Discord vs Zoom: Which is best for virtual meetings?
Last updated on: July 18, 2022
Choosing the right video conferencing solution becomes imperative in the age of remote and hybrid work.
However, choosing the perfect solution for your team can quickly become overwhelming. With plenty of popular platforms and tools all providing optimum functionality, it is difficult to decide which one works best for your specific situation and needs.
Although not the most obvious one, the choice between Discord and Zoom has been a tough one to make for teams and businesses over the past few years.
That’s where we come in to help you make an informed decision and choose the right platform off the bat.
In this blog post, we’ll compare two of the most popular conferencing platforms — Discord and Zoom.
We’ll compare the two platforms in the following categories:
- User interface
- Max participant capacity
- Meeting length
- Audio and video call settings and reactions
- Cloud storage
Let’s get started with an overview if you want a quick look into how the two platforms compare in key categories.
Discord vs Zoom overview
The Discord vs Zoom battle became relevant only recently.
Although both platforms share similar features and functionality, these have been organized to serve two different communities.
Zoom is known for being the most popular video conferencing tool for:
- Small businesses,
- Remote teams, and
With around 300 million daily active users, Zoom rules the video conferencing space for business and general-purpose video calls and chats.
Discord has had a somewhat different path. Starting as a convenient solution for the gaming community to stream games and chat about shared interests, it didn’t receive too much attention from the business community in the beginning.
It took the 2020 pandemic for a surge of new users to flock to Discord.
In line with the new situation, the platform started to rebrand as a chat and video solution for more general communities.
Consequently, the platform introduced improvements to the existing features and added new ones to better serve wider audiences.
In addition to businesses and teams, Discord found a strong foothold in college and university communities.
Here’s a side-by-side overview of the two apps’ main features.
|Pricing||$0 to $9.99 month||$0 to $25 month/user|
|User interface||complex||simple and intuitive|
|Max participant capacity||25||1,000|
|Meeting length||unlimited in all plans||30 hours max|
40 minutes in the free plan
|Communication||— screen sharing|
— recording meetings
— group and individual messages during a call
— breakout rooms
|— screen sharing|
— recording meetings
— group and individual messages during a call
— live meeting transcription (paid plans)
— breakout rooms
|Audio and video call settings and reactions||— roles and permissions|
— standard and custom emojis
|— joining restrictions |
— emoji reactions
|Cloud storage||no||starting from 5GB per license|
|Integrations||several integrations with specialized apps and platforms||1,500+|
|Support||standard support||24/7 priority support (across all paid plans)|
|Security||standard security||improved security|
Now let’s take a look at a more detailed comparison of each feature.
Discord vs Zoom pricing 1:0
Pricing is one of the categories with a clear winner.
Discord easily beats Zoom in this round as it offers a complete set of core features for free.
Zoom, on the other hand, is notorious for its pricey plans that are not necessarily backed up by its feature offer.
Discord provides all core functionality in the free version. You can run a server on Discord and enjoy unlimited message history, and storage, and have an unlimited number of participants on a voice call for free.
There are two paid plans in Discord — Nitro Classic ($4.99 per month) and Nitro ($9.99 per month) with upgrades including:
- Video enhancements — Hi-res video, live streaming, and screen sharing
- Server boosts — custom role icons, boosted live streams, private threads, more upload power
- Upload upgrade — 100MB upload size
- Profile badges — users can display their support to the Discord community and receive discounts
- Animated avatars and emoji — custom emojis, avatars, and tags
Zoom, on the other hand, offers a rather limiting video conferencing experience in the free plan. With only 40-minute group and one-on-one video calls, no cloud storage, and reduced additional features, business users have to switch to paid plans for optimum performance.
In its cheapest plan — at $14.99 per month, per user, Zoom offers:
- User management,
- Polling, and
- Breakout rooms.
Plus, you can have 30-hour-long group video meetings with up to 100 people.
Zoom’s highest-priced plan comes at $25. It upgrades the maximum participant capacity to 300, and it ups your cloud storage to 10GB.
|Cheapest paid plan||$4.99||$14.99|
Discord vs Zoom interface 0:1
It’s difficult to make a comparison interface-wise as the apps were designed with different users in mind.
Zoom is known for its clean and simple interface — and its core functionality is video calls.
The simple and clean interface allows even first-time users to easily join a call, a lesson, or a webinar.
Discord was designed for the gaming community, hence the more elaborate interface.
It displays all the servers you’re part of which allows for more effective communication — but it takes some getting used to.
Putting aside the unique interface with fun graphics, learning how to navigate through all the servers, sub-servers, and bots in Discord takes a learning curve for users new to the conferencing space.
Text and audio chats are the most common communication formats in Discord.
Several video streaming options are also available — allowing users to customize their video experience within a call.
You can spotlight participants or presenters in both apps.
Zoom lets you spotlight up to 9 participants in a video meeting, whereas Discord allows this functionality as part of the Stage channels in audio sessions.
