Considering Using Free Help Desk Software? Read This First

Melisa Wrobel May 18, 2023
- 11 min read

If you're considering acquiring free help desk software, you've likely come across a wide range of available options that may seem like a cost-effective and simple way to handle and improve customer support in your organization, without adding extra expenses or going into big efforts.

As you probably already know if you're looking to make this important decision, a help desk tool will streamline your support services and improve your overall performance. However, it's crucial to understand the possible drawbacks and limitations of choosing a free option before you jump right into it.

While these solutions can temporarily be a fit for some businesses, they usually don't include certain key features every competitive help desk should include, making it not the right choice for everyone.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at some free help desk software alternatives, and everything you need to know before deciding if it's the right solution for your company. 

Keep reading to learn more about it!

What is free help desk software?

Help desk software is a tool designed to streamline and automate the process of managing customer support inquiries and issues. Its main goal is to minimize response times and improve customer satisfaction by providing a centralized platform for agents to track, prioritize, and resolve all incoming support requests.

Free help desk software, as the name suggests, is a version offered for no cost, which typically has limited features and capabilities compared to paid versions. Although it might work for small businesses or startups with limited budgets, or for teams who are just starting to implement a formal help desk system, it's important to carefully evaluate the features of each free option before committing to it, as there is a good chance it will not meet all of your business's specific needs.

Types of help desk software

Help desk software can be divided into two groups: cloud-based and on-premise. Here are the main differences between the two, specifically when looking at free software options:

  • Free cloud-based help desk software - It is hosted on servers that are usually managed by the vendor and accessed through a web browser or mobile app. This means there is no need to install or maintain software on your own servers, and the vendor is in charge of rolling out any updates. Keep in mind that free options usually limit the number of users, features, or storage space.

  • Free on-premise help desk software - It is installed and hosted on your own servers, giving you full control over your data and infrastructure. This can be a good option for larger teams or organizations with more complex support needs who require greater customization and scalability, or those who need to accomplish some compliance standards. However, free tools may require more resources allocated to install and maintain them, and they usually have limited support options compared to paid versions.

Why do you need free service desk software?

Although we are not really convinced that free software is the way to go, we are pretty sure that organizations of all sizes and industries who are looking to build a solid IT Service Management (ITSM) infrastructure will benefit from incorporating help desk software into their workplace. And here are some of the main reasons why:

  • Centralized communication - Any help desk software provides a centralized platform for your support team to manage and track all incoming support requests. This can help ensure that no ticket falls through the cracks and that all customer interactions are logged and tracked for easy reference.

  • Improved efficiency - By automating repetitive tasks such as ticket routing and response generation, help desk software can free up your support team's time to focus on more complex support issues or proactive customer outreach. 

  • Enhanced customer satisfaction - By providing timely and personalized support, it can help improve customer satisfaction. The ability to track and prioritize support requests can also help ensure that urgent issues are addressed quickly.

  • Insights and analytics - Through metrics and reports, help desk software can provide valuable insights into your support team's performance, such as First Response Time, Ticket Volume, and Customer Satisfaction. This is key to identify areas for improvement and optimize your support processes over time.

4 benefits of free help desk software

There’s no point in denying that free help desk software can offer several benefits to organizations looking to improve their support operations, such as:

  1. Cost-effectiveness - Your organization can save money on licensing fees allocating more resources to other areas of your business.

  2. Customization - When free software is open-source, it provides access to the source code, allowing for greater customization and control over the software. 

  3. Community support - Although free alternatives don’t usually offer free support, there are online communities of users that contribute to ongoing development. This can provide a valuable resource for businesses that need help troubleshooting issues or adding new features.

  4. Transparency - Open-source free software is transparent, meaning that the code is publicly available for review.

7 must-have help desk features

When choosing a free help desk software solution, it's important to look for certain key features that can't be missed. There are some functionalities that you might be more interested in than others, as it all depends on what your organization needs. However, these are the ones that we consider essential:

  1. Self-service portal - A self-service portal enables customers to access a knowledge base, submit support requests, and track their status without having to contact your support team. It will give them autonomy and save time for both your team and the users.

  2. Service Level Agreement (SLA) Management - SLA Management allows you to define and track your support team's performance against predefined service levels. This can help ensure that urgent issues are addressed in a timely manner and can also identify areas for improvement.

  3. Ticket routing and prioritization - Making sure that tickets are routed correctly will assure fast and accurate incident resolution. With this feature you can assign different priority levels to tickets and deliver the requests to the right agent.

  4. Workflow automation - Automating routine tasks can save your support team time, normalize processes, and improve efficiency.

