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It goes without saying that paying less for something is desirable. But on the hand, choosing the cheaper of two options can put you in dire straits if that lower-priced product is also of cheaper quality. Sometimes, it’s better to pay a higher cost upfront if doing so means you are less likely to have to replace things later on. But does this axiom hold up in the world of project management?

There are a number of free apps or free versions of apps out there designed to help you and your team manage your work efficiently. Is it worth it to go with a free version when paying might get you access to new features, better support, or more file storage? These are the questions we will be answering here and now.

But first, some housekeeping. For each app, I will cover what the free version brings to the table and how it differs from paid versions (when applicable). I’ll also throw in a few other observations about the value of each app based on my experience in testing this kind of software. At the end of the process, I will deliver a verdict about whether each app is worth your time.

Let’s get started!

Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review) is one of our favorite project management apps here at Merchant Maverick. We love it for its slick, modern interface and excellent, easy to use features. But how much of that awesomeness overflows into the Free version? Let’s find out.

At first glance, the free version of Redbooth might come across as a little underwhelming. With a 10-user maximum threshold, you will have to be operating on a small scale indeed for this to meet your needs. Add to that a strict limit of two workspaces, and you may feel that Redbooth’s usefulness does not outweigh the downsides of the free version.

However, if you keep looking, you will find that many of our favorite features are still accessible in the free version. You still get unlimited tasks and subtasks, Gantt charts, basic reporting, conversations, templates, and email support. Wrap it all up in Redbooth’s gorgeous UI and you end up with a pretty picture.

Are there issues with the free plan? Yes. Like I mentioned above, this is a difficult free app to adapt to larger teams, or even to small teams that handle lots of kinds of projects. But if you are a kind of one-trick-wonder company, or if you work on just one or two major projects at a time, Redbooth’s no-cost plan might work out for you.

Verdict: Redbooth’s free version is worth your consideration

Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects (read our review) is another longstanding favorite at Merchant Maverick. And we aren’t the only ones who like it. Teamwork Projects has been winning hearts and minds since back in 2007. And happily, there is a free version. Signing up and entering your email address and a password will give you access to this app’s user-friendly interface and good integrations. But how many of its features carry over to the free plan?

As with Redbooth, things don’t start out promising. The free version of Teamwork projects enforces a maximum of five users, making it a bit less useful than even Redbooth’s offer. With so few users available it will be a small team indeed that can make use of Teamwork Projects for free. And where Redbooth allows free users two workspaces, with the potential of several projects in each, Teamwork projects only gives two projects. That is pretty limiting, to say the least.

Honestly, there is just not much good news to be had here. The free version of Teamwork projects is just not enough. You only get 100 MB storage and what the pricing page describes as “limited” task boards and “basic” project management. You do get access to subtasks and “color schemes,” but part of the appeal of Teamwork Projects is that it is an advanced project management app. If all you really need are basic and limited task management, there are far better options. Teamwork Projects truly does deliver robust features and good value with its paid plans, but I’m sorry to say that the free version is not particularly advanced or valuable.

Verdict: The free version of Teamwork is not worth your time

Clickup

Unlike the first two entries on this list, Clickup (read our review) is not a long-standing project management solution that has been through more than a decade of refinement. No, Clickup is one of the new kids on the block, and it has something to prove. Notably, Clickup was practically designed around its free version. So what do you get here and how does it compare with other free software?

Put simply, you sacrifice very little by sticking to the free version of Clickup. The only major differences between the paid and free subscriptions are that by paying, you unlock unlimited storage (the free version comes with a paltry 100MB), and onboarding training. Though I find it difficult to imagine working with such small amounts of storage, Clickup’s integrations with Google Drive and Dropbox may solve at least part of that problem. On top of that, Clickup is an absolute joy to use. I find that its usability and interface design are on par with Redbooth’s; both of them are excellent.

