I’ve used G Suite for several years. This 2020 G Suite review explains what to expect, if the offering is worth the price and how a G Suite account can help you manage your business.
But first consider this: Are you ready to turn your freelancing into a more professional business?
Or perhaps you want to add a suite of productivity tools so you can collaborate more easily?
In either case – or if you’re just beginning – you need the right tools for the job. These days, that means finding a great suite of digital collaboration tools that can help you communicate, create content and get organized.
The internet is, of course, filled with apps that can do all of those things and a lot more. The key is finding apps that all work together and aren’t confusing to learn. I’m going to take a close look at one of the best – G Suite – the tools Google provides.
Everything you need to know is covered in this comprehensive G Suite review.
- What Exactly is G Suite?
- What Does a G Suite Subscription Give You?
- Why is G Suite Better?
- Is G Suite Good for Small Businesses?
- What is the G Suite Marketplace?
- Which is Better: Office 365 or G Suite?
- G Suite vs. Office 365: The Bottom Line
- What Are Some Additional G Suite Alternatives?
- Do You Still Recommend G Suite Over These Other Options?
- Is G Suite Safe and Private to Use?
- How Much Does G Suite Cost Per Month?
- How Do I Learn More About How to Use G Suite?
- Verdict: Is G Suite Any Good?
Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you purchase the products I recommend.
What Exactly is G Suite?
G Suite, or Google for Business, is a collection of tools and apps Google provides, with advanced options available for a monthly fee. Google has been hard at work for years developing a variety of tools to help people out. You’re probably familiar with some of them, like Gmail and Google docs.
G Suite takes the free version of Google Docs and Gmail several steps further by combining these tools into one big package specifically designed for businesses.
Any business, from a solo freelancer to a larger company, can use G Suite to create, collaborate, communicate and generally be productive in a variety of situations.
What Does a G Suite Subscription Give You?
I will go into specific pricing options in more detail below, but here are the basics. You pay a tiered monthly subscription fee to use G Suite. As expected, you get more features and better service the more you are willing to pay.
At a basic level, however, G Suite provides key Google apps like:
- Gmail for business
- Google Meet for video conferences
- Calendar for setting events and appointments
- Docs for creating content online
- Keep for making and saving notes
- Sheets for spreadsheets and organization
- Drive for Google cloud storage
- Chat for quick team messages
- Access to G Suite apps via the Google Marketplace
- …and more
Why is G Suite Better?
G Suite packages Google apps together and adds services specifically developed for growing businesses then includes additional security and collaboration features.
First, let’s look at the tools you’re probably already using.
Who doesn’t have a Gmail account these days? And most freelancers already use Google Docs and Drive for cloud work and sending online files. Google Chat is available in Gmail and with G Suite.
With G Suite, you can send emails from your domain rather than from @gmail.com. In other words, recipients get emails from [firstname]@becomeawritertoday.com, which looks more professional.
I also prefer using the Gmail email service over a typical email client like Outlook because it is easier to use. I can access Gmail anywhere and have memorized the keyboard shortcuts to save time. I use the Gmail app to check business emails on my phone, and it was easier to set up than Microsoft Outlook.
Google Calendar is widely available for events, both internal and external. Business users can arrange video calls using Google Meet or Chat and save money on video conferencing software, all via their business email and domain.
In other words, the G Suite calendar can function much like the Microsoft Office calendar for you and your team.
Most people are familiar with Google docs, and the free version is almost the same as the premium version. The difference is the G Suite version includes additional security controls for protecting sensitive information.
You can also set up a shared drive for collaborating on files with team members and other users. In addition, Google Docs works with and without internet access, in case you go offline.
When you buy G Suite, you get what’s in the free version in an integrated bundle, but you also get valuable add-ons.
Currents is a communication and collaboration app for your business. Have you ever used Slack or a similar app when working for a business or client? Currents is similar. You can quickly create group chats and discuss news with the whole team or break away for individual chats whenever you want.
All the threads make sharing documents, especially Google documents and spreadsheets, simple. Newcomers can also easily find out who is on their team and the most important team news.