  5. Knowledge base - A knowledge base allows you to store information about common issues and solutions, so that customers can find answers to their questions without having to contact your support team, and agents have easy access to all the data they need to achieve their tasks.

  6. Reporting and analytics - Help desk dashboards and reports provide insights into your support team's performance.

  7. Integrations - Integration with other business software solutions can help streamline workflows and improve collaboration across teams. They can be native, third-party integrations like Zapier, or through API.

5 disadvantages of free help desk software

Despite its benefits, free help desk software comes with a considerable number of drawbacks that shouldn’t be overlooked. Among its disadvantages, we can list:

  1. Limited features - Most free solutions do not include all of the must-have features listed above that your organization requires. Typically, their reporting capabilities, integrations, and automation are usually not as robust as in paid alternatives.

  2. Security concerns - They do not offer the same level of security as paid solutions, which can put your support data at risk. In addition, most of the free versions don’t meet certain ISO security standards. They may lack strong encryption, user access controls, or Vulnerability Management. In addition, their data storage information might be sketchy, which might be a compliance issue for your industry.

  3. Scaling limitations - As your organization grows, free help desk software solutions do not have the scalability or flexibility to keep up with your needs.

  4. Unintuitive UI - It’s very common for free software to leave the user experience unattended, making it challenging for users to smoothly adopt the tool and figure out how to get things done.

  5. Extra costs - Most of the time, free solutions have basic free licensing, but they will charge you for all peripherals – support, integrations, extra features, and others. And as with any freemium product, you might end up paying more for the add-ons than you would have for paid software. To avoid this, make sure to calculate the Total Cost of Ownership of your software from the start.

So, should you acquire a free help desk?

While free help desk software might work temporarily for organizations that are on a tight budget, it's important to carefully evaluate whether it is the right fit for your needs.

Remember that you might struggle to get certain key processes done, as they don't offer all of the functionalities an all-round help desk needs to work properly, including usability, integrations, and others.

If your company is able to invest in a paid help desk, it is worth considering a solution that offers a complete set of features and a strong and dedicated support and implementation system. You can make a list of your ITSM goals to choose a solution that will help you achieve them and access a free trial period to test the software before making a final decision.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to use a free help desk software or invest in a paid solution will depend on your organization's unique needs and budget constraints. Make sure to carefully evaluate your options and choose a solution that offers the right balance of features, support, and affordability.

8 free help desk software and trials alternatives

If you're looking for free help desk software, or options with free trials, there are several solutions available. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. InvGate Service Desk - This solution offers you cloud and on-premise hosting. Among its main features, you can find automation, workflows, reporting, customization, ticket routing, SLAs, a self-service portal, integrations, and more. It has an implementation period of only 2 to 4 weeks, and you can get a 30-day free trial that you can turn later into your working instance. 



  1. osTicket - This open source help desk software is completely free and offers a range of features for Ticket Management, customer support, and reporting.

  2. Freshdesk - It is a cloud-based help desk that has a free plan for small teams and startups, with limited features but enough to get started. They also offer a 21-day free trial of their paid plans.

  3. SolarWinds Service Desk - This cloud-based solution offers a free trial for 30 days, with Incident Management, Change Management, and Asset Management among its main features.

  4. Zendesk - A cloud-based help desk software that has a 14-day free trial for all of their plans, allowing you to try out the platform before committing to a subscription.

  5. Jira Service Desk - This cloud-based service desk offers a 7-day free trial and a range of functionalities, including Incident Management, Problem Management, and Change Management.

  6. Zoho Desk - Cloud-based software that has a free plan for up to three users, with basic features including Ticket Management, automation, and a knowledge base. They also offer a 15-day free trial of their paid plans.

  7. Zammad - This open-source help desk and ticketing system is completely free and counts on email notifications, reporting, and automation.

In conclusion

Acquiring a help desk solution is a crucial decision for any organization looking to strengthen and improve their ITSM processes. If you are considering going for free help desk software, you should  keep in mind that they usually don't have all the baseline features you need to create a well functioning help desk, and come with limitations that could hinder productivity and jeopardize your efforts in the long run. 

It is key to select a tool that fits both your budget and objectives and, to ensure you’re making the right choice, you can pick one that offers a free trial, so you can test it before investing.

So, ask for InvGate Service Desk's 30-day free trial and start exploring everything it has to offer for your ITSM operations!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Google have a ticketing system?

Yes, Google has a ticketing system called "Google Cloud Support Center" for managing support requests for their cloud products.

Why should I buy a paid help desk software when free solutions are available?

Paid help desk software often includes more features, better support, and higher security than free solutions. Additionally, they may offer customization options to fit specific business needs.

Read other articles like this : ITSM, InvGate Service Desk, Service desk manager

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