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Excel Alternatives: The 5 Best Options For Your Team

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For any businesses big or small, spreadsheets are a vital part of making ends meet. After all, you need to keep track of your data, analyze budgets and do whatever else that requires crunching numbers. Microsoft Excel has been the go-to spreadsheet for decades. You can get it on almost any computer regardless of the operating system.

1. Baserow

This web app is still in the very early stages of operation. Still, it shows plenty of promise when stacked up against Microsoft’s veteran. For starters, Baserow differs from Excel in a way that it’s an open-source tool.

Screenshot Excel alternative Baserow

Here’s what we mean. If Excel doesn’t have a feature you require, you’ll have to wait for Microsoft to add to its software. And who knows when that will be - if ever. On the other hand, you can add your own plugins into the Baserow web app, customizing it to make it more applicable to your team’s needs.

Additionally, Baserow works well with other software. This is because you can expose your data via a public REST API. Simply put, you can connect your data in Baserow to other software, allowing you to conveniently edit or analyze it.

Another plus point for Baserow is that you can host it on your own server. This is especially useful if you’re particular about your information security. With Excel, you have to entrust your sensitive data to Microsoft’s servers or store it on your own device which might result in data loss if it breaks.

The database hybrid alternative to Excel

Excel is purely a spreadsheet, helping you make sense of your numerical data. On the other hand, Baserow offers more than spreadsheet functions. The web app combines this spreadsheet function with database capabilities. Consequently, you can not only organize and structure your data, but you can also store it and analyze it in different ways.

Furthermore, Baserow allows you to invite other users, making it easy to work as a team. The only drawback to Baserow is that you can only access it through your browser. Another negative point is that it doesn’t have mobile functionality yet.

  • Open source
  • Includes database functionalities
  • Available as SaaS and for free
  • Supports plugin installation
  • Fast and intuitive interface
  • Supports plugins.
  • Can be installed on a private server
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Nice looking interface.
  • No mobile functionality
  • Only accessible via browser
Try Baserow

2. Google Sheets

Google Sheets has made a name for itself as a leading Excel alternative. The interface looks similar to what the Microsoft product has to offer. Therefore, users who are switching don’t have to learn everything from scratch. They can just get on and proceed with their work without having to adjust that much.

Screenshot Excel alternative Google Sheets

Moreover, you can work hand-in-hand with colleagues on the same spreadsheet. You can give permission to the people you want to contribute to the sheet. This makes work more efficient, rather than resorting to endless emails about the same sheet that you’d have to go through with Excel.

The best cloud alternative to Excel

Furthermore, Google Sheets appeals to users because it’s hosted in the cloud. This means that anyone can access it regardless of the device they’re using or the operating system they’re running. All one needs is an internet connection and a Google account. This cloud-based feature is also a significant selling point for Google Sheets because users are not at limited risk of losing their work. When using Excel, you can lose any unsaved work when your computer loses power. You can lose saved work if your drive becomes corrupted. However, Google Sheets bypasses this by saving your work to the cloud (Google Drive) as you work. So, even when your computer crashes, you can rest assured that your work still exists in your Google Drive folder.

Additionally, Google provides Sheets as an app for mobile phones and tablets. If you have some changes you need to make when you’re not at your desk, you can conveniently edit your spreadsheet on the move. Well, that is, if you’re not on a trip to China. The country blocks any Google services from functioning in its Far East jurisdiction.

Another significant drawback to using Sheets is that you’ll have to be patient when working with massive spreadsheets with thousands of rows. This is because Google’s answer to Excel doesn’t have the processing power you need to sift through massive amounts of data. Also, you get limited chart formatting compared to what Microsoft Excel offers.

  • Collaboration between users
  • Cloud storage
  • Robust mobile app
  • Free
  • Geo-blocked in some Far East territories
  • Limited chart formatting compared to Excel
  • Requires more processing power to handle extensive sheets
Try Google Sheets

3. LibreOffice Calc

Calc from LibreOffice is an excellent Excel alternative because it’s an open-source platform. This means that independent developers are continually crafting new features to make the spreadsheet program better.

Screenshot Excel alternative LibreOffice Calc

It’s better than Excel in a way that you don’t have to pay for it regardless of the amount of work you need. The Microsoft product needs you to pay for a license, especially if you require more features for professional use.

Calc also allows you to import sheets from older platforms like BeagleWorks and Lotus 1-2-3. Additionally, you can compare two separate spreadsheets in LibreOffice Calc - a feature that is yet to come to Excel.

