What Are the Best Free, Web-Based Help Desk Software Solutions for a Startup?

What are the best free web-based helpdesk software today? It’s a mixed bag of free, freemium, and open source apps. If you’re looking for a free-forever steal, something like Spiceworks may work for you. But it’s highly recommended that you opt for freemiums because once your business grows, free tools simply won’t be enough. You’ll have to scale to more sophisticated helpdesk systems.

In this article, we’ve compiled some of the best online helpdesk systems that offer scalable and affordable plans for startups. We will be discussing their different features and pricing plans, so you can make an informed decision about which one is the best option for you.

best free helpdesk apps

Helpdesk software consists of tools to help you resolve customer issues and queries in the most efficient, accurate, and organized manner to provide the best customer service and ensure customer satisfaction. This main function of helpdesk software translates to many benefits – customer loyalty and retention, staff productivity, and sustainability and viability for your business, all of which contribute to improved revenues.

And due to the massive changes caused by the pandemic, helpdesk and other technology tools that allow businesses to continue operating had become more indispensable than ever. In fact, the global helpdesk software market is predicted to grow from $.8 billion in 2019 to $1.2 billion by 2025, achieving a 10.6% CAGR based on revenue.

And because of the new challenges that emerged because of COVID-19, a study found that 85% of helpdesk teams have cited the need to make considerable adjustments on how they provide support. Likewise, 50% of helpdesk teams are already providing support 100% remote to include every agent who shifted to a work-from-home setup.

covid-19 impact on helpdesk

Helpdesk software has thus become more important than ever for startups and SMBs. Fortunately, the market is awash with helpdesk solutions for small business, but the big question is right below.

Should You Try Zero Cost Options?

Why not? Extending great customer service is fundamental regardless of your business’ size, and all the more crucial if you are a startup or small business. One survey found out that

If a free helpdesk software means being able to jumpstart business growth, then go for it. As a startup, you need all the tools that you can get, especially free ones, to start you along. Make sure you read some helpdesk software reviews first to get enough initial info to set your expectations right.

Understanding the “Freemium” Pricing Strategy

A freemium or free edition is usually part of a larger set of tiered, premium plans. It is intended to provide you basic features or entry-level offerings specially designed for startups with light requirements. You can then transition to more robust and advanced features up the tiers when you take on heavier operations. A common characteristic of freemium software is its limitations, which may be in the form of the following:

  • Limited features: basic functions and capabilities.
  • Limited users: restricted to a certain number of users.
  • Limited capacity: restriction on database or storage size.
  • Limited use license: free for personal use or educational use.
  • Limited use time: has an expiry date like a free trial after which you have to upgrade.
  • Limited support: does not have priority or real-time customer support.

Unless categorically stated by the product vendor that it is free forever with its given feature sets, the freemium (a combination of free and premium) pricing strategy will have you pay for additional features, capabilities, or services you need. Since no business is meant to be static, you will eventually take the route of either adding more features or upgrading altogether to the next paid plan as your business grows.

Despite its inherent limitations, freemiums are now offered by most product providers to give startups and SMBs a viable and practical entry point to use their software. But what free solutions should you try? Below, we’ve come up with the best free web-based helpdesk software that you can consider. They carry some of the best-in-class tools and capabilities notwithstanding their classification as freemiums.

15 Best Free Online Helpdesk Platforms

Some of the best free web-based helpdesk software solutions here are part of tiered pricing models, some are full free platforms, and others are free open-source software. Hence, there will be a variety of features and offerings, and you have to be on the lookout for the solutions that closely match your needs. Remember, you’ll not be on a free platform for the rest of your business life. So the best free software is there to set you up on solid footing until such time you leave free territory.  For more information on paid plans, you can read the different helpdesk software pricing types.

1. Freshdesk

Freshdesk dashboard

Freshdesk is an award-winning helpdesk solution used by over 150,000 businesses including some of the top brands in the world. It is designed to streamline all your customer conversations in one place, automate repetitive work to save you time, collaborate with other teams to resolve issues faster, help customers experience self-service solutions, as well as measure and improve helpdesk performance.

