Difference Between Open Source and Closed Source


Today, people rely on software to handle most day to day tasks. In business and the corporate world, computer software are using in inventory control, team management, account and finance management, etc. The force behind what you see as a complete, highly responsive and useful program built bit by bit using source code; a technical blueprint that tells a program what to do. When the finished program is released to the public, the developers may choose to make this technical blueprint open source or closed source. So what is the main difference between open source and closed source?


As a business owner, the choice between open and closed source is not an obvious one and it requires complete understanding of what each of these entails.

This post will look at the distinction between open source and closed source by exploring their characteristics, specialties, benefits and limitations.

Open and closed source

Before we get to the contrasting features, let first understand what open and closed source are. In computing and programming, open source is a term that simply refers to any writing code that the public can freely use and modify. Unlike closed source, the development of an open source program does not end with the initial announcement. It is a continuous process where other developers emerge to improve continually. While open source may feel like what source codes and related programs should be like, there is always a red alert, as we will see below.

On the other hand, closed source is the complete opposite of open source and is a form of writing code that is not open for free use, modification, and alteration by the public. Here, only the original author of the code has the right to make any alterations to it. Also if you interesting in open source supply chain or just open source chain feel free to check out this interesting information.


Difference between closed source and open source

So what is the main difference between closed source and open source?

  • Closed source is not open to the public, while open source is freely open to the public.
  • With closed source, the users can’t copy, modify or delete sections of the code without some form of warranty or legal consequence. On the other hand, users can use and open code on their programs without any consequence.
  • An open source code may not be as user friendly as closed source code. There is no clear documentation of features usage, making it unstable and unreliable. Contrarily, closed source code is highly stable and offers highly reliable programs with excellent customer support.
  • Open source is generally free and only a few features will attract extra charges. Most features of a closed source code will cost some money.
  • Most software, apps and games today leverage closed source code and there are reasons for that (we will discuss that shortly). Fewer platforms use open source, but there are still major ones. Including LibreOffice, an alternative for Microsoft Office and others such as WordPress and Firefox.

    Now that we have mentioned software, let’s look at the variation between open source and closed source software.


Difference between open source and closed source software

Let’s talk about difference between open source and closed source software. Open source software is any type of program that run by the freely available open source code. Contrastingly, closed software is a program that uses the proprietary and highly guarded closed source code. To help you understand how these two differ, we are going to discuss and compare them under the following topics:

*Cost/Price policy
*Quality of support

Let’s discuss each of these factors showing what both open and closed source software offer.


Usability for open source software is generally unreliable considering that the documentations are not detailed with instructions to guide the usage of various features. Manuals in an open source program also fail to conform to structure and standards. Even with this, flexibility is enhanced in open source software, considering that you can add functions and perform some modifications to make the program more suitable to your business needs.

Usability in closed source software is excellent-one of the reasons that make people use them. All the documentations are available at any given time and are detailed with explicit instructions on how certain features should be used. On the flip side, the flexibility is only limited to only what was programmed originally.


Cost/Price policy

From a general functionality standpoint, open source does not come with any associated costs. This means that accessing open source software is generally free. Also you will only have to spend for additional features and assistance.

For closed source, there is a cost associated with the software. In addition to this, you will have to pay for additional functionality. The pricing model covers the right to use the software either with a subscription or an upfront cost.


This is a highly controversial point as both sources software have their own ways of offering security to users.

Since open software is shared, there is always a community ready to test, fix and modify broken code. On a release of a given program, the errors are quickly fixed and this is continued as long as it continues to be open source. The problem with open source software is that it is open to hackers and people with malicious intentions.

Closed source software can only fix and modify by the developer. Meaning that solving a coding problem may take some time. On the brighter side, it is not open to malicious attacks.


Quality of support

There is no option to contact support in open source software and the reason is obvious – general functionality offer free of charge. With open source software, you can only get support from articles, forums, or an experienced expert.

Closed source software wins in this as a contact support option covered in the software cost. The support services always clearly organize and properly documente.


With the comparison above, you can clearly tell that both sources has distinct capabilities and that the decision of going for either can only be made after evaluating your needs. If you find out that you are looking for flexibility, scalability and affordability, then Open source is the go-for-option. For reliability, stability and dedicated support, it is needless to say that you need to go for closed source. Hopefully, this guide has shed some light on this topic and that you can now easily pick the software that will match all your business needs.

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