Discord vs Zoom: Which App is Best for Online Meetings

In 1991 the University of Cambridge created the first webcam. The reason? To monitor the coffee pot and check who was drinking all the coffee in the office. You know, the important stuff.

30 years later, the video conferencing market is worth millions. Add the pandemic to that equation and you got yourself a jackpot. The reason for this development is that the video conferencing tools have proven to be invaluable for the business world today.

Companies are now globalized, and remote work has become the norm. This is powered by the video conferencing tools that help employees stay connected. So, it’s safe to say, video conferencing is a basic tool for every business.

Some of the most popular apps that emerged from this situation are Discord and Zoom.

So, what are these two platforms all about and which one performs better?

Let’s find out!

Prologue

The reason why Discord happened was quite simple: talking to friends around the world and playing games. The founders, Jason and Stan were passionate about video games and the idea behind them: creating friendships. Having this in mind, in 2015 they created Discord. This made it easy for people to participate in video conversations and texting.

After a while, Discord began to take off. In June 2020, Discord announced it was shifting focus away from a video gaming platform to a more all-purpose communication and chat tool. The software doubled its monthly user base to about 140 million.

Many would say Zoom was a boom that happened in a matter of months. However, their overnight success took nine years. It was founded in 2011 by Eric who was a Cisco engineer and executive. The platform was initially intended for enterprise customers – large institutions with IT support.

By 2017, they became a unicorn company, and by 2019 became profitable. The pandemic did its work. Zoom saw significant global growth in 2020, and even though it faced some security issues, it is still going strong and it’s one of the leaders in the video conferencing world.

Discord vs Zoom: Target Markets

Since the official lunch back in 2015, Discord has evolved significantly. Their initial success was based on a well-defined target market: the gamers. However, as they continue to expand, their targeting audience is growing with it. They are gradually starting to attract a different range of users.

The features, such as the ability to have large chatrooms, the ability to generate news from different websites as they are being published, as well as the fact that we are talking about a lag-free platform, started to attract traders invested in the financial markets.

Since they’ve established their advantage within the gaming industry, they are now shifting their focus to other target groups from various industries.

As a matter of fact, Discord changed its motto from “Chat for Gamers” to “Chat for Communities and Friends”. They also created a new tagline: “Your place to talk” to focus more on general-purpose communication. Bottom line, the company is currently putting its efforts to make Discord a place for all kinds of users, so I am sure we can expect more changes later down the line.

According to Eric Yuan, the founder and CEO of Zoom, their target are business customers, SMB, and large enterprises. Zoom also targets education customers as well as healthcare customers. In a nutshell, the target audience of Zoom is the early adopters. They are open-minded and intelligent people, who seek new opportunities. They keep on learning and love new challenges. As Nick (Zoom’s former Head of Product Marketing, current Head of Global Services) explained:

As an emerging vendor, we had to focus on marketing to the curious, adventurous bunch known as early adopters. This allows us to leverage our greatest advantage – user experience – because once an early adopter uses a product they love, they will spread the word.

Zoom provides every convenience to its users and strives to have more productiveness in terms of their studying and working basis, which is shown by their slogan: “Elevate Every Encounter.”

Discord vs Zoom: Get Started

Let’s start on the right foot, not the left one.

Like most of the apps, Discord wants us to download it. You can use your Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, and macOS for that. However, since Discord was initially created with gaming in mind, the most robust experience is going to be found on Windows and Mac. Once you download it, create an account, and set up your credentials. When you open it, join the server, or if you already know someone with a server, ask them to send you an invite.

Once they do, click the link to join the server and that’s it. Naturally, you can also create your own server for you and your coworkers or friends. If you choose to create your own server, you’ll be placed into an empty one.

From there, you can create new text or voice channels, and add new people to your server. Once you are inside Discord, you can take a minute and play around with the settings. You’ll find settings that let you change account information, authorized apps, overlay, and more. You can customize almost anything.

Feel free to add bots that will let your coworkers level up in the server as they talk more, or bots that will play music from YouTube in the voice channels so everyone can listen together.

Now let’s get Zooming. The first thing you need to do, of course, is to register and create a Zoom account. Once this is done, you’ll get a link to your personal meeting URL with the option to start a test meeting. If you copy the URL into your browser, you should be prompted to download the Zoom app.

When you are all set up, starting the meeting is easy. Just click the New meeting icon and it’s done. You are also able to invite people to your meeting by sending them an email with the info on how to access the Zoom meeting.

Zoom provides a set of in-meeting controls such as screen share, virtual backgrounds, and in-meeting security controls by locking it, suspending it, or enabling the waiting room.

Discord vs Zoom: Security

So, which app keeps things safe and sound?

Discord is well-known for respecting its users’ privacy: neither does it message logging in free version nor in paid. The messages that you’ll delete are gone forever. In addition, if you send photos through the app, they will be automatically checked by PhotoDNA, a scanning program that checks images for explicit and illegal material.

At Discord, you can report messages, and their team will check if those messages breach their TOS. Discord also has bug bounty. This means that if a user finds vulnerabilities and reports them, they will be rewarded with awesome stuff or cold hard cash.

We all heard about Zoom’s security issues. The app faced problems for which it was widely criticized. Since then, it has made security changes and strengthened its privacy measures. The shared content can be encrypted by using AES 256 encryption and end-to-end encryption.

When it comes to the meetings, they are protected with encryption again; also Zoom has waiting rooms for attendees and requires the host to be present before the meeting starts. In addition, only individuals with a given email domain can join by using a passcode.

