Why did it ‘work fine’ for years for free? It seems that the company wants to make more profit now.

When services start charging users, I always read a lot of people complaining about it. Nobody wants to pay for a service that was free for years but now charges a monthly fee. And it’s totally understandable—why did it ‘work fine’ for years for free? It seems that the company wants to make more profit now.

Reality is, this is not the entire case. Most companies offer free accounts and services in order to get attention and a large user base. This costs them a lot because nobody pays for it but the services still needs to be run (servers, maintenance, development, management). At some point a company needs to be profitable, regardless how much funding they got in the past by investors and that’s when most services start removing free features from their services.

…it just means that they don’t find it valuable enough to pay such an amount for it for their project.

But this is not the main point. I usually read complaints by people who say they can’t afford the monthly account pricing for their project. But let’s see what “can’t affort” is about: This doesn’t mean that the human using the service does not have the e.g. $3USD per month on the bank account, it just means that they don’t find it valuable enough to pay such an amount for it for their project. So if you e.g. uptime monitor your personal website with an external service, this means that it’s not important enough to be notified about any downtime if you think $3/mth is too much to pay. Actually, if it’s not worth the money you probably don’t need the service at all. And just because there are free options doesn’t mean you should use it. Adding dependencies of any sort is cluttering projects, it’s adding complexity. And we all know how bad unnecessary complexity can get when we maintain aged projects.

If we did not use something for three months, it’s not worth keeping it.

There’s an extremely successful Netflix documentation about decluttering your house—this is directly applicable to software as well. The main essence is that if we did not use something for e.g. three months, it’s not worth keeping it. If your service wasn’t down for three months, why use a service for it, especially if you don’t really care about the uptime much anyways. You would notice within a week anyways and most people I know don’t immediately react to downtime monitoring for their personal projects.

Having less is a relief and makes your life easier.

If you rely on a service and really value it because it’s providing functionality you really need, it’s easy for all of us to pay for it. Free services aren’t the real cause of issues, advertising itself isn’t either—it’s us who are taken in by ‘free’ and ‘cheap‘, or ‘on sale‘. Let’s start reflecting if we really need a product, if we need a service.
Having less (clutter) is a relief and makes your life easier.
Start embracing the things you really rely on and remove everything else.