Custom virtual backgrounds are available in both apps, but Zoom takes it a step further with filters for touchups and lighting adjustments.
Although both platforms feature interfaces that cater to their respective audiences, Zoom gets our vote due to its simple and intuitive design.
|Layout||Complex||Simple and intuitive|
Discord vs Zoom max participant capacity 0:1
Zoom easily wins this round — with up to 1,000 participants allowed per video conference.
This, however, is only available via a Large Meeting add-on, which costs from $600 per year.
Large Meeting aside, Zoom lets you hold meetings with up to 100 participants, even in the free version — which is still plenty compared to what you get in Discord on any plan.
Discord currently limits the number of participants in video channels to 25 in their free version. Paid plans and Server Boosts upgrade your audio and video quality — but there are no upgrades to the number of people allowed per call.
In 2020, however, Discord allowed sessions with 50 people in Discord’s Go Live and Screen Share in a server or voice call. Unfortunately, this was a temporary upgrade intended to help more people connect virtually during the lockdown.
In Zoom, you can video chat with up to 100 people for free, whereas Business and Enterprise plans upgrade the number of participants to 300 and 500 participants, respectively.
Although small teams, students, or family groups may be fine with Discord’s participant limit, businesses and larger groups need the flexibility Zoom offers to host larger group meetings.
|Max participant capacity||Discord||Zoom|
|Max participants in the free plan||25||100|
|Max participants in paid plans||25||1,000 (via add-on)|
Discord vs Zoom meeting length 1:0
Flexible meeting length is one of the features to look for in a conference tool — especially for remote and hybrid businesses that rely on this type of communication for virtually any process.
In this category, Discord takes an easy win.
By allowing for unlimited voice and video calls in any plan, it beats Zoom’s limiting offer.
Legend has it that the longest Discord call lasted for 1,451 hours, or two months.
Call length limitation is the biggest downside of Zoom. You can only have 40-minute long group video meetings for free in Zoom, whereas all of its closest competitors allow at least 60-minute group video calls for free.
Moreover, the latest changes restrict one-on-one meetings to 40 minutes for users of Zoom’s Basic (free plan).
Paid plans in Zoom offer a maximum of 30 hours per meeting.
This Zoom’s limitation poses a huge challenge to achieving effective meetings for larger groups that either have to start their meetings again or upgrade to a pricey paid plan.
|Group meeting length in the free plan||Unlimited||40 minutes|
|Group meeting length in paid plans||Unlimited||30 hours|
Discord vs Zoom communication 1:1
When it comes to standard communication and video conferencing features, both Discord and Zoom feature the core functionality:
- Audio and video conferencing
- Screen and file sharing
You’ll, however, notice some significant differences in terms of how these features are organized in each platform. And, unsurprisingly, this has all to do with their key target audience and their preferences.
For example, Zoom offers more in terms of video conferencing options aimed to improve the effectiveness of virtual meetings.
Discord, on the other hand, takes the viewing video experience to the next level with several types of view and window modes convenient for game streaming.
Meeting recording is currently available in Discord only via third-party tools. Zoom offers this option across all plans. However, you can only store these locally in the free plan in Zoom, as there’s no cloud storage available for free.
Both Discord and Zoom allow multiple users to share a screen during a call.
Discord takes it a step further with in-call screen share options allowing you to:
- Modify your stream quality, voice, and audio settings
- Modify participant settings
- Switch between video- or stream-only view
Breakout rooms are available on both platforms. Zoom allows you to split into 50 different sessions, whereas Discord requires a bot for a breakout room function.
Polling is another useful feature for when you want to get quick answers during online meetings or lessons. On Discord, it’s available via a bot for free, whereas Zoom requires a paid plan for this feature.
If you’re looking for more options to collaborate with your team or colleagues in real-time using a whiteboard function, Zoom is currently a better option as it offers it across all plans.
Overall, both platforms offer great options for their respective audiences.
|Video recording||Only via third-party tools||Available across all plans|
|Screen sharing||Yes (available for multiple users simultaneously)||Yes (available for multiple users simultaneously)|
|Share messages and files||Public, group, or direct messages and files||Public, group, or direct messages and files|
|Breakout rooms||Only via a bot||Available across all plans|
Discord vs Zoom settings and reactions 1:1
Advanced modification options and quick reactions are a must for ensuring a productive virtual meeting experience.
Both platforms seemed to have this in mind when integrating robust audio and video call settings.
Zoom comes with a useful option for a more productive conferencing experience. Hosts can allow or disallow cameras and microphones for participants during video meetings.
Plus, Zoom lets hosts control hand raising and emoji reactions. They can allow or disallow these features — depending on the specific meeting requirements.
Emoji reactions disappear after 10 seconds and they come in different colors.
At the same time, Discord is very vocal about ensuring maximum privacy and safety for their users.
