reCaptcha vs hCaptcha: A Guide to Choose the Right Captcha

Ashik Elahi ○ August 17, 2023
reCaptcha vs hCaptcha

Security in IT is like locking your house or car – it doesn’t stop the bad guys, but if it’s good enough they may move on to an easier target.” –Paul Herbka

This quote simplifies a crucial truth, particularly when considering that almost half (47.4%) of all web traffic came from bots. These bad guys are constantly making efforts to break into your digital assets, and you definitely shouldn’t be the easiest target! 

Just as you lock your doors, your website deserves protection too. And there is a special kind of defender you can set against digital threats– Captcha. 

If you are used to browsing online, then you’ve already encountered captchas countless times. Captcha works to protect your website from fraud and abuse by deciding who to get in– humans or sneaky computer programs (robots)! Website owners use captchas like virtual gatekeepers to effectively look after their digital assets.

What is a bot

So, if you want your website to stay outta bad guys, you should also use those captchas. But which one, reCaptcha or hCaptcha?

In this battle of reCaptcha vs hCaptcha, we will discuss every aspect in-details that will help you decide which one is good enough for blocking troublemakers on your website. 

Let’s get started.

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What is malicious bot activity?

Robots that start doing things they’re not supposed to do are malicious bots. They might mess up the site’s rules ignoring the site’s owner’s intention or even try to steal important data. We call these mischievous robots “bad” bots.

Now, some of these bad bots take it to a severe level and get involved in cybercrime. They might try to steal identities, take over accounts, and do all sorts of dark stuff. 

Let’s see some different types of malicious bot activities:

  • Credential stuffing
  • Content scraping
  • Password cracking
  • Inventory hoarding
  • Spam web content
  • Email harvesting
  • Click fraud and more.

What does captcha mean?

The full meaning of Captcha is “Completely Automated Public Turing”. The primary function of Captcha is that it blocks frauds (Malicious computer programs) from registering or doing any abusive activities online. 

In simple words, a captcha is like a quick test on a website to determine if you are a real person or a computer program(Robot). To take the test and differentiate, it might ask you to do something EASY that humans can do effortlessly (but a nightmare for bots!) such as clicking a checkbox, typing characters, solving a puzzle, and many more that we will discuss in the following section. 

What does captcha mean?

These simple tasks help the website ensure that you are a real person and not a sneaky robot trying to cause trouble. So, in a word, a captcha is like a “Digital Gatekeeper” who is on duty to let genuine people in and keep robots out. 

Different types of captchas

There are different types of captchas available that use different methods to challenge robots. Here are some typical captchas you can use:

  • Image-based CAPTCHA: you need to select specific images that match a given description/criteria.
  • Text CAPTCHA: you will see distorted/garbled text that you need to decode and type into a text box accurately.
  • Audio CAPTCHA: you will need to listen to an audio clip containing spoken words or numbers and need to type in what you heard in a certain box. 
  • Mathematical CAPTCHA: you need to solve a simple math problem.
  • Slider CAPTCHA: drag a slider to a specific position or complete a puzzle-like action to prove you are a human.
  • Checkbox CAPTCHA: you will be asked to tick a checkbox to prove you are not a robot. 
  • NoCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA: A variation of reCAPTCHA where you simply need to check a box that says “I’m not a robot.”
  • Invisible reCAPTCHA: This type of CAPTCHA runs in the background and uses behavioral analysis to determine if you are a human or a bot. 
  • 3D CAPTCHA: you require to rotate or manipulate a 3D object to a specific orientation.
  • Social Media CAPTCHA: you need to solve a challenge related to social media.
  • Game CAPTCHA: you need to play a short game, solve a puzzle, or complete a mini-task.

Among these different types of captchas, you can use any of them as far as your level of need. 

Now let’s talk about its significance. You already have sensed why a captcha is important, here’s more to justify. 

Why Captcha is Important: differentiate bots and humans

reCaptcha vs hCaptcha

In this era of vulnerable data security, it is crucial to distinguish between robots and humans for lots of obvious reasons. A robot can be programmed to perform automated tasks such as hacking, data scraping, spamming, and many more that can cause unimaginable trouble.

Here are some key reasons why a captcha is crucial:

  • Protect your website from malicious activity: By identifying and blocking robots from the website you can protect your digital assets from potential threats like spamming, hacking, and the scraping of confidential data.
  • Enhance user experience: By reducing spam and unwanted messages, blocking robots can improve user experience.
  • Improve security: By hindering bot access to your website, captchas can increase overall site security.
  • Account protection: Captcha helps prevent automated attacks on user accounts.
  • Data Quality: Captchs can help maintain the quality of user-generated data that could distort analytics or pollute databases

So, the main point is that distinguishing between bots and humans is a must for your overall well-being online.

Till now, as we discussed captcha in general, let’s have our talk regarding reCaptcha vs hCaptcha.

