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Basecamp 3 vs Basecamp 2: Which Is Best for Your Small Business?

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Every year for the past 25+ years, a new version of the John Madden video game football franchise has been released.

Back in the early 1990s, those new versions didn’t amount to much more than updated rosters, more plays in the playbook, marginally improved graphics, and maybe a new gameplay feature. (Who could forget the exciting Salary Cap feature added in Madden NFL 97 or the groundbreaking “Longshot” story mode in Madden NFL 18?)

If you’re a fan of project management software, the release of Basecamp 3 back in 2014 was like the equivalent of five Madden release days all at once. Basecamp is one of the most popular project management products available, with 15 million users and almost 20 years on the market.

As a software buyer, you may wonder if Basecamp 3 is worth the investment, or if Basecamp 2 might be all you need. While Basecamp 3 is the latest and greatest offering, Basecamp 2 still has plenty of loyal users who have no plans to upgrade, and Basecamp has no plans to take it away.

What is Basecamp 3 lacking and what does Basecamp 2 still do so well that users won’t let it go, even with the enticement of a $150 credit?

Let’s take a look at what features Basecamp 3 has that Basecamp 2 doesn’t, and vice-versa.

Basecamp 2 vs. Basecamp 3

Basecamp, which began as 37signals in Chicago in 1999, is one of the more established project management software companies on the market. The company released Basecamp in 2004 and officially changed its name to Basecamp in 2014.

While Basecamp 2 and Basecamp 3 are the company’s flagship project management products, Basecamp Classic is still available as well.

Confused yet? Let’s try to simplify things.

Back in 2012, Basecamp released what would eventually become Basecamp 2 (it was initially called Basecamp Next, but this has gotten confusing enough already). With that release—which included a sleek new interface, discussion board, and other collaboration features—original Basecamp became Basecamp Classic.

It’s actually still supported, but Basecamp Classic hasn’t seen any new features in more than five years and Basecamp has no plans to update. However, if you’re a big fan of mid-2000’s technology, you’re welcome to continue using Basecamp Classic: Basecamp says they’ll continue to support it as long as there is an internet. Think of it as the difference between an iPhone 3 and an iPhone 7. Your iPhone 3 might still work and they can help you with it at the Apple store if you have a problem, but don’t expect any new features.

Two years later, Basecamp 3 was released and did to Basecamp 2 what Basecamp 2 once did to Basecamp Classic. Basecamp 2 is still supported and still has plenty of fans, but Basecamp 3 is the place to be for any new updates.

Which leads us back to the main question: what’s the difference between Basecamp 2 and Basecamp 3?

1. Price

While most Software as a Service (SaaS) packages have tiered pricing based on number of users, extra features, or amount of storage, the Basecamp model is a little different, as we’ll detail below.

Generally speaking, Basecamp 2 is a little cheaper than Basecamp 3. All Basecamp plans include unlimited users.

Here is the Basecamp 2 price plan:

  • $20/month for 10 projects and 3 GB of storage
  • $50/month for 40 projects and 15 GB of storage
  • $100/month for 100 projects and 40 GB of storage
  • $150/month for unlimited projects and 100 GB of storage

Basecamp 3, on the other hand, has a flat price of $99/month for unlimited projects and 100 GB of storage, or $999/year (about $83/month).

Basecamp 2 includes a 60-day free trial, while Basecamp 3 offers a 30-day free trial. You can get a $150 credit on your account for upgrading to Basecamp 3 from Basecamp 2.

Both versions are free for teachers and students, and nonprofits get a 10% discount.

If you have fewer than 40 projects or need less than 15 GB of storage, you could save about $50/month by using Basecamp 2. But if you need more than that, why wouldn’t you use Basecamp 3, which would be cheaper for unlimited projects? The answer comes down to the features.

