Choosing the best software is crucial whether you need to have an online meeting with one person or an entire group. I’ve used Discord and Slack for various purposes before, and there are significant differences between them. Which one you use largely depends on your personal preferences and the needs of your group.
What Is Discord?
Discord is a communication service that connects people with a voice, video, and text. It has over 150 million users and was founded in 2015. While it was initially designed for gamers, they’ve introduced more features and options over time to appeal to a much wider variety of audiences.
What Is Slack?
Slack is also a communication service that uses voice, video, and text to connect people. They are more focused on business users and claim to make work simpler, more pleasant, and more productive. They have over 169,000 paid users. 65 Fortune 100 companies use Slack at work.
How Are Discord And Slack Different And Similar? (Discord Vs Slack)
To understand whether Discord or Slack is better for you, check out the differences in everything from the UI to file sharing.
UI And UX
Both Slack and Discord keep their channels, threads, and rooms stored on the right side of the screen. The current chat takes up the program’s center while the list of participants is on the right.
One significant difference is that Slack also displays other information on the right. You can see information about the selected channel, pinned posts, channel members, and organizations. On the left side, Slack includes a place to look at your mentions, threads you’re in, unread messages, and more.
Neither Discord nor Slack are particularly hard to use. Slack has more tutorials and official guides that help explain how to use it, though, which may be helpful for certain users. Ease-of-use is really a matter of whether a user is comfortable with either type of program — most of the functions are similar enough that neither are really harder to learn.
You will likely save more time using Slack than Discord, simply because the file-sharing is so much better. On Discord, you’d have to leave the server and set up an outside file transfer for most large files. On Slack, file limits are so much larger that it’s faster and easier to send in the app itself. It can also help you save time because of the options showcased on the left sidebar.
Both programs offer streamlined interfaces and simple user experiences. However, Slack does have the edge when it comes to user experience simply because it makes more information readily available to you in the side panels.
Both Slack and Discord notify you about messages, mentions, and targeted messages from your channels. However, Slack has more options for what kind of notifications you can get. For example, you can set up keywords and get an alert when someone uses your keyword in a channel.
One of the biggest differences between bots on Discord and bots on Slack is that Discord’s bots are mainly there to manage communities and bring information about community interests into the server. Slack’s bots are more workplace-oriented and designed to help people in the channels get work done.
Bots on Slack also tend to be easier to set up. There are lots of official integrations with bots designed specifically to work on Slack. Discord bots are largely made by third-party developers and not as integrated. Some Discord bots are easy to add and manage, but others require special permissions and even some coding skills to customize.
While there is some overlap in what the various bots can do, you’re going to find a lot more bots that are easy to use on Slack. For example, there are bots that can deliver information, manage the channel, or send automated messages and responses on Discord but they aren’t as seamless as Slack’s and they don’t offer as many options in most cases.
Text Formatting Options
Discord uses markup for text formatting. It supports bold, italic, strikethrough, underline, blockquotes, quote blocks, spoiler tags, and more. There is no formatting bar at this time. You have to input the markup options yourself. For example, you would type “**text**” to bold your input.
Slack has a text formatting toolbar. It has the same markup options as Discord but is more accessible for less computer-savvy people to use. You can also hide the toolbar and use markup if you prefer.
Both don’t necessarily support every feature of markup, even though they both support many. For example, Slack doesn’t support paragraphs.
On Discord, you can block anyone immediately before they ever get a chance to message you as long as you can right-click their name in the shared server. While it offers two-factor authentication, there is no encryption in any of the private messages or servers.
It also has a safe messaging option where bots can scan personal content sent to you before you receive it to make sure it’s appropriate. Some servers enable enhanced verification where only phone-verified users can join.
A lot of Slack’s many privacy functions and safety are determined by the company that runs your server, integrated app features, and what options are enabled in the program. Slack has many certifications for privacy and security for companies that need to use sensitive data, like medical practices with HIPPA concerns. It also meets the standards for FINRA, Tisax, and FedRAMP.
Neither Discord nor Slack scans files for viruses before sending them. However, both offer avenues to follow if you need to report someone for inappropriate behavior or sharing.
However, some users have had concerns about data harvesting and information privacy for both Discord and Slack. Consider this before signing up for either service.
Downloads And Uploads
Slack doesn’t have an actual upload or download limit. You can upload any file that fits into the team’s file storage.
Discord has an 8MB upload file size limit for free accounts and 100MB for Nitro accounts. Anyone with access to a file can download it, no matter the size.
File Storage Limits
Files don’t save in Discord the same way they do in Slack. There is an upload limit but no storage limit in Discord.
On Slack, the free plans get 5GB of data storage for the entire team. Pro plans get 10GB of data storage per plan member. Business plans get 20GB per team member, while Enterprise plans come with 1TB of storage for each member.
