Best Web-based Help Desks

Running a help desk can prove expensive. You need to have someone available to man it, you need to get the software and have a server to run it on.

Fortunately, web-based help desk software makes support service provision affordable. The ease of starting up with a cloud-based help desk system makes this option very popular with startups and small businesses.

The fact that there are very low upfront costs because of the subscription pricing model used by these services also makes online platforms very appealing to businesses with little money to spare.

Here is our list of the best web-based help desks:

  1. Atera Helpdesk Software – EDITOR’S CHOICE Software support for managed service providers (MSPs) that includes a self-service portal for users, a ticketing system, and team activity tracking. Start a free trial.
  2. SolarWinds Service Desk EDITOR’S CHOICE A cloud-based help desk platform that also has change management and system monitoring facilities. The service implements ITIL processes through checklists and workflows. Start a 30-day free trial.
  3. ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus (FREE TRIAL) A set of IT service management tools that includes Help Desk management utilities. Installs on Windows Server and Linux and is also available as a cloud service.
  4. Zendesk A very popular web help desk system that uses a knowledge-base as a front end to filter out support calls.
  5. Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk A free, ad-supported help desk system.
  6. Zoho Desk A help ticketing system with chat facility, forum framework, and knowledgebase platform.
  7. Freshdesk A team management system with ticketing, chat channels, forums, and knowledgebase facilities.

The best web-based help desks

Help Desk systems delivered on the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)model charge by subscription on a per-agent basis.

That means a single operator gets access to just as much functionality as a big corporate support team. Web help desks really level the playing field. They cut out the need to waste time maintaining even more software and let you get on with supporting your users and customers.

We have a list of great web help desk software that will really assist you to serve your users better. Not only do they include ticketing and note-taking systems, but also chat interfaces, self-service portals and knowledgebase platforms.

1. Atera Helpdesk Software (FREE TRIAL)

Tested on: Cloud

Atera Dashboard

Atera is a SaaS system that bundles together the remote monitoring and management (RMM) software needed by support staff and the professional services automation (PSA) systems used by the MSPs management. The PSA service includes a help desk management system.

Key Features:

  • Full tech support team management
  • Work scheduling
  • SLA compliance planning
  • Ticketing, self-service, and knowledgebase templates

Why do we recommend it?

The Atera Helpdesk Software is the secret weapon of the Atera package. This tool provides automated task routing and a console for each technician that lists all open tickets. There is also a manager console to track task completion and reroute, split, or merge tickets.

Atera Helpdesk Software is part of its PSA feature and includes a self-service portal that can be made available to the staff of the client company. This allows a knowledge base to be set up to guide users through the fault-free usage of the system. The portal can be white-labeled and it also gives access to a ticket raising screen.

The ticketing system operates as a teamwork scheduler and task tracker. Service managers can keep an eye on progress with SLA expectations automatically attached to each task, according to the contract with that client company. Team managers can split and merge tickets and also allocate tasks to multiple technicians.

Atera Helpdesk Portal

All actions performed by each technician need to be channeled through the ticketing system. The Atera RMM also includes a system monitoring service, which raises alerts through the ticketing service. This ensures that no time spent at the client’s service goes un-billed. The RMM also includes other utilities that the technician needs to support the user community. This includes a remote access system and a remote desktop utility with chat functions to enable the support operative to communicate with the user while demonstrating a solution.

Who is it recommended for?

Atera is designed in two versions that cater to managed service providers and IT departments. Both sides have four plans and all include the Help Desk service. Plans all also include a user self-service portal and a knowledge base that can be integrated into that and used to provide scripts for support staff.


  • Built for MSPs and larger helpdesk teams
  • Works to be an all-in-one solution for remote management
  • Available as a lightweight cloud service, lowering startup costs for MSPs
  • Easy to use and manage multi-tenant features


  • Atera is a fully-featured PSA tool built for MSPs, and may take time to fully explore all options and capabilities

As an online service, Atera can be accessed from anywhere through any standard web browser. The system is charged for by subscription with a rate per technician per month. There are no minimum service requirements for a subscription, so it is easy to add and remove seats according to the business’s needs. You can get started with a free trial.


Atera Helpdesk software is our top choice for a Web-based Help Desk system because it is delivered from the cloud and accessible from anywhere through any standard Web browser. The Help Desk ticketing system can be used to manage a team of support technicians and it provides specialized role-based dashboards. The technician sees all of the assigned tasks with priorities and deadlines and the team manager gets a live display of the progress made by all technicians. The manager console allows for manual changes to tickets, rerouting them, merging tickets, or allowing tickets to be shared by multiple specialists. The Atera package includes automated monitoring and management systems as well.

