Chat On IRC Like It’s 1995 With HydraIRC [Windows]

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irc chat softwareYou may be taking your Skype instant messaging and video calls or your iPhone FaceTime for granted, but way back before the standalone IM client was even an idea, there was one major solution: IRC (Internet Relay Chat).

I’m not even going to pretend. I was 5 or 6 years old back in 1995 so this is well before my time, too. In the age of social networking and Internet 2.0, web-based chat rooms are practically dead. They’re all but done with; on the endangered list. Still, IRC is the most popular server/client chat protocol in the world. Maybe the rooms aren’t as active as they were 10+ years ago, but we’ve still got a pulse!

Some boredom and curiosity mixed well together and I’ve rediscovered IRC just recently. Now, I’d like to show you how to use my favorite IRC client, HydraIRC. There are a lot of multi-IM clients (like Trillian) that support the IRC protocol, but nothing really beats the efficiency and oldschool feel of a standalone chat client. You’ve probably heard of mIRC, the most popular IRC client, but here’s a few reasons why I love Hydra:

  • It is portable. Download the ZIP and extract it to wherever you like. Put it in your Dropbox or on a flash drive. Portable applications beat out self-installing packages every day of the week.
  • It is lightweight. mIRC is a little bulky for me.
  • It is free. Everyone loves things that are free.
  • It supports everything that you need in an IRC client: multiple servers, DCC, event logs, channel monitoring, an extremely flexible GUI, and more.

irc chat software

You can check out some more, official screenshots at the official HydraIRC website.

Anyway, rusty IRC legend or complete newbie, let’s get you started. Get HydraIRC downloaded. Next step is to figure out where you want to chat and what about, right? You want to go into the File menu, then New Server. Hydra comes preloaded with loads of the most popular IRC servers.

irc chat

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Now it’s on you to pick the network (and associated server) that you want. You can either query up Google and learn a bit about each, or experience can guide you. FreeNode has tons of channels for coding, tech support, general hacking, networking, and things of that nature. EFNet is your oldschool “general” server. QuakeNet and GameSurge are for gamers, and so on.
For this example, let’s go ahead and go on GameSurge. Double click GameSurge, click the IRC server that expands beneath it, and then click OK to connect.

Every server consists of many channels (or rooms). Upon connecting, the Channel List window will pop up. If it doesn’t, you can click into the Channel menu and then Channel List. Click Populate List and after a second, you’ll have a list of every channel on the server. Click the Users header once and you’ll have sorted the channels by the most users. Scroll through, see if there are any you may be interested in, and then click Join.

irc chat software

This is how you join an IRC server and a channel (the easy way). There are hundreds and hundreds of servers out there and thousands of channels. There’s probably an active channel for just about any subject that comes to mind. It’s good to have it sitting in your taskbar for idle moments in between tasks.

If you need any help or want to dive deeper into the subject, let’s chat in the comments. If you really like IRC chatting, consider setting up your own IRC channel and read our post on that.

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Comments (13)
  • Ron

    irc was my first chat platform, and I still use it almost every weekday – chatting with the same bunch since the mid 90’s, tho relatively few of us remain.

    • Craig Snyder

      IRC is truly one of the most prehistoric things left on today’s web. Things such as BBS fizzled out relatively quickly and found replacements (like today’s forum systems), but IRC still stands strong. It’s pretty awesome that huge websites like Twitch use it to power their chats.

  • a1c

    I think this is among the most important information for me. And i am satisfied studying your article. However want to statement on few normal issues, The website taste is perfect, the articles is truly nice : D. Good activity, cheers

  • PhilUSB

    im using irssi with debian :P and using linux since may 93

    • David

      that seems like a really cool idea since not many nwbeies know about all the games that are around for linux, (like me ) so this should help out quite a few people that way they don’t think that Linux is boring’ just because it has no native’ games to it. I’d still use Wine and/or duel boot windows in order to use the games I have for now, but this is worth looking into

  • Dan

    I prefer chatzilla.

  • Anonymous

    X-Chat 2 is probably the best client I’ve used. Good UI, feature-packed, and lightweight.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.