What is reCaptcha?

What is reCaptcha?

reCaptcha is Google’s very own captcha technology. If you use the internet, you have probably encountered Google reCaptcha many times already. 

It’s usually free for many websites and applications, but enterprise users pay based on the number of captchas they are employing. 

To detect bots, reCaptcha can use multiple methods, including

  • Checkbox: A website user must click on a checkbox to verify that they are human.
  • Image selection: A user needs to select specific images from a group of images to verify.
  • Audio challenges: Requires listening to an audio recording and transcribing the words or numbers to verify.

How does Google reCaptcha work?

reCpatcha vs hCaptcha: How does Google reCaptcha work?

Google reCaptcha examines website users’ behavior to determine if they are human or a computer program (Robot). When someone visits a website and if the website uses reCaptcha, the service gathers information about the users’ behavior like mouse movements, typing patterns, and other activities. 

These collected data are then processed by reCaptcha’s Risk Analysis Engine, which utilizes advanced algorithms to confirm if the user is a human or a bot. If the algorithm believes the user is a real human, only then it will permit access to the website. 

On the other hand, if the algorithm identifies the user as a robot, it will present them with a captcha challenge that prevents bots from entering the website directly. 

Moreover, reCaptcha employs a spam filtering system that is based on feedback from millions of users. The reCaptcha algorithm utilizes this feedback to become more accurate over time and enhance its power to differentiate between humans and robots.

hcaptcha vs recaptcha: Advantages & disadvantage of using reCaptcha

Advantages of using reCaptcha

  • Brand value is significant. People love to use Google’s services due to its immense popularity. 
  • reCaptcha is compatible with major screen readers like ChromeVox, NVDA, etc for visually impaired users.
  • Once the API is configured, users have the option to choose a client-side integration between reCaptcha v2 and reCaptcha v3.
  • Best of all, it offers usage of up to one-million assessments per month for free.

Disadvantages of using reCaptcha

  • China blocked Google and its services, so reCAPTCHA functionality is limited, affecting its widespread use in the world’s largest digital community.
  • Implicit data labeling issues when engaging with reCaptcha tasks that often subconsciously contribute to Google’s machine learning initiatives. 
  • Some reCaptcha images are low quality which makes it hard for visually impaired users. 
  • Both reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 lack extensive features and support, with v3 being the more user-friendly version but costing some pennies. 
  • Customization options are only available for enterprise-level users. 
  • reCaptcha is often considered non-GDPR compliant.
  • There is always a headache about privacy and data usage. 

In the battle of reCaptcha vs hCaptcha, now is the time to know about another player hCaptcha–

What is hCaptcha?

What is hCaptcha?

In case you’re wondering, the ‘h’ stands for human. hCaptcha is a popular alternative to Google’s reCaptcha. This captcha offers a free solution for non-enterprise customers. 

Usually, the hCaptcha requires site visitors to label images, which is somewhat obvious because hCaptcha’s parent company is an image labeling organization, and data vendors buy the labeled data fetched from the widget. 

Because of these manual procedures, hCaptcha uses less data than reCaptcha to operate its service, but hCaptcha also uses cookies. Each web user’s unique identification is stored in one of these cookies, which allows hCaptcha to track users across websites that use it.

How does hCaptcha work?

How does hCaptcha work?

hCaptcha requires regular website visitors to manually complete an image classification task based on a series of images. The process is quite difficult because hCaptcha’s labeling tasks are often more difficult than reCaptcha. 

Enterprise users may use an invisible version of the captcha, but it still requires users to manually solve a puzzle if not enough user data can be collected to identify if the user is a human or a robot. 

hcaptcha vs recaptcha: Advantages & disadvantage of using hCaptcha

Advantages of using hCaptcha

  • hCaptcha offers potential user incentives for those who successfully complete a hCaptcha challenge.
  • It is compliant with Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 AA for ensuring an inclusive experience for all users.
  • It ensures a strong emphasis on privacy, prioritizing user data protection and confidentiality.
  • hCaptcha allows customization using JavaScript API
  • hCaptcha is available in all the countries
  • Free to use for up to one million assessments per month
  • There are pro plans for more features and capabilities.

Disadvantages of using hCaptcha

  • Incentives and donations are only listed as part of the publisher plan, but absent in pro and enterprise plans. 
  • Although hCaptcha claims compliance with Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 AA, image-based tasks may pose accessibility issues. 
  • Due to some low-quality images, solving something can be more difficult. 
  • The parent company of hCaptcha does not disclose which companies benefit from user image labeling.

reCAPTCHA vs hCAPTCHA: The Key Differences

In the realm of Captcha technology, reCAPTCHA, and hCAPTCHA are two prominent names. While their core purpose is the same, there are key differences between the two that are worth considering when you are deciding which one to use. 

reCaptcha vs hCaptcha

Let’s explore the significant differences between reCAPTCHA and hCAPTCHA considering 7 factors. 

