ZOOM VS WEBEX: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Zoom and Webex are two of the most popular online meeting apps, and it’s easy to see why their popularity is on the rise.
Zoom and Webex are two of the most popular online meeting apps, and it’s easy to see why their popularity is on the rise. Even before the Coronavirus outbreak put most of us into self-quarantine, the demand for this kind of thing was growing already. An online meeting is generally a lot easier to arrange than a physical meeting. People are realizing that fact and using it as an advantage.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at these two programs and compare their features and benefits. In the end, only one of these contenders can reign supreme as the king of online meeting software.
Founded in 2011, Zoom has quickly grown to become one of the biggest conferencing programs in the world. It incorporates video conferencing, audio conferencing, chats, and all sorts of media to create an easy-to-use platform. They have grown by about 120% in the last year alone, so they are definitely one of the big players in this field.
Zoom works on the same principle as Youtube or any other streaming video site. When you join a session, you are basically joining a mass live stream. It’s not that different from the live streams you have seen before, except that there is a lot more audience participation.
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For one thing, Zoom has some of the best video conferencing around, and this is probably its main selling point. It works on just about any mobile device and can be used across platforms. Thus, Windows users won’t have to worry about compatibility issues with Mac users or vice versa. Thus, Zoom does a great job of connecting many users in spite of their different devices. In fact, this app allows you to video conference with up to 100 people at the same time.
We also like the screen sharing customization options that you get with Zoom. This allows multiple users to utilize the same desktop environment. At the same time, the host user can choose exactly how much of the desktop will be shared with others. You can choose to share the entire desktop or just a selection of files and folders. Either way, it gives you good control of your data.
On that subject, Zoom also offers excellent file-sharing capabilities. All participants can share files, read them, add notes, or share their screen. Between all of these options, you should have no problem communicating with your fellow team members.
Zoom also offers a lot of convenience when it comes to scheduling. To start a meeting, you just send an email to all involved. The email will contain a link that the user will click. This sends you to the online meeting room, and will normally work even if you don’t have the app installed. Those without the app might have to take a few minutes to download some things, but it’s still a pretty quick process. Recurring meetings can be set up automatically, which is also quite nice.
We like the fact that Zoom allows you to record all of your meetings, and to put all those recordings into a searchable database. This is particularly handy if a dispute should arise, as you can go back and refer to the original plan. You can even do an anonymous poll among those in the meeting room.
There are a few cons to this software, in spite of its vast and growing popularity. One of these flaws has become much more well-known, and that is the relative lack of security offered by Zoom. Every good meeting needs a security guard to keep out those who are unwelcome. Unfortunately, Zoom doesn’t really have anything that fills that role.
There have been several high-profile cases in which outside users have been able to hijack Zoom. By doing this, they can crash meetings to which they were not invited. Typically, this is done by trolls or other mischief-makers, so it’s more of an annoyance than a real problem. Still, if this kind of thing persists, it can make it very hard to carry on an orderly meeting.
As of April 1, 2020, Zoom has decided to put a freeze on the development of new features for the app. This was most likely a response to the recent security issues, as the timing is too close to be a coincidence. On the one hand, we might praise the company for admitting that they have a problem. On the other hand, that problem is so obvious that they couldn’t deny it anyway, even if they wished to do so. This statement also confirms that Zoom has some deep and serious security flaws.
Speaking of security flaws, you don’t just have to worry about hackers and trolls. The company itself might be harvesting your user data for marketing purposes. There are a lot of online companies who make money by gathering your data and selling it to advertisers, and Zoom is apparently one of them.
They were recently forced to change their privacy policies because it was found that their previous policy allowed them to collect details and specific data from every meeting, and to sell that content to the highest bidder. Zoom may have changed their policy on paper, but it would seem that the cat is already out of the bag, so to speak.
As we already mentioned, Zoom is compatible with Windows and Mac, but Linux users are left out in the cold. As far as we know, there is no reliable way to use it on a Linux platform. Yes, Linux isn’t all that popular compared to the other two, but there are still a lot of people who use it all over the world. More to the point, Linux is often preferred by professionals, and you don’t want to leave those people out of your meetings.
One feature that we don’t like too much is the “Zoom Room.” This is simply a private virtual room that you can rent. The idea is to save businesses money on conference rooms (and the equipment they contain). However, we don’t find it to be a very good value. The service costs about $50 a month, but we don’t see how it gives you enough benefits to be worth its cost.
Overall, this feature would probably save you a few minutes per meeting by eliminating the need to set up a room. However, that is not enough to justify an additional $50 per month, especially when the service itself costs no more than $20 per month. Don’t get suckered in by the 30-day free trial because it simply isn’t worth the money.
There is one more problem that we should mention. If you use the free version of this software, your meeting will automatically end at the 40-minute mark. We feel that this is too much of a restriction, as the company could have just locked some of the features. Instead, they give us a restriction that causes massive inconveniences without even one hour in between them.
Webex has been around for a long time, but they have only recently begun to make a big splash in the industry. Founded in 1995, this company started by attempting to make a business version of AOL’s instant messenger app. In 2007, they were bought by Cisco systems, one of the world’s biggest software manufacturers.
Many people see Webex as being identical to Zoom, but this is a long way from the truth. Webex seems to focus a little bit more on the high-end market, offering a little bit more refinement with a little bit more of a learning curve. They also focus on video sharing instead of trying to cover every type of media on earth. Let’s take a closer look at the features of this program.
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First of all, we should talk about the glaring security issues that have plagued Zoom lately. We have already discussed these to some extent, so you already know that a troll can easily hijack your Zoom meeting. Webex has a lot better security, so that risk is bound to be lower.