What happens when you need something extra for your team that Google’s apps can’t provide? Maybe you need an extra method to analyze a large amount of feedback at once.
Or perhaps you want to automate certain practices to save time.
Maybe you want to add an extra call to action to a form or make sure two apps like Sheets and Calendar can easily share information. If you don’t have much coding experience, Apps Script allows you to create all sorts of customized solutions for the specific way you do business.
If you are starting your own business, you need a website. Or maybe you’ve been freelancing too long without a professional website and don’t have much cash to spend on a web designer. Sites is Google’s app for quickly and easily creating your own website.
You don’t need to be a programmer to use Sites, and it’s automatically responsive.That means it’ll look good on mobile devices too without extra work. This app also is a great solution for creating temporary websites for events or big projects that have an end date but still need a site for advertising and sign-up purposes.
I don’t use Sites that much to be honest, because I prefer WordPress and landing pages tools.
Forms is a tool for creating surveys and forms you can easily share online. This app proves useful for gathering customer data for marketing purposes, but these forms can have all kinds of uses.
If you’ve ever needed to create a survey, a quiz, or something similar, you’ll love Forms. It allows you to automatically analyze the data you get back without laborious data entry.
My team used Forms to survey readers of Become a Writer Today about courses and books.
Extra Drive Storage
If you’re a personal user of Google, you probably have enough drive storage. However, I quickly filled mine with video files and podcast recordings for my business.
G Suite basic includes 30GB of storage. Since migrating to G Suite, I upgraded my Google cloud storage to 1TB, so I always have backups of business documents, even if my computer breaks or is stolen.
G Suite comes with 24/7 support via phone, email or online chat –– something hard to find with other vendors and which makes the more complex tools easier to use.
Before writing this review, I contacted customer support via Chat when my business email went down, and they resolved the issue promptly. I also contacted support when I’d technical questions about my domain and sharing docs and sheets with contractors versus third-parties. They usually replied within a few minutes via Chat.
It’s worth noting that the G Suite customer support team doesn’t provide direct support for Google Analytics though.
Security and an Admin Console
You may love your team, but you still need security and monitoring controls for setting up these apps and making sure people are –– or aren’t –– using them correctly. G Suite adds these capabilities for business managers and makes them simple to use.
I used the admin console of G Suite to remove a contractor when they left suddenly and easily set up a new one. The process took only a few minutes, which should appeal to time-strapped business users.
Vault is basically all your data records rolled up into one. It’s a record of chats, emails, and files all bundled together, plus auditing tools with the ability to track specific activity. It’s great for legal purposes and efficiency management. When a contractor left my business, I was able to save her documents and email to Vault for archiving.
G Suite Apps and more
You can power up G Suite services like Gmail and Drive using apps on the marketplace. Examples to check out include DocuSign, Evernote, Trello and Zoom.
G Suite offers extra services for managing mobile fleets, searching for data across all Google’s apps, data loss prevention tools and more integration. Google includes a little bit of everything in G Suite.
Is G Suite Good for Small Businesses?
In fact, G Suite is largely designed for small businesses. Larger companies and corporations often prefer more in-depth services or in-house solutions that they can easily tweak and monitor.
G Suite, meanwhile, is streamlined and prepackaged for smaller businesses that aren’t building their own solutions (unless you’re using App Scripts of course).
That’s why, when you first sign up for G Suite, Google asks you how big your business is. The first option is “Just You,” and the second is “2–9” people. Don’t worry, you can add or remove users later on.
Remember, your G Suite account is different to your personal Gmail or Google account. Managing files, email accounts and passwords for both in the same browser can get a little confusing because you must be logged into G Suite and not your personal Google account. You also can’t add your personal Gmail address to G Suite, which is probably a good thing.
What is the G Suite Marketplace?
G Suite Marketplace is an interesting addition that can essentially add more services or features to G Suite. Skilled developers created these applications, which are posted for sale or download on Marketplace.
If you don’t want to use App Scripts or are trying to find out if a specific solution exists, you can look at Marketplace to see if it offers an app that will do the job.