It has everything you need to redefine and elevate your customer support. These and more have landed Freshdesk into our #1 helpdesk software product for the past two years. If you’d like to learn more, the vendor offers a free trial plan that will let you check out the system’s features at no cost at all.

Freshdesk may well be the epitome of a great free helpdesk solution since it offers scalable price range that you can transition to, has reliable vendor support, and brings some of the most comprehensive features set for its free plan.

As for pricing, it has five affordable plans starting with a free edition that includes an email channel, knowledgebase, and basic phone, social, and chat channels. The immense advantage that Freshdesk gives you is the unlimited number of agents that can use the free edition. You read it right, no restrictions on how many of your helpdesk personnel can use the software’s freemium offering which sets you off to a great start.

Detailed Freshdesk Review

2. LiveAgent

LiveAgent dashboard

LiveAgent is a popular helpdesk software solution created for businesses of all sizes. It is equipped with robust features for live chat management, email support management, as well as helpdesk agent management so you can optimize client engagement. Moreover, it comes with a flexible yet easy-to-use interface that makes it a great option for tech-savvy and tech-averse users alike.

In addition to the abovementioned, this solution features a powerful ticket management module that lets you consolidate queries from multiple communication channels. It also comes with automated ticket distribution tools and agent collision detection so you no longer have to manually route tickets and ensure that no two agents are working on the same query. To further understand how this works, you can sign up for the vendor’s free trial plan and test out the system firsthand at no cost.



Try out LiveAgent with their free trial

Another great thing about LiveAgent is that it offers comprehensive reporting tools that will help you gain insights into your operational performance. It can generate performance reports, agent rankings, SLA compliance reports, and even departmental reports. That said, you can get a bird’s eye view of your day-to-day operations to help you take the guesswork out of business decision-making.

With the free LiveAgent plan, you get one email address for email ticketing, one chat button, and one phone number. Additionally, the free plan gives you unfettered access to robust features such as ticket merging, contact forms, split, ticket mass action, email notifications, custom ticket field, and canned response.

Detailed LiveAgent Review

3. Freshservice

Freshservice dashboard

Freshservice is an IT service desk software designed to modernize IT and other business functions through an easy-to-use and configure cloud platform. This popular customer support software provides all the essentials including a robust ticketing system, accessible knowledge base, asset discovery, and CMDB. In addition, the software is equipped with capabilities for vendor management, incident management, problem management, change management, and release management.

The software features a self-service portal that allows end-users to raise tickets, check the status of older tickets, get notifications, request new services and browse knowledgebase articles. Besides the free app, the vendor also offers a great free trial plan.



Try out Freshservice with their free trial

Freshservice is offered through five affordable plans for small, growing, and large teams as well as enterprises. The offerings include a free edition to help you get started for up to three agents, 100 assets, and 100 end users.

The free solution brings features and capabilities such as incident management, asset management, self-service portal, knowledge base, and AD integration. Under incident management are features for email ticketing, canned responses, task management, automatic ticket assignment, SLA management, and auto-suggest solutions. There is likewise a mobile service desk available through iOS and Android apps, and 24/7 email and phone support.

Detailed Freshservice Review

4. Wix Answers

Wix Answers Dashboard

Wix Answers is a free, all-in-one, online helpdesk software solution that provides you with the tools you need for customer and business support. The solution comes complete with a built-in knowledge base, call center, multi-channel ticketing system, and more, in one unified platform.

With Wix Answers, you can create your own help center that suits your branding, manage tickets from different support channels, provide assistance to customers from anywhere on your website, administer your own call center, facilitate all communication, and access actionable business insights for informed decision-making processes.

Wix Answers

Wix Answers

Try out Wix Answers with their free trial

You can easily manage, track, and prioritize support tickets from various channels—email, phone or social media—and answer them directly from the platform. You can also send articles right from your knowledge base, get automatic article recommendations, and add custom fields to contact forms for more accurate customer information. The system has advanced customization options and a streamlined interface which makes it a smart, efficient, and reliable system for any business.

