How to choose the best data room provider

Choosing the best data room service providers is the most challenging part of setting up a virtual data room. To help customers navigate through the current offer of the best data rooms, we listed down the scope of their typical features.

Standard virtual data room providers’ features

These are the features found in almost every data room provider on the market.

archiving feature of data rooms
Archiving

Every online data room provider will allow you to quickly access all past records. This comes in handy for referencing previous deals, accessing historical data, and optimizing governance.

activity tracking feature of data rooms
Activity tracking

The activity reports will tell you who accessed each file, when the file was accessed, and for how long the file was accessed, helping you to oversee both activity and security.

watermarking feature of data rooms
Watermarking

Adding watermarks to documents is an excellent approach to limiting unwanted duplication and sharing. Dynamic watermarking, making it impossible to distribute the file without appropriate crediting.

permission customization feature of data rooms
Permission customization

Clear and intuitive access hierarchy setup is another universal feature. You can establish permissions for standalone documents and entire segments of the data room.

branding feature of data rooms
Branding

The common solution for customizing a data room would be adding a logo and brand colors.

analytics and reporting feature of data rooms
Analytics and reporting

Interactive analytics, dynamic infographics, and up-to-date reporting are key to keeping track of the deal’s progress.

Best data room software features

Keep these in mind when trying to figure out how to choose the best data room provider for corporate needs of your organization.

  • API integration. Re-arranging the interface to your company’s specific needs and preferences is an option featured on some of the best virtual data rooms.
  • Bulk uploads and downloads. Adding and retracting documents in bulk can save large amounts of time and make your VDR experience a lot more effective.
  • Interactive tools.  Features such as polls, live chats, and Q&A can organize, significantly streamline, and improve any data room process and the ways teams communicate.
  • Specialized interfaces. Interface templates for specific projects.

5 key aspects of virtual data room selection

Once have conducted a detailed research on the best virtual data rooms for your needs during complex deals, the next step is evaluating VDR functions through the following criteria:

1. Security

  • Look for: a “fence-view” feature to avoid unwanted glances, multiple-step verification, IP-restricted user access, page-by-page document viewing history, ISO27001 and SOC2 compliances.
  • Ask: Where are the data centers located? Is there an option for physical storage?

2. Convenience

  • Look for: versatile deployment solutions, Drag&Drop file upload, intuitive interface, and broad file format support.
  • Ask: How long will it take to set up the solution? Does the online data room provider operate via plug-ins? What is the rate of the VDR’s uptime?

3. Support

  • Look for: 24/7/365 availability, free access to VDR knowledge base, multiple languages, single-point-of-contact resolution, and minimal response time.
  • Ask: Who will train my team to use the data room and how will they be trained? Who will manage the throughout its existence?

4. Customization

  • Look for: brand logo and colors incorporation, interface adjustment, and project templates.
  • Ask: To what extent can I customize a virtual data room and what are the solutions for this? Is it possible to integrate data from a different VDR provider?

5. Pricing.

  • Look for: transparent and comprehensive service pricing plans, payment methods, fixed rates, and the ability to create a custom package.
  • Ask: Are the fees linked to the number of guest viewers or the amount of data customers store? Can I upgrade and downgrade the initial plan I chose?
five key aspects of virtual data rooms

How to set up a virtual data room

Now that you have the data room provider situation sorted out and know what virtual data rooms provide, it’s time to learn how to set up a data room. Below are nine simple steps and tips for a seamless software launch with no effort:

Step 1: Define your purpose

An effective experience always starts with thorough planning. Establish the purpose of the virtual data room from the perspective of your industry and the specific project. Pay extra attention to the different stages of your task and the parties who will require access to the data room.

Pro tip: ask your data room provider if they have worked on a similar project before. Utilizing a template can be a great asset to a successful VDR setup.

Step 2: Engage in data room training

Once you know who will be accessing the data room you are building, ensure they get trained on how to use it. Consider different levels of experience with technology and take advantage of the data room’s support team.

