Virtual Data Rooms Review – VDR Guide

Best data room providers 2021

ideals vdr
iDeals Virtual Data Room

Top Rate
4.96

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iDeals Solutions, founded in 2008, is a United States-based, top-rated data room provider offering industry-leading features. iDeals software is easy to use, ensures complete data protection, and has ISO 27001:2013 certification.

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firmex data room
Firmex

Top Rate
4.71

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Firmex now has more than 4,200 customers in 80 countries and is providing more than 15,000 new data rooms per year. Firmex software meets international security compliances, including SOC 2, HIPAA, and GDPR.

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watchdox data room
BlackBerry Workspaces (WatchDox)

Top Rate
4.59

BlackBerry Workspaces virtual data room solutions offer exceptional cross-platform support and have a strong focus on mobile-friendly interface. It is the only product that enforces DRM on iOS and Android. The company uses AES-certified 256-bit encryption at all times.

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merrill datasite data room
Merrill Datasite

Top Rate
4.43

Datasite was built by Merrill Corporation has helped make more than 10,000 M&As happen. Being most suitable for large corporations, Datasite has become an essential tool for every aspect of M&A Due Diligence aside from being just a secure document repository.

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intralinks data room
Intralinks

Top Rate
4.37

Intralinks was founded in 1996 and is considered one of the pioneer electronic data room providers. Best for major deals that typically require a large amount of data, Intralinks assists in 8,200 M&A deal closings each year and has more than 4.1 million users globally.

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citrix
Citrix

Top Rate
4.22

Sharefile is one of many cloud-based solutions offered by Citrix since 2011. Over 400,000 organizations rely on Citrix, as the company provides software for digital workspaces, integration with Zoom for online board meetings, and other unique features.

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dealroom data room
DealRoom

Top Rate
4.15

DealRoom is a high-price software perfect for M&A Lifecycle Management and is used by more than 2,000 companies. Their platform uses AI to detect similar requests and automatically provides existing responses or documents. DealRoom was named VDR provider of the year in 2019 by the ACQ Global Awards.

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onehub data room
Onehub

Top Rate
3.97

OneHub, based in Seattle, USA, was founded in 2007. Their software is designed for corporate workflow management and has more than 1 million users. OneHubs’ attention to design and user-friendly interface ensures maximum productivity. Their VDR solution complies with the most common security certifications.

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digify data room
Digify

Top Rate
3.8

Founded in 2011 with headquarters in the Philippines, Digify is an affordable, integrated solution combining most typical VDR functions in a user-friendly platform. Digify offers a 7-day free trial and is ISO 27001 compliant. Digify is trusted by more than 230,000 professionals across 138 countries.

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securedocs data room
SecureDocs

Top Rate
3.78

SecureDocs stands out with intuitive software allowing users to be productive in a secure environment. The platform can be set up in minutes and is considered affordable. Founded in 2012 in California, SecureDocs has witnessed more than 100 billion deals across 122 countries.

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box data room
Box

Top Rate
3.75

Founded in 2005 and based in California, Box’ solutions have quickly attracted more than 97,000 companies as their customers. Originally designed for individual users, Box is an efficient tool for due diligence in small-to-midsize businesses seeking simplicity and functionality.

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drooms data room
Drooms

Top Rate
3.71

Drooms, founded in 2001, with headquarters in Germany, started as a physical data room provider. Now, with innovative digitization processes, Drooms has become one of Europes’ leading real estate VDR solutions trusted by 15,000 customers worldwide.

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donnelley venue data room
Donnelley Venue

Top Rate
3.69

Venue is a Donnelley Financial Solutions (DFIN) product established in 2016. Venue VDR is a one-stop-shop service trusted by a wide range of industries. Headquartered in Chicago, DFIN serves clients across the globe offering 24/7 access to country-specific regional experts.

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smartroom data room
SmartRoom VDR

Top Rate
3.51

SmartRoom is a flagship product of BMC Group, established in 1998 in Los Angeles. SmartRoom solution is used by over 20,000 companies in 50 countries. The platform is available in nine languages with customer support at hand 24/7/365.

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clinked
Clinked Data Room

Top Rate
3.44

Founded in 2011 in the U.K., Clinked started by targeting local customers but has been gaining global popularity from 2018. Now Clinked is available in 12 languages, offers in-person training, and is best for small- to medium-sized business data management.

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Comparing the major virtual data room vendors in virtual data room reviews does not have to become a simple check of the cost of one virtual data room solution compared to another. There are dozens of factors that influence our decision: the number of users of the virtual data room, the contract length, the amount of data that will be uploaded, the list of business-critical features, to name a few.