Slack doesn’t compress images. Instead, it displays the exact file you upload. However, pictures on mobile might show as a thumbnail to help keep the app running smoothly. If you want your images compressed, there are apps you can integrate with Slack to get the functionality.
Discord does compress images.
Channel Organization And Threads
Discord channels are split into two types: voice and text. People can gather to talk in voice channels or send each other messages in text channels. If you want to screen share or stream in a channel, you must use a voice channel. All channels can be public, private, or open only to people with certain roles.
Slack channels can also be voice or text, but people often create them for specific projects. With Slack, members have to be added to private channels by a member who’s already a part of it. Every Slack has a general channel. Members are automatically added to this channel and cannot leave it. You can archive channels in Slack so that the information stays searchable but the channel is no longer usable.
Threads in Discord can be created by clicking on a message and selecting the thread option. Threads are supposed to provide organization by pulling a topic out of main chat and flagging it. Comments people make in the thread aren’t posted in the main chat. Threads are listed under the chat channel where they’re created until expiration, when they’re archived. This makes it easier to find and respond to one.
In Slack, you also create threads by clicking on individual messages. One big difference is that replies you make in threads can be sent back to the original channel if they’re relevant to a larger audience. They also have their own heading called “Threads” where you can see all the ones you are currently following. Those who have started, been mentioned in, or replied to a thread will receive notifications about new posts in it.
Channels and threads are both displayed to the left of the main chat on Discord and Slack. Slack has no limit of the number of channels but Discord has a 500 channel limit, and 100 servers limit.
On Slack, only one person can share their screen at a time. On Discord, anyone in a channel can share their screen. However, users can only view one stream at a time.
Discord raised their viewing numbers temporarily in 2020, allowing 50 people to view a screen share at one time. Slack allows 15 people to be in the same voice and video call with screen share as long as you have a paid plan.
You can fully search the history of any chat or channel on Discord, as long as it hasn’t been deleted. I have conversation threads that are updated yearly and are four years old that still have every image, message, and emote we shared.
On Slack, you have access to the entire message history of a server as long as you have a paid account. Free accounts are limited to the last 10,000 messages.
Both programs offer options to search by keyword, user, file type, and other filters.
Discord sells a premium subscription called Nitro for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Among other things, it offers additional emoji customization, profile options, and increases your upload size from 8MB to 100MB. You get high-resolution video, screen-share, and in-app streaming. You also get server boosts.
People use server boosts on Discord to upgrade their favorite servers. They get additional customization and better audio quality depending on how many boosts the server receives. There are also increased file sharing sizes and streaming quality for server members.
Slack offers Free, Pro, Business, and Enterprise plans ranging from $6.67 per month per user to $12.50 per month per user. Those looking for Enterprise plans have to contact customer support to discuss pricing.
While the Free plan does offer a variety of services, including access to 10,000 of the team’s most recent messages and interactions with ten apps, larger groups often end up upgrading.
The first paid tier gives members unlimited app interactions, access to the entire message history of the group, and voice or video calls with up to 15 people. The Business plan gives you all that and advanced identity management, data compliance, and better customer support.
Both Slack and Discord are available on PC, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux.
Load On RAM
Both Discord and Slack use a lot of memory. While I couldn’t find the average numbers for all users, it’s something that many people who use both programs discuss and try to fix.
Slack has addressed the problem in the past with specific background processes that keep channels a user hasn’t interacted with in a while updated but make them have a more negligible effect on the RAM.
People with memory issues with Discord often find that restarting the program works as a temporary fix.
When it comes to app integration, Slack is the winner. They have an entire directory of apps that integrate with Slack to make it more productive. It has 2,500 apps that you can connect.
Discord also works with a variety of apps. There are more than 200 apps you can use with Discord. Discord can even link with Slack, though not through Slack itself.
What’s Better About Discord?
Discord offers more premium features for users who don’t pay for the service when compared to Slack.
Consider getting Discord if your reasons for running a chat and messaging program are more social and less businesslike. I’ve gone on ESO trials on Discord with 12 people, played D&D in a different channel, and joined even more people for movie nights — all for free.
It’s an excellent service for friends and interested people to get together at any time.
What’s Better About Slack?
Slack beats Discord when it comes to text chat organization. Users can link, save, and reference posts. You can see when people have reacted to things that you’ve said. While Discord is making leaps in their text-chain organization, they aren’t beating Slack in that category yet.
Slack is also more helpful for people who want to share files.
Slack is better for business users or people running servers that share information that needs to be referenced later. One of the companies I’ve worked for that used Slack archived posts and then offered links to those posts so new members could quickly be brought up to date on past discussions.
The process on Slack was much more straightforward than on Discord, where users can only access saved content through pinned posts or the search feature.