Pro tip: a conference call is an ideal solution to educate all users.

Step 3: Prepare the documents

Depending on what you are planning to use the data room for, you will be dealing with a specific range of data. Note how many documents you need to upload and choose the most suitable formats. In case you are dealing with physical paperwork, put extra effort into labeling the actual documents and their scans for easy access.

Pro tip: create or download a data room checklist to simplify document preparation. A typical list might feature the following:

  • A database of all current employees with titles and salaries
  • Partnership agreements
  • All legal disputes
  • Previous meetings’ minutes
  • Past and current intern, contractor, and consultant contracts

Step 4: Outline the VDR’s internal structure

The next step on how to set up a data room is mapping out the sections and folders within it. Come up with the most logical and easy-to-comprehend organizational model for your case. Color-code and compartmentalize as much as possible.

Pro tip: Picture a physical storage facility to plan the data room software outline in the most straightforward way.

Step 5: Upload the files

Fill the pre-designed folder structure with the required documents and files. Pay special attention to naming and indexing the items.

Pro tip: the best data room features for effortless and fast file upload are Drag&Drop and Bulk Uploading

Step 6: Establish appropriate access permissions

Granting and restricting access are the key elements on how to set up a data room in the most secure way. Make sure that you establish a permission system that is both convenient and safe. Use tools like IP restriction and time limits to further enhance the security.

Pro tip: implement a level-based access hierarchy to easily manage permissions for entire groups.

Step 7: Sign the NDAs

Protect sensitive information within your data room by requesting all participants to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Same as with the access permission, you can connect the non-disclosure rules to separate documents and full sections of the data room.

Pro tip: use dynamic NDAs for the documents that will constantly update. This way, the viewers will sign the agreement each time they access a newer version.

Step 8: Double-check the settings

Taking a step back and evaluating the whole picture is a crucial stage on how to set up a data room. Make sure all settings match your project’s specifics and requirements by checking the access permissions, browser and device compatibility, and established security protocols.

Pro tip: use the View As option to ensure you’ve set up the data room in the most optimal way for everyone.

Step 9: Invite other users and begin managing the project

Finally, share the invitations with all the users and start using the data room you created. Provided you followed all the suggestions, this process should be simple.

Pro tip: ensure you have an appropriate amount of administrators for your company’s size and the particular project.

Virtual data room comparison

On our site, you can find independent reviews of virtual data room service providers to help you choose the vendor that fits your business needs.

We analyzed all VDR providers and selected those that meet several crucial criteria. When we were compiling the ratings, which are regularly updated, we took into account not only the number of features that are presented in a particular product but also the experience gathered from interviews with actual users. We also considered virtual data room reviews and comments from our website and from third-party resources.

We use a five-point scale for the comparison of virtual data room providers for each category. Also, we indicate the difference between the scoring rating of different providers so that the strengths and weaknesses of all online data rooms are clear.

We regularly analyze information on the internet to provide you with the latest data on virtual data room comparison and help you find the best data room service to answer the most important questions.

Also, we have prepared pages with a comparison of different characteristics of data rooms: we carefully analyzed the offer of each of the VDR providers, and their functions, combined all the points, and got the final rating, which potential VDR customers can read at the comparison pages.

For comparison, we take into account several factors such as file and folders management, sensitive data protection and digital rights management, document repositories and infrastructure security, accessibility and ease of use, platform customization, support, and services. This is how a comprehensive listing of the best software data room providers for large corporations, medium, and small businesses is created.

data room comparison methodology

Best virtual data room providers

Not everyone is ready to pay for data to be stored but some companies need to use reliable and secure cloud storage for keeping corporate data. For those businesses, we’ve created our website.

Overall Rating: 5.0
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.9
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.8
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.8
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.7
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.6
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.5
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.4
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.4
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.3
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.3
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.2
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.2
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.1
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.0
View profile
Overall Rating: 4.0
View profile
Overall Rating: 3.9
View profile
Overall Rating: 3.8
View profile
Overall Rating: 3.7
View profile
Overall Rating: 3.6
View profile
Overall Rating: 3.0
View profile

Frequently asked question

What is a virtual data room?