So how do we understand which provider offers the best deal? The key is to understand the variety of features present in solutions by top virtual data room providers and then determine which is best for your business needs.

But by taking a close look at virtual data room offers from top virtual data room providers, we offer some advice to help you find the best value. This website goes deep down into the details to show you which virtual data room providers have the best balance between the choice of secure file sharing features and their pricing plans in this virtual data room comparison.

At first glance, all online data room providers look rather similar. They all have pretty much the same features, offers, and approaches. Although, when you take a closer look, you can see that there are differences between them. Therefore, to choose the best virtual data room for your needs, you have to invest some time into the research.

Electronic data room providers have different origins – and that’s the factor that significantly impacts the software in terms of versatility and agility. Also, while some of them try to cover every business process that involves documents, others prefer to focus only on certain kinds of deals and industries. It influences the set of features a specific provider offers.

So before jumping to the research, you first should determine your needs and understand what will you use the data room for. And then you can go through our reviews on this website to find the correct instrument for your firm. We’ve laid out all the features of the best virtual data room providers so that you can go through them quickly and find what fits you.

Virtual data room use and functionality

Virtual data rooms are used across multiple industries by various sized businesses to ensure effective and secure document sharing. Virtual data rooms provide a collaborative platform for multiple parties to share, access, and review confidential documents securely. Depending on the specifics of a business or a project, VDR functionality can be tailored to meet the customers’ needs. 

Most VDRs provide high data and access security. However, the most comprehensive security certification to look for is  ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification — a leading international information security standard. Recently, some virtual data room vendors started getting an additional certification for personal data security for cloud services — ISO/IEC 27018. However, the overarching management standard is still  ISO/IEC 27001:2013. Having this standard certification is proof that the provider is trustworthy and safeguards customer data.

A standard data room should have the following functionality:

  • High data security standards
  • Instant access regardless of location/time/device
  • Extensive data management functions
  • User management and access security
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Customization options

What to consider when choosing a virtual data room provider?

With technology entering most industries and digitalization becoming a must for effective business operations, selecting the best virtual data room provider can be an overwhelming task. 

The global VDR market is saturated with many digital data room vendors, all claiming to be the best virtual data room providers. The most important aspects to consider when choosing a virtual data room software is the providers’ experience, security certifications, expertise in the industry where your company belongs, and their pricing approach.

1. Software provider experience

When reviewing a VDR provider, look up their previous and existing clients. Look for companies you can trust. Pay attention to what business fields they represented the most and whether they had a good experience given the industry specifics. A lot of data room vendors showcase their clients on their websites, highlighting reviews from the most popular companies. Also, compare VDR ratings. There are some trusted review sites worth checking out offering top data room provider ratings. Ratings are typically given for software overall performance as well as in categories such as functionality, ease of use, support, availability, pricing, among others.

2. Compliance with data security certifications

Check whether the VDR service provider has been audited by ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Certified Data Centres or SOC 1 or SOC2 (Type I, Type II) Certified Data Centres. Also, take account of additional data processing terms as required under GDPR, for example, the obligation to secure protections from any subprocessor. If relevant for your business, check whether the VDR provider has compliance with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and sets the standard for sensitive patient data protection.

3. Expertise in your industry

A lot of VDR providers tailor the functionality of their software to the needs of a specific industry or use case, for example, M&A due diligence, legal operations, or real estate. By making sure your selected provider has experience in your industry, you can be sure of a successful and smooth transition to a digital data platform. Of course, some vendors claim to be suitable for any industry, offering different platform templates based on the type of project you will have. A software specialized for a particular business field, however, offers more guarantees that your individual needs will be met.

4. Pricing approach

Price is one of the main factors companies consider when choosing an online data room, but it should not be the deciding factor. Keep in mind that most data room providers offer a wide array of plans to choose from and with some of the most advanced features include in the more expensive plans.

Depending on the duration of the deal, the number of users, and the required storage volume, it is necessary to compare different pricing plans. Costs vary drastically among providers. Some virtual data room service providers offer flat rate pricing — a monthly fee that includes unlimited storage, users, data, etc. This option is budget-friendly and prevents any surprises regarding VDR expenses. Some vendors also offer flexible billing — monthly, quarterly, or annually — with additional discounts when choosing a longer-term plan.

As you can see, even though we’ve picked only the best data room providers, there are still many of them. That’s why you should start with understanding why do you need the online deal room for. What kinds of deals will you hold using it? Which functions do you need to feel comfortable maintaining your corporate documents? How often will you use it?

