Many of us have downloaded free software at one time or another. You could probably find a free version of most software, whether it is a PDF to Excel Converter, an accounting program or a photo editing suite. But is free software a deal or a disaster?
The Internet is a free for all or a discount store for software and other products. People who know where to look can usually find illegal downloads of copyrighted software. While there may be free software that does exactly what you want it to do, the chances are that you aren’t getting the bargain you hoped for.
Let’s look at the different sources of software:
Open Source and Freeware Software
There are no licensing restrictions on the source code with open source software. Sometimes open source is beta software and the developers are looking for feedback to make improvements. Open source software can be a great deal for college students or people on a budget who only need to use a program on an occasional basis. Sometimes open source developers are still trying to work out the bugs and there could be security issues. The developers of open source publish frequent updates on these issues on their websites.
Mozilla Firefox is an example of open source software. They have become one of the top three web browsers by encouraging users to report bugs and asking for assistance from developers to improve the user experience.
Not all open source software becomes a great success story like Firefox or Linux. While some open source projects are a hit, some projects just wither and die. For business use, you can’t afford to experiment with open source programs that are still being developed by volunteers.
While there is no cost for freeware, there may be restrictions on the use of the software, such as allowing only non-commercial use. This is licensed software where the author holds the copyright but allows specific use of the product.
There are a number of free or open source online PDF to Excel converters. Some free PDF to Excel converters require you to upload your data to their site. This is a risky move, and not worth the price of a data breach. Data breaches can cause your organization significant damage in the form of revenue loss, adverse publicity and potential lawsuits.
Everyone wants a deal, but it pays to spend the money for a quality product. By purchasing software from a reputable company, you are ensured that your sensitive PDF and Excel documents never leave your computer until you press send.
While some of the PDF to Excel converters offer free downloadable software to use on your desktop, you may be downloading pirated software, malware or viruses.
Companies that stand behind their product usually offer a free trial version. They are confident that once you try it, you’ll want to buy it. If you are happy with the product, you can purchase directly from your trial version. Only accept a free trial from a reputable company. Look for a product that has great reviews from other clients.
Software is one of those products, like music, where people feel entitled to use it without paying. If someone came into your business and demanded a free product or service, you would tell them politely to take a walk.
Software companies spend thousands of dollars in development before their product goes to market. After the product has been launched, they employ a support team of IT technicians, and all the other people that make up a business – sales, marketing, and administration. Stealing a copy of that software puts people out of work and affects the economy.
Something free could end up costing you substantial money and a legal battle. On February 12, the Obama Administration ordered the United States Supreme Court to turn down an appeal by a woman from Minnesota who was given a $222,000 penalty for file sharing 24 songs on the defunct peer-to-peer music-sharing platform Kazaa. Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s lawyer claimed that the statutory damages she had been ordered to pay were too harsh considering the actual damage and was therefore unconstitutional.
In explaining their decision, the government brief stated, “The public interest cannot be realized if the inherent difficulty of proving actual damages leaves the copyright holder without an effective remedy for infringement or precludes an effective means of deterring further copyright violations.”
The same copyright laws that protect music, literature and other works also protect software. It isn’t just individuals who are looking for a freebie. In this economy, companies like to cut corners and they may opt for a free version of a product that could end up costing them damage in the form of a computer virus or a data breach.
If you want to experiment with open source, you can do that at home. For business use, stick to the guaranteed programs backed up by solid research. Whether you are searching for a PDF to Excel Converter or some other form of software, consider the value in using a tested product that offers a secure download and expert and timely user support.