Tech-Friendly: Zoho Docs is a great alternative to Google Apps for Business
By Paul Gorski
Zoho Docs (http://www.zoho.com/docs/) is a great alternative to, or replacement for, Google Apps for Business. If you’re not familiar with either solution, both are services that allow you to edit and share word processing, spreadsheet and presentations online in your web browser. Targeted at workgroups and businesses, each service also offers more online apps and services, too — usually at an additional cost.
Google discontinued its free offering of Google Apps for Business late last year, but Zoho offers a free basic 5GB storage plan with unlimited users. This free service includes: file sharing and document version history for word processing, spreadsheet and presentation files. Free e-mail is optional. Upgrades to the service are available at http://www.zoho.com/docs/zoho-docs-pricing.html.
Before I pile a heap of praise on the word processing and spreadsheet apps, Zoho offers many application options: CRM, support desk, live help, invoicing, human resource management and more. You could run your small business using Zoho apps. A list of these apps may be found at http://www.zoho.com/business-apps.html. These additional apps are not free, and sometimes the pricing bundles are a little confusing.
Zoho Writer is the best online word processor I’ve used, beating out Microsoft’s web-based Word by a small margin and Google’s Docs. I still prefer a good desktop word processor, but I’m using Zoho Writer to create a variety of documents now. Writer’s interface is clean, intuitive and I’ve never had a timeout or hiccup while a document was auto-saving. Writer looks and feels like a desktop application, and it is easy to share Writer files within your organization or the world.
Zoho’s Sheet or spreadsheet program is equally impressive, and I will soon be trying to recreate some of my many Excel pivot tables in Sheet; I’ll let you know how that turns out. Zoho Sheet also features an intuitive, desktop-feeling interface that I find much easier to use than any other online spreadsheet program I’ve tried. However, I’m not a big of any of the online presentation programs, as I’m a big fan of Apple’s Keynote presentation program, but I prefer Zoho Writer and Sheet to Apple’s Pages and Numbers online apps.
Not only can you share your Zoho files, but you can work collaboratively and can even integrate your workflow with your existing DropBox or Google Apps accounts. Compatibility with Microsoft Offices files is very good, a bit better than Google Apps.
I suggest you give Zoho Docs a test drive for yourself, at no cost or obligation, at http://www.zoho.com/docs/zoho-docs-pricing.html. You just might find that Zoho meets your small business or non-profit organization needs.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple Iie.
From the Dec. 4-10, 2013, issue