How Businesses Can Save Money With Open Source Software

Tue, Jul 24, 2012


For any business to survive in today’s economy, it has to carefully manage costs. The smart start-up or small business entrepreneur will hunt down any way to mitigate expenses that doesn’t impact his ability to get the job done. In the information age, computer and software expenses are generally a huge line item in the budget, and often can’t be avoided. However, open source software is a great option for most computing needs, and will always save you a ton of money over traditional software. Here are just a few of the ways your business can save money by using open source software.

Traditional software is developed by a small group of in-house engineers and sold for company profits. Open source software works completely differently. It is designed by thousands of independent programmers to fill a particular need, and created simply for the love of it. Open source software is available for free for anyone who wants it, through a simple download. Open source alternatives exist in word processing, image editing, accounting, email management and even for operating systems, and right off the bat you’ll save the initial purchasing expense. Over the life of your business, that’s a ton of programs you don’t have to spend precious resources to acquire. That’s an obvious money saver right off the bat.

But it goes a lot further than that. Sometimes you’ll find you’ve purchased software to fill a specific void in your business, only to find that it’s missing certain abilities that render it next to useless for your needs. With open source software, you’ll never have to scrap it and go buy something else. Instead, hop on the programmer’s board and ask about the change you need. You may find programmers willing to work on it simply for credit and experience. If you have in-house programmers, you can just have them adjust the program, as the source code is available for anyone to adjust. You can add the capabilities you are missing without spending any additional money.

Upgrading software is another way that many businesses spend. Traditional software is upgraded by the manufacturer each year at the very least, but there are often major upgrades released to contend with bugs, viruses or other security issues. Open source software is constantly being upgraded by the mass of programmers invested in it. That means not only will you not have to wait months and months for a proper upgrade, but you’ll also never have to pay for a new version. On top of that, open source software will continue to work on older hardware, as well as the latest releases. They’re designed to be flexible, meaning you won’t have to upgrade your computers or the program every time a significant new release comes out. That can add up to thousands of dollars in additional savings.

Open source software will also save you additional expenditures in the rare case that you come up against problems. All open source programs have online support systems, which are completely free. Many traditional programs make you pay additional membership fees for professional customer support, so you’ll save again here. You also won’t contend with any proprietary restrictions, meaning you can use the software how you want, when you want, without any financial penalties. With all of this saved money, there’s simply no reason not to try out some of the great open source options. Download Audacity, OpenOffice, Thunderbird, VLC, or any of the other industry-leading open source software on the market, and give them a test drive. You’ll find they’ll more than satisfy your needs.

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