When comparing IRCCloud vs HexChat, the Slant community recommends HexChat for most people. In the question“What are the best IRC clients for Windows?” HexChat is ranked 1st while IRCCloud is ranked 12th. The most important reason people chose HexChat is:
HexChat is available as a free download with source code licensed under GPL v2 and available on [GitHub](https://github.com/HexChat/hexchat).
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro BNC by default
All other irc clients are only connected to the network as long as you are online. IRCCloud provides a bouncer by default, i.e. an irc proxy that maintains your presence and logs all chat. Said BNC remains online for 3 hours by default, papering over connectivity losses, or for a small fee of 4€ per month, you can remain online forever (good for travels and such).
Pro Inline media
IRCCloud has the ability to embed pictures, youtube videos, vines, etc straight within the chat window.
Pro Can stay connected while user is absent
IRCCloud offers an option to keep idling in a channel even when the user is not connected. This way no conversations or mentions will be missed while away.
Pro Drag and drop filesharing
Files can be shared simply by dragging and dropping them into a channel. They will be hosted on IRCCloud's servers and linked.
Pro Takes security seriously
Offers bounties for reporting security bugs through HackerOne.
Pro Simple interface
IRCCloud has a simple two-pane interface with a chat window on the left and server and channel lists on the right. It includes colorized nicknames to easier tell users apart and allows customizing details such as clock format, usermode symbols and alerts.
Pro Pastebin integration
IRCCloud will suggest putting long snippets of text on pastebin and link that instead of flooding the channel.
Pro Custom authentication support for enterprises
Pro On-premises hosting for enterprises
Pro Private servers for teams
Pro Native emoji support
Pro Free tier
While IRCCloud is generally a subscription service, a limited free tier is available. It's limited to 2 external IRC networks besides irc.irccloud.com, accounts get disconnected after 2h while no frontend is used (does not apply for the first 7 days) and 100MB file sharing limit as well as it lacks a number of team and enterprise oriented features.
Pro Free and open source
HexChat is available as a free download with source code licensed under GPL v2 and available on GitHub.
Pro Simple, clear interface
HexChat's default interface is clear, well-organized and intuitive. Channels can be laid out as both tabs and in a tree structure. All components such as user lists, topics bar or even menu bar can be hidden to provide a clean way to interact. Conversely the interface can be configured to show quick access buttons for changing channel flags, sending files or performing operator actions.
Pro Functionality can be extended with plugins and scripts
HexChat has a great list of plugins and scripts and is compatible with most XChat plugins. XChats library is incredibly extensive. There is a wide range of both useful and fun plugins. It's possible to add an RSS feed, play a game of chess or control an mp3 player via chat while translating everything written to l33t speek.
Pro Works for any level of user
HexChat is an advanced IRC client that is good for beginners as well as those users who like to get under the hood. It is easy to get up and running, but has all the advanced features that a power user would need.
Pro Actively developed
GitHub repository shows active development.
Pro Highly scriptable
HexChat supports scripting in Perl and Python. Both languages can be used to extend functionality of the software - bots can be written, automation can be added, new dialogs can be created.
Pro Highly customizable look
While most clients allow changing the theme or style of a window, HexChat gives complete control over what it looks like. It's possible to set a custom image as the background, changing font, or syntax colors.
Pro Available in multiple languages
HexChat has either complete or partial translations in over 50 languages.
Pro The Win10 Store Trial Is actually the full version
The Win10 Store "trial" is actually the full version and is not time limited - the pay version is simply there to give Windows Store users the ability to donate to the project, because the Windows Store doesn't support a donate button
Con Potential for networks blocking IRCCloud's connections
Since IRCCloud acts as a bouncer with all user connections coming from the same IP range, IRCCloud might be shut off from a network once a network's session limit is reached.
Con High CPU usage on some Windows 8.1 & 10 versions
HexChat has a long-standing unresolved issue with high CPU usage spikes on key-presses that is noticed in some Windows 8.1 and 10 versions.
Con Bad character support
Writing normal apostrophes and certain characters is not possible without a certain plugin installed.
Additionally, it does not render all glyphs like most other programs would.
Con Not free for Windows 10
It costs 10$ in the Windows store. The Desktop version can still be downloaded for free from the website.
Con Poor high DPI display support
Text is blurry and hard to read on HDPI displays. Both in Windows and Mac.