Excel in Office 2016 is very buggy – so I installed Office 2011 and it is better – wondering why I upgraded from Office 2008 now

I had been an Office 2008 user. When Office 2016 came out I subscribed, deleted Office 2008 and installed Office 2016. But Excel in Office 2016 is very buggy!

For example:

  1. When editing text in a cell, the blinking vertical cursor input point is different from where text actually gets input, which makes editing difficult.
  2. When trying to format an entire column to “wrap text” it doesn’t work.
  3. When in a cell in one spreadsheet, if I use CMD-tab to switch apps and then CMD-tab to switch back I end up in a completely different spreadsheet in a different cell! This makes copy/pasting from another app very error-prone and time consuming.
  4. Large spreadsheets open up slowly.

So with Support’s help I installed Office 2011 side-by-side. I’ve never used Office 2011 before.

All the above-mentioned bugs don’t occur in Office 2011 (they didn’t in Office 2008 either).

Anyway, since both versions are installed and Office 2016 should get automatic updates I can check periodically to see if the new bugs introduced in Office 2016 are fixed.

But I have to admit I’m wondering why I upgraded at all at this point. The 1 TB OneDrive was one attraction, but the limitations (10 GB files so I can’t backup Parallels VMs, inability to sync certain folder hierarchies because OneDrive thinks there are strange characters in folder names) made that fairly useless to me as well.

Tech note: Microsoft OneNote from the view of a long-time Evernote user

I’ve been comparing Evernote with OneNote for the first time, since I started the new Office 2016, and had some observations.

The latest OneNote for Mac (a free app) is interesting, but also frustrating in many cases. It lags behind the Windows version. It even lags behind the iPad version! For example, there is no draw feature, while the iPad and Windows version let you annotate and add more things.

Also, even though OneNote has these nice “containers” you can move around, and generally much better formatting and image views than Evernote, you can’t do simple things on the Mac, such as shift containers down to make space, which you can do in the Windows version.

If I want to draw something I can do it in OneNote on my iPad and then see it sync in the note I’m editing on my Mac, but still… I think there is some way to do draw annotations in Evernote but I’ve never gotten it to work.

One advantage of OneNote for iOS is that you can keep all your synced notes offline for free, while that is a premium feature of Evernote. And there are no upload limits. On the other hand, I am a premium user of Evernote, so that makes no difference for me. The OneNote “copy text from a picture” feature is cool. It would be nice if Evernote added that.

There is also no really good way of importing your notes from Evernote to OneNote on the Mac. There is a 3rd party solution for this for Windows called “evernote2onenote”. I tried it and it works, but then the syncing of the imported notes doesn’t work well after that, so I was unable to view the imported notes on my Mac or in iOS. Or even online in OneDrive. So I gave up on that. Evernote has never had any syncing problems. On the other hand, I’ve never tried importing 1,800 notes to Evernote before.

I’m not sure what to use OneNote for. It seems perhaps better than EverNote for things like preparing class notes to project to a group because of the containers, better formatting, and the ability to resize images. It doesn’t have a true “presentation mode” like Evernote does, but the actual formatting of the notes is nicer.  I would really love to see better formatting in Evernote. In Evernote you can’t even use tabs to align columns, which has always been a nuisance. In OneNote, tabs automatically create tables, which is nice.

But I’m not sure OneNote can replace Evernote as my catch-all free-form database, where I keep thousands of scraps of info I don’t want to keep in my head.

And it would be good if the Mac version of OneNote could catch up feature-wise with the Windows and iPad versions.

Tech note – Comparing the speed of cloud storage solutions

There are many “cloud storage” solutions out there, and I’m using a few of them. I decided to do a simple speed test consisting of uploading and syncing a folder containing one 186.4 MB .mv4 file.

I did several tests of each service to see if the results were consistent, and they appeared to be. My home network is Sony Nuro fiber optic with a theoretical bandwidth of 2 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, though in practice I never get that throughput. But it is safe to say I do get at least 100 Mbps over wifi from my MacBook Pro.

Also, note these tests may vary depending on your location relative to the cloud storage centers.

Currently, I’m not actually paying for any cloud storage service; I have been using the free version of each of each. But as my cloud storage needs grow I’m trying to decide which I might invest in more and actually pay to use!

I’m still grandfathered in with a free 50 user Google account for my company, so even my Google services are currently free.

