There are wine cellar management software systems that are marketed as “free” but as anyone who has ever tried one knows, there are still costs associated with it and you might end up spending more time and money than its worth. Here are 10 very common problems associated with free wine cellar management software.
-  Advertisements. Let’s say you’re running off to a dinner party and want to bring a bottle of the ’98 Lafite. You turn on your laptop and open up the software to see where it lives in your cellar but just as your spouse is screaming from the other room that you are already late an advertisement pops up causing further delay. Your time is valuable.
-  Advertisements Again. You invite a friend who is also a wine collector over and open up your software to show him the list of wines in your collection but a hair color ad pops up instead. Not only is this annoying but it can also be embarrassing, especially when you’ve invested thousands of dollars in the wine collection itself.
-  Customer Support, or lack thereof. Free wine software management systems are unsupported or you will have to pay quite a bit every time something goes awry.
-  Lack of Privacy. With free wine cellar management software you expose your private data to the public. Even with an ID or alias, do you really want anyone and everyone to know which wines are in your collection? It is a little bit like letting people know how much you have in a bank account. Wine is not just a beverage but also an asset.
-  Loss of Information. No matter what type of software you choose, entering all of your wines into a system is a time commitment but once it is done it should be fairly easy to update. However, if the software company you are using closes down you might have to go through this process all over again as many free systems do not let you export your data to other programs.
-  Backing Up Your Information. If your computer is lost or stolen you might have a problem with free software that is not backed up on a main server.
-  Lack of Expert Information. Free software systems usually do not integrate with the Wine Advocate, The Wine Spectator and other wine publications that help you know the value and drinkability of your wines.
-  Flexibility of Different Devises. Free systems may not work on your smart phone, IPad or other tablet type of devices.
-  Managing Your Cellar From Multiple Locations. Many of us travel for work and pleasure or might be away from our main device but still want to reference our collection. You should have the ability to view and manage your cellar even if you are half way around the world but often you cannot when you use free software systems.
-  Integrated Bar Code System. Most free wine cellar software systems do not have an integrated bar code system that allows you to easily manage your inventory. Adding and removing wines manually is time consuming and as such, you might forget to do it. A bar code scanner takes a second, almost literally, and it will help keep your cellar organized and inventory accurate.
If you already have at least 1000 bottles in your collection or are looking to expand to this level, you need a wine cellar management system that can handle all of your needs. All of the free systems are lacking in one or more of the areas mentioned above and it is just a matter of time before you are likely to find yourself frustrated or worse, having a serious problem that could have been prevented using wine cellar management software that anticipates the potential difficulties and crisis’ that can come up. Your wine cellar is an asset and like anything else you have of value, should have the right tools to manage and protect it.