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The 8 Best Free and Open Source Help Desk Software Tools

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[Updated 8/24/2017 This post has been updated to include 8 products from the original 7, and to reflect feature changes and newer reviews.]

The help desk needs help.

Misplacing tickets, violating SLAs, frustrating customers, and sometimes losing themall signs point to a need for a better system. The only problem is, the budget isn’t there to shell out $100 to $200 per month on software.

To help get you started, and save you some cash, here are some great free and open source help desk software solutions on the market right now, in no particular order.

Free/Freemium Options

1. Freshdesk

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freshdesk (1)

Freshdesk dashboard

Freshdesk is fourth on Capterra’s rankings of top 20 customer service software providers. Their free option is for up to three agents, with limited functionality.

Standout features

  • Easily prioritize certain customers based on SLA policies
  • Easily turn emails and tickets into knowledge base articles
  • Use 33 different languages
  • Access via mobile apps

Freshdesk’s solution for temporary increased demand is solid. Add extra agents for a day to work through a backlog for $2 to $4, without changing your plan. You can even purchase these day passes in advance and use them as needed.

They offer unlimited 24/7 email support and 24/5 phone support at the free level. One Capterra reviewer found the customer service “incredible.”

Cons

Freshdesk’s most compelling feature might be its ability to gamify customer service. The system offers points and rewards for excellent service, to help boost service desk employee engagement and morale.

Unfortunately, gamification isn’t available at the free level for Freshdesk.

In addition, some Capterra reviewers complained about Freshdesk’s non-intuitive interface. One noted that the process for adding new contacts or companies from tickets is “a bit odd at times.” Another said it was, “sometimes a bit confusing to setup and configure.”

Then again, one reviewer raved: “All the admin features you need are in a one tab. It is so easy to configure the solution and to customize it (forms, emails, and so on). The solution can be online in only a couple of minutes.”

Overview

Ultimately it makes sense to only have gamification available to larger shops. Gamification relies on competition among agents to really work. However, the other features will still be helpful to one-to-three person shops. For one-person shops, choosing a free option which is still free when you grow might be a good idea.

2. Spiceworks

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spiceworks

Spiceworks dashboard

Flipping the usual narrative, Spiceworks’ free version is self-hosted, managed, and backed up. Usually self-hosting is a premium service that comes with support and backups for the product. Spiceworks is one-and-done, download, and you’re ready to roll.

Standout features

  • Free regardless of the number of agents
  • LDAP/Active directory synchronization
  • Mobile integration
  • Multi-site support
  • Fast and easy Windows installation
  • Server monitoring services

Cons

The big drawback to Spiceworks is that it’s self-hosted. One Capterra reviewer wrote, “the hardest part is maybe configuring the server version versus cloud.”

Meaning you’ve got to install, configure, host, and update it yourself. It can be difficult to install on Linux, Unix, or VMWare. Sure, it’s free. But hosting and talent aren’t.

Overview

There’s talk amongst Capterra reviewers that Spiceworks isn’t developing this product anymore. Whereas in 2016 updates came out monthly, so far in 2017 the only update was back in May. If you are fine with self-hosting a product that’s not getting updates regularly from the core developers, this can be a good solution, but I’d be wary.

Other Free/Freemium Tools

Sysaid, ManageEngine, and Zoho all offer free services as well, and might be worth checking out.

3. C-Desk

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C-Desk

C-Desk is a completely free helpdesk system that includes cross-team service request management, manual asset management, a knowledge base, a photo gallery, a notice board, and a log book.

Standout features

  • C-Desk, unlike most free options, is free no matter how many users or technicians use it.

Capterra reviewers love C-Desk and say that while setup and configuration can be a bit tricky, the installation and user experience are easy. It’s flexible and users like features such as the FTP server for sharing documents with users. “The best part is that the customer service of this company is excellent,” one wrote. “They respond to our requests within one hour.”

Cons

Capterra users didn’t have much to complain about. The feature list for help desk software might not be fully filled out, but there’s still plenty that C-Desk does.

Overview

As IT Manager Rupesh Medhekar wrote, “C-Desk is a very user friendly application with bundles of features.”

In addition to all of the above functionality, C-Desk also offers task management, project management, surveys and polls, and chat features. Like most help desk software, C-Desk routes each request to the best tech for the job. One Capterra reviewer called C-Desk’s forms functionality more advanced than Google forms.

4. ngDesk

ngDesk Dashboard (Source)

ngDesk is free ticket management software with no paid plans. You get everything the software offers, for unlimited agents, totally free.

