If you’re in the market for business email solutions, you might be confused at some of the terminology surrounding various Google services. You likely already have a Google account, and you might use Gmail regularly, but does that mean you’re a member of G Suite? And what if you sign up for G Suite—does that mean you’re a Gmail user by default?
Once you understand the differences between G Suite vs Gmail, everything will seem much clearer. This guide should help you sort out the differences.
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Gmail vs G Suite vs Google Accounts
Let’s start with a high-level overview of Gmail, G Suite, and Google Accounts:
- Gmail. As you likely know, Gmail is a specific Google product designed to help users send, receive, and manage email. You may already have a Gmail account—an email address that ends in @gmail.com. It’s completely free to sign up for Gmail and create a Gmail address of your own. With that free account, you can send and receive emails with up to 15 GB of storage. If and when you create a Gmail account, your account will also double as a Google Account.
- Google Accounts. A Google Account is a specific account with Google that enables you to access products like Google Docs, Sites, Maps, and Photos. If you’ve created a Gmail account, with an @gmail.com email address as your username and a unique password, these login credentials will double as your Google Account information. However, it’s important to note that you don’t need a Gmail account to create a Google Account; you could hypothetically sign up with a Yahoo or similar email account. All Gmail accounts are Google Accounts, but not all Google Accounts are Gmail accounts. Still, Google Accounts and Gmail accounts are often used interchangeably.
- G Suite. Now let’s talk about G Suite. Merely having a Gmail account or Google Account will not grant you access to G Suite; G Suite is a collection of different productivity tools, apps, and services designed for organizational use. There are many different service packages available through G Suite, including low-cost, bare-bones options like the Basic edition, up through more advanced packages like the Enterprise edition. There are also unique G Suite products designed for different sectors, like Government, Nonprofit, and Education.
The Differences Between G Suite vs Gmail
Okay, so what are the differences between G Suite vs Gmail? Let’s start with what they have in common. If you sign up for G Suite, you’ll be able to set up a Gmail account, and possibly several accounts. Most of the Gmail-related services you use for email will be the same. However, there are many differences between a free Gmail account and a G Suite account:
Gmail: You can sign up for Gmail for free, and gain access to most of the productivity apps for free, but if you want more robust services, you’ll need to pay for a G Suite account.
G Suite: G Suite plans range in cost; Basic plans are $6 per month per user, Business plans are $12 per month per user, and Enterprise plans are $25 per month per user. You can also try G Suite for free for 14 days.
2. Administrative control
Gmail: When you create a Gmail account for yourself, you have full control in a kind of self-contained environment. You’re (usually) the one creating your own account, and you’ll have full oversight over how that account is used, so long as you protect your login credentials.
G Suite: With a G Suite plan, you’ll have administrative control over all the email addresses you create; in other words, you can create different Gmail addresses for the individual members of your team, then retain full control over how those addresses are used. While your team members can each send and receive emails as they normally would, you’ll be able to create, edit, and delete accounts as you see fit. You’ll also be able to easily reset passwords and handle other issues from a high level.
3. Customizable domain names
Gmail: When you sign up for a Gmail account, one of the stipulations is you’re forced to use the @gmail.com extension. You’ll have some degree of control over the first part of your email address, but the “Gmail” part is fixed.
G Suite: With G Suite, you’ll be able to create your own domain and use that for your Gmail addresses. You can create addresses like @yourdomainnamehere.com, but still rely on Gmail as your central email management platform.
Gmail: As a free Gmail user, you’ll have access to up to 15 GB of storage. That’s not bad for an account that’s completely free, but if you’re a business user in charge of creating, sharing, and storing thousands of files, it’s nowhere near sufficient.
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G Suite: With the Basic G Suite plan, you’ll get 30 GB of cloud storage per user. The Business plan and Enterprise plan grant you unlimited cloud storage per user if you have 5 or more users. If you have fewer than 5 users, you’ll have 1 TB of cloud storage per user at these levels.
5. Access to other apps and services
Gmail: No matter what kind of Google Account you have, you’ll have access to the basic apps and services offered by Google, including documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
G Suite: However, if you pay for G Suite, you’ll gain access to specific G Suite apps and services. For example, at the Business level and higher, you’ll gain access to a “smart search” feature across G Suite, as well as in-depth security controls. You’ll also have built-in eDiscovery for emails, chats, and files, analytics, and other G Suite tools to help you evaluate how your employees are using these services.
Gmail: Free Gmail accounts and Google Accounts can share the files they create using Google’s apps, but there are manual steps involved in most cases.
G Suite: Users within the same G Suite group can quickly and easily share their materials without the need to manually share each document with other users. Administrative users will have access to and ownership of whatever documents are created within individual users’ accounts.
7. Customer support
Gmail: With Gmail accounts, if you run into technical issues, you’ll either need to solve them on your own or wait for them to be fixed.
G Suite: In G Suite, you’ll gain access to 24/7 customer support via phone and email. If you’re having trouble accessing the tools you need, if you need help migrating old information, or if you’re experiencing technical difficulties, someone will be immediately available to help you.
Whether you have a full G Suite account or you’re relying on the free version of Gmail, It’s important to understand the differences between Gmail vs G Suite. And if you’re like most professionals, you send and receive hundreds of emails every day, so employing better habits can help you save countless hours of time. For more information on the benefits of G Suite vs. Gmail, see this list of G Suite features and this list of G Suite tips and tricks.
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.