What Should You Choose – Proprietary CMS or Open Source CMS?

What Should You Choose – Proprietary CMS or Open Source CMS?
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There is no answer to the question of which content management system is better – open source or proprietary. Both have advantages and limitations and are suitable for certain requirements. Before choosing, you need to first identify your expectations from the potential cms software you might be hiring. This article will discuss the advantages and limitations of both types of CMS and will also offer clues on whether a particular CMS type might suit you more than the other.

Proprietary content management system software

Think of a proprietary CMS as a prefabricated home – the architecture of the home is predesigned and so are the structural components within the home. As per the contract, you are allowed minimal or no freedom to change the architecture or structure of the home. If you are sure that the architecture and structure suit your needs exactly, then the proprietary CMS may be suitable for you. Proprietary content management systems can be targeted at specific industries and are designed accordingly. The advantages and disadvantages of a proprietary CMS are discussed below:


  • The cost of hiring a matured CMS is lower than that of hiring a CMS system that is being built from the scratch. When you are having a system built from the scratch, think about the developer salaries, logistics, server and other costs.
  • Updates to a matured CMS are potentially more than that to a custom CMS. You can expect a reputed CMS provider to provide updates to the system.
  • Proprietary CMS tend to receive less spam content.


  • You do not own the source code of a proprietary CMS – you are just leasing or renting it for a specific period of time which can be extended by paying subscriptions.
  • Since you do not own the source code, you are not allowed to modify the code. You may face several limitations when it comes to tasks such as data exporting, new themes, and CSS modification.
  • Even if the CMS fits your other needs, the frontend UI may not be as per your expectations and you may find it extremely difficult to modify the UI.
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Open source content management system software

Think of open source CMS as a house you have moved in. The structure and architecture of the house can be modified as per your requirements. You can paint the house or move in furniture as per your wishes. So, the house is the source code and you are allowed to modify as per your requirements.  The advantages and disadvantages of an open source CMS are discussed below:


  • Since the source code is open, there is a huge community of developers that work to enrich the CMS in the form of plug-ins, themes and other stuff.
  • Platform independent. Open source CMS supports code, themes or plug-ins from any platform.
  • Open source CMS are customizable as per your requirements.


  • Customizations may not have regular updates because they may be individually developed. This makes the system vulnerable.
  • Custom CMS may cost more than a proprietary CMS.
  • Since open source CMS are popular, they are target of spam content.

The verdict

So, it is not about whether a particular CMS is better than the other but about whether a particular CMS is suitable for you. If your requirements are not going to change much and you are happy with whatever the CMS offers, a proprietary system might be good for you. Else, consider an open source system.