Official Site:

OS: Cloud-based

2. SolarWinds Service Desk (FREE TRIAL)

Tested on: Windows Environment

SolarWinds Service Desk

SolarWinds Service Desk goes beyond the requirements for a Help Desk system because it includes change management and system monitoring functions as well. The utility was designed to integrate ITIL processes, which are implemented as workflows and checklists. Service Desk came first in an industry-wide comparison report where it won an award, download the report here.

Key Features:

  • Knowledge Base templates
  • Self-service portal
  • Ticketing system
  • ITIL workflows
  • Tech team management

Why do we recommend it?

SolarWinds Service Desk is an ITIL-compliant system. This system will help you with change management, problem management, incident management, and IT asset management. The package includes a ticketing system, which can be used to channel alerts from automated monitoring systems as well as queries from users.

The service is charged for on a per agent/per device basis, so it is suitable for organizations of all sizes – the sole trader gets exactly the same list of features as the corporate IT support team.

If you just need Help Desk software, the cheapest of the three Service Desk packages would suit you. The main elements of this module are a ticketing system, a self-service portal, and a knowledge base framework.

The ticketing system of Service Desk enables team managers to track the performance of individual agents and assess average problem processing times. The reporting and analysis module of the package gives you SLA goal achievement statistics and spots recurring problems. With the frequency of problems documented you can decide to update the knowledge-base guides to avert users from making the same mistakes again or identify system shortfalls than need to be rectified.

Service Desk goes further than just logging support requests to implement a full, ITIL-based resource management service. The software package is delivered as a service from the cloud, which cuts out the need to install, host, and maintain it, leaving your IT department with more time to improve services and support users

Who is it recommended for?

This is a good package for a large organization that operates the Service Desk model. The system is able to track complicated issues and decisions over whether they need to be fixed or a whole system section needs to be rewritten or replaced. The ticketing system provides user communication and team management functions as well as task management.


  • Simple layout makes management easy, even at scale
  • On-premise tool, great option for established and growing help desks
  • Can track time entries, as well as SLA performance for helpdesk teams
  • Proactive alerts can notify staff when SLAs are in danger of being breached


  • A highly detailed platform that takes time to fully explore

Higher plans include change management and project management features that will enable you to evolve your IT system to improve performance and eradicate consistent faults. These processes are all built following ITIL guidelines. The highest plan is called Professional and you can get a 30-day free trial of this plan. After the trial period, you can switch down to one of the cheaper packages if you don’t need all of the features of the Professional deal.

SolarWinds Service Desk Start 30-day FREE Trial

3. ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

This ITIL-based ITSM package from ManageEngine includes a full help desk system as well as offering a range of IT asset management tools. The ServiceDesk Plus system is available in three editions.

Key Features:

  • Self-service portal with a knowledge base
  • Automatic ticket queueing
  • Team management functions

Why do we recommend it?

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is a very similar package to SolarWinds Service Desk. This system was built along ITIL lines and takes care of system development projects as well as firefighting. The Help Desk functions include a user self-service portal, a knowledge base, and a ticketing system.

The Standard edition includes the Help Desk software of Manage Engine. The other two editions for this system have more features. The Professional bundle adds asset management features while also including the Help Desk system. The Enterprise edition of ServiceDesk Plus includes incident management, asset management, problem management, change management, release management, and IT project management as well as help desk and asset management software.

The help desk system of ServiceDesk Plus includes a knowledge base template to encourage self-help by users and offers a range of methods for users to contact the help desk. These include a mail system and a web-based self-service interface as well as a phone-based system that enables the users to raise new tickets.

The ServiceDesk Plus package enables the automatic allocation of tasks and allows the performance of technicians to be tracked. The management of help desk staff includes task sharing, task transfers, and specialist queues. Departments that are bound by an SLA are able to track compliance through the Service Desk Plus system.

The help desk environment provides workspaces for individual technicians and also for the team manager. The system ensures that users get notified automatically on the receipt of their queries and that no help task can be ignored. Reporting features in the tool enable team managers to watch targets and present performance assessments to higher management.

Who is it recommended for?

This package is probably a bit too complicated for small companies and there isn’t a Free edition for the module. The bundle is aimed at large businesses that will need all of the functions in this package. The system is available as a SaaS platform or for installation on Windows Server or Linux.


  • Robust all in one tool for managing client contracts, maintenance requests, and other ancillary services MSPs normally offer
  • Automatic asset discovery helps keep NOC teams informed of scope and new devices that are added to the network
  • Cross-platform support work with Windows or Linux server distros
  • Available for on-premise deployment as well as a SaaS


  • ManageEngine offers a range of services and products that can take time to fully explore and utilize

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is offered as on-premises software for installation on Windows Server and Linux and it is also available as a cloud service. All versions of the system are available for a 30-day free trial.

