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A comparision - reCAPTCHA vs hCAPTCHA vs Cloudflare Turnstile vs Zencaptcha

Jim Engine

The best CAPTCHA systems compared - reCAPTCHA πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ vs hCAPTCHA πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ vs Cloudflare Turnstile πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ vs Zencaptcha πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ίβ€‹

As many websites use captchas for security purposes, there are many alternatives to Google's well-known reCAPTCHA, such as hCAPTCHA, Cloudflare Turnstile and Zencaptcha. These alternatives offer several benefits such as accessibility, transparency and privacy that reCAPTCHA lacks in many areas. Unfortunately, the majority of captcha systems operate outside the European Union and may be collecting your users' data in breach of GDPR regulations. If your business operates in Europe πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ί and you are looking for full GDPR compliance, this article presents one alternative solution that could be of utmost importance to you.

Captchas are used to prevent spam and other automated activity that may be harmful to the website. These captchas come in various forms, the most common being the selection of the correct image. Some captchas work in the background, but most require the user to complete the task manually to verify their human presence.

Choosing a captcha for a website can be difficult, as there are several factors to consider, such as the captcha's effectiveness in detecting bots, preventing spam and providing accessibility to everyone, including visually impaired users. Most importantly, captchas should be transparent about data processing and respect user privacy.

Google reCAPTCHA​

Google reCAPTCHA is the most widely used captcha solution available. It can appear as a checkbox or operate in the background, requiring the user to solve an image recognition task if the system suspects suspicious activity. reCAPTCHA uses various data collection methods, including tracking the user's browser window, plug-ins, keystrokes and more, to decide whether a visitor is a human or a bot. However, reCAPTCHA is not very transparent about how it collects and stores data. It also shares cookies with all of Google's services, which can lead to user tracking across sites that are not affiliated with Google.

Benefits of using reCAPTCHA:

  • Free for non-enterprise customers

Downsides of using reCAPTCHA:

  • Can be circumvented by sophisticated bots & attackers
  • Sometimes requires users to label images (reduces user experience)
  • Processes and stores user data and requires cookies
  • Shares data with all Google services
  • Stores data on servers outside the EU
  • Is a US-based provider

⚠️ If you embed reCAPTCHA on your website, user data (such as IP addresses) will be transferred to servers in the United States. Failure to inform users about the processing of their data is a breach of GDPR, which prohibits the use of reCAPTCHA in the EU..


hCAPTCHA is a free alternative to reCAPTCHA that requires users to label images. The company sells the labelled data from the captcha widget to data companies. hCAPTCHA focuses on manual image recognition tasks, so it requires less data to run than reCAPTCHA. However, hCAPTCHA does use cookies, and one of these cookies stores a unique identifier for each user, potentially allowing hCAPTCHA to track users across websites that use hCAPTCHA. hCAPTCHA has a more transparent privacy policy than reCAPTCHA, but like reCAPTCHA, hCAPTCHA is a US-based provider, which may violate GDPR rules for European users.

Benefits of using hCAPTCHA:

  • Free for non-enterprise customers
  • More difficult for sophisticated bots to circumvent

Downsides of using hCAPTCHA:

  • Requires users to label images (reduces user experience)
  • Requires cookies
  • IP addresses (personal data) may be sent to servers outside the EU
  • Is a US-based provider

⚠️ If your business operates in Europe and GDPR compliance is a priority, hCAPTCHA may not be the best choice due to potential GDPR-related issues.

Cloudflare Turnstile​

Cloudflare Turnstile is a captcha solution provided by Cloudflare that requires users to solve a challenge by simply clicking a button to prove they are not a bot. Cloudflare Turnstile collects user information such as IP addresses and browser information. Additionally, Cloudflare Turnstile is a US-based provider, which may raise privacy concerns for European users subject to GDPR regulations. While Cloudflare Turnstile offers increased security and protection against malicious bot activity, its data collection practices and lack of GDPR compliance may violate GDPR rules for European users.

Benefits of using Cloudflare:

  • Free
  • User friendly experience

Downsides of using Cloudflare:

  • More difficult to install than other solutions
  • IP addresses (personal data) may be sent to servers outside the EU
  • Is a US based provider

⚠️ If your business operates in Europe and GDPR compliance is a priority, Cloudflare may not be the best choice due to potential GDPR-related issues.


Zencaptcha is another alternative that uses a simple, user-friendly interface that doesn't require complicated tasks such as image selection. Zencaptcha offers the highest level of accessibility for all users, including those with disabilities. Zencaptcha works based on the behavioural patterns of human users and uses machine learning to detect suspicious activity while maintaining user privacy. Potential bots are challenged and filtered out at the front end. In addition, if bots are able to pass the challenge, website owners receive a fraud score ranging from 0 to 99 for each suspicious activity detected. In addition to providing a standard captcha solution, Zencaptcha has the ability to simultaneously verify temporary, disposable and invalid email addresses. This extra layer of security helps to filter out fraudulent and unserious visitors, ensuring a good reputation for the mail server and ultimately leading to reduced costs. By implementing Zencaptcha on your website, you can guarantee both increased security and a better user experience, and you have full control over what users can trust. Zencaptcha is fully GDPR compliant and does not require cookies. Best of all, all data is automatically stored on European servers and never leaves the EU.

βœ… Zencaptcha is a privacy-first, GDPR-compliant solution. EU-based provider with EU-hosted servers.


In summary, despite being the most popular CAPTCHA solution, reCAPTCHA comes with significant limitations when it comes to data privacy, transparency, and accessibility. While hCAPTCHA and Cloudflare offer better privacy features, they are still not entirely flawless and may violate GDPR regulations for European users. It's important to note that these solutions are all provided by US-based companies. In contrast, Zencaptcha offers a privacy-centric approach that prioritizes transparency and accessibility. It doesn't store cookies and processes all data on European servers, guaranteeing that no data leaves the EU.

To ensure maximum security and peace of mind, it is recommended for European websites to opt for European-based solutions such as Zencaptcha, in order to effectively safeguard their online presence. Try Zencaptcha for free today by clicking here.