You can assign different roles to ensure optimum productivity in your video sessions and to be sure no unwanted participants can disrupt your calls and conversations on the platform.
During video calls in Discord, participants can send standard or custom emojis in the group chat.
The Discord Nitro users can share custom emojis across every server, group, or DM they are in. Users on the free plan can only use them on the server they uploaded them to.
Overall, both platforms allow for plenty of options for their respective audiences to customize their conferencing experience to their preferences.
Thus, in this category, we have a tie.
|Settings and reactions||Discord||Zoom|
|Audio and video call settings||Advanced||Advanced|
|Roles and permissions||Yes||Yes|
Discord vs Zoom cloud storage 0:1
Both Discord and Zoom have serious limitations when it comes to cloud recording storage they offer across plans.
Namely, this is one of the categories both platforms fall short in meeting the user expectations, especially when compared to some of the more popular competitor apps.
Discord offers unlimited file storage, allowing users to access anything they have ever exchanged on the platform.
However, as Discord doesn’t support video recording, there’s also no cloud storage capacity currently available.
In Zoom, you don’t get any cloud recording storage in the free plan. Although its offer now starts from 5GB of cloud storage in standard paid plans, it still doesn’t justify the expensive pricing.
Teams and businesses that want to store all of their meeting recordings and files have to purchase Enterprise plans in Zoom.
Zoom gets points in this round for upgrading their cloud storage offer across paid plans. However, both platforms still have plenty of room for improvement in this category.
|Free cloud storage||No||Only local|
|Cloud storage in paid plans||No||5GB per license to unlimited|
Discord vs Zoom integrations 0:1
Zoom takes the cake integrations-wise judging by the numbers alone.
It integrates with over 1,500 apps across several standard and specialized business categories.
This impressive offer of third-party tools is sufficient to foster productivity and create a more dynamic meeting environment for teams or businesses of any type.
Discord, on the other hand, is more focused on gaming and social media apps and platforms. You can connect your Discord account to:
- Spotify, and
Webhooks and Discord bots are available to help you integrate these apps into your servers.
It’s almost unfair to compare the ultimate business powerhouse of third-party apps Zoom offers with the short but valuable list of gaming and social media apps available on Discord.
Still, until Discord extends their list to include more generally applicable apps, we have to give Zoom our vote in this category.
|Number of integrations||several integrations with gaming-related apps||1,500+ integrations with leading apps|
Discord vs Zoom support 0:1
Zoom offers round-the-clock customer support in paid plans and a detailed knowledge library with the Help Center available to all users.
In paid plans, Zoom offers:
- 24/7 ticket and live chat support in the Pro plan
- 24/7 ticket, live chat, and phone support in Business and Enterprise plans
Unfortunately, Discord doesn’t match Zoom’s offer when it comes to advanced customer support.
It does, however, come with a detailed Help Center, community forums, and website forms all available to users to find the answers before contacting support.
However, our vote in this round goes to Zoom for going the extra mile in providing extensive dedicated user support in paid plans.
Discord vs Zoom security 0:1
Although both platforms support data encryption and standard security practices, Zoom still takes security more seriously.
Following its 2020 security incidents involving Zoombombing and encryption algorithm vulnerability, Zoom added new layers of protection and more security features.
To ensure optimum privacy and safety of all conversations and files exchanged on the platform, Zoom offers:
- 256-bit TLS and AES-256 encryption,
- End-to-end encryption (optional),
- Additional layers of verification, and
- Waiting rooms for better control of who can join.
Discord supports two-factor authentication and data encryption — however, it’s still unreliable, especially for businesses.
While individual users can set several privacy and security features for servers and DMs, it’s still all pretty much left to the individual users’ conscience to follow standard privacy and safety practices in DMs as these are independent from servers.
Although Zoom had its fair share of security issues, it’s still far more reliable, especially for businesses that need tighter security practices during virtual meetings.
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
For more on data security in collaboration tools, check out our guide on the subject:
Discord vs Zoom Verdict 4:8
As the figures below show — Zoom is the winner with 8:4 in the final result.
While Discord features a quirkier look and plenty of great functionality for free, Zoom might be a more reliable and functional option for businesses that want to streamline their virtual communication and video conferencing.
|Max participant capacity||0||1|
|Audio and video call settings and reactions||1||1|
However, if you prefer a more creative and less formal conferencing space you can customize to your preferences, then Discord may be more up your alley.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. But before you make your decision, be sure to compare all the pros and cons outlined in this blog post to help you pick the best tool for your unique needs.
Looking for a Discord or Zoom alternative? Try Pumble
If neither Discord nor Zoom align with your communication preferences, you can check out Pumble, a free business messaging platform.
- Unlimited users and message history for free
- A user-friendly interface with an abundance of features
- Free video conferencing, and
- 10GB of free storage space per workspace.
You can sign up for a free Pumble account now, and check it out yourself!