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Free/Bought/Cloud?


Freeware


Good points: Freeware is just what it says: free software that you can download and install on your computer. You never have to pay anything. Some 20 years ago, freeware was a new idea, and was viewed with deep suspicion. Now most of the internet runs on free software (Linux operating system, Apache web servers, MySQL databases, and PHP coding). President Obama has plans to replace the very expensive Windows software used by the USA government departments with free Linux software.

Bad points: None. But do not expect the suppliers to give you everything for free. If you need a lot of help, then expect them to charge you a consultancy fee. (The people who started the Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP freeware mentioned above have afterwards been given a lot of consultancy work by big businesses.)

Note: Check that what is labelled "freeware" really is free! Some vendors cheat and give you shareware under the name of freeware. After a while it stops working until you pay.
(Everything on this website that is labelled as freeware is genuinely free.)

Shareware

Good points: You can try out the software for free, before you have to decide whether or not to keep it and pay for it.

Bad points: Because shareware is generally cheaper than software you buy right at the start, you can expect a lesser degree of "tender, loving care" than you would get from a supplier who charges more.

Purchased Software

Good points: Because you are paying them well, you know that your supplier has a real incentive to keep you happy. (You will usually pay an initial licence fee to purchase the software, plus an annual maintenance fee to issue you with the latest software updates.)

Bad points: These suppliers will probably spend a lot on advertising, and their staff will be under constant pressure to squeeze every penny from their customers. Expect to be continually pestered to pay for upgrades.

Cloud Services

Good points: You can just log into their services using your internet browser and start working (after agreeing to pay them a monthly fee, of course!) You never have to install or upgrade software. You never have to purchase extra hardware for storage. You do not have to backup your data yourself.

Bad points: If your internet stops working, then so does your business. If your supplier goes bust (and some have) then you may well have lost all your data, and have to start again from scratch elsewhere. If your supplier has a disaster and loses all your data (it has happened before), there will be no point suing them. All their customers will being suing them, and the supplier will be bust.

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