A virtual data room is an online space that stores confidential files and allows interested parties to communicate, manage workflows, and make strategic decisions in a secure, controlled environment.

The simplest way to define a virtual data room is as digital online storage. However, besides being an online repository, virtual data rooms offer numerous tools for enhancing the work process and accelerating project completion. This way, corporate professionals can better perform their duties, make more informed decisions, and improve long-term governance.

How does a virtual data room work?

A virtual data room works as a repository and tool for paperwork. The developers took the needs of today’s business as a basis.

Built-in security mechanisms ensure the safety of every file and user. Companies exchange data without the risk of hacking and breaches. Functions available to administrators enable workflow management and analytics.

For employees, VDRs work to complete tasks faster. It is possible through the use of automated processes.

How do I create a virtual data room?

To create a virtual data room, you should:

  • Find a provider that is trusted. Review sites and recommendations from client companies will help you make the right choice.
  • Create groups and invite users. Administrators can manage the platform by deleting or organizing groups.
  • Allow or restrict viewing, downloading, original downloading, and editing of documents.
  • Uploading files and folders to workspaces. The bulk upload and drag-and-drop tools simplify this process.

What is in a data room?

Important data are stored in virtual workspaces. Since providers guarantee protection, companies have no fear in storing sensitive documents. Files and folders may contain:

  • contracts,
  • invoices,
  • tax receipts,
  • securities

These files are organized and easy to find within the data room. The online platform also supports all formats so you can upload video, audio, presentations, and others. Some developers place templates in data rooms to make it easier and faster to create documents.

Users and guests should review the built-in non-disclosure agreement. By agreeing to its terms, the platform visitors take responsibility for their actions.

 

What is a data room in M&A?

A data room in M&A is the repository of documents essential for merger and acquisition transactions, which involves the preparation and study of a large volume of documents. In this case, virtual workspaces contribute to the deal-making without delays. Both parties get:

  • space for cooperation,
  • safe information exchange,
  • source of sensible solutions.

The tool can make a partnership between buyer and seller possible even from a distance without risking security. To do this, the provider implements encryption, electronic signature, watermarks. This method is cheaper than using physical storage. No travel resources are required to review the data.

What is a data room for investors?

Data room for investors allows parties to study a large number of documents needed to make decisions before finalizing an investment transaction. In this way, they assess the risks and potential opportunities from the investments made. As a rule, the parties agree on a list of data that will become the subject of a detailed examination.

Virtual data rooms are a convenient format for investors. Regardless of the time of day, their location, devices, access to information is open on the platform.

What is a secure data room?

A secure data room is a private virtual workspace that is safe. It is where companies can store sensitive information. To ensure security, potential users first make sure protection features are available. For example, these are encryption, access control, compliance with international standards, and others. Quality providers apply virus scanning. This program prevents breaches and leaks.

High-quality portals are all about:

  • secure transactions,
  • data exchange,
  • safe collaboration with partners.

When buying a VDR, clients must pursue not only security but also high performance. That is why the platform should be easy to use.

How much does a virtual data room cost?

The cost of a virtual data room differs. Cost may vary depending on the contract length, feature set, availability of technical support, among other factors.

Pricing is one issue to consider before finally deciding to purchase a VDR. Sometimes organizations have to pay extra to invite more users or get gigabytes.

Most service companies offer a free trial. Users can check if this tool is appropriate for meeting their challenges.

