Crackling sounds on audio making it impossible to continue as a video call

I’ve had three counselors reach out to me today to report significant audio issues, below are examples:
about 5 minutes into the call, the audio was so crackly we could barely understand each other. I was using it on my laptop, and I moved into my cell phone, and we had the same issue with doxy.me on the phone where it started out fine and then after about 2 minutes the crackling began again and we had to move into a phone call
Video was lagging and not matching with the persons words. The video was choppy and had to switch to a phone call due to the inability to use the program. Then I had a few sessions that were fine. I am not sure what contributes to the difficulty as my connection is not an issue.

I am not sure if others are experiencing this but it seems to have really ramped up today versus previous weeks since we’ve been on the system. I don’t usually receive a lot of complaints about quality of video and sound but with multiples coming in and it causing disruption to the services we’ve provided, I’d like to understand what the process is for resolution. Thanks.

Tatiana

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Hi Tatiana,
I also have these problems. Some calls are clear, most have some lag and “feedback” of scrambled sounds when people speak, and in some calls, we just give up. Being a psychologist, skype etc is not an option. I am concerned that I will lose clients due to the frustration.

I cannot run the program on Mozilla. I’d prefer to do so.

How can we resolve the feedback sounds?
How can we re-sync the video lag?

Both client and therapist have no other programs running and are close to our routers, with good internet speed.

How can I run the platform on Mozilla?

Is there a tech support NUMBER? You should have one, since it’s a paid service.

Willa

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Tatiana, I meant doxy, not you. Sorry.

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Have you gotten any help from the Doxy support. I too am a psychologist
and having the same problems and of course we need the HIPPA compliance.
Clients have been pretty tolerant but I also worry about loosing people because
it is really quite frustrating.

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I have had some of the same troubles, very frustrating. You should be aware that OCR, which enforces HIPAA, has suspended penalties for using non-HIPAA approved video conferencing platforms like Skype and Facetime during the pandemic. You can read the details at https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr-bulletin-3-28-20.pdf. When I have had really poor quality calls, I have switched to Zoom or Facetime, and this has worked really well as a plan B.

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I have the same problems often. Some patients Doxy works well with, but many there are lags, crackling sounds or freezing.

I was emailed back by Doxy pier 2 support and I have tried everything i can think of and nothing corrects the issues. Doxy tells me it doesn’t matter how many people are using doxy, that doesn’t affect the platform

I do not think there is a support number. You can click on help on the bottom right side of the screen and email your questions.

Same issues,worse with some patients than others. Happens often. I have tried all the doxy support things to try, emailed tier 2 tech support. They told me “I’m doing a great job” troubleshooting. haha.
No resolution. Zoom works much better but want a HIPAA compliant program for the long term.

Xfinity claims my internet signal is strong. I close everything, tried turning off my carbonite continuous backup. Didn’t seem to help. Very frustrated. Yes, patients are very tolerant, but it’s not good

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I have not gotten any help from Doxy support on this. Only the community has responded so far and it seems that many of us are struggling with this despite excellent wifi and equipment. I will keep all posted if I get any resolution.

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Unfortunately I have the same issue. Patients report static, grinding noise, crackling and choppiness I can hear them fine. What I have been doing is using doxy for video, muting the sound, and simultaneously connecting on the telephone. A temporary solution at best. Video is at times blurry but doable. Not sure how to address the problem.,

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I have had this problem MULTIPLE times but I have discovered a work-around. Annoying I have to do it but reduces my frustration a huge amount! When this happens to me (in about one quarter of my calls), I mute my microphone and have client do the same and I phone the client on telephone and then we just use speaker phone audio. So, we talk on speaker phone but use video on doxy…saves me from having to fuss with tech issues and clients haven’t minded. Hope this little trick helps someone!
Mary
Alberta Psychologist

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I have a rural practice and have had many problems with my connections with clients, including the kinds of sounds you are describing. My situation has greatly improved thanks to help from my techie adult child. I am now working from a cellular hotspot with a couple of high quality antennas increasing the signal strength. Problems corrected include sound and video being out of synch, the grinding noises, and inability to stay connected. With my new setup there are still glitches and temporary freezes, but I have not had to resort to using my phone for the audio part as I often did before. I do close every window and restart my computer between every session. If there is a prolonged freeze I refresh the doxy site. If there is still a problem I ask my client to refresh their site. That seems to solve the problem. I do find that stormy weather will make for more difficulties to overcome.

