Cloud-based office suites provide users with productivity, communication, and collaborative tools. Although cloud-based office suites are prominently used for business use, they can also be effective tools for personal use. There are several options when looking for an office suite for personal use but one of the major contenders is Google’s user-friendly G Suite. G Suite is Google’s answer to the Microsoft Office suite, and G Suite for personal use offers more advantages than just a professional Gmail account. I’ll get into the unique reasons why it’s a solid investment for individuals in this article.
Why I Like G Suite for Individual Use
G Suite offers users an efficient and compact suite that conveniently resides in the user’s browser.
Unlike other office suites, G Suite does not require any downloading, so users can access it on their computer, tablet, or phone wherever there is web access.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t spend nearly as much time at my desk as I used to. Having a cloud-based office suite that is accessible everywhere and seamlessly syncs to the cloud from every device is a game changer.
With G Suite you’ll have access to Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, and Meet.
Wait, Aren’t Those Things Available for Free?
Users may be wondering about the benefits are of purchasing a G Suite license versus using the free Google apps. With free access to applications such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, what makes G Suite worth the cost?
Let’s take a look at the upgrades a paid G Suite account gets you, and why it might make sense (or not) for you to invest in G Suite for personal use.
Why Invest in G Suite?
Unlike a standard Google account, G Suite gives an administrator tools. You’ll enjoy the ability to manage all of the accounts associated with each edition. It permits access to a core set of apps that include Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Hangouts Meet, Hangouts Chat, Sites, and Groups.
Paid subscribers also have access to 24/7 phone, email, and online support.
Every free Google account has access to 15GB of secure Google Drive cloud storage for email, photos, and other files. Users can store, share, and access their files and folders from any mobile device, tablet, or computer. This is a generous amount of storage because Google files (Docs, Sheets, and Slide files) don’t count toward your total.
With a G Suite Basic account users have 30GB of storage. That increases to 1TB of cloud storage with a single G Suite Business license. Read my Basic vs Business license comparison to learn more.
In addition to the added storage, users also get ad-free business emails with the option of creating email accounts with their company domain.
Reliability is another upgrade for G Suite users. With G Suite, Google promises 99.9% uptime with its Service Level Agreement (SAL) for covered services. And with G Suite, Google Hangouts users have access to text, voice, and HD video chats for up to 25 people.
Upgrading to a paid plan also gives users administrative and security options for Drive and Gmail. These features are not available with the free Google apps, and I can tell you the first time I received an email that Google flagged as a likely phishing attempt in bright yellow, I was grateful I had the upgraded version.
Free Gmail vs Gmail with G Suite for Personal Use
Even when using email for personal use, there are times when you may need to use your email as a collaboration tool. This is an important concept to keep in mind when deciding between regular (free) Gmail and upgrading to G Suite for personal use.
Free Gmail and G Suite professional email have fundamental differences when looking at them from a design perspective.
Even though functions are similar, Gmail and Google apps are designed for individual users while G Suite is designed for business and team collaboration (which, it turns out, is awesome for individuals who want a more professional email experience).
Since Gmail is designed for individual use, there is no team management function and sharing files is limited to sharing only between individuals. Gmail users who want to share a file with multiple other Gmail users must set the file access rights of each object one by one. For example, if you are working with a team of 6, then you must enter 5 other team members’ email addresses. This means the more people on your team, the more troublesome collaborative work becomes.
Transitioning to G Suite for Personal Use
If you’re already using Google products such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets, or Calendar, then moving over to G Suite is an easy transition.
If you’ve been using the Microsoft Office suite and you’re concerned about transitioning over Microsoft Word documents or PDFs, there is no need to worry. Uploading your Word documents and spreadsheets to Google Docs and Google Sheets is easy to do (you can literally just drag and drop them into Drive).
You may be wondering what happens if you switch to a G Suite account but need to work with users who don’t have a G Suite account.
A common myth about G Suite is that users cannot share and edit Google Docs with users who do not have a G Suite account. This is not the case because anyone can sign up for a free Google account and use it to access, edit, and share Docs, Slides, and more without purchasing a subscription.
And you can download any Google Doc as a .docx file, and you can download any Google Sheet as a .xlsx file.
Which G Suite License is Best for Individual Use?
Once you’ve decided to go with G Suite for personal use, your next decision is deciding which plan is best for your needs. For personal use, the two practical options are the Basic and the Business plans.
Although these two licenses have many of the same features, they also have several major differences. Users need to evaluate their unique needs when determining which plan to purchase.
Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities between the Basic and Business plans (and again, I have a full article doing just this here).
|G Suite Basic License||G Suite Business License|
|Price: $6 USD/User/Month||Price: $12 USD/User/Month|
|What Is It?|
Professional office suite with 30GB storage
|What Is It?|
Enhanced office suite with unlimited storage and archiving
|● Business email through Gmail||● Business email through Gmail|
|● Video and voice conferencing||● Video and voice conferencing|
|● Shared calendars||● Shared calendars|
|● Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations||● Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations|
|● 24/7 support by phone, email and online||● 24/7 support by phone email, and online|
|● Security and administration controls||● Security and administration controls|
|● 30GB cloud storage||● Unlimited cloud storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 users)|
|● Smart search across G Suite and Cloud Search|
|● Archive and set retention policies for emails and chats|
|● eDiscovery for emails, chats, and files|
|● Audit reports to track user activity|
One of the major differences between the Basic plan and the Business plan is the amount of cloud storage provided. The Basic plan comes with 30 GB of storage while the Business plan has unlimited cloud storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 users).
Your inbox, image, and video files do count towards your 30 GB storage limit with the Basic plan.
If you do high volumes of photo and video editing or need large amounts of storage, consider the Business plan. Most other individual users will be happy with G Suite Basic.
Searches and Auditing
Another major difference between the Basic and the Business plan is the search, eDiscovery, and auditing features that are available exclusively with the Business plan.
Smart Search and Cloud Search provide users with the opportunity to securely retain and search email and chat records. For example, if you type the words “yearly budget,” the results can come from Gmail, Drive, Docs, or Slides. Any information within the G Suite apps can be found with Cloud Search.
Google, in case you didn’t know, is pretty good at search.
Another feature that comes with the Business plan is Google Vault.
Google Vault allows users to retain, search, and export data from select apps. This allows users to protect their data and set retention rules for certain data. Users can also retrieve information from any account in G Suite, even suspended accounts.
It also provides users with audit reports to track user activity. The vigorous activity tracker allows users to see searches, content views, exports, and more.