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Breaking it down: G Suite vs. Office 365 for students

admin Aug 15
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Top pick for students

Office 365 Personal

$70 at Microsoft

Pros

  • Access to all Office programs
  • 1 TB OneDrive storage
  • 60 minutes of Skype calling
  • Compatible with multiple devices

Cons

  • More expensive than G Suite Basic
  • Additional costs to use Skype
  • Lacks collaboration tools

Office 365 gives you the apps and programs you need to succeed in school, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You get access to Outlook and Skype and 1TB of OneDrive storage.

Good for collaboration

G Suite Basic

$60 at Google

Pros

  • Access to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
  • Unlimited use of Hangouts and Voice
  • Cheaper than Office 365

Cons

  • Designed for business users
  • Only 30 GB of cloud storage
  • Collaborating features are clunky

G Suite gives you access to Docs, Sheets, and Slides, plus 30 GB of online storage. You also receive unlimited access to both Google Hangouts and Google Voice.

Students need tools that allow them to create and send assignments from within a single program, collaborate with study and research groups, and sync and access projects from multiple devices. A good amount of cloud storage is also essential. Both G Suite and Office 365 gives you these tools. However, Office 365 is the better program for students. Most teachers use Office 365 already, and school computers typically have it installed. So having access to it on your phone or computer makes it easier for you to send in, present and access assignments without worrying about format changes. Office 365 does have a free student account available while you are in school with an easy way to transition to a Personal account when you’re done without losing saved work, emails or contacts.

Comparing the two

Office 365 Personal G Suite Basic
Yearly subscription $70 $60
Licensed for Home use Business use
Cloud storage 1 TB 30 GB
Included apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Skype, OneDrive Docs, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, Voice, Drive
Email app Outlook Gmail
Phone support 24/7 Limited to 60 days

What you need to know about Office 365

Office 365 lives in the cloud, so you don’t have to take up valuable space on your computer to access the tools and files you need. A yearly Office 365 Personal subscription gives you access to all Microsoft’s Office programs, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Publisher. It also offers online storage through OneDrive and access to Outlook and Skype. Office 365 Personal currently costs $70 per year.

One advantage of using Office programs is you don’t have to worry about the format of your assignments changing when you send them to your teachers. Most educators have a school Office 365 account, so what you see is what they see when the file is opened. You can send completed projects from within the Office program directly as an email attachment. Or if you save it to OneDrive, you can give direct access to the project where teachers can edit and make comments on your assignment without having first to download the file. These programs also sync across devices, eliminating the need to carry around thumb drives. From a classroom computer, you can easily tap into your OneDrive and give oral reports with PowerPoint presentations or Excel spreadsheets.

Office 365 Personal gives you 1 TB of cloud storage. That’s 97 percent more space that G Suite Basic, and almost 200 percent more than a free Google One account. While this much space may seem daunting and unnecessary, some projects are data-heavy. Photography and photojournalism students, for example, can upload and save images to OneDrive. These files are much bigger than simple Word documents. Some bigger Excel or PowerPoint presentations can also use a fair amount of data. So having a lot of storage space helps to keep your computer from getting bogged down from several saved files.

Office 365 gives you 97% more online storage than G Suite.

Office 365 Personal does have its flaws. It costs a little more than G Suite and doesn’t have the same tools to allow real-time editing and collaboration of projects. You can enable online access to files through OneDrive by sending a direct link to people in your group and give them permission to view, edit, or both. However, it doesn’t support multiple people in a single document at once very well. Edits will pop up randomly, and it isn’t easy to see people accessing the project in real-time. For true, real-time collaboration you need Teams, which isn’t included with Office 365 Personal, or other home-use programs. It is available with business accounts and included with some student packages.

Another drawback is while you do get Skype, you are limited to only 60 minutes of online phone calls or video conferencing per month. You can purchase more through Skype if it is needed, though you do get unlimited instant messaging through the app.

You can purchase the most basic Office 365 package for a one-time fee of $150. This gives you forever access to the Office programs Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This is only for one device and will live locally on your device rather than in the cloud. You will have to purchase separate licenses to use these programs on both your computer and mobile device, but because it doesn’t come with OneDrive access, you can’t sync, share or collaborate as easily. This basic package also doesn’t give you access to Outlook or Skype. It makes sense to tap into the extra tools and have access to OneDrive that comes with an Office 365 Personal subscription.

