5 Top-Rated Free Bug Tracking Software

By: Preksha Buttan on January 11, 2024
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Websites and mobile applications are quite vulnerable to bugs. Finding a quick resolution to such issues is important to ensure a smooth user experience. As some bugs require immediate attention, quality assurance managers can consider adopting bug tracking software, allowing them to prioritize certain tasks over others and simplify their jobs.

If you are adopting a bug tracking tool for the first time, we suggest starting with a free tool. In this article, we’ve highlighted, in alphabetical order, five top-rated free bug tracking software products based on verified software reviews. Read more.

The tools listed below fall under the project management, developer, or bug tracking software categories. However, they all offer bug capture, backlog management, collaboration, and task management to support bug tracking tasks.

What is free software?

Free software refers to software that users can access and use without incurring any costs. To meet this criterion, a software solution should grant users free access to either all or some of its features. Software requiring payment after a specific time frame does not qualify as free software.

1. Backlog

Backlog is a project management software that visualizes all the projects and tasks on boards for quick task management. Its bug and issue tracking capabilities automatically convert issues received via emails into a task. You can further nest these tasks under relevant projects and assign the right people for the job.

Backlog has an artificial intelligence-based issue summaries feature wherein it utilizes OpenAI’s technology to summarize the reported issues’ contents. This feature simplifies tracking multiple issues on a complex project. Besides, you can have up to 10 collaborators manage a project in the free plan of Backlog.

Free features*:

  • Team management: Assign roles, define access levels, and efficiently allocate tasks to your team. It streamlines collaboration among developers, testers, and managers by facilitating clear team communication, defining responsibilities, and ensuring team members have appropriate access to project-related information.

  • Version: Manage software releases by categorizing and tracking changes. It allows you to assign specific bug reports or enhancements to different software versions, facilitating a structured development approach.

  • Code management: Centralize code-related activities and get visibility into code changes. It simplifies identifying which code changes fixed a particular bug or introduced a new issue. Additionally, it provides a clear history of code modifications related to bug fixes, enhancing collaboration and accountability among development team members. 

Customer support options: Knowledge base, community support, and inquiry via web form.

Cost to upgrade: $35 per month, up to 30 users

Billing cycle: Monthly

Who should consider Backlog?

Project managers can opt for Backlog for its AI-powered issue summaries feature. The tool will summarize all the comments received in the projects, making it easy for the managers to quickly go through them and avoid reading each comment individually.

Analysis performed November 2023**

Backlog

Backlog

4.54 out of 5 stars

130 reviews

2. Bugasura

Bugasura is an AI-powered bug and issue tracker that automatically detects the severity of reported bugs, and categorizes and assigns them to the right person for resolution. It identifies the impact a bug may have on business operations. Based on the reported bugs, this AI bug tracker finds similar or related bugs and suggests bug fixes. The tool’s voice recording abilities can help you add more context to bugs while reporting them.

Bugasura offers all its bug tracking features in the free plan. However, it only supports five users. You can consider switching to the paid plan (supporting up to 100 users) if your user base increases.

Free features*:

  • Data import: Import data from Excel or Google Sheets into the bug tracking system, ensuring seamless information transfer, including bug reports and project details. This feature streamlines data migration, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in bug tracking and project management workflows. 

  • Project creation: Establish new projects with defined parameters that include customizable fields, settings, and workflows. This feature ensures a structured and organized approach to managing bugs within different projects, enhancing team collaboration and overall efficiency.

  • Slack integration: Connect the bug tracking system with the Slack messaging platform. It facilitates real-time notifications, allowing team members to receive updates, comments, and alerts directly in their Slack channels.

Customer support options: Knowledge base, community, live chat, and email support.

Cost to upgrade: $3.75 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Who should consider Bugasura?

Product managers with small teams can opt for Bugasura and get access to all the bug tracking features without any limitations. They will also benefit from its Slack integration, simplifying team communication and collaboration. As their team grows, they can switch to the paid plan, which supports more users.

Analysis performed November 2023**

Bugasura

Bugasura

4.6 out of 5 stars

65 reviews

Pro tip

Assess integration options with your existing communication tools to ensure that bug-related updates, notifications, and discussions are synchronized with your preferred communication channels, enhancing real-time awareness.

3. GitHub

GitHub is an AI-powered developer platform that allows software developers to host, manage, and review code, track changes, report issues, and collaborate on projects. This tool fosters an open-source community as developers can share their codes publicly, and any other GitHub member can contribute to that code. They can also invite collaborators on privately shared codes.

