Linux: How to Recover from "Another Skype instance may exist"

On Linux, if the system crashes and Skype does not exit normally, you may receive the following error when you next try to launch Skype:

Another Skype instance may exist.

The brute force method to recover from this is to simply completely remove your .Skype directory.  However, if you do this, you will lose any Skype preferences, as well as any call history, stored voicemails, etc.  For many folks, this is not a problem, and removing the .Skype directory is the easiest way to get back online.  However, in my case, I like having all my Skype information, so this was not an option.

There are several documents on the web which recommend the following:

rm $HOME/.Skype/shared.lck $HOME/.Skype/<user>/config.lck

where <user> is replaced with your Skype username. If you try these steps and are still receiving the same error, try the following procedure:

First, make sure that skype is NOT running:

ps -ef | grep skype

Verify that skype is not running in the resulting list of processes. If it is running, make sure you choose the "Quit" option from the skype menu - simply closing the window is not adequate.

Once you are sure Skype is not running, move your current Skype installation aside:

mv $HOME/.Skype $HOME/.Skype.saved

Next, launch Skype as you normally would. You should be presented with the license agreement and then be able to login.

Note: This login may take from 30-60 seconds to complete.

If you were able to successfully login, now do a normal exit from Skype. You have now created a "valid" .Skype configuration.

As before, verify that Skype is not running:

ps -ef | grep skype

If you are certain that Skype is, once again, not running then remove the new user information:

cd $HOME/.Skype

You should see:

<user> shared.lck shared.xml

where <user> is your Skype username. Now remove the newly create user information:

rm -rf <user>

again where you replace <user> in the above command with your Skype username that was shown in the previous step.

Now copy your original Skype user directory from your saved Skype settings:

cp -pr $HOME/.Skype.saved/<user> $HOME/.Skype

again where you replace <user> in the above command with your Skype username.

You should now be able to launch Skype normally, with all your settings restored!

I hope this tip helps someone!


You saved me at least a restart, probably more troubleshooting. Thanks. Raphael

The procedure of renaming .Skype, starting and quiting Skype, and then replacing the new directory with the saved one worked beautifully for me. I wish I'd known about this the last two times Skype jammed on me... Tom

Thanks. This saved me a restart, and a lot of work.

Works fine.

This method didn't work for me. Even after completing every steps, I still got the same error. But I found an another solution, which finally fixed the error and reserved all the old data: 1. Close Skype. 2. Rename your Skype user dir to something else (mv ~/.Skype/user ~/.Skype/user_old). 3. Start Skype and login so it creates a new clean user dir. 4. Once Skype is running, copy the old skype user dir content over the new user dir (cd ~/.Skype/user_old then cp -r * ~/.Skype/user). 5. Close Skype by selecting "close" in the menu. 6. Restart and login.

I worked!! I wish my friends moved to some other program, so that I can too avoid using this buggy skype.

I accidently ran skype as root first time, and the .Skype folder is then owned by root. Trying to run skype as the normal user afterwards, skype cannot write to the folder and i get the same error. fix: sudo chown username:username /home/username/.Skype (replace username with your actual username.)

Thanks for the fix. Worked perfectly.

Just two hours before an important Skype chat I managed to kill Skype in the quest for enabling a webcam, but your article came to the rescue! Thanks a lot and and I'll buy you a Heineken beer when you're around in the Netherlands.

Works perfect for me. Thanks! Tommy

Buy you a beer anytime