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Download 30-day FREE Trial

4. Zendesk

Zendesk ticket-view

Zendesk is a very widely used help desk platform that is accessed online. The tool includes a chat facility to promote live communication between users and support staff. All contact, be it by chat, phone, or email, is logged into the ticketing system. The ticketing system generates an account with a tracking page for each user reporting a problem. The account page links on through to a knowledge base.

Key Features:

  • Self-service portal
  • Ticketing system
  • Manual task allocation rerouting

Why do we recommend it?

Zendesk is a successful online Help Desk system and it is going to appeal to companies that just need a Help Desk package and not a full Service Desk package. This service is called Zendesk for Services, but don’t read too much into that – it still isn’t a Service Desk package.

The interlinked knowledge base can be positioned before help desk access on the user journey in order to filter out calls to expertise in order to solve frequently encountered problems. The Zendesk platform also includes a self-service portal and an optional community forum. All of the elements in the package can be customized to integrate your corporate graphics and add, re-sequence, or exclude service elements according to your support strategy.

The ticketing system enables team managers to reroute problems towards topic experts and even allows for shared tasks to be recorded. The analytical and reporting features of the problem management system will help you identify system errors that should be closed down through infrastructure improvement, or frequent trivial problems that should be addressed by the knowledge base.

Who is it recommended for?

Zendesk has a huge market because its system is very easy to set up and easy to use. The system cuts down on the number of support staff that you need because it includes a user self-service portal where you can set up a knowledge base and filter out as many run-of-the-mill problems as possible.


  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • Centralized ticketing management and chat helps consolidate team-based tools
  • The knowledge-base is easy to setup and helps reduce new tickets


  • The volume of settings and options can be overwhelming for smaller helpdesks
  • Not the best option for enterprise help desks

Zendesk is accessible to businesses of all sizes because its subscription rate is levied per agent per month. This is a great option for startups because it doesn’t require any expensive upfront software or server purchases. You can get a 30-day free trial of Zendesk, so try out the higher of the two available packages, which is called the Enterprise edition.

5. Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk

spiceworks help-desk

Spiceworks produces a range of IT support software including network monitoring systems and a help desk platform. The Spiceworks Help Desk system is available online, where it is called Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk.

Key Features:

  • Ticketing system
  • Knowledgebase platform
  • Mobile app

Why do we recommend it?

Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk is a free package that is hosted on a website. So, the service is easy to access and use. Spiceworks has had some nice free tools in the past but the company is gradually reducing its list of packages. Help Desk is one of the few that are still available.

This is an excellent and feature-rich support system. The Cloud edition is not quite as comprehensive as the on-premises version. However, working with the online service has the advantages of giving you access from anywhere in the world on any device and you are saved the bother of having to maintain the software or buy in hardware to host it. Spiceworks produces apps for Android and iOS to make it easier for you to access your account from mobile devices.

An amazing feature of Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk is that it is completely free to use. This is not a trial period or a cut-down version – there is no paid version of the Help Desk utility. You even get support from the provider if you have difficulty getting the system to work for your circumstances. One drawback, however, is that the service is funded through advertising. If you can put up with the presence of an advert panel in the dashboard, then you will be very happy with the facilities of Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk.

The standard system includes a ticketing system and problem processing and forwarding workflows. The Help Desk system also offers a knowledge-base platform.

If you decide to switch to the on-premises version, you can install the Spiceworks Help Desk software on Windows. The installed version is customizable and can be expanded by plug-ins. Many business software producers create plug-ins for Spiceworks to enable their applications to integrate with the Help Desk system. Some users also produce their own customizations and make them available to others for free through the user community forum. These plug-ins make the Help Desk system very flexible. The cost savings created by Cloud Help Desk and the on-premises Spiceworks Help Desk are very appealing to startups and small businesses.

Who is it recommended for?

Small businesses will like this tool. The biggest attraction is that it is free and the second attribute that makes it a winner is that you don’t need to have any technician knowledge to set it up. It has a knowledge base that you can set up to inform your customers and users.


  • Completely free cloud-based helpdesk tool
  • Great functionality through the Spiceworks Help Desk Mobile App
  • Offers on-premise options as well as a SaaS version


  • Better suited for smaller help desks with simpler needs and requirements

6. Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk screenshot

Zoho Desk includes self-help tools and AI processes to reduce the amount of work that your human operators need to do in order to support your user community. An optional user forum is another facility that you can deploy in order to reduce demand on your professional support team.

Key Features:

  • Chatbot to serve common problems
  • Ticketing system
  • Work scheduler

Why do we recommend it?

Zoho Desk is a contender for the online crown of Zendesk. The package has the classic ticketing system with a user self-service portal as a front end. That interface can be branded or fully customized and it also includes a chatbot to filter out regular problems.

The dashboard for each agent groups open tasks in time bands, which are defined by the team manager. This enables agents to switch between tickets of equal urgency and clearly understand deadlines. Problem resolution is guided by scripts, which ensure that operators don’t overlook important data gathering or system checking steps. Tickets can be shared and communication between team members collaborating on a solution is facilitated by a chat utility.

