Microsoft Office 365 Home edition (5 users)

Lets face it, we all use aspects of Office at some point and for many of us we are using an old out of date and no longer supported version, and whilst that suite does still do its job and will serve you well it doesn’t have any security or product updates and as recent cyber incidents have shown us, older applications could cause you an issue.

Office 365 Home is a great product if you want the following –

  • Latest version of Office
  • Regular security updates
  • Multiple installations of Office
  • A massive 1TB cloud based storage drive for backup and syncing
  • Free Skype minutes

The ability to sync to multiple devices.

I use Office 365 for work (I manage our tennant account) so have quite an in depth knowledge of its inner workings, the home offering shares several features and they are pretty easy to implement.

I have a PC, an iPhone, an iPad and a Surface – Office 365 allows me to sync between all of these devices, so if I open a Word document on my PC, save it to OneDrive (formely SkyDrive) its very shortly available on my other devices – the time taken for this to happen is dependant on your internet connection (upload as well as download) and the size of the file.

I also have shared the installation of Office 365 with others in my house, from your Office 365 account page you invite the person via email, if this email is live enabled its a quick process, if not the person will need to live enable their account (instructions are provided) adding a fee minutes to their sign-up time. Once they accept the invite they can download the latest version of Office on upto 5 of their devices.

Something to note, which can cause a nightmare if you don’t realise – the download for Office 365 suite (Word, Excel, Outlook etc) is around 3GB, once you click install it’ll download some files in the background then start the installer and continue to download in the background – this is where you could hit an issue, on a 4Mb/s ADSL link this will take a couple of hours if left alone but it looks like its not doing a huge amount – it is, don’t get impatient and shutdown/kill the installation, give it time!

Onedrive – this is also important, the initial upload may take some time depending on how many files you have, for example a standard ADSL connection is normally upto 24Mb/s download, but can be only 1Mb/s upload – fibre is quicker but depends on your provider and your package. When I first installed Office 365 a couple of years ago I was on a 4Mb/s ADSL connection with a 768Kbps upload (0.7Mb/s), the initial sync of 11GB of data took me a weekend.  Can you fill your 1TB? If so you can always buy more, I’ve backed up all my files and I’m sitting on a rather low 70GB, my wife has that in her OneDrive in photos alone!

But its worth it, why? Well I (being a IT type) upgraded my PC to a laptop so once Office 365 was installed on my new laptop (don’t forget to remove it from your old/redundant device in your online Office 365 account so it doesn’t hog your 5 available installs) Onedrive downloaded all my sync’d files and I was up and running very quickly.  No messing around copying files from here and there and wondering if you have everything.  You can even opt to sync a subset of files, so if you had a device with limited space (such as a Surface) then you only need tomsync the files you work on, alternatively everything is available in a web browser.

Don’t get me wrong, its not perfect, like other pieces of software it has bugs but Microsoft do address these, they release monthly updates to their software which you can update automatically or manually (I’d recommend leaving it as automatically) so this helps fix those various bugs and issues and then (like recently) they release major updates (the update from 2013 to 2016 was seemless on my devices and the 3 devices my shared users have). After having many years of being stuck on ever older versions of Office, its nice to have the update version and features.

Personally I’d like additonal features such as full email domain management (some people like me run their own domain and email but need a decent provider for these services but not at business prices for only a couple of users).  For this you need an additional service, the cheapest of which is a standard Exchange online (its well hidden but is only a few £ a month per user).

Have a look at Office 365 Home for more information and current subscriptions, you can also save yourself some money by looking on Amazon or eBuyer for cheaper digital download versions, and if you add autorenew to your account it may give you and extra month for free!

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