client is accessing the identity server and super nodes because the IP addresses of the Microsoft servers are spoofed by the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to. In addition, with VPN tunneling and additional encryption, Skype traffic is masked and remains undetected, even when the ISP uses DPI technology.

Can all VPNs work with Skype?

No, not all of them. Even if your VPN provider uses modern encryption and traffic masking methods, Skype will not work at all, or it will malfunction if the VPN server you are connected to is slow and low-powered. Internet telephony, and especially high-definition video calling, requires broadband Internet access, and when using a VPN, the hardware and bandwidth requirements are even higher.

When choosing a VPN provider, you should pay attention to the availability of powerful modern high-speed servers. For the same reason it should be obvious that free VPN services will fail miserably at unblocking Skype.

In addition, modern VPN protocols are necessary for complete anonymity. Read in this review what they are, how they differ, and which are the most reliable.

Switcherry VPN – a great service for Skype

Switcherry VPN will help you unblock Skype anywhere in the world. Using our VPN service, you can enjoy all the features of both regular Skype and Skype for Business without any problems. We own thousands of high-speed servers in dozens of countries around the world, thanks to which our customers have access not only to voice chats, but also high-definition video chats and the ability to conduct video conference calls. Wherever you are, our VPN client will help you bypass any blocks and restrictions that prevent Skype from working properly. In our VPN client, you can change your IP address and geolocation in one click:

Selecting geolocation in the VPN client
Selecting geolocation in the VPN client

We have developed VPN applications for all popular operating systems, both for ordinary computers and laptops, and for mobile devices. To start using Skype seamlessly anywhere in the world, simply download and install Switcherry VPN clients on your devices:

  • for PCs and laptops running Windows 7,8,10;
  • for tablets and smartphones running Android;
  • for iPhones and iPads running iOS;
  • for computers running  Mac OS.

Is it safe to use a VPN to unblock Skype? As safe as it is to use a VPN in general.

FAQ

1. I am using Skype with a VPN. There are occasional delays, interruptions in calls and disconnects. Why is this happening and what should I do?

1. I am using Skype with a VPN. There are occasional delays, interruptions in calls and disconnects. Why is this happening and what should I do?

Most likely, the reason is the slow speed of your Internet connection. The VPN server you are connected to may be overloaded with requests and unable to provide a good connection. Try changing the VPN server in your VPN client.

It is also possible that another application installed on your device is actively consuming traffic, overloading your Internet connection and interfering with Skype. For example, the operating system, antivirus, or any other program that has automatic updates enabled. On Windows, the easiest way to determine which application is gobbling up the most traffic is by using the Resource Monitor system program. To launch the Resource Monitor, press the Win + R keys, enter the “perfmon” command and click OK. In the Resource Monitor window, go to the Networking tab. Finally, it is possible that the malfunctions aren’t an issue on your end, but on that of your interlocutor.

2. Does the location of the VPN server affect the connection quality?

2. Does the location of the VPN server affect the connection quality?

Since the connection quality depends on the speed of your Internet, choose the location of the VPN server as close as possible to the location of your interlocutor (provided that your interlocutor does not live in a country where Skype is blocked).

3. Is there any difference in using a VPN to unblock regular Skype and Skype for Business?

3. Is there any difference in using a VPN to unblock regular Skype and Skype for Business?

When you use regular Skype, you establish a connection with your interlocutor’s computer or whatever device they have. When using Skype for Business, you connect to your company’s server. Therefore, to unblock regular Skype, choose a VPN server location as close to the location of your interlocutor as possible, and when using Skype for Business, choose a VPN server located in the same country and region of the company’s server.

Author: SwitcherryVPN Team

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