GitHub gives you access to public and private code repositories in its free plan. However, you only get 2,000 minutes monthly to act on any code. You can leverage to tool’s paid plans to get 3,000 to 50,000 minutes per month.

Free features*:

  • Milestone tracking: Organize and track progress by grouping related issues and pulling requests and tasks together. It sets specific targets and deadlines for project phases, visually representing project milestones.

  • Team discussions: Collaborate with team members to engage in threaded conversations about code, issues, and projects. It facilitates asynchronous communication, allowing developers to discuss code changes, share insights, and address concerns.

  • Audit log: Maintain a comprehensive record of user and repository activities, ensuring transparency and accountability. It tracks changes such as code modifications, access permissions, and repository settings.

Customer support options: Knowledge base and community support.

Cost to upgrade: $4 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Who should consider GitHub?

Small software development teams can leverage GitHub to invite its members to work on their projects. They can highlight issues and have other platform members find a fix. Given that the code is open, other members can review the code and pinpoint issues that still need to be reported. This collaboration helps developers collect feedback and solve bugs quickly.

Analysis performed November 2023**

GitHub

GitHub

4.76 out of 5 stars

6030 reviews

4. Jira

Jira is an issue and project management tool that comes with a bug tracking template that you can use to report, track, and prioritize reported bugs. You can add context, custom fields, and attachments to each task created for bug resolution. After assigning these tasks to respective team members, you can add urgency and prioritize them to ensure bugs having a potential impact on your business are resolved on priority.

To ensure data security, Jira lets you verify all the user accounts in the free plan. However, you can manage user controls and permissions only in the advanced paid plans. Paid plans also create audit logs, allowing you to review all the changes made to a task or project.

Free features*:

  • Task automation: Automate repetitive processes and workflows with rule-based automation wherein you can set triggers and conditions to automatically execute actions, such as assigning tasks, updating fields, or sending notifications.

  • Backlog management: Prioritize and organize tasks on a centralized dashboard where you can monitor all the unresolved or pending tasks. This feature aids in planning upcoming work and allows teams to adapt and reprioritize tasks.

  • Reporting and insights: Get access to twelve reporting templates that provide real-time, actionable insights about your team’s performance overtime. You can use this data to track key performance indicators, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions. 

Customer support options: Knowledge base and community support.

Cost to upgrade: $8.15 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Monthly

Who should consider Jira?

Small business software testing teams or quality assurance professionals can consider Jira to get up and running with its bug tracking template. This template will help them quickly start reporting bugs and move into the resolution phase by creating tasks and assigning the right individuals. The backlog management feature will further help them keep tabs on unresolved bugs without taking follow-ups from responsible individuals.

Analysis performed November 2023**

Jira

Jira

4.42 out of 5 stars

13000 reviews

Pro tip

Cross-check the user and project limit in the free bug tracking tool to ensure it can accommodate the size of the user base and the complexity of your projects. Assess whether the free version meets your current needs and allows room for growth.

5. Shortcut

Shortcut is an agile project management tool that lets you plan and run sprints, helping your team identify things to focus on. With this tool, you can drag the rest of the tasks to the backlog or future sprint plans. Shortcut monitors the health status of each bug resolution by allowing users to mark tasks as ‘on track,’ ‘at risk,’ or ‘off track,’ allowing you to reorganize tasks or adjust due dates.

Shortcut’s free plan allows you to have up to 10 users and a storage capacity of 5GB. On the other hand, the paid plans support unlimited users and provide higher storage, up to 250GB.

Free features*:

  • Roadmap: Visually represent your project plans and priorities by outlining and communicating strategic goals, upcoming tasks, and sprints. With a clear timeline, teams gain a shared perspective on project priorities, aiding in informed decision-making. 

  • Data encryption: Safeguard sensitive data during transmission and storage of information within its platform by converting readable data (plaintext) into unreadable content (ciphertext). This feature enhances data protection, preventing unauthorized access and maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of user data.

  • Docs: Create and maintain documentation directly within the platform by capturing project-related information, guidelines, and knowledge. These docs enhance team communication, speed insight-sharing, and keep project-related valuable knowledge easily accessible.

Customer support options: Knowledge base, video training, community, and email support.

Cost to upgrade: $8.50 per user, per month

Billing cycle: Annual

Who should consider Shortcut?

Software development managers who frequently run sprints to fix a certain amount of bugs in a given period of time can benefit from Shortcut. The sprint feature of this tool will provide a clear view of tasks planned for a specific iteration. Moreover, they can create a roadmap for their team so the members know which tasks they are responsible for and when they are due.