All about G Suite

G Suite Basic is a cloud-based program that is created through Google, then accessed from browsers and mobile apps. It comes with 30 GB of cloud storage, apps for Doc, Sheets, Slides, and Gmail, plus unlimited access to Hangouts and Voice. You can message other G Suite users or hold video conferences through Google Hangouts. Voice can be used to place over the internet phone calls to both landlines and mobile numbers without any additional charges.

It’s office programs, like Docs and Sheets, work similarly to Office 365 programs with most features and tools located in the same places, and it uses some of the same in-program shortcuts. You can save your work in Office formats, for example, research papers as Word documents, and share them via email from directly within the app. You can also open and view Office documents, spreadsheets and slide shows in G Suite, though you do need to convert them into a Google format to edit them. This may change some of the fonts and formatting of the projects and require a little more fix-it work on your end. Also, we noticed that some tools and functions don’t work the same, or aren’t available at all in G Suite. For example, some of the macro functions in Excel aren’t available in Google Sheets, so it’s harder to produce the same results and converting an Excel spreadsheet in G Suite will cause noticeable function and display issues.

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G Suite lets you share files with others and allow them to see and edit them in real-time. This is done by creating a link and sharing it, typically through an email invite. You can see when others are in the same files along with you and watch as edits are being made. However, it’s a bit clunky, and we notice there is a slight delay, so it’s possible multiple edits could mesh together and cause some confusion. You can hold video conferences using Hangouts or call collaborators via Google Voice to help everyone get on the same page.

While G Suite has a lot of impressive tools, it isn’t designed for personal use, and you can be penalized for trying to use it this way. For example, you are given 30 GB of online storage with your Basic subscription, but you can purchase unlimited space for a few dollars more each month. The twist is your storage space will still be capped unless you have more than five users on the same plan. At this point, everyone will have unlimited storage. Also, the Gmail account that comes with G Suite is designed to support a uniquely designated business address rather than a personal @gmail.com one. To use this feature within G Suite, you will need to create a business email. To set this up, you must register as an official business, which comes with some added costs. This can be done through G Suite.

If you want to use Google, we recommend Google One over G Suite.

The best we can recommend for users who want to stick with using Google and its programs rather than use Office 365 is to upgrade your current free Google One account to a paid one. Google One is designed for personal use, so it doesn’t have the same features and tools available with G Suite. For example, for the same price as a G Suite Basic account, you get 200 GB of cloud storage space with Google One, which is enough for most students creating homework projects such as research papers, slide presentations and spreadsheets. But this space isn’t quite enough for storing multiple projects that are larger files. The biggest Google One package comes with 30 TB, but it costs $300 per month, or $3600 per year, which is out of most student budgets. Google One also doesn’t give you access to Voice or Hangouts, so it’s harder to corroborate on group projects.

Office 365 is the better program for students: Here’s why.

First, Office 365 offers a free student account while you are still in school. All you need is a valid student email account, and you have access to all the Office apps you need, OneDrive storage space and access to Teams, Microsoft’s real-time collaboration tool. You also can use both Outlook and Skype. When you’re ready, you can purchase an Office 365 Personal account and have the same features as your student account, except for access to Teams. All your saved files, contacts, and emails seamlessly transfer to your personal account, so nothing is lost.

Another perk of Office 365 over G Suite is the amount of online storage. Office 365 Personal gives you 1 TB of space while G Suite Basic only has 30 GB. You can purchase unlimited space with a higher-priced G Suite package. But you will still be capped unless you have more than five users on your account. This is because G Suite is designed for business use rather than personal, or school use.

Office 365 programs have more features and functions compared to G Suite programs. Converting an Office file to a Google file will cause some macros to not function and formatting issues. Since more educators use Office 365, we recommend using it, too, to avoid these issues, which can be costly when your grade depends on presentation or formulas working correctly.

Our pick

Office 365 Personal

The apps you need for success

$70 at Microsoft

Office 365 is our to pick because of the amount of online storage and ease of access across devices. Plus, there are more functions and formatting options available through Office to create more detailed and engaging projects.

Real-time collaboration

G Suite Basic

Use Hangouts and Voice to collaborate in realtime

$60 at Google

G Suite is the better option for collaborating with fellow students, especially in real-time. You get 30 GB of online storage space, plus unlimited access to both Google Hangouts and Voice.



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