Google reCAPTCHA offers different features and benefits depending on which version you’re using, v2 or v3. In this article, we will compare the versions to see how they stack up against our own reCAPTCHA alternative, Friendly Captcha. 

Let’s take a closer look at how Google’s flagship captcha product has evolved and whether it’s still worth using.

Captcha puzzle

reCAPTCHA v2 vs v3: What’s the difference?

The main difference between reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 is that v2 requires users to complete a visual challenge (e.g. selecting images) to prove they’re human. reCAPTCHA v3, on the other hand, operates mostly in the background, assigning a score to user interactions to determine whether they’re human or bot. In cases where the system is unsure or detects a risk, users will still have to perform manual tasks such as clicking on images.

Cybersecurity protection

reCAPTCHA v2 vs v3 vs Friendly Captcha at a glance

Here is a quick breakdown of reCAPTCHA v2, v3, and Friendly Captcha, our privacy-focused captcha solution:

  • reCAPTCHA v2: Utilizes the “I’m not a robot” checkbox and visual challenges, which can be intrusive and disrupt the user experience. Bots have found ways to bypass this version, reducing its effectiveness in preventing automated spam.
  • reCAPTCHA v3: Mostly invisible, but it still needs manual user tasks in different cases and collects user data for analysis, raising concerns about privacy and data usage. It lacks transparency in how the risk scores are determined, leaving users uncertain about the extent of their privacy.
  • Friendly Captcha: A privacy-focused alternative to traditional captcha services. It employs invisible captcha to verify users, ensuring data protection and reliable bot prevention without compromising UX.


If you want to skip the hassle of choosing between reCAPTCHA versions, sign up for Friendly Captcha and protect your organization’s web assets from spam.


reCAPTCHA v2 overview

reCAPTCHA v2 is the second iteration of Google’s captcha solution. v2 was optimized to better respond to the escalating challenges posed by spam and malicious activities, seeking to fortify online platforms against unwanted intrusions.

reCAPTCHA v2 relies on the familiar “I’m not a robot” checkbox, an interactive element incorporated into various web forms. This feature prompts users to manually confirm their humanity, providing a basic level of verification. While it can effectively filter out some automated bots, it falls short in addressing advanced bot detection and ensuring airtight security.

reCAPTCHA v2 serves as a rudimentary line of defense against spam and bot-driven attacks, but its effectiveness is limited. It can be useful in scenarios requiring minimal user verification, such as simple contact forms or low-risk login pages. However, for websites facing more sophisticated threats or demanding higher security standards, alternative solutions with stronger bot-detection mechanisms may be more appropriate.

Core features

  • Two-tier verification system: reCAPTCHA v2 uses the familiar “I’m not a robot” checkbox, requiring users to confirm their humanity manually. Additionally, users are presented with image recognition challenges to prove their humanity.
  • Invisible reCAPTCHA badge: The invisible reCAPTCHA badge does not require the user to click a checkbox. Instead, the visual challenge (e.g., selecting images) is directly invoked when the user clicks on any button on your website with a matching reCAPTCHA v2 code snippet.
  • Screen reader compatibility: reCAPTCHA v2 works with major screen readers such as ChromeVox, JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver. It automatically alerts screen readers about status changes. However, major accessibility concerns remain due to manual user tasks needed.

Positives of reCAPTCHA v2

  • User familiarity: reCAPTCHA v2’s “I’m not a robot” checkbox uses an image tagging test that everyone recognizes.
  • Simple to work with: reCAPTCHA v2 is simple by design and does exactly what it says on the tin – a good fit for organizations with basic requirements.

What could be better

  • Limited bot detection: While reCAPTCHA v2 provides a moderate level of bot detection, it may not be as effective against advanced bots that can mimic human behavior. Its reliance on the image recognition challenges can be circumvented by more sophisticated systems.
  • Susceptibility to automated solving techniques: While reCAPTCHA v2 introduces measures to prevent automated bots, it can still be vulnerable to advanced techniques such as machine learning algorithms or third-party services that can bypass the challenges.

reCAPTCHA v3 overview

reCAPTCHA v3 is an advanced iteration of the captcha system by Google, offering a more comprehensive solution for distinguishing between human users and bots on websites. With a focus on enhanced bot detection, reCAPTCHA v3 is designed to meet the needs of organizations seeking a more sophisticated approach to safeguarding their online platforms.

The standout feature of reCAPTCHA v3 is its adaptive risk analysis system. The system monitors user behavior on your website and is using embedded links such as reCAPTCHA Google fonts. It then assigns a risk score to each user based on their actions. Organizations can then set their own thresholds for when to take action, such as requiring users to perform manual image recognition challenges, granting them greater control over the balance between security and user experience.

