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The best Zoom alternatives in 2021

Best Zoom alternatives
(Image credit: Cisco)

Knowing about the best Zoom alternatives can be a life saver, even if you're perfectly happy using Zoom for your online meetings. Zoom's been one of the big success stories in what's otherwise been a pretty rotten year, and makes it easy for colleagues to stay in touch while working from home.

Millions of people have relied on Zoom this year, and it's coped with the enormous influx of users admirably. However even Zoom can go down from time to time, and the last thing you want when you have an important meeting scheduled is to be caught without a platform to have it on.

So it's a great idea to have a Zoom alternative ready to go in those situations, and we've picked out the best of them. And if you're not keen on Zoom for any reason (for example the 40 minute time limit if you're using the free service), you're bound to find your ideal alternative here; many even offer Chrome extensions so you can get going without leaving your browser.

For more software solutions, also see our best Slack alternatives, as well as the best cloud storage and web hosting available now. If it's your hardware that needs an upgrade, check out our list of the best webcams you can buy right now.

Best Zoom alternatives: Google Meet

(Image credit: Google)

01. Google Meet

Free and secure video conferencing for all

Reasons to buy
+Included with Workspace+Secure and encrypted+Plays nicely with other platforms+Free to use

Google Meet (formerly Hangouts) is included as part of Google's premium Workspace productivity package (previously known as G Suite), but it's now available free for anyone to use. And it's an excellent Zoom alternative, particularly because it just works; you can set up and join a secure video meeting in your browser without having to install anything.

Meetings are encrypted, complete with solid anti-abuse measures so you don't have to worry about the Google Meet equivalent of Zoom-bombing. Inviting people to your meeting is simply a matter of sending them a link, and thanks to Google's use of Pexip, participants using other meeting platforms can easily join your Google Meet meeting. It's intuitive to use, secure and reliable; what more do you need?

Best Zoom alternatives: Microsoft Teams

(Image credit: Microsoft)

02. Microsoft Teams

Perfect if you're using Microsoft 365

Reasons to buy
+Good for all team sizes+Background blur option+Screen sharing+Chrome extension

While Microsoft would doubtless love you to use the premium features of Microsoft Teams for your online meetings, chances are that the free tier will serve you very well indeed. As well as being easy to use, it'll give you up to 10GB of team storage, unlimited chat messages, unlimited app integrations and the ability to invite people from outside your organisation to your meeting. There's even a Google Chrome extension so you can do everything in the browser.

Upgrade to a premium plan and you'll get even more features, including integration with Office 365, third party apps and a whole terabyte of extra storage. But chances are that the free version will suit your needs.

Best Zoom alternatives: GotoMeeting

(Image credit: LogMeIn)

03. GoToMeeting

Dependable paid-for meetings with loads of options

Reasons to buy
+Set up meetings with one click+Voice commands+Commuter mode+Cloud recording

GoToMeeting is only available as a paid service, although if you want to check it out before committing you can sign up for a free 14-day trial. And there's a lot to check out; it's packed with useful features for online meetings, including your own personal meeting room, support for up to 25 active webcams and up to 250 participants, plus screen sharing, video slides, downloadable reports and unlimited recording.

There's calendar integration and also a 365 plugin to make it easier to schedule meetings at a time that's suitable for everyone, as well as the option to set up meetings on a daily basis. You can join meetings from anywhere, whether you're at your desktop or even out and about, thanks to GoToMeetings' Commuter Mode.

Best Zoom alternatives: RingCentral

(Image credit: RingCentral)

04. RingCentral

A full business communications package

Reasons to buy
+HD voice and video+No downloads required+Reliable uptime+Easy to switch between devices

If all you need is a basic Zoom alternative for hosting meetings, RingCentral is probably overkill; it's a full-on business communication platform featuring integrated phone, video conferencing and messaging, and video conferencing isn't even included in its cheapest paid plan. But if you spring for its standard plan ($24.99 per user per month) you'll get unlimited audio conferencing access to HD voice and video meetings with an industry-leading 99.999% uptime, with up to 100 participants and up to 24 hours' duration.

Other benefits include the ability to switch from a call to a video meeting with one tap, and also to flip meetings between any device. It's a serious and easy-to-use corporate comms package, but we suspect it's a bit rich for many.

Best Zoom alternatives: Discord

(Image credit: Discord)

05. Discord

A top Slack alternative that also does video calls

Reasons to buy
+Completely free+Chat, audio and video calls+Up to 50 users+Available for most platforms

Discord's already a fine alternative to Slack; it's an online chat service that's beloved by gamers, and free for everyone to use, and among its features is a decent video conferencing option. Go Live video calls can support up to 50 users, and getting set up is fairly easy. You create your own dedicated 'server', and within that you can create chat rooms as with Slack, with not only text-based chat but also video calls.

You'll probably find Discord a little basic compared to other Zoom alternatives, and its cutesy community-contributed status messages can be a little wearing, but with apps for most web browsers and platforms it's easy for everyone to connect, as well as being nice and reliable.

Best Zoom alternatives: Skype Meet Now

(Image credit: Microsoft)

06. Skype Meet Now

Skype, re-imagined for easy video conferencing

Reasons to buy
+No time limit+Screen sharing+No download required+Call recordings available for up to 30 days

Skype has long-standing form when it comes to video calls and online meetings, and with Skype Meet Now, Microsoft has upgraded the service to provide a rock-solid online meeting platform that's a great alternative to Zoom. Starting a meeting is as easy as starting a Skype video call, and participants don't have to have Skype installed; you can join a meeting directly from the browser and you don't even have to be signed in to Skype.

While Skype group chats want you to set a group name and add participants before you kick things off, with Skype Meet Now people can join in when things are already rolling, making it a lot more versatile. Whether you're catching up with friends and family or hosting a meeting, it's a great, affordable and secure choice.

Best Zoom alternatives: Cisco Webex

(Image credit: Cisco)

07. Cisco Webex

Bulletproof conferencing for teams of all sizes

Reasons to buy
+Great free version+Mobile web conferencing+Easy to use+Screen sharing

Cisco's a big name in online communications, so it's no surprise that Webex Meetings, its video conferencing platform, is a solid Zoom alternative, whatever your budget. There's a free option that instantly beats Zoom by giving you an extra 10 minutes for your meetings, with up to 100 participants, and if you instead opt for one of the paid plans you can enjoy extra features such as file transfer, MP4 recordings of your meetings, and automatic transcriptions.

Webex Meetings automatically reduces background noise for clearer communications, and with 22 optimised data centres worldwide you're guaranteed a seamless connection. Setting up a meeting through the Webex dashboard is easily done, and participants can connect from desktops and mobile devices using a single link.

Best Zoom alternatives: UberConference

(Image credit: Dialpad)

08. UberConference

Perfect if you need ready-made transcripts and action points

Reasons to buy
+Affordable paid plan+Great free option+AI-powered transcription+No download needed

Finally, here's a great free service that covers everything you need from a Zoom alternative, and if you upgrade to the paid version you'll get some fantastic additional features. UberConference ticks all the boxes for free web conferencing, giving you up to 10 participants, a maximum meeting time of 45 minutes, with HD video and audio, call recording and screen sharing.

Upgrade to the paid plan ($15 per user per month) and you'll get up to 100 participants and five hour meeting limit, plus a team management portal, analytics and even a Voice Intelligence, an AI service that can transcribe meetings and automate tasks during the conference call.

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Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, cat-wrangler and occasional street performer who's written for a multitude of publications over the past quarter of a century, including Creative Bloq, T3, PC Gamer and a whole load of long-dead print magazines.