We’ve previously written about the differences between Google Docs and Microsoft Word, and in this article we’ll talk about spreadsheets.
Tables are the pillars of our modern society. Sheets are useful for work, documentation, collaboration, or just personal organization. Right now, we have two main contenders in the world of spreadsheets – Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.
Of these two spreadsheet applications, we wanted to take a deeper look at them to figure out their differences and understand which one is better. A quick glance reveals that both have their pros and cons, but the gap between Excel and Google Sheets is narrowing every day. Here’s what you need to know about the remaining differences.
Job – Excel wins
When Google Sheets first launched, it was far behind Excel. This was not a surprise either. Excel has been around for decades, and Microsoft has been iterating on a regular basis for longer than I am alive.
Microsoft’s problem is that Google didn’t take long. Excel and Google Sheets are very similar today. Both programs have a user-friendly interface, extensive knowledge base, and many tools and functions.
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However, if you need more complex functions or will be working with huge amounts of data, I’ve found Excel to be more suitable. Google Sheets is optimized to some extent – as your sheet fills up with more columns, rows, and tabs of data, I found it starts to slow down compared to Excel.
If you need to access and manage thousands of data cells without headaches, Excel is the winner. However, if you just need to create simple spreadsheets with a small set of commands, Google Sheets is just as good.
Collaboration – Google Sheets wins
Microsoft is working hard to create a better collaboration environment in its suite of Office apps, but it can’t match Google’s seamless access to documents, spreadsheets, and more from day one.
The sharing settings available in Google Sheets are incredible – you can control who can see your document, who can edit it, and who can comment on it. You can send specific invitations or simply create a link to share. In addition, you can create publicly viewable spreadsheets.
Any changes and comments made can be seen in real time, and you can quickly see which cells other users are in. You can also keep track of each change you make by clicking the “last change ” text at the top of the toolbar.
Microsoft Excel allows you to share and collaborate, but not to the same extent as Google Sheets. You can exchange files via email and you don’t have the same level of collaboration as Sheet. You can now access a similar tracked edit page if you’re using Office 365, and similar options for viewing other people’s activity. The collaboration gap is closing, but for now Google Sheets is winning.
Cloud and sync – Google Sheets Wins
Again, Google Sheets comes out on top, and it’s clear why. Google Sheets was created from the ground up as a cloud-based alternative to Microsoft Excel. Everything is accessible from your Google account, and you will be able to view and access all of your files from Google Drive.
Syncing is easy because everything happens automatically. If you create a file, it is saved in your Google Drive, making it available anywhere else.
If you’re using Office 365, you get the same level of instant sync across devices, but Excel in Office 2019 or earlier requires a little setup. This is another area where Google Sheets comes out ahead, but Microsoft is closing the gap.
Offline access – Excel wins
Offline access is available for Google Sheets, but you will have difficulty accessing files that you previously created on the Internet. You need to install the offline extension to be able to work with files offline, and the extension doesn’t always work correctly, leaving Google Sheets in some awkward position in terms of serving offline users.
If you need offline access, I highly recommend Excel – Microsoft Office has worked great offline for decades, and you can now set it up so that your files are automatically synced through OneDrive as soon as you get back online.
Functions and Formulas – Excel wins
Google is quickly catching up to this area and they are constantly adding new functions and formulas, but Excel has a much bigger head start. This means that Excel users have two advantages over Google Sheets users.
First, the number of functions and formulas available is much more – if you need to execute something in a spreadsheet, most likely there is a command in Excel for this. Some formulas are still missing from Google Sheets.
The next thing is that there is much more documentation for Excel. It has been around for much longer and has long been the industry standard in the workplace. Therefore, there are far more free Excel training materials than there are Google Sheets.
Pricing – Google Sheets
It’s simple and enjoyable – Google Sheets is completely free to use, while Excel requires a one-time payment for Microsoft Office or an Office 365 subscription. Ultimately, if you’re short on money, Google Sheets is the answer.
To summarize, I would say Excel is the best choice at the moment, but Google is rolling out updates to its Google Sheets software much faster than Microsoft. As a result, the gap between the two options is closing very quickly. However, Google Sheets can also be the obvious choice for large scale collaboration and file sharing, and you can’t beat for free.
Want to learn more about Google Sheets or Excel? Browse the rest of our website or leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you shortly.