Core features

  • Bot detection: reCAPTCHA v3 uses a bot detection system to distinguish human users from bots. This allows organizations to custom-tailor their approach to threats.
  • Mostly invisible operation: reCAPTCHA v3 operates silently in the background and only requires manual user tasks such as marking images in certain cases.
  • Extensive implementation: The security of reCAPTCHA v3 scales with the number of embedded Google scripts on multiple pages of your website that use Google reCAPTCHA cookies. The more you have, the easier it becomes to distinguish legitimate traffic from spam, at the cost of infringing upon user privacy.

Positives of reCAPTCHA v3

  • Bot detection: With reCAPTCHA v3’s adaptive risk analysis, bot detection happens in real-time, enabling swift identification of malicious bot activity. The continuous monitoring and instant response provided by reCAPTCHA v3 ensure proactive defense with countermeasures that typically involve manual user image labeling tasks.
  • Customer-friendly captcha: reCAPTCHA v3 is a straight upgrade in UX compared to v2. Unpleasant image labeling challenges are now only given to users in certain cases, for example if Google reCAPTCHA has not been able to collect enough data or in the event of an increased risk.

What could be better

  • Privacy and data collection concerns: reCAPTCHA v3 has faced privacy concerns due to its data collection and analysis of user behavior to determine risk scores. The extensive gathering of user data has raised questions about reCAPTCHA v3’s compliance with GDPR, which emphasize protecting individuals’ privacy and limiting data collection activities.
  • Lack of user control: Users have limited control over their data and the ability to opt out of reCAPTCHA v3’s data collection and analysis. This lack of control may raise privacy concerns for individuals who are sensitive about their online activities being tracked and analyzed.
Unsafe captcha

The Problem with reCAPTCHA v2 and v3

One of the key concerns with reCAPTCHA lies in its impact on user experience. Both versions often introduce additional friction to the user journey, with the need to solve image recognition puzzles or verify human authenticity. This can lead to frustration and may even discourage legitimate users from engaging with websites that employ reCAPTCHA.

Furthermore, privacy concerns have been raised surrounding reCAPTCHA’s data collection practices. The collection and analysis of user behavior data raise questions about data privacy and potential misuse. Users may be wary of their online activities being tracked and stored, especially considering the increasing focus on privacy regulations such as GDPR.

Another issue is the growing sophistication of captcha-solving services. These services employ human workers or advanced algorithms to bypass reCAPTCHA challenges, making it more difficult to distinguish between genuine users and automated bots. As a result, the effectiveness of both versions of reCAPTCHA in preventing bot infiltration may be compromised.

Finally, with the rise of AI-powered bots, reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 face the challenge of battling bots that can automatically recognize images and simulate human behavior more convincingly. These advanced bots can mimic mouse movements, keystrokes, and other behavioral patterns, rendering traditional reCAPTCHA techniques less effective in distinguishing between human users and bots.

Alternative captcha services, such as our own product, Friendly Captcha, aim to address these problems and offer a next-gen captcha solution.

Cryptographic captcha puzzle

Friendly Captcha overview

Friendly Captcha aims to revolutionize website security using an innovative approach to deliver effective spam protection. It combines robust protection against spam and bots with a frictionless user experience, making it a preferred choice for enterprises committed to GDPR compliance and user privacy.

Unlike traditional captchas, Friendly Captcha employs its invisible captcha system based on computational challenges. Verification procedures occur behind the screen, eliminating user interaction from the equation.

Friendly Captcha places a strong emphasis on privacy, aligning with GDPR by not setting any cookies or storing personal data, guaranteeing the utmost privacy for users.

Friendly Captcha offers a unique captcha solution that surpasses conventional alternatives. Its commitment to GDPR compliance and frictionless user experience makes it an ideal choice for various scenarios, including e-commerce platforms, government portals, and large community websites.

With Friendly Captcha, organizations can maintain the highest level of security while delivering a seamless and privacy-conscious user experience.

Core features

  • Computational puzzles for bot detection: Friendly Captcha employs advanced computational cryptographic puzzles as a reliable method to verify human users. These puzzles are designed to be challenging for bots while remaining user-friendly, ensuring effective bot detection and enhanced website security.
  • Robust privacy protection: Friendly Captcha places a strong emphasis on user data protection by adopting a privacy-first approach. It refrains from storing personal data, ensuring the utmost privacy and data protection for users.
  • Seamless integration and UX: Friendly Captcha seamlessly integrates into websites without disrupting the user experience. Its user-friendly design and intuitive interface provide a smooth and hassle-free interaction for visitors, enhancing overall satisfaction.

Positives of Friendly Captcha

  • Full accessibility: With a focus on accessibility, Friendly Captcha ensures that individuals with different abilities can easily navigate and interact with websites. By eliminating user tasks, it provides an accessible experience for all, including users with visual impairments or limited mobility.
  • GDPR Compliance: Friendly Captcha prioritizes user privacy and data protection, adhering to guidance outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It ensures that no personal data is stored in the course of the captcha verification process, providing a secure and privacy-conscious solution for organizations.