Standout features

ngDesk has everything you’d expect, including canned responses, agent-to-agent private chat, and on-call schedules for agents. Custom automatic escalation policies let you decide beforehand who you want tickets to escalate to and the time intervals between escalations to ensure that unacknowledged tickets continue to escalate until someone on your team responds.

The ngDesk dashboard displays workload, SLA reports, your busiest days, and your biggest customers’ statuses in real-time.

Agents can work on the go via mobile apps, and get notified of new tickets and ticket updates by phone, email, or SMS.

ngDesk also lets you set SLAs and monitors that run through all the tickets in your help desk and check them against your SLAs at pre-set intervals, and notify you about at-risk SLAs before they’re breached or overdue.

Cons

The biggest drawback is just the unknowns. The website doesn’t specify what customers can expect regarding customer service. And without a Capterra profile or any online reviews it’s difficult to tell how easy customers find ngDesk to set up and use.

Other Free/Freemium Tools

Sysaid, and Zoho offer free services as well, and might be worth checking out.

Open Source Options

While free versions of help desk software are usually limited in users and functionality, open source software is fully functional for all users. It’s also extremely customizable. However, installation and configuration of the software is on your team. To balance everyone’s needs, most open source help desk software companies also offer a preconfigured version and/or installation and support for a price.

1. osTicket

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osticket

With osTicket you can associate your SLAs with help topics, departments, or ticket filters and set up overdue alerts and notifications when you miss due dates. The customer portal contains all help requests and answers for access later.

Standout features

  • Add your logo, images, and videos to tickets
  • Space in ticket for notes on all actions
  • Unlimited SLA agreements

Cons

  • Community support is strong, but sometimes larger issues take longer to resolve

Overview

osTicket has most of the features of a full-fledged help desk software tool, including a ticket filter tool to route incoming tickets from email, web forms, and phone calls to the right agents. Its auto-responder helps you set up workflows by ticket type. Automatic canned responses are possible, and the system offers dashboard reports.

2. OTRS Free

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OTRS Free

OTRS dashboard

OTRS Free offers email notifications when tickets are created and changed. Tickets can be sorted by status, such as new, open, watched, escalated, pending, in-process, or by priority, escalation time, SLA, service, or type. The system reports on number of tickets and processing time.

Standout features

  • Available in 34 languages
  • Ticket lock prevents two agents from working on a ticket at the same time
  • Out-of-Office feature and visualization of agents that are away
  • Search auto-suggest

Cons

  • Admin manual is 300+ pages long

Overview

The biggest benefit is the ability to automate more and more requests, which reduces errors and optimizes the efficiency of your agents. OTRS Free calls this their process management module. Once you standardize processes like ordering or billing, decision dialogues guide the service agent and the customer through the process. Free configurable workflows make many tickets mostly automatic.

3. Mantis Bug Tracker

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Mantis Bug Tracker

Bug Tracker dashboard

Most commonly used to track software defects, Mantis Bug Tracker is also a good open source help desk software. It’s fairly configurable and offers the ability for agents to decide which email notifications they want, for example, by setting filters to define the minimum severity of issues to receive notifications about. Various levels of access can be given to different users, and changes to tickets are recorded in audit trails.

Standout features

  • Set user access by project and role
  • Track issues that have been resolved via RSS feeds
  • Revision control of text fields and notes
  • Graph relationships between issues

Cons

  • Configuration is “quite daunting” for non-developers, requiring manual editing of PHP files

Overview
The best part of Mantis Bug Tracker is the plug-in system. Over 50 plug-ins on the MantisBT-plugins organization on GitHub make it possible to do things like tweet a notification when an issue is resolved or send SMS messages or update statuses in external project management systems. TechRepublic also calls it “simple to use and simple to install.”

4. Bugzilla

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bugzilla

Bugzilla dashboard

Bugzilla isn’t fancy. You can’t rate tickets according to importance or color code them. But that lack of features also means a clean, simple, easy-to-use interface. It does have some advanced features, such as advanced search which can remember your searches, and editable user profiles. Email preferences and bug permissions are comprehensive.

Standout features

  • Advanced search
  • Remembers your queries

Cons

Overview

If your needs are basic and ease of use is important, Bugzilla is a great choice.

Conclusion

If it’s time for a better system but a budget isn’t appearing, check out some of these options for improving your customer service workflow. And if you do decide it’s time to invest, check out Capterra’s help desk software directory to compare the options.

Have you used any of the suggested products? What did you think?  Are there other great free or open source help desk options out there?  Add them in the comments.

Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at cathy@capterra.com . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.

Comments

+1 OTRS. It can be easily extended if you have any programming experience. Very Widely used and integrates well with other tools. Tons of people use it with monitoring solutions like Nagios too.

Thank you so much for a quick overview of the softwares / apps available for customer support or ticketing system… definitely easier with the pros and cons for each of them 🙂
Thanx again.

I have seen this software and features, I would like to ask if you have any recommendation based on your experience of this package. i would like to install one of this software as a IT help desk in my company.

Thank you

Hey Asanali,

You might want to check out our IT Management Software Directory: https://www.capterra.com/it-management-software/

Thanks!

Hi Cathy,

Running small online eCommerce company with four family users. But due lack of ownership among others, our sale’s enquiry emails is not tracked well. Can you advise any free or open source ticket management software which can be used for sales? Appreciate your advise.

Thanks

I would recommend a CRM for sales, not a ticket management software. Here’s a list of free and open-source solutions: https://blog.capterra.com/free-and-open-source-crm/

Since you have four users, I’d look at our directory https://www.capterra.com/customer-relationship-management-software/.

I’m surprised not to see Best Practical’s RT: Request Tracker, https://www.bestpractical.com/rt/ , wasn’t included here. A very mature open source option with a strong community; great support (free & premium); and all the features included such as LDAP directory integration; Wiki/knowledge-base publication, automated workflows; multiple interfaces – web-forms, mobile, email, and “backend” access; ticket aging & escalation; and even high-level/management reporting functionality (aka “dashboards”). As added bonus, there is the derivative RTIR: Request Tracker for Incident Response, which builds upon the RT codebase to provide a standalone or integrated incident response/incident management system.

Maybe best of all, since it’s open source, using a LAMP[-like] stack, it’s infinitely extensible.

I’m not even affiliated with Best Practical but I’ve been using these products, both RT & RTIR, in large production environments for over ten years with great success.

We have recently build open source ticket based support system on Laravel framework, You can check & try it out here https://github.com/ladybirdweb/faveo-helpdesk.

It’s already live & completely free and open source.

We have been using C-Desk from quite long time with around 2000 users throughout the country, it serves us a as a complete helpdesk solution rather than only for IT .. So we can raise request to any department from our Helpdesk. and it works location wise so the request reaches the right person in the right location. We can also receive requests from customers using the C-Care Module. Not only that we can also send request to our outsourced vendors and service providers. It has many other features that engages our users well. For example, task management and project management. asset management. Surveys and polls, E-Logs (log book kind of a function). integrated chat, notice board, events and photo gallery, and many more feature… Hence C-Desk has become like our daily use application. The best part is that it is free for unlimited users. They also customize the app as needed. We got one of our requirements customized for free. You can visit their site..http://www.cdesk.in

NABD System offers a free plan with all the features needed to run a help desk software. The only limitation is the maximum no of users set to 10 users. The free plan is described here :https://www.nabdsys.com/nabdfplan_HD.php

Hi, Can you suggest me a free tool for my organisation that has around 10 employees that enables me to manage workflow and projects along with help desk or ticketing system.

Freshdesk is the worst support channel, I don’t even know why it has been added to this list
helpscout and ticksy will always carry the day for me any day.

Among others, devContact (www.devcontact.com) is a support desk that is built specifically for mobile apps and can be easily integrated for free. It offers a wide range of features including live chats, FAQs, analytics and push notifications. This will help deliver a better overall user experience with the mobile application.

I’ve suffered from a big headache because of this list , all i need is a Simple, configurable and open source ticketing system to handle help desk regardless the size of the business environment, so would you please nominate a suitable solution.

many thanks in advance

Looking at something that allows me to do “to do” like tickets, with great attention to details, web based would be nice, but also allow a billing/invoice option. Any ideas?

Tried osTicket. Sorry, I do not get it why they produce so prymitve software. Hello, we have 2016. It’s ugly and lack of basic features. I cannot even unlock user account. Waist of time.

I would add Trakdesk to this list, they have a lot of features for a very low price. They do offer a free 30 days trial. You can signup at https://trakdesk.com

You can also try free/open source helpdesk system build on Laravel framework https://github.com/ladybirdweb/faveo-helpdesk or http://www.faveohelpdesk.com

I think Cathy Reisenwitz is a really beautiful girl!

We are offer FREE complete, customizable, help desk software that includes Sales/CRM and mini accounting, invoicing component already in use in over 100,000 installations world wide. Check out Web+Center Suite of Help Desk product at https://www.inet-sciences.com. Completely free for 2 techs or 2 less and does not time out or limited by customers or tickets.

