Web-based Software versus Installed Software

There are an increasing number of Web-based applications available and Microsoft Office is available in both installed and Web versions. This article will explore web-based software versus installed software.


Web-based software has many advantages. For one, it will work on any computer system that will run on of the software’s supported browsers. There is no software package to download and install that will take up hard drive space. It will be automatically updated to the most current version of the software so you don’t have to keep up with updates. Quite a bit of web-based software is free or can be had for a very low subscription fee. If you’re a business owner or looking to start one, this can thwart the sometimes huge starting capital required for some premium software packages. You can save a document to the cloud easily. Although, many cloud software solutions make cloud saving and collaboration as easy through installed software as it is through web-based applications.


Disadvantages of web-based software are many as well. The application cannot be used offline. This isn’t really as big of a deal as it used to be now that having an internet connection has grown to be so ubiquitous. However, there are times when I do not have an internet connection due to power loss, travel, or internet connection issues where I can open my laptop and get some work done in using productivity software that is locally installed on my system. Performance is another big disadvantage. Application performance is bottle-necked by your connection quality. Security can be an issue if you are working with sensitive data. This data is being transmitted from your computer to a remote server, being processed, and sent back. If you are connected to the internet via a public Wi-Fi connection this adds another layer of insecurity as you transmit the data openly.


Overall, I prefer to use installed software. Sometimes my inability to get a reliable internet connection just makes installed software my preference over web-based applications. Some web based solutions also end up using far more system resources than their installed counterparts might use. For example, I am typing this in Word which is using about 20MB of RAM. If I open up Word Online with Chrome and check out the task manager that is built into the browser it tells me that the tab with the Word web application open is using 150MB of RAM. While I think web-based software is certainly handy and such a great option especially for someone who doesn’t have to use it on a daily basis or just needs access to it in a pinch, for now I prefer installed software. Once internet connectivity in the areas through which I travel are more reliable and speedy, I might see myself utilizing them more often.


Which do you prefer to use? Why? If you prefer installed software, what would have to change about Web-based software in the future to change your opinion?

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