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Software rot, also known as code rot or software decay, refers to the gradual degradation of a software system over time.

As a result, it causes the software to decrease in performance and have other passive issues, such as increased maintenance costs, and reduced reliability. 

On the other hand, software degradation is a phenomenon where software becomes obsolete, outdated, or incompatible with modern systems due to changes in hardware, software environments, or other external factors.

Thing (s) That Causes Software Rot

Causes Software Rot

There are several instances or one thing in particular that causes software rot, or software degradation over time.

Some of those include:

Changes in software environments: 

Over time, software environments evolve and change, leading to changes in programming languages, APIs, operating systems, and other system components. This can cause the software to become obsolete or incompatible with modern systems.

Inadequate maintenance: 

Poor maintenance practices can lead to software rot. If the software is not updated or maintained regularly, it can become outdated, which can lead to decreased performance and increased maintenance costs.

Feature creep: 

Feature creep refers to the continuous addition of new features and functionalities to software. This can make the software more complex and difficult to maintain, which can lead to software rot.

Poor design: 

Software that is poorly designed can also contribute to software rot. If the software is not designed to be scalable or adaptable, it can become obsolete as the system evolves.

Lack of documentation: 

Inadequate or missing documentation can make it difficult to maintain and update the software over time.

Dependencies on outdated technology: 

Dependencies on outdated technologies can make software obsolete as the technology evolves and changes.

Lack of testing: 

Inadequate testing can lead to software rot as issues and bugs go undetected and become significant problems over time.

Techniques for Prevention of Software Decay and Software Rot

Software Decay and Software Rot

Depending on future-ended business requirements, these prevention methods for software decay, or software rot may vary. However, they remain, more or less, the same.

Take a look below:

Regular updates and maintenance: 

Regular updates and maintenance can help prevent software rot. This includes software patches, security updates, and bug fixes.

Design for scalability and adaptability: 

Software should be designed to be scalable and adaptable, allowing it to evolve as the system changes.


Software should be modularized, allowing for the addition or removal of components without affecting the entire system.

Use of standards-based technologies: 

The use of standards-based technologies can help ensure that software remains compatible with modern systems and environments.


Testing is essential to prevent software rot. Regular testing can help identify issues and bugs before they become significant problems.


Proper documentation can help ensure that software remains understandable and maintainable, even as it evolves over time.

Code reviews: 

Code reviews can help identify potential issues and ensure that software is maintainable and scalable.

What Else Causes Software Rot and Software Degradation?

Software Degradation

One of the common things that causes software rot is the developers’ lack of interest in maintaining or updating the software.

This happens a lot in the gaming industry. Many new titles are released with the intention of future update rollouts. In such cases, these games are labeled as ‘Early Access’ games. However, call it business malpractice, or a change of direction from the upper management, the developers “fail” to not only maintain the game, but also update it with new user-requested features, and vice versa.

Many a time, this sort of software rot practice is intentional, to simply scam people and abandon the software altogether. If a program is abandoned and no longer updated as per software decay prevention policies, it’s called Abandonware.


By implementing these techniques, software developers can help prevent software rot and ensure that software remains functional and reliable over time.