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Office 365 vs G Suite: Which is best? The Office or the Suite?

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EJ Phillips

Many small businesses struggle to discern what are the best email, productivity, and collaboration software options available.  The industry leaders are Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G Suite.  Both have similar price points and offerings. It is our opinion, however, that Office 365 is the best option for companies that rely on the advanced features that can be found in its desktop apps such as Excel’s conditional formatting, advanced formulas, and macros, as well as companies that regularly edit and collaborate using MS Word Documents.


But to really compare, let’s look at what each office suite offers.


G Suite at A Glance


All G Suite plans include:

•Gmail for Business

•Video and voice conferencing (Hangouts Meet)

•Secure messaging (Hangouts Chat)

•Shared calendars

•Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

•At least 30GB of cloud file storage (Google Drive)

•Security and administrative controls


G Suite Business and Enterprise plans add cloud search, archiving, and eDiscovery options, and the ability to limit user access by geographic regions, among other features.


Office 365 At a Glance


All Office 365 plans include either a set of cloud-based features or the right to download and install Office desktop apps on up to 15 devices per user (five Windows PCs or Macs, five tablets, and five smartphones), or both.


The collection of desktop apps includes Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (Access and Publisher are available on Windows PCs only), as well as 1TB or more of storage per user in OneDrive for Business and access to the web-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Cloud-based services include the following:

•Exchange Online email hosting with a maximum inbox size of 50 or 100GB

•Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook

•A minimum of 1TB of OneDrive for Business file storage per user

•SharePoint Online team sites

•HD video conferencing

•Online meetings (Skype Meeting Broadcast or Microsoft Teams live events)

•Secure messaging and collaboration (Microsoft Teams)

•Security and administrative controls


Business plans include basic customer relation software (Outlook Customer Manager), as well as Microsoft Invoicing, Microsoft Bookings, and MileIQ software.


Enterprise plans include team-based task management software (Microsoft Planner), additional collaboration software (Yammer), and advanced features such as eDiscovery, email retention policies, Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection, and free deployment support on purchases of 150 seats or more.


Both services offer cloud based collaboration opportunities.  Co-workers can simultaneously edit documents and projects while working online.  However, only Office 365 offers the opportunity for workers to work offline when necessary using the desktop apps and then share the changes with collaborators. A great perk for the business person who travels often and may not want to pay for wifi on the plane and can just simply update once back upon Wifi at their destination.


Office 365 also gives its users the ability to fine tune file sharing.


Office 365’s cloud based storage service is known as One Drive and is used by approximately 85% of Fortune 500 companies. Differing plans have differing storage amounts all, most falling around 1TB per user but can also be increased to 5TB per user on some Enterprise plans. 

Google Drive is like OneDrive giving either 30 GB or unlimited storage depending upon your plan. The business plan is limited to 1TB per user less than 5 users on your account.  Both One Drive and Google Drive have the capacity to be HIPAA compliant as long as Business Associate Agreements are filled out, but this is no guarantee this security equals compliance.  For assurance that your PHI is protected, talk to a reputation protection or compliance expert such as CentraVance Consulting


Regarding email, Gmail and Outlook are easily the two leading business email providers with Outlook being the industry standard.  Many companies purchase the Office 365 for Outlook alone.  Simply put, Outlook makes sorting and grouping your emails a breeze and far surpasses Gmail in this capability. 


In truth, most of the differences in what a business may need comes down to corporate size and culture.  Office 365 is the most widely used software and has been the industry standard for 30 years.  It is easy to create, share, and open documents created by other businesses.  The desktop apps have advanced features in Excel and PowerPoint outshine the cloud-based Sheets and Slides offered by G Suite. However, there may be industries where these perks are not an issue.  Furthermore, while older Gen X and Boomer generations cut their teeth on Word, Excel, and Outlook, many a Millennial grew up on a Chromebook and so for this fast-growing segment of the workforce, Google Docs and Sheets may feel more like home.  


Client Concierge for MPWRSource, Angela Davis, says, “My clients know 365.  It is what they are comfortable with. But most are surprised by how much more it can do than just Word and Outlook.” 


ProActive Information Management can not only help your business ascertain what system works best for you but is also an Office 365 reseller.  Additionally, ProActive can set up training sessions to help your team get the most from your Office 365 Subscription.  Chances are, you have FAR MORE capabilities at your fingertips than you are aware of. 

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