Detailed Wix Answers Review

5. ProProfs Help Desk

ProProfs Help Desk dashboard

ProProfs Help Desk is a free cloud-based solution that aims to enhance customer service performance and improve customer satisfaction using its robust help desk ticketing, chat, and knowledge base features. This software solution is designed to streamline customer support and reduce ticket support requests by providing customers with customer-facing inboxes and a self-service knowledge base. Support-facing functions also include an internal knowledge base and robust tools such as shared inboxes, which speeds up access to customer information as well as collaboration with other users.

When it comes to tracking your teams’ performance, ProProfs Help Desk provides a detailed rating feature that allows you to monitor each customer support agent’s activity right down to every customer interaction. Survey and feedback forms can also be added, so you can gain an insight into your customers’ experience with your support team. In terms of integrations, this help desk software integrates with ProProfs Knowledge Base, which offers an extensive list of training materials, and ProProfs Chat, which can be accessed by support agents from their mobile devices.

ProProfs Help Desk’s free version is available for one user and the paid plans start at $15/month ($10/month if billed annually).

Detailed ProProfs Help Desk Review

6. Zoho Desk

zoho desk dashboard

Zoho Desk is the customer support solution from the renowned Zoho family of over 40 different software and function-specific platforms. The great thing about Zoho is that its solutions are inter-operable which means that Zoho Desk can be integrated with other Zoho apps for CRM, sales, marketing, accounting, and many others, giving you a powerful, extensible solution in a unified platform.

Zoho Desk boasts of the first context-aware helpdesk to help your business focus more on customers and not be sidelined by processes. It provides tools to automate frequent tasks, identify trends and patterns in your team’s efforts to improve performance, and allow your customers to reach out on a variety of channels. If you want to try the app now, you can simply sign up for the platform’s free plan.

Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk

Try out Zoho Desk with their free trial

Zoho Desk is available in two low-cost monthly paid plans and a free plan for up to 10 agents. Their free plan is one of the most feature-rich offerings around with over a dozen functions and capabilities including email box and web forms, knowledgebase, work modes, domain mapping, priority SLAs, agent and manager dashboards, team feed, ticket overview, and remote support, among others.

It is almost a complete helpdesk solution sufficient for a small team. It also offers a 15-day free trial and a money-back guarantee wherein if you are not at all satisfied with the product, you can cancel your subscription anytime and get a full refund.

Detailed Zoho Desk Review

 7. Kayako

Kayako Dashboard

Kayako is a simple and easy-to-use helpdesk system built for modern businesses looking to put their customer service channels in one place. Among its many features are live chats, tickets, web, email, calls or self-service support to help businesses further extend help to customers. Kayako generates insights based on customer queries, such as sales trends and opportunities, performance metrics, and support bottlenecks.

You can also automate processes to fast track replies to standard queries or repetitive tasks so your agents can prioritize more pressing issues, or organize and route emails for easy sorting. The software allows you to launch live chat across your website and address customer concerns fast, giving you real-time, proactive support to possible prospects.

Kayako comes in five scalable, budget-friendly plans for small, growing and large teams. For startups, a free plan is available for use by up to three agents and includes live chat and email, a basic help center, and over 600 integrations with Zapier.

Detailed Kayako Review

7. Spiceworks

Spiceworks Dashboard

Spiceworks is an entirely free helpdesk solution built by IT experts for IT users. The Spiceworks company is well known in the industry for providing world-class network monitoring and IT infrastructure management solutions at no cost, and this IT helpdesk platform continues the tradition. Managing IT systems is no walk in the park and Spiceworks offers helpful tools to let you know exactly what’s on your network, monitor critical devices, troubleshoot issues, and support users.

The solution is designed to assist you in many ways – get answers from technical forums, learn quickly from instructive resources, find and buy the right products and manage and troubleshoot IT issues. The solution lets you launch a fully-loaded helpdesk in minutes to manage whatever users send your way. You’ll easily get to track a user’s IT needs and issues, do inventory management, monitor device health, get customized reporting, and even get alerted at the first sign of trouble.

