6 free IT help desk ticketing systems

These tools provide help desk ticketing, IT asset management and more.

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Whether you’re on the IT team at a company or work for a managed service provider (MSP), a help desk ticketing tool is a must for providing solid tech support. These applications give IT staff and end users a way to communicate about and track technical issues and questions.

Most ticketing systems targeted towards IT also provide asset management to help you track all the hardware and software deployed to users in the organization, and some even provide remote monitoring, management, and patching capabilities — especially welcome in our new work-from-home world.

With many free tools available, there’s no reason not to use IT ticketing software. If you don’t already have a help desk product or are wanting to find another, consider the free options I discuss here. Most are limited-functionality free editions of for-pay products that make it easy to step up to a paid plan as your business grows, but there are some totally free services as well.

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine provides a help desk tool with IT management features called ServiceDesk Plus, available via the cloud or on-premises. The free edition, however, is offered only for on-premises deployment and can be installed on Windows and Linux machines.  

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From the main dashboard of ServiceDesk Plus you can quickly see the stats and access both user requests and DesktopCentral functionality. (Click any image in this story to enlarge it.)

There are three editions of ServiceDesk Plus (Standard, Professional, and Enterprise), but only the Standard Edition is free with support for up to five tech agents and 500 nodes. Pricing to move up to 10 agents and 500 nodes for the standard tier starts at $100 per month; five agents and 500 nodes for the professional and enterprise tiers, which include asset management and other advanced features, costs $100 and $250 per month, respectively. These prices are based upon an annual commitment, but they do offer month-to-month pricing for a slight premium.

To get asset management with the free ServiceDesk Plus tier, you must use ManageEngine’s remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool, DesktopCentral, which integrates with the ServiceDesk Plus interface. Its free edition supports up to 25 computers and 25 mobile devices and is offered via on-premises deployment (Windows only) or via the cloud (Azure or AWS). The vendor offers three paid editions as well: Professional, Enterprise, and UEM; pricing for each starts at $795, $945, $1,095 per year for a single tech and up to 50 computers.

ServiceDesk Plus allows you to track and manage requests and solutions. You can also set tasks, reminders, and tech availability with the scheduler. Once you set up the DesktopCentral integration, you can manage hardware and software assets via its inventory features. The integration also provides native remote desktop support, software and configuration deployment, and patch management.

Mint Service Desk

Mint Service Desk (MintSD) is an IT service desk management tool offered as a downloadable on-premises solution for Linux or macOS machines with Docker; the vendor also offers a managed version as a paid option. The free edition supports up to 3 agents and includes all the features besides support. The company doesn’t publicize pricing details for its premium editions but does say they’re free for nonprofits.

MintSD’s incident management features allow you to manage tickets with some customizations, such as custom forms, custom dictionaries, and good filtering options when viewing tickets. Plus, it supports live chat with your end-users. You can also generate a FAQ. The asset management features allow you to create custom categories and asset relationships. The software also supports the creation of asset tags with QR codes.

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In MintSD you can easily see your list of assets and click on any of them to access its details or asset label.

The service level management features of MintSD give you the ability to input your SLA parameters and monitor your performance. The parameters can even be based upon particular service types.The software can track response, update, and resolution times per each ticket.

OTRS

Open Technology Real Services (OTRS) provides help desk software with IT management. There’s an on-premises open-source edition that’s freely downloadable and can be installed on a Linux, Unix-like, or macOS machine. The paid editions are available for both on-premises and cloud-based deployment and include additional features such as SMS notifications, chat, and reporting.

OTRS Free allows you to do basic ticket management, build a knowledge base for end users and agents, and manage agent appointment schedules. The basic configuration management database functionality added by the ITSM Module allows you to do simple asset management by manually adding items.

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OTRS’ simple interface allows agents to easily view and manage help desk tickets.

