Free software HullThe recent revelations about Facebook selling on data about its users will come as no surprise to most IT security professionals, but it is extremely common for end-users to think that there is such a thing as a free online service. The old adage goes “if you are not paying for it, then you are the product” and never has this been more true than for free online services. Whether it’s antivirus, email, social media or storage services – free software has a price.

Why Free Online Services and Businesses Don’t Mix

It is simply not safe for your business to rely on software and services  that are offered for free, such as Yahoo, Gmail and Dropbox. These services are rarely intended to be used for business purposes and they pose a security risk. There have been many hacks where data has been stolen from these free services. It is far safer to invest in affordable email or cloud storage services from a Hull IT support provider that is designed to be bespoke to the needs of your business.

Do Free Services Really Save Money?

You may think that you are saving money and protecting the bottom line by using free services for business use. After all, licenses for email, cloud storage and antivirus software can be expensive. But think twice: there are a lot of very reasons why free services are not suitable for business usage.

Free services are not really free

Google, Microsoft and the like are not charities, and they use their free software for a number of purposes. They want to draw you into their ecosystem and to make you reliant on their products – so they have a captive audience. Their business models often rely on drawing you in for free and then charging a subscription fee later. Or – more worryingly – your data could be sold on to the highest bidder. The only way to be sure you are in control is to use a professional IT company so you know exactly what you are paying for.

Free Services are not suitable for business use

There are two main reasons that free services are not suitable for business use. The first is in the terms and conditions of the services. Most free software is not permitted to be used in profit-making enterprises and paying business users often subsidise the free offering. Legal action could be taken against you if you misuse the software, and you’ll have no technical support when things start to go wrong.

The second reason is IT security: Free services rarely meet the security standards expected of businesses – especially those dealing with personal data or credit card transactions – and you will not have guaranteed up-time or compensation if the service fails or the company ceases to trade.

Free Services are targets for hackers

Yahoo, Dropbox and many other free services have been hacked in the last few years. The passwords that were stolen were shared freely on the internet or sold on. The Dropbox hack was done by thieves using a user-name and password that had been stolen from elsewhere and was shared between services. Imagine if your staff – despite security advice – use the same passwords on your free email service as your main business server! You could be handing the burglars a set of keys to your house – just to try to save a few pence!

Digitalquill – Hull IT Support Experts

Digitalquill offer secure versions most of the free online services for your Hull or East Riding business. For more information call us on 01482 424402 or email