If you find yourself needing to work with spreadsheets, you may be wondering which spreadsheet program to use. Google Sheets and Excel are both extremely popular, but you probably want to know which one is better or if they are interchangeable. This post will cover the pros and cons of Google Sheets vs Excel so you can get to the next step faster: actually using spreadsheets.
Are Google Sheets and Excel the Same?
They are similar, but there are distinct differences that can influence how enjoyable you find them to use and whether they even serve your purposes.
The Pros and Cons of Google Sheets vs Excel
Google Sheets is free to use for everyone. Google offers a paid suite, but you can use Google Sheets with the same functionality for free. Free tips the scales when you’re working on a tight budget. You have to pay to use Microsoft Excel, and it’s not cheap. The good news is that you have the option to pay yearly or break it up into smaller monthly payments.
If you’ll be using formulas, performing other complex tasks with the information, or getting more precise with your designs, you’ll probably need Excel. Google Sheets provides these features, but they aren’t quite as sophisticated. Most startups use Google just fine, though.
This is perhaps the best part of Google sheets. It is easy to share Google Sheets spreadsheets with others and to have multiple people edit spreadsheets at the same time In a remote economy this is more valuable than anything else. Microsoft is working on ways to boost opportunities for collaboration, but the options are currently limited and don’t compare to Google Sheets.
You can access and edit your Google Sheets on any of your devices anywhere you go. Excel does offer online and mobile solutions, so you don’t have to completely give those up to use it, but they are limited in comparison to Google Sheets. You can use Google Sheets in offline mode as a backup, but if you want to more regularly or exclusively use your spreadsheet without in the internet, you’ll need Excel.
If you’ll be making massive, complicated spreadsheets, you may exceed Google Sheet’s capabilities. This is probably their biggest weakness, but there are workarounds or formulas that allow you to link sheets, so if you run out of space you can use the importrange function to link the last row or anything you need to the new one sheet so you don’t lose your running balances. If this works for your needs, then it won’t be an issue. Excel is much better at handling the most complicated and information-heavy spreadsheets.
You don’t have to worry about remembering to save your work with Google Sheets. It automatically saves itself after each thing you do.
This isn’t saying Google Sheets spreadsheets aren’t secure, they are, but they are not quite as secure as a file on your device is. Someone could hack into your email and compromise the file where they’d have to hack into your device with Excel. Not too much of a concern, unless you’re dealing with very confidential information where you want to be super safe.
Because Google Sheets is saved to the cloud, you don’t have to clutter up your device with files.
Ease of Use
Google Sheets is fairly simple and easy to learn for a spreadsheet program, making this a tempting option for beginners or those who don’t need complicated features.
There are functions that don’t exist in Excel that are super handy. Google finance and crypto are some of my favorite because you can create dashboards that look at financial markets and update the data constantly. Importrange allows me to connect as many independent sheets as I want into one. This is super useful when creating dashboards or models. Here is a good blog that goes into detail of each of them
Which is Right for You?
Considering the pros and cons of Google Sheets and Excel, Google Sheets is the best option if you need collaboration, accessibility, low cost, and ease of use, while Excel is best for large datasets and for enterprise level functions that need a more robust system.
You Can Use Both!
If you have unique needs for different types of information or different projects, you can use Excel for one and Google Sheets for the other and enjoy the best of both. In fact, most companies I have worked for use both. Excel is used mainly to save and store the work such as in preparation for an audit or due diligence folders. While the operation files live in Google sheets and are only converted to Excel when they are shared with third parties who don’t wish to share the working file. However, I have seen companies that avoid this storing system in Excel by saving copies of the Google Sheet file into Google Drive and just share the drive with others.