It’s a nice little extra bit of usability for certain niche projects or businesses that have unique needs. The marketplace also provides a way to publish your own apps if you’re particularly proud of something you’ve created!
Which is Better: Office 365 or G Suite?
The chief competitor to G Suite is Office 365 (O365, as it’s commonly abbreviated), Microsoft’s suite of productivity tools. The two are similar, with apps for communication, collaboration, teamwork, email, security and an admin console.
Let’s cover some key differences between these productivity tools:
- Learning curve: O365 is a bigger and more complex platform than G Suite. Some of its tools don’t integrate as well with each other as Google’s apps, and the collaboration features aren’t easy to tap into. Users will have to spend more time learning how everything in O365 fits together.
- App integration: The G Suite is mostly designed to be used independently without a lot of integration with outside apps. O365, on the other hand, has compatibility with hundreds of third-party business apps. Microsoft also regularly acquires companies and adds rebranded apps to its service, e.g., Wunderlist.
- Complexity: Compare apps like Excel and Google Sheets, and you’ll see that Microsoft’s apps tend to be a lot more complex. They can do more, but it’s harder to use them right off the bat.
- Pricing: Microsoft Office 365 pricing starts at $5 per user per month. The standard version costs $12.50 per user per month, and the premium version runs $20 per user per month. That’s slightly more expensive than G Suite.
- Teams: I’ve used Microsoft Office extensively, and the jewel in its crown is Teams, which is a productivity or collaboration tool like Slack. G Suite doesn’t have a comparable tool.
- Excel: Some SEO marketers have told me Google Sheets isn’t as powerful as Excel for data analysis. That might be down to a personal preference though.
Based on this, G Suite is generally a better choice for new or small businesses that work online a lot. I prefer G Suite to Microsoft Office, as it feels faster and more streamlined. I find Google Docs faster to write in than Word. I particularly like that I can jump from one section to the next using the document outline feature. The only tools I miss from the Microsoft Office productivity suite is Teams and Excel.
G Suite vs. Office 365: The Bottom Line
Enterprises and large businesses are probably better off with Office due to Teams and the widespread adoption of Microsoft Office 365. New and small businesses will find G Suite a less expensive alternative.
What Are Some Additional G Suite Alternatives?
It wouldn’t be a good G Suite review without looking at alternatives –– unless your company already requires it, of course. If you’re freelancing or building your own small writing business, then you have plenty of other options to consider.
A number of other suites provide lots of tools for creating content, talking to teams, making notes and so on. Here are a few popular alternatives to using G Suite for your business:
You may have already heard about Zoho as a marketing tool, but the platform can do a whole lot more than just help out marketing teams. It allows you to create a hub for your business that includes a unique email domain, documents and spreadsheets and built-in collaboration software called Cliq. Zoho offers both free and standard plans, but paying for the service gets you lots of cloud storage, among other benefits.
Zoho can also provide hosting services that integrate with other suites like Google and Microsoft, so there’s a lot of flexibility. You can do pretty much anything, but it’s designed more for IT companies and larger businesses.
Rackspace is a data hosting platform that offers solutions to growing businesses. It’s data-intensive. Rackspace can provide all kinds of cloud and server solutions as well as just the right type of hosting, but it’s best for companies that use a high amount of data and have complex needs.
If you already have email hosting for your business or don’t need a dedicated service for that, Samepage offers a suite of services designed to make everyday life easier for your employees. This app offers cloud storage, web communication and other ways to collaborate with your team and share data as needed.
Samepage provides a nice choice for small teams that already have most of what they need but want a centralized online space to work without cobbling together several different apps.
Conversely, The Arrangers is focused almost entirely on email. You get 5GB of storage per account, built-in virus protection and mobile app support for your business email addresses. Like other major email clients, The Arrangers also offers calendars, contacts and task apps.
You can also branch out into hosting, security and cloud services, but these services will cost more. It’s a fair choice for getting off the ground with business email addresses and a website if you are just beginning.
