Advantages of Open Source over Proprietary Software

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Until a couple of decades ago ‘software’ was synonymous with the popular ‘proprietary software’ that is copyrighted and available under license. Now the trend has changed! In the current IT scenario where digital transformation and cybersecurity hang over our heads like Damocles’ sword, open-source software is gaining acceptance.

What is Open Source Software?

Open-source software is computer software released under a license in which the copyright holder gives users the right to download, study, modify and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner.1

Examples of Open Source Software

Open Source software include GNU/Linux, Mozilla Firefox, VLC media player, SugarCRM, Moodle, GIMP, Apache web server, LibreOffice, WordPress, Drupal

What is Proprietary Software?

Proprietary software is primarily commercial software that is bought, leased, or licensed from its vendor/developer. Proprietary software has copyrighted limits against use, distribution, and modification imposed by its publisher, vendor or developer. Proprietary software remains the property of its owner/creator and is used by end-users/organizations under predefined conditions.

Proprietary software may also be called closed-source software or commercial software.2

Examples of Proprietary Software

Proprietary software includes Microsoft Windows, Adobe Flash Player, PS3 OS, iTunes, Adobe Photoshop, Google Earth, macOS (formerly Mac OS X and OS X), Skype, WinRAR.

According to CB Insights’ Market Sizing tool, the open-source services industry is expected to reach nearly $33B by 20223. Reiterating the trend recently the US government showed its interest in open-source software. What do you think would be the reason for this change? Let us look at the various benefits of using Open Source software as opposed to proprietary software.

Advantages of Open Source over Proprietary Software

  • Open Source Software is Mostly Free

Licensing fee is the major disadvantage of proprietary software. Even though it comes up with greater innovations you need to pay to get access to the complete software. On the other hand, Open Source software is generally free to be used and modified with few exceptions. The software is developed further, tested, and supported by committed volunteers. People concerned with the long-term need for their applications go for cost-effective alternatives like open source or free source software.

  • Code Customization

Individuals are different so their tastes vary from one another. Software like Windows, MacOS, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, and much more are developed for many users and almost always it is limited in the way it can be customized to meet particular needs. Several features may be pointless to the customer but they are not allowed to create a version or edit it using the source code. The source code is not publicly available. All the modifications can be done only by the closed team of creators. Here customers need to adjust their requirements to the available options.

  • Open Source Software is Generally Secure

Open Source software has a lot of committed code contributors who keep the software secure and issue-free. The wide network of open source users alerts the community of any vulnerability and issues that are escalated or fixed within minutes. Proprietary software lacks this communal support and so hackers are paid hefty amounts by the company to keep the software secure which in turn eventually comes from the user’s pocket.

  • Updates May Be Expensive For Proprietary Software

Several updates are available for proprietary software but at a cost at times. While renewing, some of the needed features can be in the premium list. On the other hand, with Open Source, all features are free and readily downloadable. Version control of open-source software allows for a broad testing process by the community before the final release.

Whether proprietary or open-source, updating the software is important. Lack of proper updates brings potential risks to the application's speed and operations. Outdated versions may not get support and technical assistance from the creator.

  • Proprietary Software is Limited To Single Network Or Computer

You need a valid license to use proprietary software. Unless the license allows it you are not permitted to use the software in any other systems or devices. Even though you bought the software you are not permitted to copy or distribute it to anyone.


Finding the best-suited software for your business needs demands your time and research. Next time, before grabbing a proprietary software, you need to ask yourself a very important question. ‘Are you choosing the right one?’ When popular open-source software like Drupal is at your disposal, it's pointless to spend big bucks that can be used in other areas of your business.

In proprietary systems, there will always be add ons which are equally expensive. But with open-source, integrations with other open-source software are usually easily achievable and well documented for use by others. No wonder an internationally acclaimed welfare and development organization like the UN prefers open-source.

Drupal, the leading free and open-source software offers a rich digital experience to its users with its continuous innovation, flexibility, and scalability. The right solution partners will help you leverage it to the maximum.


  1.,” What is Open Source?” Link accessed 2021
  2. techopedia,"Proprietary Software", Link accessed 2021
  3. CB Insights (Research Report),"Open-Source Software Has Changed The Way Software Is Developed. Here’s Where The $33B Industry Is Headed" Published 2019, Link accessed 2021    
  4. Jacob Andrew, AZCentral,"Disadvantages of Proprietary Software" Link accessed 2021    
  5. BBC, "Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns" Link accessed 2021