To be clear, Clickup is by no means perfect. Like many of the free-forever project management apps floating around out there in cyberspace, it lacks more advanced features like reporting, financial documentation, and budgeting. That is an important factor in the decision-making process; if you need reporting, this may not be the app for you. Having said that, you will struggle to find many software examples out there that do have a reporting feature on their free app. The only one I can think of is Redbooth.

Clickup should absolutely be on your shortlist of free project management apps, especially if you don’t need the financial and reporting stuff I mentioned above. This is not just a free version of a normally premium app, this is a naturally grown, gluten, dairy, and GMO-free burger of an app, designed and built to be free from the ground up.

Verdict: Clickup’s free version is worth a look-see

Squidhub

Squidhub (read our Review) is one of the most pleasant discoveries I made last year. A brand-spanking-new project management app, Squidhub is like Clickup in that it was designed to be free. Also like Clickup, Squidhub’s feature set is on the lighter side and focuses primarily on task management, communication, and file storage. Having said that, paid versions of Squidhub are “coming soon” according to the website’s pricing page, so it is worth taking a few moments to determine whether these subscriptions are worth your time.

Basically, Squidhub’s free features center around a task list, chat panel, and document storage interface. This allows for plenty of new features to be layered on top since Squidhub is already such a barebones app. With that in mind, it is actually a little surprising how limited the planned additions are for the upcoming paid subscriptions. For $5/user/month, the only new features you will get are file recovery, calendar sync, and phone support. Go up to $8/user/month, and you will get an “admin panel,” as well as group templates. Honestly, I can see the value of that higher subscription, but in many cases, the free version of Squidhub is going to be all you need.

I really like Squidhub. However, it would be dishonest of me to say that this is a perfect, one-size-fits-all app. It is extremely limited in its capabilities. What it can do, it does with aplomb. But compared to the likes of Redbooth, Squidhub is a little like a two-stroke weed-eater next to a Rolls-Royce Phantom. But you know what? You wouldn’t use a Royce to trim the long grass in your backyard, would you? Use the right tool for the right job.

Verdict: Squidhub is worth your time, but limited in capabilities

Trello

I have said this before, but Trello (read our review) is a project management app I can recommend without reservations every day of the week. The fact that there is an excellent free version is a big part of that. Trello popularized the increasingly common “Board View” that is now ubiquitous in the project management world. They also bring a sense of humor into their app, with stickers and silly “power-ups” for users to enjoy.

Trello’s free version is good, but what are you missing out on by not paying for a monthly subscription? To be frank, quite a bit. Paid versions of Trello come with advanced integrations with the likes of Jira and MailChimp, as well as features like Collections that add to team cohesion. Essentially, if you are using Trello on your own, the free version might be okay for you. Working in a group, the paid subscriptions become increasingly useful as you add more users. If you are willing to shell out for the top subscription, you get enhanced security features that include two-factor authentification.

I still love Trello. But my affinity for this program comes with the knowledge that larger teams may find the free version limiting. If you need an app for a few users and no more, the free Trello plan is probably fine. You may even be able to make it work with more team members than that. But there are other options out there, including several on this list, that will serve you better.

Verdict: Trello’s free plan is worth a trial, depending on your team size

Final Thoughts

It is difficult to resist the draw of the “free” label. But when it comes to your business, you want quality as much as you want affordability. Is it worth your time to work with a free project management app subscription, or should you go straight to a paid plan with more robust features? As with most things, the answer comes down to context. Is yours the kind of business or team that just needs task management? Do you need communication tools? Do you need invoicing or other financial capabilities?

If task management is all you need, nearly every option on this list is going to work well for you, depending on how many people you plan to have using the app. If your needs go beyond that, really the only viable option here is Redbooth — and that option will only work if you have a team of fewer than ten people.

When it comes down to it, the two free project management apps I recommend most highly are Redbooth, for its advanced features, and Clickup, for its wide-open usability. But don’t just take my word for it. As always, the final decision is up to you. Go out and give some of these options a try!

If you’re looking for a free app because you run a nonprofit, there are better solutions available. Read The Top 5 Project Management Apps For Nonprofits for a look at your other options. Otherwise, check out our project management software comparison page for more information.

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