What could be better

  • Not free: Friendly Captcha is not free of charge, but in return it focuses exclusively on security purposes and preserves users’ privacy.
  • Potential dependency on JavaScript: Friendly Captcha relies on JavaScript for its functionality, which means that if a user has JavaScript disabled in their browser, the captcha may not work as intended.
Secure captcha

reCAPTCHA v2 vs v3 vs Friendly Captcha: Security

When it comes to security, Friendly Captcha sets itself apart from reCAPTCHA v2 and reCAPTCHA v3 by offering advanced protection against bots and automated attacks.

While reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 provide effective security measures, they can still be susceptible to sophisticated bots and AI-based attacks. Friendly Captcha, on the other hand, employs computational cryptographic puzzles along with risk signals as its primary defense mechanism, making it highly resistant to advanced bot algorithms.

By relying on cryptographic challenges, Friendly Captcha ensures a higher level of security, preventing advanced bots from bypassing the captcha. This robust security feature gives website owners peace of mind, knowing their platforms are well-protected against malicious bot activities.

Privacy-friendly captcha

reCAPTCHA v2 vs v3 vs Friendly Captcha: Privacy

When it comes to privacy, Friendly Captcha shines as a standout choice compared to reCAPTCHA v2 and reCAPTCHA v3, as it prioritizes user privacy and data protection.

reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 collect user data to analyze and identify bots. This data collection raises concerns about user privacy and potential misuse of personal information.

In contrast, Friendly Captcha takes privacy seriously. It does not save personal user data after the verification process, ensuring a frictionless and privacy-focused user experience. This commitment to privacy aligns with the principles of GDPR and empowers website owners to safeguard user information effectively.

With Friendly Captcha, users can enjoy a secure and privacy-conscious captcha solution without compromising their personal data, making it a superior choice for privacy-minded individuals and organizations.

User-friendly captcha

reCAPTCHA v2 vs v3 vs Friendly Captcha: UX

Friendly Captcha offers a seamless and hassle-free verification process, something reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 struggle with.

Both reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 often present users with challenges that can be frustrating and time-consuming, requiring multiple interactions to prove their humanity. This user friction can lead to a negative experience and increased bounce rates.

In contrast, Friendly Captcha offers a frictionless user experience by utilizing only computational cryptographic puzzles. There are no tedious tasks or complex interactions required, ensuring a smooth and effortless verification process for users.

With Friendly Captcha, website visitors can easily pass the verification step, enhancing their overall user experience and reducing the risk of task abandonment. Its user-centric design sets it apart as an excellent choice for those seeking a captcha solution that prioritizes a seamless and pleasant user experience.

Accessible captcha

reCAPTCHA v2 vs v3 vs Friendly Captcha: Accessibility

Unlike reCAPTCHA v2 and v3, Friendly Captcha was built from the ground up with accessibility in mind.

While reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 heavily rely on visual challenges, which can pose difficulties for users with visual impairments or other disabilities, Friendly Captcha offers a fully accessible approach. It provides a viable alternative to visual puzzles, ensuring equal participation for all.

Friendly Captcha’s commitment to accessibility aligns with the principles of inclusivity and diversity. By catering to different user needs, it ensures that individuals with disabilities can easily navigate through the verification process and access the desired content without any barriers.


reCAPTCHA v2 vs reCAPTCHA v3 vs Friendly Captcha: Which should you choose?

The choice between reCAPTCHA v2, v3 and Friendly Captcha depends on your specific needs and concerns.

reCAPTCHA v2 uses the familiar “I am not a robot” checkbox and image challenges. It is a simple solution with good user detection, but it has limited ability to detect sophisticated bots and affects the user experience.

reCAPTCHA v3 improves the user experience by working mostly in the background and using a risk assessment to determine whether a user is human or bot. However, it still requires manual tasks in some cases and collects user data, raising privacy concerns.

Friendly Captcha, a privacy-friendly captcha service, uses invisible captchas for verification. It requires no image challenges and provides a seamless user experience. Friendly Captcha does not store personal data, making it a great choice for anyone concerned about data privacy and GDPR compliance.

If usability and privacy are your top priorities, Friendly Captcha is the best choice. In terms of accessibility, Friendly Captcha surpasses both reCAPTCHA v2 and v3. The two reCAPTCHA versions are largely based on visual challenges, which are not only challenging for people with visual impairments or other disabilities, but also potentially exclude them. In contrast, Friendly Captcha was designed with inclusion and privacy in mind.

Secured bot protection process

Get started with Friendly Captcha

We compared reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 to see how it stacks up against a modern captcha service like Friendly Captcha. We found that while reCAPTCHA v2 and v3 offer effective security measures, they can be intrusive and raise privacy concerns.

Friendly Captcha provides advanced security, prioritizes user privacy, offers a seamless user experience, and focuses on accessibility. 

In the course of our explanations, we have outlined that Friendly Captcha emerges as a superior choice for organizations seeking an accessible, privacy-conscious, and user-friendly captcha solution.

Try Friendly Captcha today by signing up for a free trial.