Skype's audio and video quality can drop right along with your Internet connection's bandwidth, but performance dips during your VoIP sessions may not all be the result of your flucuating data rate. There are several measures you can take to optimize Skype's connection and ultimately improve the quality of your sessions.

Get Through the Firewall

Skype can have trouble getting through the security patdowns of your firewall and anti-virus applications. Security software may not always completely block your Skype connection, but it may slow it down. Running Skype while disabling some of your security features can help you determine if a firewall or anti-virus application is limiting the VoIP application's connection speed or not. If you notice improvement in Internet calling without one of your security features in place, try allowing Skype through security as an exception.

Update Skype

Using the latest version of Skype on both ends of the call ensures your computers are optimized for the most revisions of the VoIP service's protocols. You should also ensure both ends of the calls are up to date with the most recent updates to each user's operating system. Patches and services pack can improve the tuning of your operating system and data connection, resulting in a better environment for Skype to run in.

Review Your Data Rate

Troubleshoot your Internet connection, especially if you're connecting to Skype via Wi-Fi at low to moderate signal strength. Resetting your modem can return your data rate to peak performance, while rebooting your computer can resolve latencies in software performance. Skype requires an Internet connection of at least 30 Kbps for its upstream and 100 Kbps for its downstream. You can use an Web-based Internet speed test to see how your connection speed compares with Skype's requirements (see Resources).

The Other Side

While data may flow normally from your location, the other end of your Skype conversations could slow down the overall VoIP experience with one of your contacts. If Skype's performance is always slow or unstable when chatting with certain contacts but not others, you should troubleshoot with the problematic contacts to help improve their connection and the overall performance of your conversations with them.