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Disadvantages of Open-Source CMS Platforms

When it comes to managing a website, the task can be both challenging and time-consuming. With the constant evolution of technology, staying on top of updates and security can be a full-time job. While open-source content management systems (CMS) are popular due to their low cost or free price point, their maintenance costs, which include upgrades, security updates, and technical support, can quickly add up. In the end, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an open-source CMS is often much larger than expected.

At first glance, smaller and mid-sized companies may find open-source CMS platforms cheaper and easier to use. However, there are several disadvantages to using open-source CMS. Firstly, the maintenance required to keep the system up to date can be overwhelming, and without it, a website is vulnerable to hackers or crashes. This maintenance responsibility falls on the user or the agency they hire to do it for them, which can be costly and time-consuming.

As a company grows, having a robust security and maintenance program in place becomes increasingly important. However, open-source CMS platforms present four significant disadvantages, including Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), lack of dedicated support, problems with plug-ins, and headaches with end-of-life open-source platforms.

The term "cloud" is frequently used to describe open-source CMS solutions, but they are often deployed as PaaS solutions. This means that the upkeep of the software, including upgrades and patches, falls entirely on the user or the implementation partner. Furthermore, upgrading can be costly and take months of development time, causing frustration and a loss of revenue.

Lack of dedicated support is another disadvantage of open-source CMS platforms. Users are reliant on a community of fellow-users with varying degrees of knowledge, and no inside understanding of their website. This is magnified when it comes to plug-ins, which are commonly used to give websites a range of different features.

The problem with plug-ins is that the more you have, the more there is to maintain. Failure to update plug-ins can lead to bad website behavior, and they often break. Additionally, because they're open-source, plug-ins often have multiple authors with no real owners, making it difficult to find support when needed. Moreover, open-source plug-ins leave a website vulnerable to hackers.

End-of-life open-source platforms are also problematic, as they require forced upgrades when product versions are no longer supported by the community. This incurs costly upgrade support from the user's web agency, and the longer upgrades are put off, the more a website is open to hackers, leading to potential revenue loss.

While open-source CMS platforms may be cost-effective initially, the total cost of ownership over time can be much higher than expected. With numerous disadvantages such as maintenance costs, lack of support, problems with plug-ins, and headaches with end-of-life open-source platforms, it's important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding which CMS platform to use.