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Best cloud office suite of 2020: office software for desktop and mobiles

Best cloud office suites
(Image credit: Pixabay)

It's no longer the case that you have to be in the office to fill out documents or even spreadsheets. The rise in mobile applications means that there are now a suite of business apps available for use on mobile devices.

Even better is that there is also a range of cloud-based office software available, which means your documents will sync between your mobile and PC, giving cloud services an advantage over mobile-only apps.

This offers huge advantages in terms of practicality, as well as offering efficiency and productivity benefits as well.

It's not simply that documents can be updated in real-time either, as cloud-based software is able to offer collaboration tools which makes office suites better suited to working teams.

Another advantage is that of redundancy, as by being saved in the cloud users are no longer so threatened by the dangers of data loss in the event of a PC crash or harddrive failure.

Here then are the best in cloud-based office suites.

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Best cloud office suites - at a glance

  1. Microsoft Office 365
  2. Google G Suite
  3. Zoho Docs
  4. OnlyOffice
  5. iWork

Microsoft Office 365

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft has a huge amount of productivity software for users who can afford it

Multiple productivity tools
OneDrive integration
Relatively expensive

Microsoft Office 365 is a line of subscription services offered by Microsoft. It was launched in 2011.

It is comprised of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and OneDrive amongst others.

Subscribers receive 1TB of storage through OneDrive. Users can share files with others. You can control who edits each file and how long they have access to it.  

OneDrive includes multi-party video sharing, content sharing, shared calendars and team chat.

Subscribers also have access to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Users do not need to download these applications. They are readily accessible online through a subscription.

Microsoft Office for Home is priced at $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$13 per month and includes up to five computers.

‘Office 365 Business’ is $10 / £7.90 / AU$12 per month per user. The ‘Premium’ tier is $15 / £9.40 / AU$17.20 per month and includes Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams.

G Suite

(Image credit: Google)

2. Google G Suite

Place your faith in the giants of Google for a comprehensive suite, calendar and email

All-in-one productivity suite
Team collaboration
Some functionality issues

G Suite is a brand of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools developed by Google. It was first launched in 2006.

The software is made up of Docs, Sheets and Slides as part of Google’s cloud office suite. It also includes Gmail, calendar and hangouts.

Users can upload their own documents, spreadsheets and presentations for customizing their own office templates.  

Users can create documents in your browser with Google Docs. It allows multiple users to work at the same time. Users can view other users edits as they type. You can also communicate through built-in chat and insert comments. Users can export in most formats such as .docx, .pdf, .odt, .rtf, .html and .txt. All changes are saved. Previous versions of your documents are kept indefinitely at no extra cost.

Google Sheets enables users to view their spreadsheets through charts and pivot tables. Users can work on Sheets even when they are offline. Sheets is compatible with other formats such as Microsoft Excel.

Users can work and collaborate on presentations with multiple users using Slides. Admins get to control who can edit, view or add comments. There are multiple presentations to choose form or users can create their own presentations from scratch.

The ‘Basic’ package is $5 / £4.60 / AU$8.40 per user per month and includes 30GB of storage.  

The ‘Business’ package is $10 / £9.20 / AU$16.80 per month per user and comes with unlimited storage and archiving.

The ‘Enterprise’ plan is $25 / £20 / AU$34 per month per user and offers advanced controls and capabilities.  

Online users have complained that the functionality of Sheets and Docs is not as broad as online versions of Word and Excel.

Zoho Workplace

(Image credit: Zoho)

3. Zoho Workplace

Zoho offers excellent range of tools and apps, some of which are free

Lots of integrated apps
Free pricing tier
Cheap paid plans

Zoho Workplace is an online suite of office tools, with a large variety of different applications for different and specific tasks. Like Microsoft Office, many of these can also run individually as standalone apps on a mobile device.

Workplace provides the core office suite you'd expect, with Writer, Sheet, and Show, respectively covering documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

There is also a set of specific collaboration tools, not least for documents, as well as training and conferencing options for text, voice, or video.

On top of that there are also tools for email, communications, and project management through Zoho Mail, Cliq, and Connect.

If that wasn't enough, there are also individual apps available for each of these tools through the Apple AppStore and Google Play store.

The best news of all is that Zoho Workplace is free to use for up to 5 users, with 5GB of storage space available for each user. 

Paid-for plans are available for larger teams. The Standard plan costs $3 per user per month, when prepaid for a year, which offers 30GB of space. 

The Professional plans adds more space and more advanced tools from $6 per month when paid for annually. 


4. OnlyOffice

OnlyOffice community edition is both cost free and has excellent additional features

Free and open source
Excellent free tier
Support issues

OnlyOffice is an open source office suite developed by Ascensio Systems SIA who are based in Riga, Latvia. It is available in over 22 languages and boasts Oracle as one of their leading clients.

The free tier, known as the 'Community Edition' is most suited for small business and allows up to 20 connections at once. This suite does not just offer the usual features such as word processing or spreadsheets but is very useful for order fulfilment and for documenting sales.

The handy calendar feature allows users to keep up to date with personal and work-related tasks as well as keeping an eye on deadlines. Third party integration is also supported. You can create your own Mailboxes with the 'Mail' tool.

As with other office suites you can create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Users can collaborate on projects and make comments in files where necessary.

Users have reported that support can be hard to find and that the online chat forum community that is used to provide help can be tricky to navigate.

Image Credit: Apple

5. iWork

Apple delivers an excellent, free and easy to use office suite

Beautiful Interface
Powerful presentation software
Supports MS Office formats

iWork is Apple's own office suite. It consists of Pages, Keynote and Numbers. The suite is eclusive to macOS but there are versions on the cloud that can be enjoyed by users of other platforms.

There are three separate apps, each for word processing, preparing presentations and for creating spreadsheets. Numbers, Apple's spreadsheet software, shows a blank canvas on launch, rather than a daunting grid view. It’s very easy to add images, tables and charts as you go. 

The word processor, Pages, is very simple and is perfect for straight forward documents. It is not inundated with layers of options that exist within MS Word. Pages also allows users to collaborate on their work and has now added a feature that supports EPUB which can be created and shared to iBooks. 

The presentation app, Keynote, has been referred to as the better alternative to PowerPoint by online users as it is straight forward and easy to use. It creates beautiful presentations without the hassle that can be associated with PowerPoint.

MS Office may not be able to open iWork created documents but all iWork applications can export formats that are compatible with other suites.