Thanks to the cloud, it is possible to work from any location. If you need to use advanced spreadsheets, you may still need a fully-featured Excel install, but this may not be a requirement in all cases. If you need to need to get some progress in a project even if you are not at the office, cloud-based spreadsheet apps may be a good solution. The main solutions available in this area are Google Sheets, Zoho Sheets and Excel Online. Here we will take a closer look at them and will compare what they offer in the most important areas to help you decide which one is the best solution for you.
In order to check compatibility, we considered old documents with 97-2003-based visual elements and brand new sheets with Pivot charts, Histograms and Sparklines, as well as more recent Excel graph types.
Excel Online impresses with its amazing compatibility. Formulas, graphs, sparklines and everything else work seamlessly. If you are using older sheets (97-2003) would require a conversion process, but it doesn’t take long and once it is done, the documents are rendered without issues. While Excel Online is not capable of creating new Pivot Tables or Defined Ranges, it can use them when they are already on the spreadsheet. It is also important to note that although Sparklines appeared, they only appeared as an object image and can’t be modified.
Unfortunately, Google Sheets doesn’t work well with older documents and they may not even open. In fact, Sheets doesn’t troubleshoot import errors. The majority of Pivot Tables and Charts, Defined Names and Sparklines work well and are populated within the formula bar. The downside is that Google Sheets doesn’t support any Histogram-style graphs built in Excel.
Zoho Sheets can open older spreadsheets as long as the majority of the object images are removed and are not converted to Zoho’s native format. The problem is that Zoho doesn’t work with newer spreadsheets. There is no support for Sparklines and Histograms. Every 3D Pivot charts based on just 2-level data sets converted to Zoho format without issues.
All these services support vlookups, concatenates, calculations and other crucial features. However, there are important differences to note.
You would expect Microsoft’s Excel Online to be the most complete solution of the three, but unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, crucial features such as Pivot Tables, Pivot Charts and Defined Names. Even features such as Text-to-Columns and Remove-duplicates are not available. When you try to access them, all you see is a message letting you know that you need to open in Excel Desktop. In an attempt to push customers to buy Office 365, Microsoft left out many important features from Excel Online. In addition, it should be noted that Excel Online is limited to documents smaller than 5 MB.
Zoho supports options that you can’t find with Excel Online and it even includes by default features that are only available as add-ons in the case of Google Sheets. Apart from data validation, Zoho Sheets gives you formula troubleshooting through Goal Seeker and Solver function. The macro support that Zoho has is excellent and it also supports Visual Basic for Applications. You can also record, save and run macros. The online version of Zoho Sheets is limited to files of up to 10 MB.
Sharing and Collaboration
In terms of collaboration, Microsoft has made significant advances. It added real-time collaboration in OneDrive for instance. The real-time appear almost instantly and are noted automatically with the user name, in case the chance was missed. You can collaborate with anyone you send links to, even if they don’t have a Microsoft account. The bad news is that there are no link passwords or expirations available for single items.
With Google Sheets, it is possible to send collaboration links to people who don’t use Google. There are also options available that allow you to prevent data from being download, re-shared or printed. An advantage of Google over Excel Online is that it is faster in real-time collaboration. The downside is that it is not possible to see who made a change and what change was made. You only see where someone’s cursor is at the moment.
You can also get fast real-time collaboration with Zoho Sheets, but it features a chat box. Like Google Sheets, Zoho lacks edit notes but there is an audit log that lets you check within the Review tab. Free accounts can only send collaboration links to other Zoho users. Those with a paid account can send public collaboration links and set password protection, as well as expiration dates. Zoho also offers integration with a variety of services that offer their own sharing and collaboration options like Dropbox and Goodle Drive.
Excel Online, Google Sheets and Zoho Sheets offer a variety of features that will suit different needs. If you rely on Excel and don’t require a great deal of features while you are on the go, you can consider Excel Online or OneDrive. Zoho Sheets will impress you with its good set of features and collaboration features that are even better than what Google Sheets can offer. The fact that Zoho supports Google Drive and Dropbox makes it a good choice.