The Real Cost of Free Software

The Real Cost of Free Software

Given the current economic climate, it  may be tempting to try and cut corners by not paying to properly license software. According to a poll on TechRepublic blogs 80% of IT providers surveyed claim that their clients have asked them to install unlicensed software. However, cutting corners by installing unlicensed software often causes more headaches than it eliminates.

There are some good reasons these licensing fees exists.  Licensing fees keep your applications running smoothly, allow for rapid and regular updates, provide seamless access to features, allow you to access support from the creators of the application, and protect your computer from the damage of viruses. If you want your software to work, then license it and save yourself the unexpected costs down the road.

The fact is, the majority of businesses do properly license their software. It is the right thing for successful and ethical businesses to to.

Antivirus

Antivirus software is one of the leading culprits of software piracy and definitely not the place to cut corners. Sure, there are free versions of antivirus software out there, but they won’t fully protect your PCs to the extent that businesses require.

Remember, you get what you pay for — free antivirus software is not near as robust as paid versions. Also, most free antivirus applications cannot legally be installed in businesses or non-profit organizations. Paid software offers distinct advantages over free and pirated software, including customizable configuration, more robust features, additional scanning engines, more frequent and immediate updates. Considering that paid versions of antivirus are more likely to detect and quarantine infections, you will save money over a system that needs to be cleaned, and you will avoid costly downtime resulting from an unstable system, not to mention the costs incurred from data loss.

Eliminate Operation Delays

Properly licensing and registering software makes it a lot easier and quicker to reinstall critical applications in the event of a server or system failure. If you have properly licensed your software critical issues will be solved as quickly as possible. Think of it as an element of disaster protection.

Proactive Cost Savings

Installing unlicensed software will eventually cost you money elsewhere. For instance, you will probably end up paying someone to support and maintain the “free” application when it fails to work properly. Paying a third-party to support and repair your system may end up costing more than just licensing the software in the first place. When you pay for software, you know everything is up to date with the latest versions. And your software costs are predictable, rather that having to round up money to fix unexpected glitches.

Legal Compliance

It is illegal to run unlicensed software, period. Sure, you could try and get away with piracy; but all it takes is one disgruntled employee to report your company to the Business Software Alliance. The BSA regularly files civil lawsuits that can result in stiff financial penalties, not to mention a blemish on your company’s image.

Installing unlicensed software on a client’s network can also get your IT provider in trouble. A reputable IT provider will not agree to software piracy, it is unacceptable business practice. Wouldn’t you prefer to work with a reputable IT partner?

Budgeting and Planning

When setting your annual budget, be sure to budget for software licensing fees. If you are unsure what is required, contact your IT partner so you can plan accordingly. If you are facing a budget crunch, ask your IT partner to recommend software that performs similar functions, but costs less to license.

Simply put, it is more advantageous in the long run to budget and pay for proper software licensing than it is to take the cheap way out and then pay for it later.

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If you have questions about software licensing, contact ACE IT Solutions. We can help you predict what your licensing fees will be so you can properly budget. We can also recommend legal alternatives that might be more cost effective for your company. If you need help juggling all those software licenses and updates, ACE IT Solutions’ Managed Services packages include management of all licenses and warranties to ensure they are kept up to date, saving your business administrative costs.