Previous: Hosted or Installed Calendar Software

Free Calendars versus Commercial Calendar Systems

Free Hosted Calendars

There are major issues with free hosted calendars:
  1. Service - They're not charging anything, so they can't provide support.
  2. Advertising - Most free calendars are supported by advertising. A more professional appearance is achieved without annoying ads. Sometimes ads can be inappropriate.
  3. Accountability - In general, these providers are not accountable to you, and if your data is lost and it's inconvenient for them to restore it, they won't.
  4. Loss of branding. The URL will not have your name in it, but will have the name of the calendar provider.
  5. Limited features. These calendars have only the most basic options.

Free Calendar Software

The open source movement has brought a lot of attention to the idea of free software. While there are many free calendar systems available, you have to examine the specific ones to determine how well they meet your needs.

The price of free can be misleading. When considering software you should think about the return on investment. For example, if a staff member is working 1 hour per week maintaining a resource calendar, then the cost of that is roughly (52 x Hourly Wage) x 1.2. For a person paid $15 per hour, the annual cost would be $936. If you can reduce that to 15 minutes per week, you save $700. A software package costing $250 still represents a savings of $500. Another issue with free software can be the time to implement it. Since free software usually has little or no documentation, it can be extremely difficult to install and configure.

Some problems with free calendar applications are:
  1. No service or community support only.
  2. Poor or no documentation
  3. Very limited feature set.
  4. Niche ecology. A commercial calendar may support several different databases, while free calendars usually only support one.
  5. Spotty maintenance/new versions. Years may pass without a new release for bug fixes and new features.
In addition, all of the issues for Installed Software mentioned in the Hosted or Installed Software section apply.

Next: Conclusion

Choosing a Web Calendar