Spiceworks is deployable on the cloud for an online helpdesk or on-premise for a self-hosted platform.

Detailed Spiceworks Review

8. NABD System

NABD System dashboard

NABD System is a suite of configurable customer service solutions to help you deliver top-level customer support across multiple channels. It lets you provide positive customer experience through its cross-channel capability, enabling you to engage customers via web, phone, email, chat, social media, and even on mobile.

Aside from multi-channel capability, NABD also brings with it an integrated BPM engine, unified dashboard, and collaboration tools. These enable you to optimally engage with customers, speed up issue resolution by sorting information agents need, set up an intelligent knowledgebase, effectively monitor service queue, as well as assess customer support performance with the right metrics, relevant customer feedback, and return on action (ROA).

NABD only offers three plans, two of which are paid options. Its free plan, however, could very well be one of the most feature-filled offerings around with over five dozen tools and features for customer communication, customer support/case management, document and correspondence automation, customer self-service portal, reports, security and system configuration, agent productivity, and other support processes.

Detailed NABD System Review

9. Mojo Helpdesk

Mojo Helpdesk dashboard

Mojo Helpdesk is a hosted helpdesk and ticket tracking software that centralizes all requests into one web-based, Gmail-like user interface. The software is built to work with G Suite so you can use your Google account to sign in with Mojo Helpdesk, integrate the platform with your Google domain, and navigate from G Suite to Mojo Helpdesk in one click.

What you get with the software are a self-service portal, custom forms, centralized requests, email integration, and automations. It allows you to centralize, assign and monitor user tech and customer requests, as well as internal tasks within the organization. Your users and customers can quickly submit their requests through email into a helpdesk or directly using a web interface where they are quickly assigned to helpdesk team agents for processing. All helpdesk messages that are sent to users and customers are recorded in a discussion-like thread.

Mojo Helpdesk is available in four plans starting with a free edition for use by up three agents. It allows for limited queues, custom forms, custom views, triggers, and canned responses as well as 50MB per agent file storage.

Detailed Mojo Helpdesk Review

10. osTicket

osTicket dashboard

osTicket is a free, open-source customer support ticket management software that lets you seamlessly route inquiries created via email, web-forms, and phone calls into a simple, easy-to-use, multi-user, web-based customer support platform. It comes packed with features and tools that rival premium support ticket systems on the market.

You can filter tickets and route them to the right agent as well as utilize the auto-assigner and auto-responder to set repeated actions and workflows for certain ticket types. The customer support app also provides dashboard reports and a customer self-service portal.

With the software, you can gather tickets and delegate custom fields to each ticket, create a list of data linked with each ticket that can be shared on the knowledgebase for clients, build auto-response templates for incoming email tickets, and use rich text HTML to add videos, images, and logo to tickets. The solution’s ticket filter tool enables you to define routing rules for tickets so that they are assigned to the right department and person.

Detailed osTicket Review

11. C-Desk

C-Desk dashboard

C-Desk is a free web-based ticketing software designed to manage all types of service requests not only relating to IT but to all other functions in your organization that require a service desk. It is intended to be a multi-location software that can serve as an internal service platform or a customer support management solution.

It comes with an array of tools and functionalities such as customer care module to handle service requests or complaints, vendor service portal, asset management that covers the complete lifecycle of assets, task and projects, voucher management system, C-forms for conducting surveys, knowledge base, and active directory authentication. It also provides a mail flow system, taskbar notifier, discussion forum, and C-chat which is part of an online service that offers a venue for users to communicate in real-time.

All these bundles of features are provided in a user-friendly application that is completely free.

12. ngDesk

ngDesk dashboard

ngDesk is another entirely free cloud customer service software that comes with a ticketing system, automation and escalation, helpdesk reporting, and mobile support, among others. It lets you have all the important helpdesk features that you need in one place, allowing you to handle everything from incident alerts to ticket management to live performance metrics, with no limits.

