G suite header

Google Workspace is a collection of enterprise-based products—like Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and so on—offered by Google via a monthly subscription platform to help streamline your business. But what’s the difference between it and the free apps?

What is Google Workspace?

Additional business features for G Suite

Google Workspace—formerly known as Google Apps for Work and Google Workspace—is a Software as a Service (SaaS) product that groups all the cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools developed by Google for businesses, institutes, and nonprofits. Included with every subscription you get access to custom Gmail addresses, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, Drive, Sites, and so much more.

What’s the Difference Between Google Workspace and Free Google Apps?

Brief overview of G Suite

It might seem like a lot of the same Google apps are available for free, but there are a few key features that help Google Workspace integrate with your company perfectly.

While most of these products are free for everyone, Google Workspace adds enterprise-level features for its subscribers. Some of these features include shared calendars, optional unlimited cloud storage, advanced admin controls—like add and remove users, two-step verification, and single-sign-on—and simple data migration tools to transfer all your company’s valuable data to Google Workspace. Plus, Google Workspace comes with mobile device management, letting you activate/deactivate mobile devices, control which apps are enabled, and remote wipe if the employee goes rogue with a company device.

In addition to all those already great features, Google Workspace also has custom email addresses for your domain. So for instance, unlike a regular Google account, that uses “@gmail.com,” when you sign up for Google Workspace, every user’s email will contain your domain and look like “someone@yourdomain.com.”

Note: You must already own and verify the domain that you’re signing up with to use it with Google Workspace.

And don’t worry if you already use Outlook, Yahoo, or any other email exchange servers. With Google Workspace, you can use the data migration tool to transfer all your emails, calendar, and contacts and directly import everything with ease.

How Much Does Google Workspace Cost?

The cost of the main versions of Google Workspace

There are four versions available for small and large businesses alike:

  • Business Starter: 30 GB of shared storage across Drive and Gmail for each user. Includes all of Google’s productivity apps but lacks Cloud Search (ability to search across your entire company’s content in Google Workspace), App Maker (build custom apps for your business ), and Vault (data retention and eDiscovery for Google Workspace). Basic costs $6/user/month.
  • Business Standard: Essentially the same as the Business Starter plan but has 2 TB of storage for each user. This plan also allows the recording of video meetings. Business Standard costs $12/user/month
  • Business Plus:  This plan offers 5 TB of storage for each user. It adds attendance tracking to video meetings and also includes Vault, Cloud Search, and app development. Business Plus costs $18/user/month.
  • Enterprise: The Enterprise plan offers all the same features of the Business Plus plan, but adds unlimited storage for each user. It also adds advanced video meeting features like noise cancellation and in-domain live streaming. In addition, it offers advanced security and administration controls, eDiscovery, and data loss prevention. Enterprise pricing depends on the business and number of users and requires that you get a quote from Google.

If you manage an institution or are in charge of your institute’s IT decision-making, you can get Google Workspace for Education for faculty and students. Google Workspace for Education contains all the productivity tools just like Google Workspace Basic but with additional storage for Sites, Drive, and Gmail, and free access to Google Vault. Google Workspace for Education is free for qualifying institutions.

In addition, Google soon plans to make available several additional tiers of Google Workspace for Education that add other features to the free plan. You can check out their website for more details on these upcoming plans.

Then, finally, if you manage a nonprofit organization, Google offers another free version for eligible nonprofits that has the same functionality and features as the Google Workspace Business Starter edition and is almost identical to Google Workspace for Education.

Note: You will need a Google for Nonprofits account and verify that you own the nonprofit domain that you’ll be using to sign up.

How Do I Get Started?

As mentioned previously, there are various versions of Google Workspace to choose from, with each one providing slightly different features depending on which one you pick.

To get started using Google Workspace, decide what you’ll be using it for and choose one of the many options that best suits your company’s/institute’s needs.

Google gives anyone signing up for the first time a pretty sweet Google Workspace trial of 14 days to see if it suits all your needs from a business suite.

Sign up and get 14 days freee!

All you have to do is go through the standard signup process—which does require you to enter your credit card information—activate your account, then verify your domain. Then, before the trial period ends, if you no longer want to use Google Workspace, just cancel your membership. By default, the free 14-day trial is enabled for all new accounts.

If you enjoy Google Workspace and want to continue using it, do nothing. Your credit card will be charged depending on which version of Google Workspace you chose.

Brady Gavin Brady Gavin
Brady Gavin has been immersed in technology for 15 years and has written over 150 detailed tutorials and explainers. He's covered everything from Windows 10 registry hacks to Chrome browser tips. Brady has a diploma in Computer Science from Camosun College in Victoria, BC.  
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.