Once you answer these questions, it will be easier to determine your requirements and realize what you’re looking for. Another thing you should do is to figure out your budget. Virtual data room providers set different prices for their services. And sometimes you pay more only for the well-known brand while the software itself is fairly mediocre. Therefore, you should know in advance how much money are you ready to spend on the data room. It will help you to instantly drop options that are too expensive so that you don’t overpay.

Then you can go through features different providers offer and pick the options that suit your requirements the most. At this point, you want to consider additional criteria. First of all, we advise you to prefer the providers that offer a free trial. It will help you to test the software and see on practice if it fits your business. Pay attention to the interface – how easy is it to use, how well are the features organized. You want to get the software that won’t require any training.

Guidelines for choosing a virtual data room software

With technology being used by most industries and digitalization becoming a must for effective business operations, selecting the best virtual data room provider can be an overwhelming task.  The global VDR market is saturated with many digital data room vendors, all claiming to be the best virtual data room providers.

Follow these steps to successfully choose, set up, and start benefiting from a secure virtual data room:

Step 1.  Determine your needs and prioritize necessary functionalities 

Given the specifics of your business (M&A due diligence, real estate transactions, investment banking, etc.), you have to be clear how you will use the VDR and how your company will benefit from using it. 

List your companies’ and user’s needs. For example:

  • must have specific security compliance such as ISO/IEC 27001:2013 or SOC 1(SSAE 16, ISAE 3402)
  • must provide specific document security features (watermarking, restricted viewing, two-factor authentication, etc.) 
  • must provide access to a full audit trail and user activity log
  • must offer document encryption and revoking access after download
  • must have a mobile-friendly user interface for Android and iOS

In case you are working with a tight budget, prioritize the functionality to be clear which features are necessary and which ones would be “nice to have” but are not crucial for your operations.

Step 2. Determine your budget 

The market has many high-priced data room service providers for large companies executing massive deals, but a lot of affordable options for smaller businesses or niche industries are available too. Setting a budget or a price range will help you narrow down your search.  

Pricing plans typically depend on how much storage you will need, how many team members will be using the software, what features your company desires, and how high the security level you need. Some virtual data room service providers also offer flat rate pricing — a monthly fee that includes unlimited storage, users, data, etc. This option is beneficial for keeping track of your monthly VDR expenses.

Step 3. Compare virtual data rooms and evaluate offers

Once you have narrowed down virtual data room provider offers, compare and evaluate whether their software meets your needs. Look up virtual data room reviews and user experiences. Be aware that there are a lot of fake reviews on the Internet. Most trustworthy would be actual customer reviews from your peers, business partners, or people you trust. Some companies list the biggest clients on their websites. It can be a good indicator of what type of industry leaders have chosen their services and whether you would like to do the same.  

Pay attention to what market segments your chosen VDR data room was originally intended for. Some are specifically designed for M&A due diligence and work best specifically for virtual deal rooms and M&A processes. Others might be suitable for different industries, while some electronic data room providers claim to be a one-stop-shop for any business.

Step 4. Test a couple of software providers 

It is a good idea to test a couple of choices to get a good feel of the software before committing to a plan. Check which providers are offering a free trial version or connect with their support to ask for an opportunity to test their product. When getting in touch with their experts, be sure to take time to ask additional questions, double-check the price , and tell them about your business specifics. While testing the software, evaluate the user interface, functionality, design, and ease of use for you and your team. 

Finally, make an informed decision and choose the provider that checks all or most of your boxes.

Tips for choosing data room software

If your project is very complex, you may need these advanced features in order to make life simpler for you and everybody involved in the project. The last thing you want to do is save on critically important features since it will end up costing more in the end. Also, be sure to verify that your pricing plan is flexible. If your project expands, you will need more space to store your documents and if you choose the cheaper plan, you may be stuck with it.

If your project requires strict confidentiality, then an online data room will be simply indispensable. When you take an initial look at certain data room providers out there, they seem to be offering very similar services, but, in reality, some of them really cut corners as far as security and usability are concerned. While conducting your search, you need to take into account that no two virtual data rooms are the same and some will be useful for certain types of projects such as due diligence and M&A transactions, while others will be useful for things such as case studies and document repositories.

Whenever you log into a data room for the first time, it can be hard to figure where everything is. In fact, you may need help with simple things such as uploading or viewing documents. If this happens, will their support team be there for you whenever you need them or will they be there during certain hours? Also, you may need help in a language other than English. Will support be available to you in this situation?

These are just some of the aspects that you need to consider when making your choice since making a mistake at this stage can be very costly. Take the time to figure out your specific needs and discuss them with the data room provider. Everything else will fall into place.