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I have had the same trouble using a cell phone. I can usually get about 20 - 30 minutes into the call before the feedback starts and quickly makes it impossible to finish the session. I have a second phone that I can quickly switch to, but as you can imagine this is not acceptable. I have found that I do not run into that trouble if I run the video off my laptop.

I am very concerned about not using a HIPAA compliant platform. I am copying an article from the Washington Post via the Cleveland Plain Dealer to support my point.

Is your video call really private?
Thousands of Zoom calls left exposed on open web

Drew Harwell
Washington Post

Thousands of personal Zoom videos have been left viewable on the open web, highlighting the privacy risks to millions of Americans as they shift many of their personal interactions to video calls in an age of social distancing.

Many of the videos appear to have been recorded through Zoom’s software and saved onto online storage space without a password. But because Zoom names every video recording in an identical way, a simple online sea rch ca n revea l a long st rea m of v ideos that anyone can download and watch.

Zoom videos are not recorded by default, though call hosts can choose to save them to Zoom servers or their own computers. There’s no indication that live-streamed videos or videos saved onto Zoom’s servers are publicly visible.

But many participants in Zoom calls may be surprised to find their faces, voices and personal information exposed because a call host can record a large group call without participants’ knowledge or consent. The Washington Post is not revealing the naming convention that Zoom uses, and Zoom was alerted to the issue before this story was published.

The discovery that the videos are available on the open Web adds to a string of Zoom privacy concerns that have come to public attention as the service became the preferred alternative for American work, school and social life.

The company reached more than 200 million daily users last month, up from 10 million in December, as people turned on their cameras for Zoom weddings, funerals and happy hours at a time when face-to-face gatherings are discouraged or banned.

Zoom said in a statement that it ‘‘provides a safe and secure way for hosts to store recordings’’ and provides guides for how users can enhance their call security. ‘‘Should hosts later choose to upload their meeting recordings anywhere else, we urge them to use extreme caution and be transparent with meeting participants, giving careful consideration to whether the meeting contains sensitive information and to participants’ reasonable expectations,’’ the statement said.

Videos viewed by The Washington Post included one-on-one therapy sessions; a training orientation for workers doing telehealth calls, which included people’s names and phone numbers; small-business meetings, which included private company financial statements; and elementary-school classes, in which children’s faces, voices and personal details were exposed.

Many of the videos include personally identifiable information and deeply intimate conversations, recorded in people’s homes. Other videos include nudity, such as one in which an aesthetician teaches students how to give a Brazilian wax.

Five people identified in the videos and interviewed by The Post said they had no idea how the footage made its way online.

‘‘That definitely shouldn’t be happening,’’ said Jack Crann, the owner of the Connecticut dog-training company Peace of Mind Canine, after a Post reporter alerted him to a video that included private financial details. ‘‘That was a meeting for us, and shouldn’t be put out for the public.’’

Patrick Jackson, the technology chief of the privacy-software company Disconnect and a former researcher for the National Security Agency researcher, who alerted The Post to the exposed data, said Zoom could do a better job at cautioning people to protect their videos. Zoom could also help by implementing design tweaks, such as naming videos in an unpredictable way to make them harder to find.

Jackson found the videos by using a free online search engine that scans through open cloud storage space online. One search for recordings, using Zoom’s default naming convention, revealed more than 15,000 results.

‘‘This was stuff I didn’t feel good watching, and I doubt all of the people here know these videos are public,’’ he said.