Although OTRS seems like a very simple, no-frills option, the ticketing portion is open source and therefore highly customizable for those who know their way around Perl and JavaScript. In fact, OTRS encourages developers to contribute to the OTRS Free project.

SeamlessDesk

SeamlessDesk is an all cloud-based IT service desk platform that offers ticket, asset, and project management. The free edition allows you to have only one agent and lacks some of the email, web, SMS, and social portal support that the paid versions offer. However, it supports unlimited end-user devices.

SeamlessDesk offers a 30-day free trial of its paid editions, Starter (three agents), Growth (six agents), and Premium (nine agents), which start at $60, $120, and $180 per month respectively with annual commitment pricing. The company charges a decent premium if you don’t sign a 12-month commitment.

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The initial login page of SeamlessDesk shows you ticket stats and a listing of active tickets.

In addition to basic IT ticket management, SeamlessDesk includes asset management for not only hardware and software, but vendors and contracts as well. You can also generate a public knowledge base, and it is one of the only free help desk tools to provide project management functionality.

Spiceworks Help Desk

Spiceworks provides an ad-supported IT help desk tool that’s totally free with no limits. You can deploy it on-premises via a VMware or a Linux machine or use the cloud-based edition. The company also offers free network inventory and network monitoring applications, among other free IT tools. Additionally, Spiceworks hosts an online community, organizes local meetups, and hosts an annual IT conference.

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Agents can use Spiceworks’ device inventory feature to track and manage IT assets, which can be added manually or via scanning.

The cloud-based version of Spiceworks Help Desk offers basic ticketing, reporting and the ability to view and contribute to an IT knowledge base. Plus, you can manage a software and hardware inventory and track your IT contacts. There are also some third-party add-on apps available for the cloud edition, such as for adding the ability to view product keys of software on monitored PCs or adding customization abilities to the user portal.

The on-premises edition of Help Desk includes more functionality, such as the ability to better customize the end-user portal and create a knowledge base or FAQ for them. It also includes many more reports on the ticketing and IT assets. There are also more than 150 third-party apps available for the on-premises edition, offering everything from the ability to delete open tickets (instead of just closed tickets) to adding new functionality like device uptime or SQL Server monitoring.

The free Inventory app is also included in the on-premises edition, supporting Windows workstation and network scans. In addition to performing basic IT asset management, you can track purchases, vendors and quotes. The app also provides some basic network and patch monitoring, and you can add more details and functionality by installing Spiceworks’ free Network Monitor app.

SysAid

SysAid offers a free edition of its IT help desk software with limited features, supporting up to two agents to manage up to 100 assets and 100 end users. It is available for on-premises use (download it to a Windows or Linux machine) and as a cloud-based service. (The company doesn’t publish pricing for its premium options; you must request a personalized quote.)

The free edition allows you to separately manage incidents, activities and scheduled events. You can also develop a knowledge base for end users and agents, and the tool provides chat functionality to instantly communicate with end users and agents.

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The SysAid Help Desk portal is where end users can access the FAQ, submit a ticket to the help desk, or check their ticket history.

The free edition also provides asset tracking, patch management, and workstation monitoring with alerts and native remote desktop capabilities. It offers reports and analytics on many of the help desk and IT asset details. There’s also an array of add-ons and third-party integrations available for various accounting, authentication, monitoring, and remote desktop tools.

More free general help desk options

Here are some more free help desk options, but these are general ticketing products that lack free IT asset management capabilities:

HelpSpot: The free edition of this tool is available as on-premises software with some limitations. It supports up to three agents and is limited to three mailboxes and one portal. There are also paid on-premises and hosted editions.

Jira Service Management: The free cloud edition of this ticketing software supports up to three agents. The downloadable on-premises edition isn’t free but starts at only $10 for a one-time fee.

osTicket: You can download and install this PHP-based tool from Enhancesoft on your own web server; all features are available for free with no limits. The company also offers a paid hosted edition.

This article was originally published in October 2017 and updated in December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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