The amount of storage I have with each of the cloud storage services I tested is:

DropBox –  11.25 GB. Their basic free account is 2 GB, but there have been various promos over the years which added space for me. DropBox was the fastest in my tests. They also recently dramatically lowered their prices and are charging $10/month for 1 TB of cloud storage. DropBox is the what I use most office for cloud storage and file sharing.

Box – 50 GB. They are conceptually similar to DropBox. Their basic free plan includes 10 GB, but I signed up during a special promo period. I have not really made much use of their service to date.

GoogleDrive –  15 GB. Their basic free account is 15 GB for everybody. They are also charging $10/month for 1 TB of storage and there is a lower cost $2/month plan for 100 GB of storage. My hesitancy about upgrading is I’m not sure if I can upgrade just one user in my free account or whether it means losing all the other free users in my package. In other words does it become all paid or stay free at the current storage level? It’s a bit confusing if you have multiple accounts, which many people do. I tend not to use GoogleDrive for “storing and sharing files” like I do with DropBox. I mostly use Google for email and for collaborative document creation and sharing.

Microsoft OneDrive – 30 GB. Their basic free plan is 15 GB for everybody, but there was a special recently where if you sync images you got an extra free 15 GB. See more about their pricing and services below.

SpiderOak – 9 GB. Their basic free plan is 2 or 4 GB (they say 2 GB but it really seems to be 4 GB), and I got some extra referral bonus space.

I didn’t include Apple iCloud in my test because I am not sure how cross-platform compatible it is yet. But the free amount I have is 5 GB and for just $1/month you can increase that to 20 GB of space. Apple is playing catch-up in this service area since DropBox became so popular.

Now back to Microsoft for the moment…

As far as paid plans go, Microsoft’s OneDrive is intriguing because it is bundled with Office 365. For just $7/month (personal user – but they don’t care if you use it for business purposes or not) you get 1 TB of cloud storage + the completely current desktop version of Office + the iPad version of Office + the online version of Office + 60 minutes of international Skype calls per month.

You have to admit seems like a good deal, and it saves on buying the Office suite. But I’m worried because OneDrive clocked in as one of the slowest for syncing files.

My results of syncing the above-mentioned folder containing the movie file were as follows:

DropBox 7 seconds – the fastest by far. Also the movie played via the web almost instantly, which is great for sharing.

Box 46 seconds.

GoogleDrive 47 seconds.

Microsoft OneDrive 2 minutes 12 seconds – disappointingly slow. Also, the movie would not play via the web.

SpiderOak 2 at minutes 38 seconds was the slowest. This is a relatively new service I saw recommended by Eric Snowden, and read some articles about, and was interested in it because of reportedly good privacy policies.

This isn’t a review of all the features of each service. The one I’m most familiar with is DropBox, and most everybody I know has DropBox so it’s easy to exchange files with them. 

In my multiple tests just now I saw how each time I deleted the folder from DropBox, an archive was kept of each deleted version, and it was easy to restore. There are lots of user-friendly DropBox features, and it is available for just about any computer system and mobile device, which is why it is usually the “go to cloud service” for most of my sharing.

GoogleDrive is next in familiarity, and many people I work with like using it. Plus they have a competitive set of Office-like online apps for collaborative document creation and sharing. So it’s not just storage – it’s a work environment.

Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365 have come late to the game of online document creation and sharing. However the Office suite is ubiquitous, and the fact you can easily switch between the online version at Office.com and your desktop version is attractive, and you can collaborate and share, as with GoogleDrive. Plus you get the desktop versions of Office with it, so it seems like an economical way to have Office online and offline, plus loads of cloud storage at a great price. But it just seems so slow for file syncing, which is what worries me.

I am less familiar with Box, but was impressed that the syncing speed was as fast as GoogleDrive.

If Microsoft OneDrive was anywhere near as fast as DropBox – or even GoogleDrive – I would leap on it, because there is so much bundled in. But the speed, and the fact that my uploaded movie won’t play, worries me. So I suspect if I got an Office 365 subscription I would not make great use of the OneDrive storage area.

Bonus fact: Apple’s iCloud has a nice new feature if you use Apple Mail in OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). You can email an attachment up to 5 GB in size to anybody. The file is stored in iCloud and if the recipient’s email account doesn’t allow the receipt of  large files they will automatically receive a link instead to download the file from iCloud. Sounds clever.