G Suite (formerly Google Workspace) has shut down its free plans — you can no longer pay for a domain name and use Google’s business email for free. This move isn’t really going to bother big organisations much, as they’re all on paid tiers already, but small business owners or individuals using G Suite will be forced to pay or look for free alternatives.
Transitioning to a paid G Suite account
For most people, the smoothest transition will be to a paid G Suite account. You won’t have to migrate your data anywhere as long as you can spend a minimum of $AU8.40 per user per month. For this price, you can use 30GB of cloud storage, Gmail with your own domain, and have video meetings with up to 100 participants. If nothing else, you can consider paying for G Suite as a stopgap measure until you figure out a better alternative.
Microsoft 365 for Business
Microsoft’s suite of business apps is a direct replacement for G Suite. Its plans start at $AU8.20 per user per month, but you’ll have to spend about twice that much if you want both email and Office apps on desktop. Microsoft offers 50GB of space per inbox and 1TB of OneDrive storage, which is more than G Suite’s 30GB. Having said that, Microsoft 365 for Business is still a fairly pricey offering overall. Google Docs, Sheets, and other G Suite apps are included for free in Google’s plan, which makes Microsoft 365 look a lot more expensive.
Zoho Workplace offers most of G Suite’s features at a much lower price. It lets you use your own domain for emails with 5GB of space for free with no advertising. You can set up an organisation on Zoho and invite up to five users to this organisation at no cost. There’s a 25MB limit on attachments, but the pricing makes that feel bearable.
If you’re looking for a free alternative to G Suite, it doesn’t get much better than this. You can visit the Zoho Mail pricing page and scroll down to the Forever Free Plan. If you add more than five users, Zoho Mail’s plans start at $AU1.65 per user per month (paid annually). The 50GB inbox plan costs $AU6.05 per user per month, so it’s cheaper than G Suite and Microsoft 365 for Business.
For those who want a complete office suite to go with their business email, Zoho Workplace is a decent alternative. It has email, cloud storage, video meetings, a Slack alternative, and office apps, at a starting price of $AU4 per user per month.
If your G Suite organisation consists of one person, you may consider using a custom domain with iCloud’s email service. The iCloud+ plan costs $AU1.49 per month for up to 50GB of cloud storage, and it allows you to use a custom domain for your emails.
iCloud+ is not targeted at businesses, so you shouldn’t use this service to manage multiple users in an organisation. For individuals, you have access to both iCloud email, as well as Apple’s already-free office apps, such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Document collaboration works well in Apple’s office apps, too.
Having said that, it’s best to note the quirks of iCloud+. You ideally don’t want to use this if you have non-Apple devices in your workflow because Apple’s support for Windows and Android devices is flaky at best. Also, iCloud’s email is serviceable, but we’ve heard several complaints about emails not showing up in the inbox and an overly aggressive spam filter.