Benefits of online data room software

Reliability

Unlike generic cloud storage, virtual data room providers take care of the security of user information. They use the most reliable 256-bit encryption to protect both the storage and data transfer ways leaving hackers zero chances to access the stored documents. Additional safety features like two-factor authentication, watermarks, different levels of access, and other tools allow users to enhance the protection even more. Also, these functions give customers control over invited users and their activity in the data room.

Accessibility

The best data room providers make their software compatible with all devices and platforms. Some of them make it happen to create mobile apps, and some simply offer mobile versions users can access via browsers. But regardless of which way do they choose, customers can enter the data room from anywhere at any moment. It helps to significantly accelerate the deal and make sure that everyone can work with documents even if some participants are on the road.

Support

Having access to the support team is vital because sometimes you need urgent help. Otherwise, the deal is stuck. The best VDR providers offer support teams that are available 24/7/365 so that users will never feel frustrated or lost. So if you face any issue, you can get help instantly so that the problem doesn’t harm the work. Many vendors even provide their customers with a dedicated project manager that will go through the deal along with the users to help them get the most out of the virtual data room. 

Virtual data room services

Comparing online data room providers is complicated. It is not the case where you make a cheek-to-cheek comparison because virtual data room providers offer different pricing plans, unique features, and data management tools, and frequently add new features.

  • Reporting and Audit. Each user action in the virtual data room is thoroughly recorded and can be examined for useful business insight, for example, to gauge user interest in a particular document or folder. VDR provides a complete audited trail of actions which is essential for highly regulated industries with strict compliance requirements.
  • Gradual Access Control. The data room owner can set a detailed structure of permissions that outline what each user or user group can do in the data room, for example, view in full or in restricted mode, print, save or share the documents. Access rights can be revoked even retrospectively, but not many of the data room providers have this function.
  • Ease of Data Access. Most top-grade data rooms can be accessed on a variety of devices, including mobile, and work equally well on all common platforms. The intuitive interface improves user acceptance and eliminates the learning curve so even the least technical of dataroom software users can start working in the VDR straight away.
  • Secure File Sharing. Data rooms are specifically created for companies who need a controlled, permission-based medium to share sensitive, confidential, or intellectual property data. Relying on these precious types of data on consumer-grade file sharing solutions would be a grave mistake. Watermarking, permission-based file sharing, and document rights revocation help to secure file sharing in the virtual data room.
  • Collaboration Tools. This set of features permit users to collaborate with others on a specific document or folder in the data room. Some collaboration features such as Q&A and secured email can only be found in top- grade data room platforms. Many users rely on the ability to discuss and comment on the data they are working on.
  • Multi-layered Security. Data security is imperative for virtual data rooms and top VDR providers employ a number of highly advanced security technologies, including encryption, multi-level user authentication protocols, and post-dated access revocation. Document security features usually include customizable watermarking, printing disability, and view restriction.

Setting up your VDR

To ensure a smooth transition to your new VDR, consider following these steps:

  • Gather all the necessary data and follow a specific file naming system
  • Have a clear vision and create the internal structure of your VDR (use folders, subfolders, access levels, categories, etc.)
  • Upload all files (VDRs typically have an automatic index numbering that numbers folders and documents sequentially as they are uploaded)
  • Create groups of users, set access permissions
  • Double-check everything and test functionality
  • Invite team members to begin work
  • If necessary, seek training for your team

Data room use cases

Virtual data room services are used for various business deals and processes. Here are a couple of examples.

M&A due diligence

Virtual data rooms for Mergers and Acquisitions Due Diligence offer an opportunity to create a Due Diligence Data Room online and replace the physical deal room securing all sensitive legal, financial, sales, marketing, and human resources documents in one central, virtual place

Real estate transactions

Online data room assists real estate transactions with keeping all documents, such as building construction plans and data, NOCs, insurance, mortgage documents, land register entries, contract of sale, etc., in a safe environment for all involved parties to access.

Fundraising / capital raising

When managing a deal with potential investors, it is necessary to disclose confidential information. VDR provides a safe way to do it while protecting companies’ intellectual property. 

Investment banking

Investment bankers use VDR software to share information with qualified buyers. Ability to view who has accessed the files, for how long, and what exact pages, are of particular benefit to investment bankers. 

IPO

Some data rooms are specifically equipped for the IPO preparation process. VDR helps efficiently share large volumes of documentation with potential share buyers. As going public is a very time-consuming and stressful process, a company must remain transparent, consistent and share necessary information promptly. VDR is a perfect tool for that. 

A virtual data room can help a law firm and its customers communicate in a secure virtual environment. VDR allows both parties to view, update, sign confidential documents and contracts virtually. 

Corporate repository

Corporate Repository holds and archives the most sensitive company information. A virtual data room can help distinguish document access and permissions among employees.