The online access and collaboration features in the tool mean that your team can be very widely distributed, or even home-based. Both the operator and manager dashboards can also be accessed from mobile devices running Android or iOS.

Management utilities include monitoring and analytical features. A number of team management procedures, such as the registering of team member availability and the allocation of tasks, can be automated.

Who is it recommended for?

This package has a price per seat and three plan levels, which makes it appealing to all types of companies. Zoho is fighting for space in the market against Zendesk and Freshdesk, which are the leaders of the sector. If you want an online Help Desk package, your choice will boil down to these three.


  • Cloud-based installation makes deployment simple with no need for on-premise on-boarding
  • Features automation tools that empower technicians to script solutions
  • Can execute commands prior to remotely connecting


  • More suited for MSPs, and not smaller LAN networks
  • Would like to see a longer trial period

Zoho Desk integrates easily with other Zoho products, including Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, and Zoho Bug Tracker. The system is free to use if you only have three agents in your support team. There are two paid plans, with the higher package including more automation and reporting options. You can get a 15-day free trial of either of the paid plans.

7. Freshdesk

Freshdesk Dashboard

Freshdesk is part of a stable of sales and HR support software produced by Freshworks. This help desk platform is accessed online so you don’t need to install any software in order to use it. The platform is very strong on self-help channels, delivering FAQ pages, a knowledge-base, and user forums to enable your users to find solutions themselves before contacting the Help Desk.

Key Features:

  • Self-service portal
  • Ticketing system
  • SLA tracking

Why do we recommend it?

Freshdesk is the number 2 in the online Help Desk category. The functions that this package offers are very similar to those offered by Zendesk, however, it is a lot cheaper – Zoho Desk is cheaper still. This package is available in four plans with the top edition including a chatbot.

You can deliver solutions to user problems by getting your support agents to provide answers through the forum. If users still need to get in touch, you can make email, phone, chat, and web form channels available for communication. Solutions can be provided by automated bots to further reduce the demand on your human agents.

Tickets can be resolved by a group of specialists through the Freshdesk Team Huddle platform. This is a chat facility that enables managers to allocate several technicians to the same ticket. Chats attached to a ticket are only accessible to allocated staff. An Agent Collision Detection system automatically roots out duplicated support calls and merges tickets. It is even possible to allocate tickets from separate users as a grouped ticket if the problems that they report seem similar.

Management utilities include SLA tracking and agent performance monitoring. Ticket allocation can be set automatically or performed manually. Performance reports can be scheduled to run periodically and can be sent out automatically to the management team by email.

Who is it recommended for?

Freshdesk has per-seat pricing, just like Zendesk and Zoho Desk. Freshdesk is going to appeal to small businesses more than its rivals because it offers a free plan for up to 10 seats. The closest the other two get to that deal is a cut-down ticketing system from Zoho, called Zoho Express for up to five users.


  • One of the better user interfaces for ITSM tools
  • Includes a self-service portal to help reduce inbound tickets
  • Simple ticket creation is user-friendly for new staff


  • The trial could be a bit longer

Freshdesk is charged for on a subscription system. There are five plan levels, with the lowest package, Sprout, being free to use even though there is no limit on the number of agents that you can add to the account. The four paid plans are all available for a 21-day free trial.

Choosing a web-based help desk system

Even businesses with big IT budgets are drawn to web help desks because the flexibility these systems deliver makes it very easy to expand support services at will and contract the number of agents in the future without risking overprovisioning software licenses. The accessibility of cloud-based help desk platforms adds another attraction to businesses that employ specialists from all over the world. The ability to provide the help desk dashboard to home-based agents also cuts out the cost of providing office space and utilities.

The logic of deploying web help desk software instead of on-premises systems is easy to see and it is likely that the demand for web-based service desk platforms will continue to increase.

Web-based Help Desk FAQs

In what ways do help desks benefit from adding web-based support?

Web-based tools aren’t limited to operating on one network. Therefore, you can use the same Web-based system for all of your support staff wherever they are located. This gives you the opportunity to easily standardize Help Desk procedures on all sites.

What is Web-based ticketing system?

Web-based ticketing systems usually include a portal unit through which users can log queries and track their progress. Behind the scenes, the technical team gets its tasks registered, prioritized, routed, and distributed through the ticketing system. All contact with users is facilitated through the ticketing system.

What is the difference between CRM and helpdesk?

CRM stands for customer relationship management. This is a system that records all details about customers and the business’s contact with them. The Help Desk is the support team that solves the problems experienced by users and customers. Contact details in the CRM system inform the Help Desk staff of previous communications with a user that calls in and also detail which company that person works for and what products the business uses. Details of the Help Desk interaction will be stored in the CRM.