Windows and speed test information on this page kindly supplied by Alice Freeman.
First of all, make sure your computer system meets the minimum requirements for Skype. Here are the latest requirements for all operating systems.
So how do you find out this information on a Windows computer?
(1) Locate the icon for MY COMPUTER on your desktop or in the START menu.
(2) Right-click your mouse over MY COMPUTER. This opens the shortcut menu.
(3) Select PROPERTIES at the bottom of the menu. This opens the SYSTEM PROPERTIES window.
(4) The GENERAL tab will probably already be selected.
(5) Look for the word “Computer:” and read the lines under it.* You should see two sets of numbers. The first numbers following the CPU are the speed of the processor. The second number is the amount of RAM (or Random Access Memory) on your computer.
(6) If the numbers are less than those recommended by Skype, you will have difficulties with a Skype call on that computer.
(7) Click either OK or Cancel to close the SYSTEM PROPERTIES window.
On the Mac, you can find the information about your system by looking at “About This Mac” under the Apple symbol in the top left corner of your screen. Click on “More Info” and then the “Memory” tab to see how much RAM you have installed.
Even more important than your system is the speed your computer connects to the Internet. A dial-up modem connection will NOT WORK. You must have a DSL or Cable-type modem to be fast enough. I have found that anything under 50 mbps often leads to dropped calls and other problems. This test will tell you how fast you are downloading information from the Internet and how fast you are uploading it. Here are the recommended bandwith requirements for Skype.
To find out the speed of your connection, follow these steps:
(1) Connect to this speed test Web site.
(2) Click on the name of the server closest to you to start the Speed Test.
(3) Then just watch the screen as two tests are run.
(4) The first number is the download speed, the speed that you receive data from the Internet.
(5) The second number is the one to be concerned about. This is the upload speed that you are sending data back to the Internet. Skype recommends that this number should be at least 400 kbps or higher for video calls, with 500 kbps recommended for best quality.
If your numbers are much lower, you should consider upgrading your internet service if possible.
Be sure do download the latest version of the Skype software from the Skype web site. This software is free and it has not resulted in any SPAM or other problems for me. You will be choosing a username for yourself when you set up your Skype account.
Many computers now have built-in microphones and webcams, but the quality varies greatly. If your computer does not have a webcam, you will have to purchase one that plugs in via USB. Logitech is a good brand.
If you have a Mac I suggest trying the microphone that’s built in first. A good headset mic can really help if you have any problems with feedback or excess noise on a Skype call, but it is optional. (Again, Logitech is a good brand). Also, if you have a MacBook or newer desktop Mac (like an iMac), you already have a built-in camera that will work beautifully.
After you have installed the Skype software, follow the directions for making a test call. If you can hear yourself during the test call, then you have Skype set up correctly.
It’s also good to know that all the messenger services–Yahoo, AIM, iChat, Oovoo, Google Hangouts, etc–also offer video messaging anymore, so you have other software options besides Skype. That way, if you find you have problems with Skype, you can easily try something else.
So, there you have it, the lowdown on using Skype, whatever your platform!