LimeSurvey PRO vs LimeSurvey CE
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Before starting the discussion about LimeSurvey PRO (LimeSurvey Professional) and LimeSurvey CE (LimeSurvey Community Edition), it is important to understand the difference between LimeSurvey and LimeSurvey GmbH. The former refers to the web server-based software that is freely distributed under the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL v2). The latter refers to the company that was built around the LimeSurvey software in order to better coordinate its development and provide different LimeSurvey paid services (e.g. hosting, personalized templates, add-on packages, technical support and so on).
Due to its license, LimeSurvey is an open-source software that can be used, modified, and distributed for commercial, private, and educational purposes by anyone. With the exception of the name and logo which are trademarked, the software can be used in any desired way. For example, there is no problem in using LimeSurvey in order to create and distribute questionnaires regarding the evaluation of a university class or professor, or to install it on a personal server and conduct online/ offline marketing research for the company you work at.
In order to install LimeSurvey on your personal computer (for development reasons) or on your server, a minimal set of requirements needs to be met in order to have LimeSurvey up and running. For an exhaustive step-by-step explanation on how to install LimeSurvey, read our installation guideline.
However, some of you might consider the installation process a time-consuming task. Moreover, server administration knowledge might be required in order to avoid possible gridlocks. Hence, LimeSurvey GmbH offers different services built around the capabilities of the LimeSurvey software and the users' needs. For example, LimeSurvey GmbH offers PRO hosting services in order to help users provide direct access to an up-and-running LimeSurvey installation.
LimeSurvey PRO vs LimeSurvey CE
Check the following table in order to better grasp the main differences that exist between the two services:
|LimeSurvey PRO||LimeSurvey CE|
|The hosting is provided by LimeSurvey. The creation of an up-and-running installation should not take more than 5 minutes.||Made to be self-hosted.|
|You can choose one of the four types of subscriptions: FREE, BASIC, EXPERT and ENTERPRISE.||You may either use the free version or pick one of the three premium packages (the premium package contains the ComfortUpdate feature, access to older versions and a multitude of design templates).|
|It always uses the latest stable version of LimeSurvey.||You get access not only to the latest releases but also to the older ones. It is up to you which one you wish to use.|
|Technical support included for the paid packages.||Technical ComfortUpdate support included for the premium packages.|
|Contains all the features that makes LimeSurvey great.||Contains all the features that makes LimeSurvey great.|
|LimeSurvey PRO comes with response and storage usage buttons due to the limitations imposed by the subscription packages.||LimeSurvey CE doesn't contain such buttons, its limitation being represented by the amount of space allocated from the personal server to the LimeSurvey-related tasks.|
|No server access. This means that no third-party plugins/extensions can be added to your LimeSurvey installation.||If you own your server, you can access your LimeSurvey installation. You can start tweaking it and further enhance it by adding additional extensions/add-ons.|
|The ComfortUpdate tool is utilized to upgrade the LimeSurvey installation.||The ComfortUpdate tool is utilized to upgrade the LimeSurvey installation. Moreover, the update can also be done manually.|
|You save precious time by using our available hosting and avoiding any server or installation configuration.||Ideal for hands-on people with technical knowledge. The LimeSurvey manual represents a great place from where you can start learning about this software.|
|Reliable response inflow due to a self-renewing subscription system.||The only limitation is related to your server and its configuration.|
|Full flexibility due to a cancellation period of only 3 days until the date of renewal.||The software is hosted on your servers. No linkages between the activity performed by you with the help of the LimeSurvey software and LimeSurvey GmbH.|
Let's assume that you have been convinced by LimeSurvey CE and now you would like to install it on your server. To download LimeSurvey CE, access the Project tab from the LimeSurvey main toolbar and click on the Download option:
The following page will load up:
Four boxes will be displayed:
- LimeSurvey PRO: If you click on the create installation button, you will be first asked to create a LimeSurvey.org account in order to be able to access your online LimeSurvey installation. If you wish to use our hosting services, continue reading the following quick start guide: LimeSurvey PRO Quick Start Guide.
- LimeSurvey CE: It allows you to download the LimeSurvey software, archived in different formats and also in an executable file (usually the latest link). Use it if you would like to install LimeSurvey on your own server or on your own computer for personal testing. It is ideal for hands-on people with technical knowledge. You will see that the LimeSurvey CE is divided into stable releases and development releases. For a rock-solid software, go for the stable release. However, if you would like to test new LimeSurvey features and you want help us solve bugs, go for the development release.
- Templates: You may find here example surveys, label sets, and question templates in various languages. All the templates are community-made. You can also contribute by uploading your work and make it publicly available to the other users.
- Extensions: LimeSurvey supports plugins and extensions. By clicking on the see extensions button, you get access to a directory that contains all the LimeSurvey third-party extensions (your own contribution can also be listed there).
If you have been convinced by the easiness with which you can start your research work, click on the create installation button. Access the following step-by-step guide to learn how to create a LimeSurvey PRO account and launch your first survey.
What do I need?
There is a lot of information to grasp. We are completely aware of this and you might feel a little bit overwhelmed. We suggest you to do a cost-benefit analysis. Some aspects that are worth taking into consideration:
- Capital: think of the costs of running a server for example. Even though a lot of low-cost hosting providers can be found online, take into account that you have to take care not only of your LimeSurvey installation, but also of the server configuration. If you want to create more complex surveys and/or install/create additional plugins, employees with knowledge in PHP, HTML, CSS will be needed - which means higher costs for you and your business.
- Human resources: if complex surveys are created, employees with IT-related skills might be needed. That is why it is better (sometimes) to outsource such services. You may use our LimeSurvey PRO services or the help provided by our official partners.
- Time: time is a limited resource. Different time-related constraints (e.g. deadlines, lots of qualitative research requests from your clients etc.) transform time into an important independent variable that should definitely influence your final decision.
Think of all your possible needs and available resources before choosing between LimeSurvey PRO and LimeSurvey CE.
Generally, if you want to use LimeSurvey without any download or configuration, use LimeSurvey PRO. You can test it freely as long as you want and then purchase one of the subscription packages. However, if you have a running server infrastructure and want to integrate LimeSurvey into that, take a look at LimeSurvey CE. We also offer great LimeSurvey CE packages to enhance your installation with one-click updates and more custom themes.
Additional help can be found at one of our partners listed here: https://www.limesurvey.com/.