5 Best Free Knowledge Base Software For Documentation in 2022
Free is my favorite number.
However, free isn’t always the right price for your knowledge base software.
When it comes to your company’s knowledge base software, there are a lot of options available for documenting and sharing your policies and procedures.
You may be desperate for a solution to your scattered company resources, or maybe you are preparing for growth by starting to document your procedures.
In my time with ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software solution for supporting companies that can’t afford employees to make mistakes — I’ve researched many different knowledge base software services.
I’ve learned that not all knowledge base software services are created equal. BUT, having some form of documentation and organization is better than not having anything.
If you are looking for a knowledge base software on a budget, here are five options to get you started on knowledge management. But, first, I’ll explain what knowledge base software is and warn you about three common shortcomings of free knowledge base software.
This will help you choose the right knowledge base software for your business.
What is knowledge base software?
Knowledge base software is a tool that helps businesses organize and manage their company information and resources. With a knowledge base, you create, store, and share articles and other resources.
It is a one-stop shop for all of your company’s knowledge. The power of a knowledge base is your end-users know exactly where to look for information when they have a question.
This information includes how-to articles, reference guides, policies, checklists, etc. It is any information or resource that helps your end-users access essential information or perform a task.
There are many different types of knowledge base software. The main knowledge base options are internal or external. This is dependent on who you want your knowledge base to support.
An internal knowledge base is for company employees who have a login. An external knowledge base is for customers or anyone with internet access. They do not need a login for an external knowledge base.
3 limitations with free knowledge base software
Like all software services, knowledge base software comes with a cost. That includes free knowledge base software. Instead of money, the cost of free knowledge base software is quality and capabilities.
While there are free knowledge base software options available, you will want to make sure the knowledge base software can fulfill what you need it for now and five years down the road. Here are a few warnings when selecting a free knowledge base.
Free knowledge base software may have all the right tools for what your company needs. This will help you take precautions if you have a growing company or are planning on expanding your knowledge base usage in the future.
When selecting free knowledge base software, pay attention to:
1. Number of users allowed
Many free knowledge base software options only offer their service for free when it is just one to three employees using the software. Look at what the more advanced plans cost. How many users can you have with the next-level plan?
If you anticipate your knowledge base will grow soon or your will need to add more users, then you may prioritize getting a knowledge base that better fits your needs.
Make sure you understand what is considered a “user” before choosing a knowledge base software. Is a user someone who can write the articles? Or are they considered a user if they simply view the articles?
2. Amount of storage space
How much storage space is included with the free plan? Most knowledge base software companies offer multiple plans. One of the ways knowledge base companies calculates the cost is the amount of storage space.
With free knowledge base software services, there is typically a limited amount of storage space. This isn’t a problem if you only have a few policies and procedures you need to document.
3. Number of articles
Similar to storage space, some knowledge base services limit the number of articles you can write and store with a free service. Sometimes this number is as low as five articles.
In these cases, they usually offer more articles with a next-level plan that costs money.
A small number of articles may work for your company if you don’t have a lot of policies or procedures.
Or you could create longer articles that clump multiple procedures together. However, we don’t recommend that. That makes it difficult for your end-users to find the right articles. As a knowledge base best practice, you should limit every article to one procedure or task.
How to choose knowledge base software
Before you select knowledge base software for your business, you’ll want to know what you are looking for. Use these five tips to help you research and decide on the best knowledge base software for your business today and in the future.
5 best free knowledge base software solutions
While there aren’t a lot of free knowledge base software solutions available, there are a few. And those services may be sufficient for what your company needs to manage your business’s knowledge.
Not all knowledge base software services offer a free knowledge base plan. However, most knowledge base software companies provide a free trial.
Here are five of the best companies that offer a free knowledge base software service.
Confluence is more than a knowledge base. Outside of serving as a knowledge base, Confluence is a collaboration tool that is a team workspace. It helps with knowledge management and project collaboration.
Confluence has a robust collection of features. Many of those tools are included in the free version of the knowledge base. Some notable features included in the free version are:
- Unlimited pages and spaces
- Page versioning
- Template library
- App integrations
Overall, Confluence’s free plan includes a lot of its knowledge base features. Confluence mainly restricts the users and space as well as leaves out a few features from the free plan. Those limitations are:
- 10 users
- 2 GB of storage
- 1 site
While the free version of Confluence offers a lot, you may want additional features, such as permissions and insights. Confluence has paid plans starting at $5.50 per user per month.
Who is a good fit for Confluence
The free version of Confluence is a good fit for small single teams with 10 or fewer users. If you are looking for a single source of truth that also helps your team track your work, the free Confluence plan will help you get started.
