Best Spreadsheet Software – Microsoft Excel vs Google Sheets

POST on Software Reviews by Daniella Bursak

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Keeping track of all of your data and lists can get messy and overwhelming. Whether you have thousands of statistics to report or just a simple personal finance spreadsheet, picking the best spreadsheet software is important, and that usually boils down to Excel vs Google sheets.

Both software tools are a great option for organizing your information into neat spreadsheets.

So, we’re here to help which spreadsheet tool is truly the best!

Microsoft Excel vs Google Sheets: Common Features & Stats

In terms of core features, there’s not much difference in Excel vs Google Sheets. Both allow for complex mathematical calculations and data analysis, and both have all the essential features for a spreadsheet software:

  • Compatibility with Android, iOS, Windows and Mac OS X
  • Autofill capabilities
  • Templates that make adjustment to the new tool easy
  • Auto-save, meaning you can forget about constantly having to press “Save”
  • Collaboration

The last point, collaboration, gets a little more complicated. Google Sheets allows multiple users to easily edit the sheet at once, while Microsoft Excel’s standard version only offers this feature to those who are a part of the Office Insider Program’s Fast ring. However, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Excel is comparable to Google sheets in its collaboration capabilities.

You can’t go wrong in choosing Excel vs Google Sheets, as they share many of the most important features for a spreadsheet software. There are, however, some minor differences that might be the selling point for your business.


Microsoft Excel

microsoft excel screenshot


  • Excel’s Pros

    • Advanced Functionality

     

    • Unlimited storage

     

    • Responsive/Fast

     

    • More options for data visualization

     

    • More customizable

     

    • More formulas and functions

     

    • No need for internet



  • Excel’s Cons

    • No clean revision history

     

    • Hard to use- some even take classes

     

    • Different versions make collaboration difficult

     

    • Cannot access sheets from computers other than your own

     

    • Pricey


Excel Feature Review

Excel’s most defining feature is its advanced functionality in comparison to Google Sheets and all other spreadsheet tools. Excel offers features like Power View (a data visualization technology that brings your data to life by creating interactive charts, graphs, maps, and other visuals) and advanced mathematical calculations for serious number crunching. You will be able to find many more formulas on Excel than Google Sheets.

Not far behind, Excel is known for it’s unlimited storage and simultaneous responsiveness. It was built for massive amounts of data and remains fast no matter how much data is added.

In addition to Power View, Excel offers tons of other data visualization options- you can practically make any kind of chart you want. This is great for professional presentations in which you need to include data.

Furthermore, Excel provides hundreds of customization options. Whether it’s colors, logos, animation, or text, you can make your presentations right on brand. The customization features can also increase productivity within your business by automating repetitive tasks like certain calculations.

Excel’s Pricing

microsoft excel pricing

Microsoft Excel also offers an online cloud-based version through Office 365 which is free and more collaborative but lacks the advanced functions that make Excel unique. It is practically Google Sheets without the Google integrations.

Who is Excel for?

Microsoft Excel has a strong grip on the professional world. This software is best for larger companies handling massive amounts of data. Excel is definitely more expensive than Google sheets, but you get a lot more bang for your buck. If you need to perform advanced calculations or create personalized charts for professional presentations, investing $110 in this software will be worth it, considering Sheets lacks in all these facets. If, however, you aren’t working with lists thousands and thousands of rows long, you may want to consider the following.


Google Sheets

google sheets screenshot


  • Sheets’ Pros

    • Free

     

    • Easy to use

     

    • Built for collaboration

     

    • Tight integration with Google

     

    • Built-in revision history

     

    • Real-time chat window

     

    • Better visibility

     

    • Access to your sheets from any computer

     

    • Add-ons



  • Sheets’ Cons

    • Slows as data increases

     

    • Limited data visualization options

     

    • Limited formulas and functions

     

    • Limited customization options


Sheets Feature Review

Most importantly, Google Sheets makes user onboarding easy. You won’t have to pay for classes or even spend time looking at how-to guides in order to navigate Google Sheets. It’s intuitive user interface will make your life a lot easier.

Google Sheets stands out most obviously from Excel because of it’s excellent collaboration abilities. Multiple people can be working on the same spreadsheet at once without any lagging or confusion. You can even access the spreadsheet from your account on multiple devices at the same time without disruption. In addition, you can live chat users currently working on the spreadsheet with you, making communication much more efficient than a string of emails.

Furthermore, Google Sheets is integrated with all other Google applications. This means that you can access the benefits of apps like Google Translate or Google Finance within Google Sheets by simple commands (i.e. GOOGLETRANSLATE() or GOOGLEFINANCE()).

Unlike Microsoft Excel, you have an automatically generated revision history on Google Sheets which allows you to track progress.

You can conveniently access your spreadsheets through your Google Drive no matter which computer you are on. This takes away the need to send files back and forth through email.

Lastly, Google Sheets has dozens of add-ons, so if you find that it is lacking something in its most basic version, there is probably an add-on you can download to solve your problem.

Sheets’ Pricing

What Google Sheets holds most over Microsoft Excel is its pricing – you can get it for free.

In fact, native sheets, docs, etc. are free per their documentation.

Beyond the items that are free, there’s limitation with free Google Sheets in the available storage.

Here are the other pricing options:


  • Storage

  • 15 GB

    100 GB

    1 TB

    10 TB

    20 TB

    30 TB



  • Monthly Price

  • Free

    $1.99

    $9.99

    $99.99

    $199.99

    $299.99


Google also offers a business plan in which you can get unlimited storage in all your Google apps for only $10 a month.

Who is Sheets for?

Google sheets is great for those with modest spreadsheet requirements and those who need to effectively collaborate on their spreadsheets. It will get the simpler jobs done without the expense you pay for Excel. I would recommend Sheets to individuals or spouses keeping track of personal finances, or smaller scale businesses who don’t work with large amounts of data.


Microsoft Excel vs Google Sheets: The Final Verdict

In the case of Microsoft Excel vs Google Sheets, there is no clear winner. When choosing software, it is important to consider the context you will be using it in.


  • Why Pick Google Sheets

  • Google’s free-of-cost, easy-to-use platform means you don’t need to spend extra time or money teaching yourself and your employees how to use it.

    Because it is limited in function and customization, I would recommend this software to students, freelancers, or smaller to mid-sized businesses with modest data requirements.

    The majority of companies and individuals will find its features sufficient because it does offer a lot of the same options as Excel, just not all of them.

    Sheets also is the better option if you value real-time collaboration on your spreadsheets.

    If you need to keep track of a few lists/data sets that aren’t thousands of rows long, you will find that Google Sheets is the best option for you.



  • Why Pick Excel

  • If you are part of a company that does a lot of in-depth data analysis and number crunching, you should probably invest in Microsoft Excel.

    Excel was built to store and work with massive amounts of data, so you know it won’t slow down or get glitchy as you enter more and more data.

    This is not to say Excel is only for large enterprises with large amounts of data. You may just be an individual who needs a software with serious calculation tools. In that case, Excel is the right choice for you.


In the case of Excel vs Google Sheets, both software is great in terms of core features. At the end of the day, what differentiates the two is how they handle data. If your business needs some serious calculations with a lot of data, then Excel is a must-have. If not, you can always use Google Sheets, since it’s free, and switch to Excel if you ever need better computational power.

Excel and Google Sheets are trademarks of their respective owners.

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