How to Troubleshoot Problems with Zoom

Zoom from Home

Zoom has been one of the most used and fastest growing applications of 2020. Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the consequent lockdown and social distance restrictions in place made videoconferencing a must have for every single remote worker.

Zoom Conferencing

Nowadays, almost any remote worker has a videoconferencing account, a team message application like Slack or MS Teams, and perhaps a VPN client to access private resources. However, the dependence on real time voice and video applications to perform regular work duties threw more demand on IT support and escalation teams than ever before.

Let’s take a look at a case scenario where Zoom, or your selected video conferencing app, is slow.

Troubleshooting Problems with Zoom

How many of you had problems with Zoom or any other video conferencing application, and were unsure on how to proceed? 

Let’s walk through a troubleshooting procedure that can help you figure out what’s causing Zoom performance issues. Hopefully this simple procedure will help you, or your tech support analyst, understand what’s causing the bad audio/video quality that you are experiencing.

Let’s assume that you are having difficulties hearing other participants. You start wondering whether it’s you or them. If, in the meeting, there’s just one other person, then there’s a 50-50 chance that it’s you. If there are multiple participants, then you can easily sort out who’s having problems (if it’s you, then you’ll have issues hearing all participants). That’s still not the best way to figure out what’s really going on.

Here’s how you can troubleshoot Zoom problems in macOS: 

  1. In the Zoom menu bar, click on Edit then go to Preferences
  2. In the Statistics section, select Audio (the video section reports the same metrics and behaves quite the same as voice).
  3. Zoom provides real-time statistics for three key network performance metrics: latency, packet loss and jitter. The following table will help define what the recommended versus bad performance values are.
MetricRecommendedDegraded
JitterLess than 30 ms.More than 40 ms.
LatencyLess than 100 ms.More than 150 ms.
Packet LossLess than 2%More than 10%

Let’s take a real test scenario. In the following section, I took three screenshots of a good, a bad, and the ugly zoom session. Next to each screenshot, I noted the overall experience I had.

The Good

Here’s when I had a good call quality. You can note that for both sent and received traffic, the latency, jitter, and packet loss metrics are below the recommended thresholds.

Zoom good call qualityThe Bad

Here’s when I started experiencing a choppy call. You can see that the latency is high (more than 100 ms.) both at sending and receiving; there’s also high packet loss on the receive side (highlighted in orange). Participants confirmed that they had trouble hearing my voice.

Zoom bad call qualityThe Ugly

In this case, I could barely see and hear any voice on the other end. Latency is very high, so it’s jitter (above the recommended 30 ms.), and packet loss jumped to the roof.

Zoom ugly call qualitySo once you’ve established that the network is causing bad voice/video quality, you can first verify if you are connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. If you are connected with Ethernet, then I would check with a speed test how fast your Internet is. If you are connected with Wi-Fi, then consider how distant you are from your home WiFi router or whether you are in an area where external Wi-Fi networks are overlapping with your network. Based on how familiar you are with troubleshooting these types of issues, you may be able to fix this problem yourself, or request support from your company.

So once you’ve established that the network is causing bad voice/video quality, you can first verify if you are connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. If you are connected with Ethernet, then I would check with a speed test how fast your Internet is. If you are connected with Wi-Fi, then consider how distant you are from your home WiFi router or whether you are in an area where external Wi-Fi networks are overlapping with your network. Based on how familiar you are with troubleshooting these types of issues, you may be able to fix this problem yourself, or request support from your company.

Tech Support: Hidden Yet Real Cost of Work From Home

As you are reading through this article, you realize how much time you waste each time that you are experiencing video conferencing issues. Nowadays, this is one of the hottest topics for tech support. For many companies, tech support is still a hidden cost, hard to quantify. Yet, support costs are something that should be accounted for. As a simple exercise, you could estimate costs associated with issues like this by comparing other related expenses.

Let’s start from listing the average cost of tools associated with a work-from-home employee:

  • A videoconference license is anywhere between $15 and $60 per month
  • The average team application can be $5 to $15 per month based on plan
  • The average Internet ranges from $40 to $100 per month based on bandwidth and service area
  • What about help desk support costs?

Think about your hourly rate, and think about how many minutes per month you waste dealing with performance issues like this. The math should be fairly simple. Add to those costs also the disruption that events like this bring to remote meetings. If your company provides remote help-desk support then add also the average hour rate of an help-desk operator.

Conclusion

The Covid pandemic made voice conferencing applications like zoom a must have. However reliance on videoconferencing is adding more stress to help desk teams and increasing support costs. If you are dealing with such issues, take a look at how NetBeez’s remote worker network monitoring solution helps distributed organizations reduce tech support costs.