Is there a ticket software tool that has options to add serial numbers, printer/device models and readings?

[…] options available that provide a decent starting point. For businesses seeking more information, Capterra offers insight into some popular free tools, such as UserVoice, Freshdesk, and […]

[…] The 7 Best Free and Open Source Help … – Here are some great free help desk software solutions on the market right now. Capterra helps businesses find and compare software. […]

Our company just released a free version of our long time paid only app, HelpSpot. https://www.helpspot.com/free-help-desk-software

Recently our team from GOSU helped a fairly big community website to make their users engage and return much more thanks to the chat feature. Check it out yourself there (http://asoiaf.westeros.org/ -> little circle at the bottom right) or see a chat demo on our homepage. GOSU comes with iOS and Android apps that make it well suited for Youtube Channels, too. The live chat is completely free and easy to install. http://www.gosuchat.io/

[…] Capterra provides an overview of some of the best free and open-source help desk tools. Software Advice offers a preview of some premium options. […]

Capterra is best place to get more information of software products.

Hi Guys,

Can you help me to build the help desk system?

https://metkraft.com

Thanks.
METKREAFT

I’m starting a hotline business and would like to hire independent contractors to assist when the call volume is high . I am unsure about what software would be best to help me login and track my contractors calls. We need to make sure there is an option for names and notes on the callers. I’m also looking for the best open source software to allow them to accept calls from my main number. Do you have any suggestions?

Kapdesk is one of the best ticketing software… Try once Kapdesk

C-Desk is a complete free helpdesk system. And also a true intranet solution which keeps the users engaged. No limits on the number of users or technicians. The helpdesk that not only works for IT Department but for all departments.. vast amount of other modules that are truly helpfull for the organization.

Nice selection but all those systems are not really easy to setup. They are very complex. As you have mentioned, the manual is sometime more than 300 pages. If you don’t have time, this isn’t really convenient.

According to my own experience, the best solution, if you need to setup something quick and easy, is to install WordPress together with WATS plugin ( https://wordpress.org/plugins/wats/ ). This is what we have been using for 2 years now in my IT assistance company.

I’d like to suggest a help desk we are currently using – https://deskun.com. It’s ridiculously cheap (we are spending $4 per month).

Hello,

We are the first help desk software (www.azuredesk.co) build entirely on Microsoft Cloud and offering Single Sign on using office 365.Our pricing is also very cheap with all features @ 5$ per agent.

We are the first help desk software build entirely on Microsoft Cloud and offering Single Sign on using office 365.Our pricing is also very cheap with all features @ 5$ per agent.

We are the first help desk software (www.azuredesk.co) build entirely on Microsoft Cloud and offering Single Sign on using office 365.Our pricing is also very cheap with all features @ 5$ per agent.

Hello,

We are the first help desk software https://azuredesk.co build entirely on Microsoft Cloud and offering Single Sign on using office 365.Our pricing is also very cheap with all features @ 5$ per agent.

Hi Cathy,

Your list is quite impressive. I think you should consider adding ProProfs knowledge management software as a new entry to your list as I have been informed by the industry insiders as one of the best help desk tools.

As far as my knowledge goes, this software is so simple and easy to use that even a non-technical person can use without facing any problem. This software offers minimum technical intervention, which is absolutely brilliant.

I agree with your statement ‘the help desk needs help’. A help desk is capable of enhancing the customer satisfaction considerably. I would request you to review ProProfs knowledgebase (http://www.proprofs.com/knowledgebase/) tool because it is excellent.

Hello Guys,

Please go through Kapdesk is newly launched customer service software from Kapture CRM Software.

[…] support ticketing system is much like email support except it’s much easier to organise and keep track of support […]

Thanks for the list of free helpdesk tools. I am using freshdesk since last two years and happy with it. I come across your article in search of free helpdesk that can provide me some addttional features than freshdesk. But i think i should continue with the freshdesk only.
Thanks once again for this beautiful article

Kapdesk is also best among customer service software with free help desk software tools. Try once Kapdesk help desk software.

[…] Source […]

ngDesk is free and an awesome tool for ticket management!! You can check it out here
https://www.ngdesk.com

Hi Cathy! Thanks for the detailed review. I’d also like to suggest helpdesk tool I’m using, Deskun.com
It’s multichannel and inexpensive, seems to work best for small businesses.

Hello, I’ve used a SaaS model named by Octadesk, it’s awesome!

https://www.octadesk.com

It’s great lists!

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