This Excel alternative also offers two versions of its interface. The classic version is similar to the older Excel layout. This enables long-term Microsoft Office users to adapt quickly to the program. Alternatively, you can opt for the more modern NotebookBar design.

Unfortunately, LibreOffice Calc struggles when it comes to displaying advanced chart formats. This is a staple in Excel. Exporting generic XML files is a big part of sharing spreadsheets for use elsewhere. LibreOffice Calc falls short when it comes to exporting this file type.

  • Open-source platform
  • Compatible with Microsoft Office products
  • Similar features to Excel
  • Free templates
  • Less features compared to Excel
  • Can’t display advanced chart types
Try LibreOffice Calc

4. WPS Office Spreadsheets

WPS Office Spreadsheets is available on all major platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can also access it as an Android or iOS app on your devices.

This is one of the go-to data analysis and visualization programs for those who want to give Microsoft Excel a rest. This is mainly because it offers an experience similar to Excel. WPS does an excellent job of presenting an interface similar to the Microsoft product. You can also find a significant portion of Excel features in WPS Office Spreadsheets.

Additionally, this program works well with Excel. You can export and import several file types to and from the Microsoft platform. These include CSV, XSL, and XLSX file formats.

Another advantage of using WPS Office Spreadsheets is that you can use their free version. It gives you access to all their Excel-like premium features. You can make use of over 100 formulas and features like pivot tables and what-if analysis. And it does all this with a modern look.

Navigating the interface is also quite simplified due to the over 50 keyboard shortcuts you can call upon. Despite all this, WPS Office Spreadsheets also has its fair share of drawbacks. For instance, we talked about the program’s availability on all the major platforms. You can also access it via the web. However, this web version comes as part of the entire WPS Office suite. You can’t have it separate.

Also, the free version has a significant catch. If you can’t afford the yearly $29.99 subscription fee, you’ll have to put up with the ads. Whenever you try to use a feature, you’ll have to watch a 10-second ad. This frees up the feature for a half hour before you have to watch another ad again. Paying for the premium plan also increases the number of viable devices from three to nine.

  • Excel-like layout
  • Great compatibility with other professional productivity programs
  • Free version
  • Supports several file formats
  • Modern interface
  • Mobile app
  • Cloud storage
  • Ads in the free version
  • The web version is accompanied by the entire office suite
Try WPS Office Suite

5. Zoho Office Sheet

This spreadsheet is an excellent Excel alternative because it offers more power for you to structure and analyze your data. Zoho Office Sheet uses artificial intelligence to make sense of your data, providing insightful analysis. What makes this even more appealing to users is the fact that the platform is free.

You can invite up to 25 colleagues to work together on a sheet. If you’re working hand in hand with professionals in other parts of the world, this is a handy feature.

Zoho also takes collaboration to another level, something that Excel lacks. The platform has a chat function that allows colleagues to discuss and have more efficient input in their work.

It can be quite challenging to structure, edit and analyze data, requiring significant expertise and time to achieve results. Zoho tries to simplify the process with automated tasks.

Additionally, you can have more control over your data because you can limit access to your various spreadsheets. Not only can you lock down entire files, but you can also restrict access to individual parts of a single sheet. This is all possible because Zoho is a cloud-based platform.

And while we’re on the subject of the cloud, Zoho stores your data as you work. Therefore, you can’t lose valuable work if your devices encounter challenges like power cuts or drive corruption. The cloud set-up plus the mobile app availability means you and your colleagues have remote access to your data. In other words, you can edit the data wherever you are.

Like Google Sheets, this cloud-based Excel alternative offers comparatively less processing power to handle extensive spreadsheets with rows numbering in the tens of thousands.

  • AI-powered data analysis
  • Real-time multi-user collaboration
  • Chat function
  • Cloud storage
  • Automated tasks
  • Remote access
  • Cloud storage
  • Fewer features compared to Excel
  • Limited processing power for extensive spreadsheet row items
Try Zoho Office Sheet

Conclusion

Microsoft’s spreadsheet solution has been around for a long time and has a dedicated following. However, some new players have come in, filling the gaps in the market to attract users.

Alternatives like Baserow, Google Sheets, and others offer cloud storage and multi-user collaboration. Other options are free, making them instantly more attractive to smaller businesses that can’t afford premium subscriptions.

It’s only sensible to check out various alternatives for your data structuring, visualization, and analysis needs.

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