  1. Development & Ownership
  • reCaptcha: A Google product and one of the most widely recognized CAPTCHA systems. Its development benefits from Google’s expertise in machine learning and AI technologies.
  • hCaptcha: hCaptcha is owned by Intuition Machines, a company that focuses on AI and machine learning. It provides an alternative to reCaptcha.
  1. Privacy Focus
  • reCaptcha: It has raised concerns about data privacy & security, as it collects user activities to improve its machine learning models. Some users may find this practice uncomfortable.
  • hCaptcha: hCaptcha focuses on user privacy and has implemented standards to minimize data collection. It strives to balance bot prevention and user data protection.
  1. User Experience
  • reCaptcha: reCaptcha is user-friendly. Its challenges often include selecting images or solving puzzles. It also has an “Invisible reCaptcha” option, which detects robots in the background without the user’s action.
  • hCaptcha: hCaptcha provides various challenges like identifying objects in images or solving puzzles. It seeks to create engaging challenges that are less boring for users.
  1. Accessibility
  • reCaptcha: It offers audio tasks for users with disabilities. However, the visual nature of some challenges may still make accessibility difficult.
  • hCaptcha: hCaptcha puts a strong emphasis on accessibility, with a focus on confirming that challenges are inclusive and can be effortlessly completed by users with impairments.
  1. Customization and Branding
  • reCaptcha: reCaptcha can be customized to some extent, but its formation is closely associated with the Google brand, which may not align with the branding of all websites.
  • hCaptcha: hCaptcha allows extensive customization, enabling websites to align the Captcha design with their branding more effectively.
  1. Monetization Options
  • reCaptcha: reCaptcha does not provide direct monetization options for website owners.
  • hCaptcha: hCaptcha offers a monetization option that lets website owners earn revenue by using the Captcha solution on their websites.
  1. Development and Integration
  • reCaptcha: reCaptcha has been in the scenario for a long time and has established integrations with various platforms.
  • hCaptcha: hCaptcha is relatively new but it is gaining traction and expanding its integrations. However, its ecosystem may not be as extensive as Google’s.

hCAPTCHA vs reCAPTCHA: Which is right for you?

First of all, choosing between reCaptcha and hCaptcha is somewhat difficult, but it solely depends on the level of your needs. 

Both of these captchas are capable, and each has its own unique features and benefits when it comes to protecting your website from any malicious activity. And your decision to choose between hCaptcha and reCaptcha should be made based on your website’s requirements. 

However, before choosing your captcha, you need to consider a few essential things like compliance issues, privacy and security, accessibility, and more as we discussed above. 

And in case you are seeking a WordPress contact form plugin with a captcha and want to check out both reCaptcha and hCaptcha in one platform, then don’t miss out on the next section.

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WordPress contact form plugin with captcha 

There’s no silver bullet solution with cybersecurity, a layered defense is the only viable defense. 

 – James Scott

Fluent Forms is a robust WordPress form builder plugin that strives to bring out the best in securing users’ data and privacy. To ensure viable defense against any cybercrime it employs advanced Captcha protections like Google reCaptcha, hCaptcha, and Turnstile. 

WordPress contact form plugin with captcha 

Fluent Forms empowers your website with user-friendly form building and spam prevention. Its easy drag-and-drop builder, combined with Captcha support, ensures secure communication while maintaining an excellent user experience. 

From lead generation to customer engagement, Fluent Forms simplifies your interactions, making it an essential tool for improving user interaction and data collection on your WordPress site.

To enable these, you’ll first need to sign in to an account on whichever website you want to use, whether you use hCaptcha or reCAPTCHA. Also, you can have a secure captcha-free experience with Turnstile.

If you decide to use reCaptcha, you will be asked to choose from 2 options:

  • v2 checkbox reCAPTCHA(Visible)
  • v3 reCaptcha (Invisible reCaptcha)
WordPress contact form plugin with captcha 

Whether you’re using Fluent Forms FREE or PRO version, you always have options for adding an additional level of defense to save Your WordPress Forms from Spam.

Wrapping up

In this dynamic landscape of online privacy and security, the choice between reCaptcha and hCaptcha is tricky. In this reCaptcha vs hCaptcha article, we tried our best to help you understand that the decision depends on your website’s specific needs like privacy concerns, data quality, user experience goals, etc. 

However, the good thing is that both captchas’ main goal is to amplify your defenses against digital threats.

And if you are looking for a WordPress contact form plugin with a captcha then Fluent Forms can be your ultimate solution for seamless and potent captcha protection on WordPress. 

Ashik Elahi
Ashik Elahi

Ashik Elahi is a seasoned Digital Marketer with a passion for Content Marketing. He believes in the power of storytelling and crafting valuable content that resonates with readers.

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