Its ticketing system lets you funnel all your support channels into a single shared inbox where every support request you receive is automatically converted into a ticket, enabling your agents to easily manage incoming tickets. You can streamline ticket resolution by assigning and reassigning tickets to subject matter experts.

In addition, when an agent is assigned to a ticket, they will receive notifications on all ticket updates and activity and become responsible for ensuring that the ticket gets resolved. The system also handles SLAs so you can set, manage and exceed customer expectations. You can customize response times and prioritize tickets, and even set multiple SLA policies for different customers based on time of day or ticket severity.

Detailed ngDesk Review

13. OTRS Free

OTRS Free dashboard

OTRS is an open-source ticket request system that is offered both for free and commercial use. The software is designed as a helpdesk platform for IT service management and is constantly reviewed by the manufacturer and its community of users, making it one of the more secure than flexible open-source software around.

It is used by different industry sectors such as IT and telecommunications, government, healthcare, manufacturing, education, and consumer products. With OTRS, tickets appear and are queued in Team Postboxes which can be interacted on from a customer portal or through email and mobile devices. Support personal are notified through SMS whenever a request is assigned for resolution or action.

Meanwhile, customers are informed through their mobile phones for any status and updates of their requests. The system can assign and prioritize tickets through multiple service catalogs, advanced calendar with time tracking functions, and merging or assorting tickets by bulk.

14. Hesk

Hesk dashboard

Hesk is a light, secure and user-friendly help desk platform offered free by IT solutions provider SysAid. It can be installed on local machines or deployed in the cloud to help you receive, organize, track and resolve customer support issues.

It allows the creation of a knowledge base for customer self-service experience and to decrease the load on your support staff. It boasts of a powerful ticket management system and several automation options to efficiently handle all ITSM issues. You can build custom fields and tweak helpdesk settings to align with your workflows.

In fact, the ticket submission form can be modified to match your particular specifications. Once a ticket has been assigned to an agent, he or she can engage with the customer through a Web interface, share and upload files or make relevant notes. The system provides an admin panel that lets you filter and organize tickets as well as check ticket progress status. The customer is notified via email once a ticket or query is resolved.

15. Solarwinds Web Help Desk Free Edition

Solarwinds Web Help Desk Free Edition dashboard

Solarwinds is a provider of services and solutions related to IT management and infrastructure such as networks, servers, applications, storage, virtualization, cloud, or development operations. One of its products is the Web Help Desk which has over a dozen features and functionalities to simplify and automate helpdesk ticketing and incident management.

While this premium solution will set you back by $700, the good thing is that there is a zero-cost version. The Web Help Desk Free Edition enables you to manage all end-user trouble tickets and track service request lifecycle – from ticket creation to resolution – from one centralized helpdesk management web interface.

Among the key features of the free solution are intuitive service requests and a self-service portal for end-users, automated ticket routing and assignment based on your needs, and active directory and LDAP authentication.

The free software supports Windows, Linux, and Mac systems, and allows one technician to login with no expiration and no obligation.

Which Helpdesk Is The Right Fit For Your Company?

As you may have noticed, free web-based helpdesk software solutions are not made equal. Some will stand out from the others through more features and functionality, and more or even an unlimited number of users or agents. Feel your way around and study these offerings.

No software, even free ones, is made to be a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Understandably, since these are zero-cost platforms, you get what is offered at the table – no more, no less. But with many free solutions available, you can filter and sort out which comes nearest to your startup requirements and help you initially jumpstart your business.

It may also be to your advantage to consider a solution that has a range of pricing plans so you can upgrade smoothly to the next paid option anytime you need to. Wise decisions are informed decisions. Be smart in choosing free software and find the right close fit for you.

Christopher Robinson

By Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson is a senior productivity research analyst who specializes in optimizing online collaboration and project management using Scrum and agile approaches. In his work, he always emphasizes the need for distributed work training and the formation of efficient work habits. His work was mentioned in various business publications, including Entrepreneur and InfoQ. He’s a strong proponent of the GTD model. He has been cooperating with the FinancesOnline team for 5 years now, and his publications always focus on practical aspects of productivity tools that can have an actual, transformative impact on a company.

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