What’s the Difference Between Free and Paid Payroll Software?

Learn about what the difference is between free and paid payroll software solutions and find the best payroll system for your business.

What’s the Difference Between Free and Paid Payroll Software?

Payroll software is an essential part of running a business. Using software to run payroll can help to ensure accuracy and efficiency that manual payroll doesn’t have. But why pay for payroll software when there are free payroll software options available? While there are free payroll software systems available, in many cases, you may get what you pay for.

Free Payroll Software May Require More Work

Open-source payroll software is typically free to use. However, it also requires a lot more work on the part of your company. If you have a dedicated IT department that can configure the software so that it works for your company, then free open-source payroll software can be a good option. However, for a small business or a business that doesn’t have IT time and resources to spare, open-source payroll software might be more work than it’s worth, even though it’s free.

Free Payroll Software May Have Limitations

Some payroll software vendors may have two versions of their software: a free version and a paid version. Typically, the paid version would have features that were unavailable with the free version of the payroll software. A free version of payroll software might limit the number of users who can have profiles within the software, for example. Or free payroll software might only be free for up to a certain number of employees. The differences between the free and paid versions of payroll software from the same vendor may vary. Some vendors may offer multiple different packages, starting at free and working up in order to scale with companies as they grow.

Free Payroll Software May Offer Fewer Features

If the same vendor offers multiple versions of their software, the free version may have fewer features than the paid version. Even between vendors, free payroll software may offer less than paid software. This is because vendors will have more resources to put into developing paid software than they will for free software.

Free Payroll Software May Have Less Support

Free payroll software may not get the same level of customer support as paid payroll software does. Open-source software is often free but typically isn’t supported by its creators. In fact, most support for open-source payroll software is contributions from other users of the software online or in-house with your own IT department. Paid payroll software often has support from the vendor.

Free Payroll Software May Not Have Regular Updates

Software vendors often update their software in order to fix bugs and offer new features. A payroll software vendor that offers its software for free may not issue as many updates or new features for customers. Paid software is more likely to see regular updates and bug fixes. Vendors may have to prioritize the paid version of their software in order to stay in business and to prioritize paying customers. Free versions of payroll software may therefore not see as many new features as quickly as paid payroll software does.


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