Also, if your company already uses the Atlassian suite, specifically Jira, Confluence is a good option.
Document360 offers both internal and external knowledge base software. However, for the free version, Document360 only offers a customer-facing knowledge base.
The authoring tools and templates make it good for creating knowledge base articles. It is widely known for its collaboration features.
Document360 has a wide array of features, but not all are included in the free plan. Here are some of the top features included in the free plan:
- Public knowledge base
- Article templates
- Tag management
- Customization and branding
In comparison to the paid plans, there are a few limitations with the free Document360 knowledge base. Those limitations include:
- No private knowledge base option
- 50 articles
- 1 GB of storage space
- 5 team accounts
- No personalized domain (domain reads as Document360)
If you need more than the free version, then Document360 offers plans starting at $99 per project per month. These plans provide more tools and allow you to add additional users.
Document360 also offers a 14-day free trial for its paid plans.
Who is a good fit for Document360
Your company would be a good fit for Document360 if you are a growing company and considering upgrading your knowledge base usage in the future.
If you have plans to create a knowledge base budget in the future, Document360 can grow with your company. Document360 is used by large corporations because of its ease of collaboration.
Stonly is an interactive knowledge base software that focuses on customer-facing services. It prioritizes connecting customers to self-help articles.
Overall, Stonly is positioned to help call centers. The goal is to reduce support tickets and the number of customers calling your support team.
Beyond the free plan, Stonly has a wide offering of features. The features included with the free plan are:
- Interactive guides
- Embed anywhere
- Content authoring
Stonly’s free plan is built to allow one content author that creates the guides and allows multiple viewers. The free plan is limited to:
- 1 user
- 5 guides
- 1,000 guide views per month
While the free plan allows you to create guides, you don’t get an interactive knowledge base with Stonly until you switch to a more advanced plan.
Stonly has paid subscriptions starting at $49 per month.
Who is a good fit for Stonly
If you are a small customer support team that doesn’t receive too many calls, then the free Stonly plan may be a good solution for your contact center. Particularly, it’s a good option if you want to reduce the number of calls your customer support team is receiving.
With a Microsoft 365 suite, you have SharePoint and 13 additional Microsoft applications. Here are notable features if you use SharePoint on its own:
- Folders and sub-folders
- Home page customization
- Includes Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft Lists
SharePoint isn’t intended to be a standalone application. It is meant to be paired with the Microsoft 365 suite. Because of that, you don’t have a document authoring program. You need additional applications to document policies and procedures, like Word, PowerPoint, etc.
Listed out, your limitations are:
- No content creation tools
- 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
Technically, SharePoint is not free. However, if your company is already using the Microsoft 365 suite of products for your office, then you already have SharePoint. It will be no additional cost for your team to use SharePoint as your knowledge base.
If you don’t have Microsoft 365 for business, then you will need to purchase one of the three annual subscriptions. These subscriptions start at $5 per user per month.
Who is a good fit for SharePoint
If your company is already using Microsoft 365 and you haven’t tried SharePoint, it is a good option if you need a free knowledge base.
🔎 Related: 7 Best Alternatives to Sharepoint for 2022
5. Google Drive
Google Drive allows you to create, store, and share your documents. However, it is restrained by its authoring tools. It doesn’t have interactive options like many paid knowledge base software services.
Google Drive offers a suite of applications to help you author and share your resources. Those applications include:
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
- Google Slides
- Google Forms
While Google Drive includes a suite of applications, there are a few limitations with the free version. Those are:
- 15 GB of storage
- No shared drive for your team
- 100 people for video and video conferencing
Google Drive is typically used for personal use. Once you expand your team and your usage, Google has Google Workspace plans to help your team collaborate better. Google Workspace plans start at $6 per user per month.
You can try Google Workspace for 14 days for free.
Who is a good fit for Google Drive
Google Drive is a good fit for a small team that doesn’t have a large collection of policies and procedures. Also, if you don’t have complex processes and procedures, Google Drive works.
Match your knowledge base to your company’s growth
There are many knowledge base software options to help you get started with documenting your company’s policies and procedures. Primarily, these services are for individuals or small teams.
As your company grows and matures, you will need a knowledge base that can manage your large collection of knowledge base articles. This means it is easy to create articles and for your end-users to find the appropriate resource.
ScreenSteps knowledge base software is for growing companies that can’t afford for employees to make mistakes. With ScreenSteps, our content creation tools make it faster and easier to create clear guides. Plus, our advanced search functions help end-users find articles in as few as two clicks.
While ScreenSteps doesn’t have a free version, we do have a 14-day free trial so that you can test the software before committing to it.
Want to see how ScreenSteps’ knowledge base software works? Watch the pre-recorded demos to see the software in action.