Home » Pros and Cons » 19 Pros and Cons of Closed Source Software

19 Pros and Cons of Closed Source Software

Closed source software, which is a proprietary product, means that the computer program uses a source code that isn’t published. There is no option for public sharing with this option, nor is there permission for anyone to look at it or change it unless an individual receives a specific assignment to do so from the publisher. This structure allows an organization to sell their software to others because it cannot be easily altered or copied for free for further distribution beyond the point of sale.

Because the software is not free and open to the public, the closed-source approach allows organizations to remain in control of the user experience and their brand message. Apple would be an example of using this approach, whereas Android would be an example of the open-source method of distribution.

Although there are times when an open-source solution is the better option, the pros and cons of closed-source software show us that there are specific situations when an organization should choose this approach. The following key points in this guide can help you to determine which option is the best one to use.

List of the Pros of Closed Source Software

1. You receive full access to the services you need with closed-source software.

Open-source software relies on an online community of users who are loyal and engaged to the brand to provide customer service and troubleshooting benefits. WordPress is an excellent example of this issue. Instead of contacting a dedicated department, you must spend time in the forums or reading blogs.

Closed-source software provides you with dedicated services and support that you can contact at any time to troubleshoot a problem. This advantage is a vital selling point for this product, especially if the anticipated users have few technical skills that allow them to customize a free product. You should receive points of contact, user manuals, and in-person help with your investment.

2. It allows you to install a large-scale product for research and development.

Open-source providers often struggle to attract development opportunities or large-scale research projects because there can be too much freedom and flexibility in the code. Those innovations that companies develop internally are rarely passed along to other providers, which is why working in the closed-source platform is advantageous. When there is an approved update that occurs with this software, then it is fully tested and developed so that it can remain a reliable product.

Then the updates are offered to all users instead of the select few that were involved in the research and development process.

3. There is more usability with closed-source software.

Proprietary software offers more immediate usability because it receives development for a targeted audience from its first development stages. There is more testing involved in the R&D because the code must be ready for use immediately upon installation. Buyers will have access to training materials, reference manuals, and other support services that maximize the use of each feature right away.

Open-source software does not receive a review from usability experts under most circumstances. That’s why it tends to cater to those who need a general product instead of an organization which has specific needs that it must have met.

4. Closed-source software provides more security to the user.

Proprietary software is usually a more secure option when compared to open-source products because the development process occurs in a closed environment. A concentrated team works together in a common direction with the code to produce the intended results. These are the people who receive authorization to review or edit the source code, so it is significantly audited to reduce or eliminate risks of a backdoor virus, Trojan, or malware.

There is not a software product invented that is 100% secure, even when using Apple products. When you can limit the access that unauthorized parties have to the code, then the value of this investment increases because there is less risk of a data hack that could expose the information of your company or your customers.

5. You will receive more technical support with closed-source software.

When an organization chooses to use closed-source software for their needs, then the proprietary approach provides more technical support after the installation. This advantage goes back to the assumption that some of the users may not have the technical savvy to find solutions by themselves. The ability to access assistance can save time and money for an agency, especially when compared to the costs involved when an open-source installation does not work as intended.

6. Closed-source software is built with the end user in mind.

Proprietary software gets built with a specific set of users in mind for the product. That is why the programs are easier to use than open-source items in the first place. Although someone who is tech savvy might prefer the latter because it allows them to completely customize the installation to meet specific needs, you’re not receiving a usable product right away. Instead of trying to master a steep learning curve, the closed-source option allows an organization to begin improving its productivity levels right away.

7. If something goes wrong, then it isn’t up to you to fix the components.

There is always something that can go wrong with software. If this issue were to happen with an open-source installation, then it is up to you to find the resources necessary to fix the situation. If there isn’t someone internally who can facilitate the repair, then you’ll need to bring in a contractor to correct the issue.

The proprietary approach requires your vendor to fix the situation when there is an issue with the code. Your job is finished once you contact the agency and file a service ticket. Although you might need to wait for some time to have the repair completed, you’re not the one responsible for the costs of this situation.

8. Your changes aren’t contributing to the rest of the community.

When you make changes to open-source software, then the updated code goes back to the overall community to help test the results or maintain them over time. The proprietary approach doesn’t require you to contribute anything to anyone to anyone since you generally don’t have access you the code. You can create workarounds that will solve some of the problems you’ll encounter that stay local to your organization.

9. There are no compliance issues to worry about with proprietary software.

If your organization were to take an open-source approach, then you would need to learn the intricacies of the General Public Licenses to ensure that you were in regulatory compliance. Depending on the components you would select and how you use them, there might be several different licensing arrangements to follow with one platform.

The closed-source approach takes this issue away. It is much easier to understand the user license because of the terms of your vendor agreement. You can even work with the development team to create a custom license that gives you the exact permissions needed to be productive.

10. You’re not forced to choose from several dozen options for each component.

Closed-source software solutions provide you with a handful of large vendors to consider with each market. Instead of dealing with free trials or initial agreements with every solution, you can get to work right away so that you can focus on corporate outcomes.

Open-source can provide more possibilities, especially when looking at your options for servers, databases, programming language, and similar features. That also means you would be going through a trial-and-error approach that isn’t necessary if you were to choose a proprietary approach instead.

11. You can receive the information you need about the product instantly.

Anyone who has struggled with a WordPress installation can tell you how much time it takes to find the documentation, videos, diagrams, and other helpful presentations that can help you to troubleshoot a problem. Even if you are a tech expert, there can be times when you could waste hours trying to find a bug in the system.