Many of the videos can be found on unprotected chunks of Amazon storage space, known as buckets, which are widely used across the Web. Amazon buckets are locked down by default, but many users make the storage space publicly accessible either inadvertently or to share files with other people.

Thousands of other Zoom clips, all of them named in the same way, have been uploaded onto the video sites of YouTube and Vimeo. In one clip posted Wednesday, a class of second- grade students can be seen learning about money while logged in from home.

The problem is not exclusive to Zoom video or Amazon storage. But in designing their service, Zoom’s engineers bypassed some common security features of other video- chat programs, such as requiring people to use a unique file name before saving their own clips. That style of operating simplicity has powered Zoom to become the most popular video-chat application in the U.S., but it has also frustrated some security researchers who believe such shortcuts can leave users more vulnerable to hacks or abuse.

Zoom chief executive Eric Yuan acknowledged in a blog post Wednesday night that his company’s service is being used far more extensively than he had contemplated when he founded the company in 2011. ‘‘We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,’’ he wrote. The system’s new user base, he said, was using Zoom in a number of ‘‘unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.’’

Yuan also apologized for Zoom falling short of users’ ‘‘privacy and security expectations,’’ and said the company would be freezing new features for 90 days and redirecting its engineers to tackling security flaws.

The videos could be a surprise for people who expected their sensitive discussions would be kept private. But they could also put people at real personal risk.

Ruth Schwartz, the director of Conscious Girlfriend, a relationship-support group for lesbian women, said she was alarmed to learn that videos of her group sessions could be viewed online, including one in which women talked about how they recovered from toxic relationships.

Schwar tz said she went back to protect the Zoom videos and said she was worried about groups like hers, in which some women have not publicly shared their sexual orientation.

‘‘It’s a really important wake-up call,’’ she said. ‘‘Social connection is one of the biggest predictors of mental and physical health . . . It’s so important for all of us who do this kind of sensitive work to take the precautions to protect our communities.’’

The Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler contributed to this report

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“Zoom videos are not recorded by default, though call hosts can choose to save them to Zoom servers or their own computers. There’s no indication that live-streamed videos or videos saved onto Zoom’s servers are publicly visible.“

Not a tech expert here, but it sounds like choosing to not record the session is adequate to avoid the problems described in the article.

I think you are probably right about that. I have continued to use the platform for family get togethers, just not professionally. It appears they are really not intending private contractors or sole proprietors to use their product. Their HIPAA compliant platform apparently requires a minimum purchase of 10 licenses. Thank you for your reply!

I am a psychotherapist and have had this issue two times, but it definitely does not represent a significant percentage of my sessions. The vast majority work perfectly.

I agree that there should be a tech support contact for all users, free or paid.

When the crackling has prevented communications via doxy.me, we have used FaceTime. I will not use Zoom, as confidentiality is too problematic. Although there has been a legal loosening of HIPAA standards, this does not excuse us from our ethical obligation to ensure confidentiality, and many colleagues and I agree that it is unwise to use such an insecure platform such as Zoom. So, if a client does not have an iPhone, then I would conduct the session by phone call.

Fortunately, my clients have been very patient, and have not been put off by the situation. We have found a very workable alternative within a minute, and the problem has not repeated twice with the same client. So far so good.

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Yes, Its all the same with me. Alot of lagging and crackling audio that makes it impossible to work with my emergency patients.

I think the systems is overwhelmed. I paid for the pro doxy.me for a whole year and honestly the quality is not there at all right now.

What can we do ?

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Hi Tatiana. I have the same issue as well. We wind up wasting time reloading only to have it happen again. Ultimately, we switch to FaceTime. Since a portion of the session is likely spent addressing technical issues with the platform, I need to create time buffers between sessions so that clients get what they’re paying for. Very frustrating.
Terry

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I do the same thing and is much better!

I have had that exact same problem. It has costed me two Telehealth clients. If they don’t do something about that soon and the freeze-ups I am going to start looking at other companies. That crackling issues is not acceptable.

I had this experience with a client today.