Analysis performed November 2023**

Shortcut

Shortcut

4.59 out of 5 stars

362 reviews

What is the cost to upgrade from free bug tracking software to a paid one?

A bug tracking software upgrade can cost as low as $3.75 per user per month, or go all the way up to $175+ per month, depending on various factors—features, number of users, projects, and automations, training availability, and deployment options. Most bug tracking solutions typically include the following pricing plans:

  • Free trials: No-cost trial plans ranging from 7 to 30 days and give users access to either all or limited features of the software. These are ideal for a software development team that wishes to try out a tool before purchasing it.

  • Free versions: Free software plans offer basic features and/or limited premium feature access. These are ideal for software development teams or freelance developers on a budget.

  • Entry-level plans: Start at $3.75 per user per month and offer limited bug tracking features such as bug reporting, request tracker, and data import. These are good options for small businesses or quality teams with basic bug tracking needs.

  • Mid-tier plans: Range from $12 to $25 per user per month and offer advanced features such as a Gantt chart, admin controls, and audit logs. These are ideal for businesses that have outgrown basic needs but don’t require the full range of functionality and scalability offered by enterprise-level bug tracking tools. 

  • High-end plans: May cost upward of $175 per month. In addition to basic and midrange features, these offer unlimited projects, unlimited storage, third-party integrations, and advanced security. They are ideal for large enterprises with cross-functional teams.

Hidden costs associated with bug tracking software

Besides the software license itself, there may be additional costs associated with the best free bug tracking software that you’ll have to bear as you install and use the tool over time. These costs include:

  • Training expenses: Training users on the software can be a significant cost, particularly if the tool is complex or if there is a large user base.

  • Data storage: Some tools charge based on data storage, especially if projects involve large files or extensive data.

  • Support fees: While basic support may be included, premium or extended support plans often come with extra costs.

Frequently asked questions when selecting free bug tracking software

It’s important to ask the right questions to find the best bug tracking or issue tracking software that fits the needs of your small business. Some common questions include:

  • Does the tool support knowledge base management in the free plan?

A knowledge base is a centralized repository for storing project, bug, and process-related information. Consolidating data in one location facilitates seamless information sharing and quick access during issue resolution. Having this capability in the free plan of the issue tracking software also streamlines the onboarding process for new team members, providing a comprehensive resource for learning and reference.

  • What are the data security features offered in the free plan?

Encrypting, audit logs, user access and permission control, and vulnerability scanning are some common data security features offered by most issue tracking systems. However, not all the tools offer these features in the free plan, leaving your data susceptible to unauthorized access and leaks. Therefore, it’s imperative to check the data security options in the free plan to ensure data integrity.

  • Does the free plan have customizable dashboards?

Customizable dashboards let you tailor the dashboard to populate it with reports that align with your preferences. These reports can include bug status reports, burndown charts, issue distribution reports, and release reports. Ensure that you can customize the dashboard in the free plan of the bug tracker you are considering. This customization option will give you the flexibility to tailor the dashboard to your specific needs, enabling easy access and monitoring of the most relevant reports for your project.


Methodology

To be considered for this list, products had to:

  • Have at least 20 unique product reviews published on Software Advice within the past two years, with an average rating of 3.0 or higher. We selected the five products with the highest ratings to feature in this article.

  • Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).

  • Meet our bug tracking software definition: Bug tracking software automates the process of tracking and monitoring bugs, defects, and other issues that impede the operations of an organization's technology and information infrastructure. It enables rapid identification, diagnosis, and repair of disruptive bugs or other errors across multiple applications or processes.

*Our research team identified these free features from vendor websites (as of Nov. 23, 2023) based on their analysis of what users find valuable in or expect from bug tracking software. This list is not exhaustive. For additional free features, refer to the vendor's website.

**We selected products for this article based on their average ratings as of November 2023; however, the article displays each product’s current average rating, which may differ if more reviews have been left since our analysis.

We select and rank products based on an objective methodology developed by our research team. While some vendors may pay us when they receive web traffic or leads, this has no influence on our methodology.

Products evaluated for the pricing calculation were taken from Software Advice’s bug tracking software directory. The pricing ranges exclude freemium versions of the products. The features highlighted were identified based on their relevance and the percentage of products in the Software Advice directory that offer them. Only products with publicly available pricing information, as of November 23, 2023, were considered for pricing calculation.