When you choose a closed-source system for your software needs, then everything comes to your office through email or direct delivery. This advantage improves the speed of your training, which can save you some time and money later down the road.

12. If you don’t like the proprietary product, then you can quit it.

If you try a proprietary software product and decide that it doesn’t work for your agency, then you can quit that item at the conclusion of your contract. Some providers offer a trial system that allows you to see if the software has the right “bones” to give your company the supports it needs. There can be times when you might outgrow a system, and the vendor doesn’t have the capability to expand with you. This advantage lets you find a different option.

If you were to choose an open-source item instead, then you’re forced to find a way to patch, fix, enhance, improve, or upgrade the software to meet your needs. There are usually workarounds to use that can stop the problems you encounter. It is much more challenging to quit this option.

List of the Cons of Closed Source Software

1. The cost of closed-source software is much higher than open-source options.

The complexity of closed-source software often dictates the price that consumers will pay for access to its benefits. If you’re looking for a CMS with this proprietary approach, then it could cost several hundred thousand dollars with a base fee that includes integration, licensing, and ongoing supports. The hard costs are a lot higher, but there is more customization in the product at installation, so it is usable right from the box.

If you were to use an open-source product, the initial investment could be much lower – even free. You would then need to perform much of the customization on your own.

2. There is an inability to change the code to meet your needs.

Closed-source software is sometimes viewed as a disadvantage because you cannot change the code without permission from the developer. You’ll instead be paying someone to make the custom alterations needed, which means your attention can go to other facets of the business. That means you cannot implement an innovative idea that your firm develops internally. You can speak with others about your strategies or ideas to improve the software, but it will be up to the company in charge of the proprietary product to implement the changes. If they disagree with the need, then you won’t get the product.

3. Some fixes or repairs to proprietary code may never happen.

When you locate an issue with the vendor’s code with a closed-source software purchase, then it is up to their team to correct the issue. Once you file a service ticket, the only job you have left to manage is to wait for a result. There are times when the update can occur right away, but there are also situations where you might need to wait several months, or more than a year, to get the fix your business requires.

You might also discover that some teams will never fix the situation that you’ve encountered because they don’t feel the need to customize the code in such a way. If you’re idle while this occurs, then your business might start losing money.

4. You might find yourself using constant workarounds.

Because a proprietary vendor can update their software at any time, your subscription or license might cause frequent changes to your platform. Once you’ve created a workaround that works, this disadvantage can force you into a situation where your people will need to develop another one. Each change creates the risk that something might not work as it should. You might even need to keep solving the same problem in different ways.

Although you won’t need to work with a community that wants to argue about the pros and cons of your update, the internal workarounds might stop working. That can put your productivity at a stand-still too.

5. License counting can be a significant issue with proprietary software.

When you choose a closed-source software product, then most vendors will distribute your purchase with a specific number of user licenses. Let’s say that a base number is 10 when your organization purchases a proprietary item. You’ve got 30 people who need to have access to this software. That means you’ll need to purchase up to 20 additional licenses to receive the levels of control that are necessary to stay productive. Each one may come with an additional monthly or yearly cost that can be significantly high.

That’s why some agencies are moving toward a subscriber-based system instead. LoTops is a CRM provider that’s heading in this direction, offering one simple plan that offers complete access to every feature for just $19 per month. If your organization were to choose HubSpot instead, then the different hubs would provide a significant expense. The Enterprise-level marketing hub begins at $3,200 per month.

6. You might have salespeople calling you all of the time.

When you choose a proprietary product, then you must give the vendor your personal information as part of the sales process. Even if you purchase one of their top-tier products, there is always a chance that your organization might be willing to upgrade to another item. The upsell phone calls, emails, and instant messages can become problematic if the development team you select is aggressive with their practice.

If you choose an open-source solution instead, then no one is trying to upsell you because you’re in charge of the customization process.

7. There are fewer options available to you with closed-source software.

If you decide to take the proprietary approach, then you might discover that there are only 1-2 teams developing code that your agency would find to be useful. This disadvantage forces your hand if you need this infrastructure, making you settle with a product that might not fully meet your expectations.

When you pursue the open-source process, then you are using a common structure that can make you more independent without compromising your competitiveness. You can constantly expand, customize, and update your platform – something that the proprietary approach won’t give you.

Verdict of the Pros and Cons of Closed Source Software

Closed-source software might be a more expensive option to consider, but it is also a choice that can improve your productivity right away. You’ll benefit from the code immediately upon installation, which means any layperson can embrace the processes that can lead to faster, cheaper results.

Any software installation will create pain points that must receive consideration if the upgrade will provide benefits. If employees refuse to learn a closed-source system, then the outcome will be similar to an individual who lacks the savviness to operate an open-source selection.

That’s why the pros and cons of closed-source software must be carefully weighed against the technical skills of an organization’s staff. If your people know how to customize programs to meet the specific needs of your business, then you can save some cash going with the open-source approach. When that resource doesn’t exist, then the better choice is to take the proprietary approach.

About The Author
Last month, more than 2 million people visited Brandon's blog. He shares exactly how he took his blog from zero to 1 million monthly visitors here. His path to success was not easy. Brandon had to comeback from being disabled, by a rare health disorder, for most of his thirties. God delivered him from hardship and has blessed his family in so many wonderful ways. You can send Brandon a message here.