Anything free of cost is always appealing — save money, while still getting what you need. There are freebies everywhere in the world, IT included. For every software platform your business needs, there is a free and/or open source option. The only big challenge is that you have to decide what’s worth paying for, what’s fine to use as a freebie, and which free software choices to use.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Free IT Software
The benefits of free IT software are many. Obviously, one of the biggest advantages to free software is the price. In most cases, you can easily replace expensive paid software with a free version. You can have the functionality of popular software, without taking the hit to your budget.
That is another advantage: there are free software options out there that are as good as popular paid programs, if not better. You will not have to give up on functionality in order to save money, although you may find that a free program works a bit differently than a proprietary program you have used in the past. And, a lot of these programs are compatible with paid software so you can open old files.
In the world of business software, there are many companies that are willing to give a break to small teams or smaller businesses, offering free versions of paid software with a limited number of licenses, machines, or user permissions. This gives smaller companies a chance to compete on the scale of larger enterprises, using software that is tailor-made for businesses without having to pay what a major corporation would pay for the same software.
There are some drawbacks to free software, of course. Users may find that they do not have the support they are used to with proprietary, paid software, as most companies do not offer a lot of one on one help for a free program. You’ll have to get used to doing some DIY troubleshooting.
Some free software is not what it appears to be, and that’s a risk and an annoyance. Users need to know what they are getting, and get it from a trustworthy source, to avoid issues like viruses and malware that come along for the ride with free downloads. Some ‘free’ software is actually a trial version that will stop working eventually, and others use ads to still make money from the program.
You may find that updates are slow to come with free software, as developers are perhaps more inclined to work on paid programs. With open source software you can work on the program yourself, but with freeware you will be waiting.
That being said, for many companies, especially small businesses, the sheer cost savings of using free software is well worth any drawback, and with a quality, reputable program you can rest assured that you are not missing out by using something free of cost.
Open Source or Freeware?
When looking for free software for IT departments, it’s important to know the difference between open source software and freeware. Open source software gives users access to the source code that powers the software, while freeware does not. The biggest difference between the two is that with open source software users who have the tech skills can adjust the source code to their liking. You can modify the software without any consequences, tailoring it to your company’s needs.
Open source software, generally, cannot include spyware or advertisements, so that takes care of part of the disadvantages of using free software!
Generally, open source and freeware programs are bolstered by a community that works as a support team of users and developers who are also trying new things with the software and willing to share what they discover. Some people find that open source programs work very well because users are always working on the code and can find bugs or issues, and their fixes, quickly.
Both open source software and freeware can be great choices for your business needs, so it simply depends on what programs you need and how your IT department can make things work.
At GroupLink we know the power of free software for IT professionals. We are pleased to offer free versions of our enterprise software to small sized businesses. Our everything HelpDesk system is available to up to three technicians on-premise for free. Our incident tracking software is free for one to three licenses, and we are happy to offer free trials and customized demonstrations of all of our software platforms. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our free software can benefit your business, or to ask any questions or give feedback. We can’t wait to hear from you!
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