Discord vs Zoom: Video Conferencing and Screen Share

Video chat in Discord is supported through the direct messaging section or on a server. You can switch between a webcam and sharing your screen. Until recently, up to 10 people were able to view a live-streamed screen share, but due to the pandemic, the limit was raised to 50. Discord prompts you to choose which screen you want to go live.

You can also stream in a channel and anyone on the server can watch the stream for a presentation or whatever is needed. Share screenshots and recordings using Droplr.

After you take a screenshot, GIF, or screen recording with Droplr, copy and paste the generated URL into the Discord chat. Discord also offers multistream. This means that you can watch multiple streams at the same time. And of course, you can record your meetings.

Now, Zoom. If you have a strong internet connection, Zoom is still the reigning champ in video conferencing. The participants of the conference can use breakout rooms where they can have smaller meetings. Same as Discord, Zoom allows you to share different screens.

However, unlike Discord, Zoom offers whiteboards where lecturers and facilitators can make notes or draw on the screen. Both in Zoom and Discord, multiple people can share their screens at the same time.

Zoom video call

Discord vs Zoom: File sharing

Discord has file sharing, but if you have the free version, the largest file you can send is 8Mb. However, if you have a Nitro subscription, you can share files up to a max of 100Mb each.

If you want to send files in Zoom, you can do so during the meeting or webinar via the chat. Files can be specifically sent to all participants, directly to one participant, or specific predefined groups. The maximum file size supported is 512Mb.

Discord vs Zoom: Pricing

Our bank accounts…yikes!

Discord has two plans: the free and the paid one – Discord Nitro. Discord Nitro includes features like higher video quality, server boosting, a higher upload limit, enhanced quality live streaming, and a custom Discord tag for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

Zoom offers a variety of plans. The Free version is limited to 40-minute meetings with up to 100 participants.

The Pro plan is $14.99/year/month/license. It has the same features as the Free plan, but instead of 40 minutes per meeting, it offers 30 hours, social streaming, and 1GB of cloud recording.

The Business plan is $19.99/month/license. It can host up to 300 participants and adds on Single Sign On, managed domains, transcriptions for cloud recording, and company branding.

The Enterprise plan is $19.99/month/license. It offers everything from the Business plan, but also allows you to have up to 1000 participants, you get unlimited cloud storage, and a dedicated customer success manager.

Zoom pricing

Discord vs Zoom: Integrations

Discord has built-in integrations with other common apps. The only thing for you to do is enable the connections to reap the benefits. Discord integrates with the following: Twitch, Telegram, Google Sheets, Twitch, Trello, Gmail, YouTube, Blizzard Entertainment, Steam, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, Xbox Live, and so much more. The features of each integration vary from app to app. However, they all have a way to sync the data from the linked app directly into your Discord server.

As a flexible app with an open API, Zoom offers some great integrations too. Actually, Zapier helps you integrate Zoom with more than 3000 apps. You can integrate it with Microsoft OneDrive, Slack, Dropbox, Panopto, Zylo, Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.

Discord extra features

Both platforms offer some similar features, but they still have a lot of differences.

Discord lets you take control over your notifications. Feel free to edit them at a server, channel, or user level. Discord also includes server folders to organize your list of Discord servers into more manageable groups. If you are a member of different groups, you might find this feature quite handy.

Another cool thing Discord has to offer is markdown. As a lightweight markup language, markdown is used to create rich text with a plain text editor. Meaning, you can use markdown to format your messages whichever way you want.

With Discord, you can also set up hotkeys – set which keys activate certain in-app actions.

One of the most important features at Discord is the bots. Some bots can be used to assign roles to people that join a server or send welcome messages etc.

Also, with the Discord Developer Portal, you can make custom Discord bots that perform tasks specific to your business.

Another Discord trick is to improve your own mic’s audio output. You can do this by using the app’s powerful voice processing features. If someone cannot hear you, you can fiddle with the settings. Those annoying munching sounds you hear in the background when chatting with someone are long gone.

You can also apply for Discord Partners if you want to grow your server and attract more users. Discord Partners get features like custom Discord servers, exclusive partner badges, VIP voice servers, and free access to Discord Nitro.

Zoom extra features

With Zoom, you can meet from anywhere…or at least look like you’re anywhere. Feel free to set up a new background in your meetings to eliminate distractions, hide clutter, or highlight branding.

Zoom enables waiting rooms so that you know who comes into your meetings. You are able to admit one participant at a time, or everyone at the same time, and even send a message to those who are waiting.

The app also offers you to reserve a virtual meeting room just for you with a Personal Meeting ID.

In addition, you need a touch-up? Zoom has you covered. You can look polished and professional in no time with the Touch-Up Appearance feature that provides a soft-focus for your entire screen.

Want to view diagnostic information while in a meeting? Zoom helps you determine if the issues you are facing are caused by audio, video, or network. This can solve any issues you may have, instead of running to the IT administrators for help. You will need to use the Zoom Desktop client for this function which is a downloadable application used to participate in Zoom calls.

As of March 2021, Zoom announced that it will start selling its video conferencing technology as a white-label product, so other companies can embed their own products. Stay tuned!

Sum Up

So, which one is better: Zoom or Discord? If you need to chat and use video or audio, Discord is an excellent app for you. Zoom, on the other hand, with its array of features, is built for businesses and conferences and will allow you to communicate on a more professional level with optimized tools. Both apps are some of the best ones you can use today. Based on your specific purpose, needs, and budget you could opt for Zoom or Discord and you cannot go wrong.


About Jerilyn Graves

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