Google Sheets vs Excel: Which is Better?


If you’re trying to decide on a spreadsheet application, Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel have likely made their way into your list of options. After all, these are two of the most popular and widely used spreadsheet tools out there.

So, what makes one better than the other? Is it a matter of features, access, cost, collaboration, or something else? We’ll break down these categories in our Google Sheets vs Excel comparison to help you decide which is best for you.

the basics

It’s worth stating from the outset that Sheets and Excel are both excellent spreadsheet applications. So if you have the opportunity to try them both, you can have a clear preference from the start. But if you’re doing your research first, know that you can’t go wrong.

Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel both have easy-to-use interfaces that are very similar to each other. You have a menu full of actions at the top, a toolbar with a toolbar or ribbon below that, and then your sheet full of cells just waiting for data.

Google Sheets and Excel Interface.

It’s what you can do with those cells and the data inside them that can make the biggest difference to you. Both applications provide the functions, formulas, conditional formatting, data validation, and other basic tools you’d expect. So, let’s take a look at the differences that stand out.

application access

Google Sheets is a web-based application with a mobile version, but no desktop option. This makes it easily accessible from any device. All the workbooks you create are automatically saved to your Google Drive, so you never have to worry about hitting the Save button again.

Microsoft Excel is a desktop application that also has a mobile version and web access. While Excel for the web doesn’t offer all the same features as its desktop counterpart, it’s still an option if you use OneDrive. Meaning, if you auto-save the spreadsheet to OneDrive, you can access the spreadsheet from your Excel desktop application on the web.

data analysis

Both applications offer their own version of built-in tools to help you analyze data automatically by asking questions. In Google Sheets, it’s the Explore feature, and in Excel, it’s the Analyze Data feature. Additionally, both applications provide sorting and filtering tools with advanced filters or filter views.

Explore and analyze data tools.

But Excel goes beyond additional data features. For example, you can perform what-if analysis with Goal Seek or Scenario Manager, create a forecast sheet, build complex pivot tables and pivot charts, and use slicers or timelines for advanced filtering. can do.

(As of this writing, Google Sheets now supports Pivot Tables, but not Pivot Charts. Adding Sheet Slicers is also supported, but it appears to only be offered for some Google Workspace users using the Timeline.) does.)

charts and graphs

An important part of a spreadsheet application for many people is the visualization options. Tools like charts and graphs can give you or your audience great visuals to analyze data without actually reading the spreadsheet. Fortunately both the applications provide charts and graphs, but the range of the devices varies.

Google Sheets has a great collection of charts that are easy to insert. You also have the option of adding automatically generated charts using the Explore feature. You can customize your chart and save it as an image outside of your sheet.

Google Sheets Available Chart Types.

Microsoft Excel has a huge selection of charts. You will get more customization options and the option to create a chart template to reuse for continuity. You can also save charts outside of your spreadsheet in Excel.

Excel Available Chart Types.

sharing and collaborating

If collaborating on your spreadsheets requires sharing the workload, you’ll appreciate the collaboration features Google Sheets has on offer from Excel.

Both applications let you share your sheet and adjust sharing permissions to allow other people to edit the sheet or simply view it. And you can share the workbook via email or link.

Google Sheets and Excel Share Options.

Google Sheets takes collaboration seriously in real-time communication. You can not only comment but also reply, edit, solve and have a small conversation while you work on Sheets with your colleagues.

Microsoft Excel provides a commenting feature for working with others. For the desktop app, those comments are static until you save them to OneDrive. Otherwise, you need to use Excel for the web to communicate in real time. Like Sheets, you can reply to comments, edit, and workarounds, but the different versions of Excel can make collaboration challenging.

cost comparison

If cost is a consideration, you might want to look deeper into Google Sheets as it is a free application. There are subscription options for businesses and educational accounts, as well as more storage (remember, your sheets are saved to your Google Drive).

If you want to go beyond free, Google Workspace plans start at $6 per month per user, with access to other Google apps and business features, and Google One plans start at $2 per month for 100GB of storage Are.

Google One has plans.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Excel isn’t free. If you subscribe to Microsoft 365, you’ll get Excel along with other Office applications like Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. If you choose to excel yourself, you’ll still need to pay a one-time fee. The one-time fee is pretty high up front, but using a monthly subscription will cost more if you plan to use it for several years.

For Excel, you can subscribe to Microsoft 365 with personal plans starting at $7 per month or buy Excel for a PC or Mac for $160.

Excel Cost and Microsoft 365 Plan.

other major differences

There are a few more differences to keep in mind when comparing Google Sheets to Microsoft Excel.

The desktop version of Excel runs smoothly and loads quickly no matter how large the workbook or the data within it. When you fill more and more cells and sheets in a workbook, Google Sheets can both feel and load slowly.

Google Sheets storage is limited by the space available in Google Drive, whereas Excel on your desktop can use as much space as you want to give it.

According to Workspace Tips, Google Sheets can accommodate approximately 10 million cells with 200 sheets per workbook. But Excel can handle billions of cells and 255 sheets per workbook.

Bottom-line

If you’re concerned about cost, want healthy collaboration options, and want the ability to access your workbooks from any computer, Google Sheets is for you.

If you want robust data analysis and visualization tools, don’t want to rely on an Internet connection, and are looking for overall advanced functionality, you’ll prefer Microsoft Excel.

So, which one will it be?

If you have to make another software decision, take a look at our Google Docs vs Microsoft Word comparison.

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