Image: Zoom

Video conferencing has become more important than ever, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. There are countless collaboration tools available for remote workers including Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, etc. Zoom, another popular social platform, has experienced a surge of new users ranging from remote workers to schools.

SEE: Zoom 101: A guidebook for beginners and business pros (TechRepublic Premium)

Zoom’s popularity stems from its ease-of-use. The collaboration tool combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration, enabling users to meet locally–even globally–on any device, at any time.

Zoom compatibility

The platform is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. Zoom is also free for a virtual meeting with up to 100 participants. The caveat is that it can only last 40 minutes, although one-on-one meetings can last indefinitely. Zoom’s Pro, Business, and Enterprise packages come with additional features, including increases in meeting duration limits, cloud recording and storage, Skype for Business interoperability, single sign-on options, and company branding.

With Zoom, users can record a meeting from a desktop or mobile device, hide or unhide video, add meetings to Google calendar events, share content from a mobile device, transfer files and share documents during a meeting, and even play games like Yahtzee!, chess or Scattergories.

SEE: Zoom 101: A guidebook for beginners and business pros (TechRepublic Premium) 

Virtual backgrounds

One of the coolest features of Zoom’s video conferencing app for desktops is its virtual backgrounds. With just a few clicks, you can replace your messy home office with one of the default Zoom backgrounds or whatever photo you choose.  

The key is picking the right image for use as a virtual background: If it’s too dark it may be hard to see; if it’s too bright or busy, it will distract from the call.
SEE: Zoom 101: A guidebook for beginners and business pros (TechRepublic Premium) 

Zoom security issues

Despite its benefits, Zoom has been the subject of privacy concerns. According to CNET, the video conferencing software experienced a webcam hacking scandal in 2019 and a bug that allowed uninvited users to potentially join meetings. More recently, the FBI is warning people of Zoom bombing–basically video hijacking–where uninvited hijackers bombard online attendees with pornographic or violent imagery. 

It’s important for users to remember that sharing a meeting link on social media or other public forums makes an event public for anyone who has access to the link. A few ways to curb this is generating random meeting IDs instead of using a Personal Meeting ID; enabling the waiting room feature, which allows hosts to control who enters a meeting; and password protect meetings. 

Zoom 101: A guidebook for beginners and business pros from TechRepublic Premium provides even more security tips, and tricks for using Zoom to improve productivity that both the novice and expert will enjoy.

SEE: Zoom 101: A guidebook for beginners and business pros (TechRepublic Premium)