Go Daddy is primarily known for its web hosting (often, low opinions about their web hosting). However, Go Daddy has been busy branching out in recent years. The company now offers email and office programs to create content and manage email in a central system. If you already use Go Daddy, the upgrade is certainly worth looking into. It also integrates well with Office 365 apps, which is worth keeping in mind. I also recommend Siteground and Pressidium.
ONLYOFFICE – yes, it really does use all capitals – is an open-source solution, which means you can customize the platform with all the widgets and add-ons you could want –– as long as you know how to do it, which takes some work.
However, you can get a suite of suitable business tools, similar to Microsoft Office. Paid versions of the platform make things easier too.
Do You Still Recommend G Suite Over These Other Options?
Absolutely. There are several reasons G Suite is usually superior to the alternatives I listed in this review.
First, Google can afford to hire the best, and their skill shows in the quality of the G Suite apps, which are above most other alternatives out there.
The app design also means G Suite is easy to use, especially since so many people are familiar with popular apps like Gmail.
It’s also nice to have a suite from a company as large as Google. Their servers are always up, they fix bugs immediately, and the company will unlikely go bankrupt and sell to another vendor, leaving the fate of their tools uncertain.
Is G Suite Safe and Private to Use?
Some people may be a little leery about using a suite of apps provided entirely by Google –– the same Google that’s so good at gathering information about online activities. Actually Google has a whole webpage dedicated to answering these worries, titled G Suite security and trust.
I encourage you to read through the whole page. It explains how Google cloud data is encrypted and protected, how admins can tailor their security as necessary and which security standards G Suite meets for several countries and industries.
You can also contact Google if you have more specific questions about how they treat your data and what privacy you can expect.
How Much Does G Suite Cost Per Month?
G Suite offered three primary tiers at the time of writing this review.
G Suite Basic
The first tier costs $6 per user per month. That gets you all the basics covered in this review, plus 30GB of drive space for storage.
G Suite Business
The middle tier is priced at $12 per user per month. The business tier adds unlimited drive space, Vault and additional management tools suitable for larger businesses. I use this tier due to the extra file storage and Google cloud search features.
G Suite Enterprise
The third tier costs $25 per user per month and adds even more admin tools and abilities, with great features for managing lots of data and people via endpoint management.
Oh, and if you aren’t ready to commit to a fee yet, you can get a two-week free trial to check things out and see how helpful G Suite compares to the free version of Gmail, Google Docs and Drive.
Years ago, before writing this G Suite review, I took out a single user licence.
Since then, I’ve added additional G Suite users or team members including an editor and virtual assistant, each of whom have their own email, storage and access to other Google apps and collaboration tools.
How Do I Learn More About How to Use G Suite?
With all the support options Google offers, you can just call or shoot an email if you have a question about how to use specific tools. However, a large G Suite Learning Center lets users choose a particular app to learn in-depth, browse for quick tips, and more.
You can also sign up for classes and earn certification in G Suite, which may be a useful skill for certain team members to acquire.
Verdict: Is G Suite Any Good?
G Suite is a great productivity suite for business owners who want to work with team members around the world. The product is easy to use and comes with familiar apps. It can also scale up as your company grows, in that you can add or remove users easily.
I use the extra Google cloud storage that comes with G Suite frequently. I also rely on the professional email service G Suite offers and on Google Hangouts for meetings. I don’t use Sites or other apps and scripts much, but your business needs might differ.
If you work online a lot or value collaboration, G Suite is a useful tool for your business.
G Suite Review: The Bottom Line
A great productivity suite for business owners who want to work with team members around the world. The product is easy to use and comes with familiar apps. It can also scale up as your company grows, in that you can add or remove users easily.
- Convenient and familiar
- Easy to use
- Painless effort to add or remove users
- More affordable than Microsoft Office
- Ideal for collaboration between team members in small businesses
- 24/7 support
- Lots of Google cloud storage
- Internet access not required, but G Suite works best when connected.
- G Suite users can share files, but not drives, with external people.
- Having multiple Google accounts is confusing.
- No comparable alternative to Microsoft Teams is available.