Here’s your dilemma: you want to replace Google’s suite of products in your life with an alternative, but you don’t fancy the idea of cobbling together a bunch of random apps to come up with a solution. You want a cohesive all-in-one package. That’s exactly what the cloud software suite Zoho is all about.
Zoho targets mainly businesses, but it’s an excellent choice for individuals too. We recommend getting a Zoho account for personal use. Here are four top reasons why.
1. Email at Your Own Domain for Free
Personalized email addresses are a nice touch to polish up your digital identity. They’re considered a must-have if you work online as a freelancer.
But creating an address that ends with @your_domain_name.com is most likely to bring a recurring expense. Now, you might think that that’s overkill for personal email, or maybe, that’s an expense you can’t afford right now. Fortunately, you have free options available. Zoho Mail is one of them.
If you sign up for a business email account with Zoho, you can host email at your own domain. This account comes with a free tier, which is more than enough for personal use for many people. So what if it says “business email” on the tin?
The catch with the free account is that you can access your email only with the web-based version of Zoho Mail and not through a desktop email client.
To get started with a business email account, visit mail.zoho.com, select the Business Email radio button, and then click on the Sign Up Now button.
Since the next step requires you to connect your domain to Zoho, you’ll need to have a domain name registered beforehand. Depending on the domain name registrar you go with, you might have access to a one-click setup option to configure Zoho Mail with your custom domain. iwantmyname.com is one such registrar that has this option.
For further guidance on setting up email at your domain with Zoho Mail, read our guide on the subject:
Keep in mind that if you go with Zoho’s free personal email service, you get an email address that ends with @zoho.com.
Note: Short of ideas for your domain name? These tips to find personal domain name ideas will help!
2. Robust Apps in a Single Package
Like Google, Zoho has plenty of apps to keep you organized and productive. For starters, apart from the mail and calendar apps, you’ll find apps to:
- Create notes, tasks, invoices, forms, and websites.
- Manage contacts, bookmarks, and passwords.
- Create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
- Back up your files to the cloud.
Here are three of our absolute favorite Zoho apps:
- Zoho Mail: This is one of the best free email accounts you need to consider. Don’t think you’ll be stuck with a bunch of basic features because you aren’t paying anything. That’s not the case at all.
- Zoho Notebook: While a few Zoho apps look a bit dated, Zoho Notebook doesn’t have that problem. It’s an absolute pleasure to use! You can create any number of notebooks and notes. Zoho Notebook has a web clipper extension for Chrome and Safari. It’s one of those Zoho extras that you’ll want to explore further.
- Zoho Writer: It made our list of the best free online word processors. When we pitted Zoho Writer against Google Docs and Microsoft Word Online, Zoho Writer came out on top.
It’s important that Zoho has put a good amount of thought into designing each of its apps. That’s not to say the apps are all flawless. But, given that you have so many positives to focus on, you’ll probably be willing to overlook the occasional negative. Then again, it depends on whether the flaws are deal breakers for you personally.
3. Less Intrusive Approach to Data Collection
There are many people who want to ditch Google for privacy reasons. But not all of them have the time, inclination, or the know-how to set up self-hosted, open-source, or in general more private alternatives. Zoho comes across as a viable compromise for such people.
For starters, Zoho:
- Keeps all its products clear of advertising, even at the free tier.
- Has apps that need zero to minimal setup and are easier to use than many other more private alternatives. It also has detailed guides to get you through the occasional complex bits.
Of course, we must reiterate here that while Zoho does not collect as much data as Google and Microsoft do, it does collect some data to do its job well. As a result, Zoho’s apps are not as private as, say, a self-hosted app could be.
4. Mobile App Support
While Zoho does not have a full set of apps for the desktop, it has mobile counterparts for many of its web apps. The portable apps are quite good and not just token versions created to appease mobile users.
It can be annoying to sign in to each Zoho app separately on mobile, but you can fix that problem by installing Zoho OneAuth. Once you log in to this mobile app, Zoho won’t ask you for your credentials when you open any of the other Zoho apps on your mobile device.
Zoho OneAuth also adds an extra layer of protection to your Zoho account with multi-factor authentication. In other words, to guard your account against password breaches, the app has more than one checkpoint to confirm your identity:
- Your login credentials
- A second method such as a one-time password
Zoho Is Worth Paying For
There’s no doubt that Google is the best at what it does. It gives you all the tools you need to manage your work and life efficiently, but at a price—a subtle, but persistent intrusion of your privacy. That should be enough to make you consider jumping ship.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many alternatives that can match up to Google’s capabilities. Zoho is one of the very few that does this, and it’s well worth exploring, both for personal and business use.
Of course, if you want to replace Google Search, you’ll have to look beyond Zoho. We recommend choosing from one of these privacy-focused Google Search alternatives.