Unlike Zoom, Webex uses end-to-end encryption to create a secure “tunnel,” much like a VPN does. End-to-end encryption is a term that is important here because it represents the goal of any good encryption project. When we say “end to end,” we mean that the data is encrypted from start to finish. There is no gap in the security that could allow unauthorized people to wriggle their way through.
To understand encryption, you just have to understand two basic concepts. First, the internet is nothing more than a bunch of computers sharing a giant amount of information. When you connect to a particular website, you are making a connection between your computer and the host. With end-to-end encryption, you are protected from one end to the other. This might explain why we’ve never heard of Webex being hacked, hijacked, or trolled.
A lot of people say that Webex has the highest-quality audio of any conferencing program, giving everyone a clear idea of where the discussion is going. Without good audio quality, you can waste a lot of time repeating yourselves. It may not seem like a big deal, but lost time always equals lost money.
Another good thing about Webex is the fact that it can be used with Linux operating systems. This may not matter to everyone, but it shows that the company has made an effort to include everyone. This program will work with most versions of Linux, although some people might need to do a kernel update if they are running anything older than version 2.6.
Webex allows you to customize your video layout to a much greater extent than Zoom. With Zoom, you get a huge wall of faces. You can’t really change that view in Zoom, but Webex allows you to customize which people you will see and hear. This is good because it’s a serious pain trying to communicate with that many people at once.
Webex offers many of the same features that Zoom has, such as conference recording and a whiteboard. Document-sharing is also enabled, although Webex doesn’t emphasize this tool as much as its video conferencing. It can also be used to schedule a recurring meeting without worrying about those annoying and overpriced “Zoom Rooms.”
Webex is a superior tool in many ways, but it is a little harder to use. As such, it might take people a little bit longer to figure out how this product is used. When you are trying to get 20-50 people on the same page, that can be a serious hassle. Thus, people who go with Webex might need to play teacher for a while until the majority of group members get the expertise that they need.
Overall, we don’t see as many special features and tools when we look at Webex. We listed this in the pros because it is both a benefit and an issue. On the one hand, we feel that Webex has tried to make a more streamlined program that does all the important things without any window dressing. This means that a few of the bells and whistles are gone, and that could be an annoyance for former Zoom users.
This is a small problem, but Webex has a limit on the number of people that can share a screen at one time. Zoom has no such limit, allowing you to share your desktop with everyone in the room if you so desire. With Webex, you cannot have more than 25 people per screen at one time. In fact, a number of people have reported serious glitches while screen-sharing, so you might want to avoid this feature entirely.
COMPARING THE TWO
Now that we have taken a brief look at out two competitors, it is time to evaluate what we have learned. Let’s start with something that might be on your mind already: The question of cost. Even if you like one product better than the other, their relative prices could force you to make a budget-motivated decision instead of focusing on quality. However, we don’t have that problem here.
Using Zoom will cost you $15-$20 per month, depending on which plan you choose. Webex offers plans from $13.50 to $27.00. Thus, their cheapest plan is cheaper than Zoom’s cheapest plan. For a high-end plan, you will only pay $7 more per month for Webex. All in all, these differences are not big enough to matter much.
In many ways, we might compare this to the differences between Windows and Linux, since we have already touched upon that subject. Linux offers superior security, just as Webex offers better security than Zoom. At the same time, Linux and Webex are a little bit harder to learn and use. Thus, it’s a question of efficiency versus convenience.
Most people choose Zoom for its convenience factor, just as most people choose Windows for its convenience factor. Its easier to learn and is compatible with a wider range of software. Like Windows (and anything else made by Microsoft), Zoom has abysmally poor security.
Still, Zoom users tend to report a smoother experience with less jumping and glitching. Technical problems will always happen from time to time, especially when you are trying to connect so many people at once. However, it does seem that Webex has to be handled with a little more care than most.
Zoom, on the other hand, does a good job of conforming to the needs of the average user. Webex has been trying to close the gap in recent years with new features and updates, but the usability gap still exists to some extent. Zoom also seems able to handle a larger number of people than Webex, so it might be the better choice for mass meetings.
Even though Zoom offers some excellent benefits, that 40-minute limit is a serious issue. You can bet that a large percentage of those who attend your meetings will opt for the free version, and those people will be kicked from the meeting at the 40-minute mark. Thus, you have to re-invite them and basically restart the whole meeting.
Even though we expect a free version to have restrictions, this one is a lot worse than we expected. To avoid this silliness, you have to purchase a better account and a “Zoom Room,” whereas Webex lets you create a private room for free.
When it comes to audio and video quality, these two products seem to be an even match. Although opinions may vary a little bit, most people seem to agree that there is no significant difference in video quality between Zoom and Webex. Some claim that Zoom is better, but this is probably due to the fact that Zoom is a little less glitchy than Webex.
Both of these companies have made video chat the centerpiece of their products, so we can expect a similar level of quality. As for audio quality, Webex seems to offer slightly better audio, but the margin is not a large one.
Although both of these programs do their jobs quite well, we can only choose one winner for this epic contest. It’s a hard decision because Zoom offers greater convenience while Webex offers better security. One thing you should do is to evaluate how important security is to your company. If you are dealing with sensitive information, you should definitely avoid Zoom, as your competitors could easily snoop on your meeting.
On the other hand, low-security businesses are not likely to be targeted unless someone has a personal grudge. Thus, Zoom would probably be fine for a meeting of the local school board (something which is public, anyway), but not so good for a multinational company dealing in covert military hardware (for example). Thus, we leave you with this advice: Choose between convenience and security, and make your decision based on your risks and your needs. We hope that you have enjoyed this article, and we also hope that you will fill out the contact form.