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Proprietary File Formats

When promoting the adoption of Free Software such as GNU/Linux, it is important to remember that application software isn't the only type of non-free software out there.  In fact, one of the most common traps users fall into is storing their data in non-standard, proprietary file formats.

When you use a non-free application to store your important data, you are often completely reliant on the maker of that software when it comes to accessing your data.  Usually, proprietary applications store data in formats that are not openly documented, and can only be manipulated with proprietary software.  This casues many potential problems.

  • Switching from the proprietary application to a Free one can be difficult, as often data cannot be directly utilized in Free programs
  • Sharing your data with others often requires them to purchase (or illegally aquire) the same proprietary software you use.
  • Should support for the current file format be dropped in later versions of the proprietary software, you may find it difficult to share your data with others in the future.
  • If the proprietary software you are using becomes unavailable or discontinued, and it utilizes DRM (such as Product Activation), you may completely lose access to your data after you are unable to reinstall the application.

 

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