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3 free alternatives to zoom - time to change

· security

Zoom has gone from 10m to 200m users in 3 months (!!) and it’s a truly lovely piece for engineering for video calls that just work. But the security problems are growing too - so should we use it?

They promise they are working hard to fix things, and are spending the next quarter purely on fixes, and until last week I was like, hey, it’s probably ok for basic business calls. But the list of issues keeps growing, so I think the software itself cannot be trusted. I don’t think I’ve ever seen software with so many crazy security issues before. Its one thing to say its ok for non sensitive calls, but do you want your client/mother in law/friend to install it?

So for us - no more zoom, at least until they get security properly sorted.

The thing is, zoom is super easy to use, no logins and up to 100 people in a free chat. Here’s some good alternatives.

Free choices that can be trusted with highly sensitive conversations

The free choices that I trust, in order of preference are

  • Facetime - simple and very secure - up to 32 people - but apple only.
  • WhatsApp - good - up to 4 people - but no desktop app.
  • Signal - awesome - but only 2 people video.

Free stuff with no sign in required, and Microsofts new Zoom killer

Skype - used to be old and ugly, but recently updated with a zoom killing - “meet now” feature that means people don’t need to sign up or install. I can’t get it work on my Mac, but no doubt they’ll fix it sometime soon. More info on the Microsoft web site.

Jitsi - this is surprisingly good - its actually even easier to run than Zoom! No accounts, no install, and you can run your own server if you’re geeky. Could be a good corporate option for client work. Security wise its recommended by Tor, but other security experts have been less enthusiastic. I think its great for most personal and business calls.

Houseparty is an unknown for me, but it looks like fun. Security expert Lukas Stefanko said that Houseparty was relatively safe compared to many apps, and that the only real risk to privacy was the fact that any user you add on the app can immediately start video chatting you if you are logged on unless you change your settings.

Micorosofts new Meet Now slack competitor

Commercial options

There’s loads out there, here's what we've used:

  • Microsoft Teams - most business users have it already -pretty good, can be hard to manage large groups. Good broadcast options, but only 4 chat participants at once.
  • Gotomeeting is pretty good.
  • Slack is ok - but a bit flakey.

Here’s a list of the other main pay options - The Best Video Conferencing Software for 2020

How the heck can I do my virtual pub/quiz??!

If you’re all on apple then FaceTime is the obvious choice. Houseparty *seems* ok, and Jitsi is definitely worth a spin.

What do you think? Any better ideas?

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