Zoom now limits free one-on-one meetings to 40 minutes

One-on-one meetings set up using a free account will now automatically end after 40 minutes.

Zoom logo on the screen smartphone with notebook blurred background closeup. Zoom Video Communications is a company that provides remote conferencing services. Moscow, Russia - April 1, 2020
Image: prima91/Adobe Stock

Those of you who create Zoom meetings with a free account will now be kicked off after 40 minutes no matter how many people are on the call. As of July 15, Zoom is restricting meetings between just two people to that 40-minute duration. Previously, only free calls with three or more people were subject to this limitation.

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“On July 15, 2022, Zoom is changing the meeting duration limit for 1:1 meetings hosted by Basic (free) users on paid accounts to 40 minutes,” the company explained in a support page. “This change creates a uniform 40-minute meeting duration limit for all meetings hosted by Basic (free) users on all account types. This includes 1:1 meetings, group meetings and Personal Meeting Rooms.”

To further explain the new guidelines, Zoom said that a free meeting will end after 40 minutes whether it’s active or idle for any of the following scenarios:

  • One host and no participants
  • One host and one or more participants at the same time
  • No host and one or more participants at the same time who join before the host

Even if the host doesn’t show up and the meeting is idle, the 40-minute countdown starts as soon as the first participant arrives.

As the coronavirus pandemic forced society into lockdown mode, people turned to virtual meeting programs to see and talk to each other. Such platforms have been adopted by individuals to stay in touch with family and friends, by organizations to conduct meetings and by schools to run classes. Since many businesses have since shifted to a hybrid work environment, these products are still much in demand.

A variety of virtual meeting products have tried to fill the need, including Microsoft Teams, Skype, Webex, Google Meet and GoTo Meeting, but Zoom has been one of the major players with a dominant market share and a steady rise in revenues for the past few years.

To continue to grow, however, the company needs to generate more revenue, which means more paid subscriptions. In May, Zoom chief financial officer Kelly Steckelberg said that the company expected revenue from enterprise customers to increasingly account for a higher percentage of total revenue.

With a paid plan, a meeting can last as long as 30 hours so people don’t have to worry about getting kicked off prematurely. Zoom offers three core subscriptions: A Pro plan for $14.99/month or $149.90/year per user, a Business plan for $19.99/month or $199.90/year per user, and a Business Plus plan for $25/month or $250/year per user. Customized enterprise plans are also available.

However, people with free Zoom accounts can use a specific trick to extend a free meeting beyond the 40-minute limit. To do this, open the Zoom app and click the Schedule button to set up your meeting. Make sure that the Meeting ID is set to Generate Automatically. Change the Calendar option to Other Calendars. Click Save (Figure A).

Figure A

Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

Copy the meeting details and send them to the other participants (Figure B).

Figure B

Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

As your meeting gets close to the 40-minute deadline, a countdown number appears on your screen (Figure C).

Figure C

Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

As the host, click the End button and then select Leave Meeting — not the one for End for All (Figure D).

Figure D

Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

You’ll be asked to assign another host. Select one of the other participants. That person then needs to click the End button and select Leave Meeting.

At this point, the meeting appears to have ended. But you and the participants can click on the initial meeting link or enter the same meeting ID, and the meeting will start over again with another 40 minutes left on the clock (Figure E).

Figure E

Image: Lance Whitney/TechRepublic

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