Telegram

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What is Telegram?

The Telegram app is a popular messaging app known for its emphasis on speed and security. It allows users to send messages, photos, videos, and files of various types and to create large groups or channels for broadcasting to audiences.

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The app was launched in August 2013 by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who previously founded the Russian social network VKontakte (VK). They started Telegram as a project focused on enhancing security and privacy in digital communications – values that they felt were inadequately addressed by existing messaging services.

The Durovs designed Telegram to operate as a non-profit, cloud-based service, making it accessible from multiple devices and ensuring that messages are securely encrypted during transit.

What is Telegram?

Key Takeaways

  • Telegram is a multifunctional messaging app that supports text messages, photos, videos, and files, making it suitable for a variety of communication needs.
  • It offers optional end-to-end encryption in secret chats and secure cloud storage.
  • Users can access Telegram on multiple devices simultaneously.
  • Telegram is free to use with an optional premium subscription that offers enhanced features such as larger file uploads and additional sticker packs.
  • Ideal for both personal use and large-scale organizational communication due to its support for massive group chats and channels.

How Telegram Works

Telegram is built on a unique custom data protocol known as MTProto. This protocol is designed specifically for secure and fast messaging, ensuring that all data sent through the platform is encrypted end-to-end. This focus on privacy is a cornerstone of the app’s appeal (but you should still always use a VPN).

The app operates on a cloud-based architecture, which means that all your messages and files are stored on Telegram’s servers. This allows you to access your conversations from any number of devices simultaneously, including phones, tablets, and computers, without needing to rely on device-specific backups.

Is Telegram Free?

Yes, Telegram is predominantly a free service. Users can download and use the app without any charges. The core features of Telegram, which include sending messages, creating groups, and sharing files, are all available at no cost.

Also, users can create channels for broadcasting to an unlimited number of subscribers, participate in large groups with thousands of members, and send files up to 2 GB in size for free.

What is Telegram Premium?

Telegram Premium is a subscription-based service that offers additional features and enhancements beyond the standard free offerings. This tier is designed for users who want more functionality and greater limits within the app.

Here are some of the features:

Increased file upload size
Subscribers can send files up to 4 GB, which is double the limit for free users.
Faster download speeds
Premium users experience prioritized speeds, making downloading media and files quicker.
Exclusive stickers and reactions
Access to a library of unique stickers and additional reaction options is not available to free users.
Improved chat management
Options like advanced chat folders allow for more customized organization.
No ads in public channels
Premium users will not see sponsored messages that are occasionally displayed in large public channels.
Voice-to-text conversion
Voice messages can be automatically converted to text, making them easier to consume in situations where listening isn’t feasible.
The cost of Telegram Premium varies slightly by region, but it generally runs around $4.99 per month.

Telegram Features

Telegram Features

As far as the free version of Telegram goes, here’s what you can expect:

  • Group Chats: Create groups with up to 200,000 members for large-scale communication and collaboration.
  • Secret Chats: Private chats that use end-to-end encryption and feature self-destructing messages.
  • Bots: Programs within Telegram that provide services like news updates, games, and payment processing.
  • Channels: Broadcast messages to an unlimited number of subscribers, used by content creators and news services.
  • Voice and Video Calls: High-quality calls secured with end-to-end encryption.
  • Customization: Personalize the app’s appearance with themes, backgrounds, and more.
  • Cloud Storage: Unlimited cloud storage allows access to messages and media from any device.
  • Multi-Platform Support: Accessible from multiple devices simultaneously.
  • Privacy and Security: Strong emphasis on security with features like secret chats and encrypted calls.
  • No Ads or Subscription Fee for Basic Use: Free for basic uses without ads, supported by user donations and premium subscriptions.

Telegram vs. WhatsApp

Feature Telegram WhatsApp
User Base Over 500 million active users Over 2 billion active users
File Sharing Files up to 2 GB, unlimited cloud storage Files up to 100 MB, relies on phone storage
Chat Types Group chats, secret chats, channels, bots Group chats, broadcast lists
End-to-End Encryption Optional in secret chats Default in all chats
Voice & Video Calls Available, encrypted Available, encrypted
Multi-Device Access Independent of phone, multiple devices simultaneously Dependent on phone, recently added multi-device access
Usability Highly customizable, complex for new users Simple and user-friendly interface
Ads No ads in basic service, ads in channels No ads
Subscription Model Free with optional premium subscription Completely free

Telegram Alternatives

While Telegram offers a wide array of features, there are several other messaging apps that cater to different needs and preferences. Here’s a look at some popular alternatives.

Signal
Focuses on privacy and security with standard end-to-end encryption and a policy of not collecting user data.
WeChat
A comprehensive platform prevalent in China, integrating messaging, social media, and financial transactions.
Viber
Known for its voice and video calling capabilities, it also supports text messaging and group chats with various multimedia options.
WhatsApp
Popular for its simplicity, it offers reliable messaging and calling with end-to-end encryption.
Facebook Messenger
Supports text, voice, and video chats and can be used without a Facebook account. Includes features like stickers and chat heads.
LINE App
Widely used in Asia, LINE offers messages, voice and video calls and has a rich selection of stickers and themes. It also integrates social media elements and mobile payments.

Is Telegram Safe to Use?

Telegram is regarded as safe for general use, with several security measures in place. It offers optional end-to-end encryption in “secret chats,” ensuring that only the communicating users can access messages. The servers, spread globally, improve security and reduce downtime risks.

While there have been concerns about SMS-based account recoveries and the lack of default end-to-end encryption in group chats, no significant breaches directly implicating Telegram’s security practices have been reported.

Telegram Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Fast and efficient, capable of delivering messages quickly even in low connectivity
  • Supports optional end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages
  • Allows users to access their accounts from multiple devices
Cons
  • Extensive features can be overwhelming for new users, potentially complicating the initial experience
  • Default non-encrypted settings settings in regular chats have raised security concerns

The Bottom Line

Telegram offers speed, a wide range of features, and flexibility, making it ideal for tech-savvy users, large organizations, and those managing extensive communication needs. Its encryption options in secret chats cater to those who prioritize privacy, but the default non-encrypted settings require users to manually ensure security for sensitive communications.

For general users, Telegram can be an excellent choice if additional privacy settings are activated. It’s particularly useful for coordinating large groups and transferring large files efficiently.

So what’s the Telegram meaning? It means staying securely connected across continents is as easy as sending a dancing cactus sticker.

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Marshall Gunnell
IT & Cybersecurity Expert
Marshall Gunnell
IT & Cybersecurity Expert

Marshall, a Mississippi native, is a dedicated expert in IT and cybersecurity with over a decade of experience. Along Techopedia, his bylines can be found on Business Insider, PCWorld, VGKAMI, How-To Geek, and Zapier. His articles have reached a massive readership of over 100 million people. Marshall previously served as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and technical staff writer at StorageReview, providing comprehensive news coverage and detailed product reviews on storage arrays, hard drives, SSDs, and more. He also developed sales strategies based on regional and global market research to identify and create new project initiatives.  Currently, Marshall resides in…