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What Is Discord How It Works

What Is Discord and How Does It Work in 2024? Full Guide to the Voice Chat Software

Groups, servers, voice channels, Nitro, boosts – it’s easy to see how Discord can become a tad overwhelming. That being said, once you’ve got the gist of it, you’ll find that using Discord while you’re playing video games is remarkably easy. What is Discord, and what do you need to know about it? We’ll break it down for you in this article.

Andrej Hadji-VasilevJackie LeavittJasna Mishevska

Written by Andrej Hadji-Vasilev (Writer)

Reviewed by Jackie Leavitt (Chief Editor)

Facts checked by Jasna Mishevska (Lead Fact-Checking Editor)

Last Updated: 2024-01-23T10:33:41+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

Initially released in 2015, Discord is the go-to communication app for tens of millions of users. But what is Discord, and who is it for? That’s our subject today.

The idea that would become Discord was born when co-founder Jason Citron noticed that his team struggled to communicate effectively during online gaming. He had an idea for a chat service that would have a negligible impact on performance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discord is a huge platform that lets you communicate with users from all around the world. 
  • Joining and creating servers is very easy to do, and the platform uses text and voice chat to make communication easy. 
  • You can use Discord for both casual and professional or educational purposes, thanks to its versatility and the configurability of the platform. 

Fast forward to today: Discord has tens of millions of users that rely on it for voice chat and communication, whether they’re gaming together, working together or simply want to communicate easily.

It has features like voice chat, text chat, video chat and screen sharing. Arguably the best thing about Discord is that it’s cosmpletely free, but there is a paid plan. 

What Is Discord?

At its core, Discord is a social platform. It allows for easy communication and lets users create communities, called Discord servers, with like-minded individuals. Plenty of online communities create public servers for members to voice their opinions, learn new things and meet new people.

To add to this, a lot of Discord servers are created around real-life communities, letting you chat with friends or schoolmates online. 

discord ui
Discord’s main UI has your servers on the left-hand side, then your direct messages and then your online friends (or Wumpus, their mascot, if you don’t have any online friends). 

What Is Discord Nitro?

Discord is free, but there is a paid plan known as Discord Nitro, as well as a more affordable version called Discord Nitro Classic. Nitro costs $9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year, whereas Nitro Classic is $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

Nitro and Nitro Classic get you an improved experience and convenience features. You can use custom (even animated) emojis, create an animated avatar (profile picture) and get an increased file sharing size limit. 

The difference between Nitro and Nitro Classic is the server boosts, which get you more emoji slots and better audio and video quality within the servers you boost. You get two server boosts and 30% off additional server boosts with Nitro. Everything else is the same. 

How Does Discord Work?

We won’t be getting into the nitty gritty here — it would be impossible to explain it all. Instead, we’ll go through the core functionality of Discord and explain how it works. Then we’ll get you started on creating your profile, joining a few servers, talking to other users and even creating your own server. Knowing how to use Discord is easy — these are the basics.

Keep in mind that, to use Discord, you need to be at least 13 years old. 

Creating Your Discord Account and User Profile

It all starts when you create your profile. You can choose a nickname and Discord will assign a four-digit user ID to it to help differentiate your profile from others with the same nickname. Don’t overthink it, though; you can change your nickname later, and you can even set a different one for each server you’re a member of. 

discord profile
Your user profile is very simple, and you can edit every aspect of it. You can even remove your phone number. 

You’ll need to create a user profile before you can join a Discord server. It’s a quick process, and you can modify basically every part of your profile later. Once you have a user profile, it’s time to join some servers. 

Joining Discord Servers

Joining public Discord servers is easy — all you need is an invite link to the server you want to join. Most public servers have their invite link posted on their website or in a related forum. Server administrators can also create new invite links if they want to get more members to join the server.

On the other hand, there are also a lot of smaller communities and servers that are run by groups of people. If you’re trying to join a server like this, you’ll need one of the server members to give you an invite link. There is a limit on how many servers you can join — 100 servers for regular users, or 200 for Nitro users. 

Creating a Discord Server

If you’d like to start a community of your own, creating a Discord server is rather easy. Just scroll down to the bottom of the server list on the left side of your app and click “add a server.” You can choose between creating one from scratch or using one of Discord’s server templates designed for gaming, school clubs or study groups. 

If you choose to go the DIY route, you’ll be met with a short questionnaire that aims to make things a bit easier. You can always skip the questions and do things your way. Once you’ve created the server, you can invite people and add bots to make things easier. The same limit for joining servers applies for creating them, too — you can create 100 servers if you’re a regular user, or twice as many if you subscribe to Nitro. 

discord create server
The server templates come in handy if it’s your first time creating a Discord server.

What Are Discord Bots?

Discord bots are simple programs you can add to your server. They’re used to automate certain actions and make managing your server significantly easier. You can pick from thousands of bots, whether you want them to manage members, post news, play music in voice chat channels or anything else. 

Even though they definitely make your life easier, Discord bots require a bit of know-how to set up and automate. If you’re willing to spend a bit of money (and have the time to wait), you can hire developers to custom build a bot that fits your needs and requirements. 

Text and Voice Chat

The two most common ways to communicate on Discord are text and voice chat. Discord supports video chat too, but there is a resolution limit and it doesn’t always perform well, not to mention only 25 users can join a video call. You can also create a group chat or send direct messages to other Discord users who aren’t on the same servers you use. 

Voice chat is arguably the best-known use of Discord. Servers have one or more voice channels where members can join and talk to each other. You can even have different voice channels for different purposes — team channels for your gaming server, a regular voice channel for your friends group, a voice channel for the mods and more. 

discord server
Discord servers have the text and voice channels at the left, then the actual chats, with the list of users on the right side. 

Discord has raised some eyebrows among security experts by using voice and text channels as its key features. Most notably, Discord’s servers only rely on encryption at rest and encryption in transit, rather than end-to-end encryption. Both types offer insufficient protection because the servers themselves can still see the messages.

Why Is Video Chat Not a Priority? 

While Discord does have video calls as a feature, it hasn’t seemed to gain traction. Very few users rely on Discord for video calls, thanks to a variety of alternatives that work a lot better. 

It’s no surprise then that most users experience issues such as being unable to connect to video channels. If you’re experiencing this issue or any other with the platform, read our comprehensive ‘Discord is not working‘ guide.

Making Friends

The platform is a great way to meet like-minded individuals by joining community servers and communicating with people who share your interests. Whether you’re playing games or just talking casually to other members of the server, you can meet people from just about anywhere in the world. 

Final Thoughts

Discord is a social network that offers easy communication through text chat and voice calls, allowing you to join communities and create new ones with people who share your interests. It’s also a great way to communicate with your real-life friends and schoolmates from the comfort of your own home.

That said, some countries and schools block Discord. If that’s the case for you, use one of the best Discord VPNs to skirt the bans. If you encounter issues when installing the app, read our guide on how to install Discord.

Have you ever used Discord? Do you use it for educational or professional purposes, or as a casual communication tool? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading. 


  • Discord is most commonly used as a communication tool for video game players who like to play games online with other users.

  • Generally, yes, although we would advise caution with the type of information you share — Discord doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption for its messages. Read our is Discord safe guide to learn more.

  • The largest danger associated with using Discord is that most users use an alias or nickname, and you have no way of knowing who you’re talking to. This is why it’s a good idea to exercise caution with the information you share and the things you do while you’re on certain servers.

  • Yes, and no. WhatsApp is primarily made for user-to-user communication, whereas Discord aims to provide a means of communication for a large number of users at once.

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