Often the cost is changed because of the customer’s requirements. In that case, the developers customize it. Pricing also includes tariff.

iDeals
DataSite
DFIN
Intralinks
Dealroom
Solutions
  • M&A
  • Real Estate
  • Life Science
  • Restructuring
  • M&A
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Real estate
  • Restructuring
  • Healthcare
  • Energy
  • Franshise Management
  • Energy&Power
  • TMT
  • Life sciences
  • Real Estate
  • Healthcare
  • IT Professionals
  • Manufacturing
  • Accounting
Pricing Plans
  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise
  • Unknown
  • Small projects (1GB)
  • Mid-size projects (3 GB)
  • Big-size projects (>5GB)
  • Unknown
  • Starting price 375$/month
Trial Period
  • 30 days
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • 7 days
Document Managment
  • Drag-and-drop file upload
  • Bulk upload/download
  • File labels (Business-only)
  • Digital watermarks
  • Drag-and-drop file upload
  • Integrated (no-plugin) IRM
  • Digital watermarks
  • Bulk upload
  • Auto-indexing
  • Digital watermarks
  • Integrated (no-plugin) IRM
  • AI auto-indexing
  • Dynamic watermarking
  • Full-Text Search
  • Secure file collection
User Management
  • Single/bulk user invitation
  • Detailed user permissions
  • Excel viewing permissions
  • Granular group permissions
  • View As
  • View only
  • View only
  • Granular group permissions
  • User authentication
  • Granular group permissions
  • Permissions on the user level
  • User authentication
  • View-only access
  • Click trails
  • Advanced analytics and reporting
Q/A
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
Security certifications
  • ISO27001
  • SOC2 compliant
  • ISO/IEC 27001
  • SSAE SOC 2 Type II
  • Privacy Shield
  • FedRAMP
  • SOC 2 Type II
  • ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Certification
  • Data privacy certifications
  • Privacy regulations in other jurisdictions
  • SOC 2
  • SSAE 16 audits
Security
  • General Data Protection Regulation
  • California Consumer Privacy Act
  • 256-bit encryption + 2048-bit keys at rest and in transit
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Protected infrastructure
  • Personnel security
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Customer Managed Keys
  • Virus scan
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Customer Managed Keys
  • HSM for key management

 

  • Bank-level encryption
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Multiple data storage locations around the globe

 

Support
  • 24/7/365
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Live chat
  • 24/7/365
  • Unlimited training
  • 24/7/365
  • Phone
  • Email
  • 24/7/365
  • Unlimited training
  • 24/7/365
  • Phone
  • Email
Deployment
  • Public cloud
  • Mobile App: Android, IOS
  • Desktop App: Windows only
  • Browsers supported: Chrome 79, Firefox 78, Safari 13, MS Edge 90
  • Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based
  • Mobile App: Android, IOS
  • Desktop App: No
  • Browsers supported: Google Chrome for Mac or Windows, Mozilla Firefox for Windows and Mac, Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 10 or newer), Microsoft Edge
  • Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based
  • Mobile App: No
  • Desktop App: No
  • Browsers supported: N/A
  • Mobile App: Yes
  • Desktop App: macOS, Windows
  • Browsers supported: Chrome or Firefox on Windows, and Chrome, Firefox or Safari on Macintosh
  • Mobile App: N/A
  • Desktop App: macOS, Windows
  • Browsers supported: Unknown
Pros
  • Industry-leading 99.95% uptime
  • No maintenance windows
  • Individual sales approach
  • Free Preparation
  • The Sandbox feature
  • Bulk invitation
  • User roles
  • AI tool
  • Unlimited deal preparation
  • Fast USB delivery (on request)
  • AI-based redaction
  • Easy to use
  • Outlook Plugin
  • Upload files up to 100GB
Cons
  • No-plugin encrypted PDF
  • Sophisticated pricing with hidden costs
  • Screen blocking doesn’t limit phone screenshots
  • No conversion of Excel files
  • No desktop sync
  • No live chat option
  • Project minimum cost
  • Extension fee
  • No fence view
  • No advanced individual user access permissions
  • Hidden costs and sophisticated pricing
  • 30-day data storage upon project closure
  • High storage price for non-PDF files
  • Drag and drop
  • Complex and deep folder structures
  • Long upload speed