Create a Secure Chat Room in a Flash with ChatStep

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When you have more than a couple people involved in a project, the worst thing you can do is get them all on the phone together. It's not only potentially costly, but also a poor method for communication.

That's why I remain a big believer on online chat rooms, which can be ideal for planning, discussing, and/or reviewing any business endeavor.

There are lots of Web conferencing services that include chat-room capabilities ( and Zoho Meeting come to mind), but many of them require subscriptions, sign-ins, and/or downloads.

Enter ChatStep, a free group-chat service that creates private rooms and records absolutely no history of your team's presence -- an important consideration for security-minded organizations.

To get started, just enter a room name, your desired nickname, and, if desired, a password. Click Create and presto: You've got a chat room. Now email, text, IM, or otherwise contact your team members and give them the room name (and password, if applicable).

When they get to ChatStep, they enter the same details and click Join. That's all there is to it: nothing to install, download, or register for.

Once you're inside the room, just chat away. ChatStep keeps the options to a bare minimum, color-coding each person's entries and dinging each time some arrives, leaves, or says something. (You can turn the sound off if you prefer, and show or hide timestamps.)

ChatStep doesn't allow for file sharing, but it does let you share images in the simplest way possible: just drag and drop them into the chat area. That's a terrific amenity for groups needing to show screenshots, schematics, or other project-related images.

Concerned about security? According to ChatStep, everything you do stays totally private, both during your session and after the fact:

"ChatStep servers are technically unable to read any user nicknames, messages, or images. ChatStep additionally stores absolutely no chat logs, not even temporary copies of uploaded images! There are no contextual or static advertisements on the website, no google analytics or mixpanel user tracking, and no cookies."

Fair enough? Though light on features, ChatStep gives teams a quick and simple set of tools for online meetings. Give it a try the next time you need to get everyone into the same room -- even if it's just a virtual one.

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