2. Features

Basecamp 3: The What

The new “What’s new” report in Basecamp 3

Basecamp 3’s main project view includes the following tools and features:

  • Campfire, the Basecamp version of group chat
  • Messages, for more formal announcements
  • To-do lists
  • Schedule, which replaces the traditional calendar
  • Docs & files, for document and file storage
  • Check-ins, which posts questions to the team at set intervals

Basecamp 3 also has Pings, which are direct messages, and Reports.

Some of these features are different from what you’ll find in Basecamp 2.

Basecamp 2: The full calendar view

The full calendar view in Basecamp 2

For example, Basecamp 2 has the following features that Basecamp 3 does not:

Basecamp support tells me that recurring events are coming to Basecamp 3, but there is no timeline for that update.

Essentially, Basecamp 3 is the latest version of Basecamp and will get all the new updates. But if you can’t work without the full calendar view, email-in function, or recurring events, you may want to stick with your Basecamp 2 account for now.

3. Integrations

Both Basecamp 2 and Basecamp 3 have a bunch of helpful integrations. But because Basecamp 2 has been around for a few years longer, it has more.

Basecamp 3 has more than 30 integrations—including big names such as Zapier, Harvest, and Klipfolio—to help with things such as time tracking, accounting, asset management, marketing, and customer service.

But Basecamp 2 has about three times as many integrations and adds categories such as file synchronization and proposal management.

Here is a complete list of Basecamp 2 integrations, and here is a list of Basecamp 3 integrations.

You can expect the list of Basecamp 3 integrations to grow as more developers get on board, but if you’re using a Basecamp 2 integration that is vital to your business and it or an equivalent hasn’t yet been released for Basecamp 3, you’ll want to stick with what you’re using.

4. Customer service

In addition to online support with a five-minute email response time during business hours (I tried it and it works), Basecamp offers an online help center for all their products. You can also Tweet @Basecamp with quick questions. As you can expect, Basecamp 3 has more new information available as it’s the product currently in development.

Basecamp 2 has a Help page with:

Basecamp 3, on the other hand, adds:

In case you’re wondering about security: Basecamp assures me that Basecamp 2 and Basecamp Classic are still perfectly safe to use and will continue to be secure.

“We apply security patches to Basecamp 2 and Basecamp Classic regularly,” a Basecamp programmer tells me. “We no longer add new features to them, but we remain committed to keeping them safe. They’re not less secure than Basecamp 3.”

If you’re just starting out with Basecamp, Basecamp 3 offers the easiest route to get up to speed, but you should have no trouble getting your questions answered if you run into a problem with Basecamp 2.

Which is better?

As you can see, Basecamp 2 vs. Basecamp 3 isn’t a matter of gold vs. silver. Basecamp 3 is the latest version with the newest features, but Basecamp 2 still has some features that users want.

“It’s really that all kinds of folks use both,” says Basecamp support specialist Ashley Bowe. “Some prefer Basecamp 3 because it contains more tools to collaborate but some really need a calendar to visualize their work.”

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you’re able to determine which features you need the most and make your decision from there. Whether you choose Basecamp 2 or 3, you can rest easy knowing that you’re getting a rock solid project management tool: Basecamp has an overall rating of 4/5 after more than 2,500 verified customer reviews on Capterra.

You may also want to continue the search for project management software, and we have you covered there, too. Use our comprehensive directory to browse popular options and filter by specific features.

Making the move from Basecamp 2 to Basecamp 3?

If you’re an existing Basecamp 2 customer who is thinking about making the move to Basecamp 3, Basecamp has you covered with the following guides:

What are your favorite Basecamp features?

What are your favorite Basecamp 3 features, and what would you like to see added in a future version? What features in general do you think most project management software is missing? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter @CapterraAC and we’ll be sure to share your feedback with our friends on the inside.

If you want to read more about Basecamp, check out these articles:

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Andrew Conrad

Andrew is a content writer for Capterra, specializing in church management and project management software. When he’s not striving for the perfect balance of information and entertainment, Andrew enjoys the great outdoors and the wide world of sports. Follow him on Twitter @CapterraAC.

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