What a difference a month makes! In February of this year we were, for the most, going about our business as usual – office, restaurants, the gym, concerts, meetings, travel – and doing all the “normal” things that at the moment seem so foreign and, frankly, so dangerous. COVID-19 has changed the world, and as humans we have no choice but to adapt. Thus, part of the new normal for a lot of us (at least for now) is working remotely.


At Tree Ring Digital, we’re fortunate. Our founder structured the company to allow for remote work, so we’re able to integrate the necessary changes into our work lives pretty easily. But we know that’s not the case for everyone, so we’ve put together this brief overview of five free (or mostly free) web conferencing options for entrepreneurs and small businesses to use when meeting with colleagues and clients. 

  • Capacity: Up to 100 participants for 40 minutes.
  • What you need to know: Zoom is popular. In fact, it’s the #1 most downloaded free Apple app at the moment, and its free option is pretty good: with a free account, you can host a video conference with up to 100 participants – but there’s a 40 minute limit for each session. If you need to host a longer session, you can get a paid subscription – starting at $14.95 monthly. 
  • Recording capability? Yes
  • Screenshare capability? Yes
  1. Skype | Communication tool for free calls and chat

  • Capacity: Up to 50 participants for an unlimited duration.
  • What you need to know: Microsoft owns Skype.  According to USA Today, “This (Skype) is the app that popularized video chat, especially for free communication (Skype to Skype calls) with loved ones overseas, and it still offers all that. But the neglect from Microsoft, and emphasis on Teams, perhaps explains why Skype isn’t even in the top 50 rankings on the iOS and Google Play charts.”
  • Recording capability? Yes. 
  • Screenshare capability? Yes. 
  1. Microsoft Teams on any Device 

  • Capacity: Up to 50 participants for 8 hours. 
  • What you need to know: It’s best suited to videoconferencing with other “team members,” meaning it’s not likely the best solution for video calls with clients. According to the aforementioned USA Today article, “Microsoft has said its Skype for Business offshoot will sunset in 2021 and is looking to push users to Teams. It hasn’t updated the classic consumer version of Skype since August.”
  • Recording capability? Yes. 
  • Screenshare capability? Yes.
  1. Google Hangouts Meet: Online Video Conferencing

  • Capacity: Either 10 or 250 participants (see below) for an unlimited duration.
  • What you need to know:  There are two distinct Google Hangouts apps: Google Hangouts Meet and classic Hangouts. An article in How to Geek says, “If you have a Google account, you have access to Google Hangouts. For free Gmail and G Suite Basic customers, Google Hangouts allows for up to 10 people to chat in a video call…In response to the coronavirus crisis, Google has relaxed some restrictions for all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers, regardless of tier. Customers can now hold video conferences with up to 250 participants through to July 1, 2020.” So you might want to take this opportunity to try Hangouts Meet, but its free component is liable to disappear in July. 
  • Recording capability? Yes. 
  • Screenshare capability? Yes. 
  1. Jitsi Meet – Instant Free Videoconferencing

  • Capacity: Unlimited participants for an unlimited duration.
  • What you need to know: Jitsi is kind of the wildcard of the bunch. It’s completely free, and an expert writing in How to Geek is kind of gaga over it. He writes, “Jitsi is a 100% free and open source project with a fantastic feature set. You can choose between using the hosted version of Jitsi at meet.jit.si, or you can download and host your own video conferencing solution for total flexibility.”
  • Recording capability? Yes. 
  • Screenshare capability? Yes. 


While this list is a good place to start your search for remote meeting solutions, it’s far from exhaustive. These five teleconferencing options are just a few of what’s available, and there’s no easy answer as to which is “best” – each business has unique needs. For instance, healthcare providers have special obligations regarding privacy and HIPAA considerations (as outlined in this Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth recently issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).


There’s a lot to know, and a lot to consider – but you’re not alone. A lot of people are figuring this out as they go, and mistakes are inevitable. 


The experts at Tree Ring Digital are here to help you and your business survive – and thrive – through this unprecedented time, and we’re just a phone call away.