Top virtual data room providers: find a perfect data room

A virtual data room is a secure online meeting place for all transaction parties. These secure cloud solutions give users full control while performing online due diligence processes, simplifying the cooperation among all parties.

Besides, a virtual deal room has evolved into a tool that helps users throughout the entire deal process, not just during the due diligence stage. As a result, companies use virtual data rooms for mergers and acquisitions and other financial transactions such as loan syndication, private equity, investment banking, confidential information sharing, venture capital funding, and others.

Small companies, medium and large businesses prefer virtual data rooms to physical data rooms (or traditional data rooms) for various reasons, including instant 24/7/365 remote access from any location and device, secure data management, and saving time and money.

Virtual data room solutions are also used wide-range of industries, including:

While most data rooms offer similar services, their functions may vary. The best online data rooms provide military-level security, support in multiple languages, full-text search, in-document linking, and a wide range of other advanced functions.

Online data rooms are popular among different business industries because they provide the following solutions to corporate transactions:

  • structured arrangement and organization of all necessary documents
  • high-speed digital sharing of documents, which takes seconds instead of traditional mailing or courier delivery
  • secure, granular access to the documents and files from any device, be it a desktop computer or a tablet
  • quick, safe, and efficient discussion in the documents online

The number of potential data room uses is close to infinity. Firms that are in the legal, real estate, life science, biotech, and other industries use this software for different purposes, including:

Data rooms for M&A

M&A deal includes a due diligence process with a large volume of confidential information that requires robust protection with several security layers. Therefore, a data room for M&A is a must.

Small companies, medium and large businesses cannot get this level of security from such solutions as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, or physical data rooms. So a proper virtual data room for due diligence becomes a necessity.

Potential bidders in the M&A deal have access to the information in the online data room 24/7/365 as long as the seller’s side grants this access. On the seller’s side, it has transparency on user data room activity, documents, or buyer requests analytics, which allows the seller to grant users full control over the deal or its bottlenecks.

Data rooms for selling a business

The process of setting up a virtual data room when getting ready to sell a business is a four-step procedure:

  1. Prepare digital versions of necessary documents.
  2. Organize and group documents as necessary.
  3. Upload all documents to the data room.
  4. Provide buying company (-ies) with access to the data room.

After all digital documents are collected, setting up a data room for selling a business can take less than an hour. Virtual data room software collaboration options and the capacity to update existing files on the fly also cut down negotiation time from several months to days.

1
iDeals
4.9
2
Citrix
4.6
3
Datasite
4.5
4
BOX
4.0
5
Intralinks
3.9
6
Dealroom
3.8
7
Brainloop
3.3
8
Ansarada
3.7
9
SmartRoom
3.0
10
Venue
3.0

Data rooms for fundraising

Fundraising can last long and engage many teams to review, comment, or update financial documents. That’s why the software for sharing data quickly and safely becomes an integral part for raising money.

In addition, virtual data room features like a Q&A module and comments section allow all parties to communicate and stay on the same page. Furthermore, virtual data rooms simplify the cooperation process by offering direct messaging, task managers, and other additional functions that significantly streamline teamwork.

Data rooms for legal documents management

Safety is crucial for legal businesses. And this is why law firms, corporate legal departments, courts, and banks use virtual data rooms daily. Once uploaded to the data room, sensitive documents become safe yet easily accessible. In addition, when several lawyers are involved in the same process, they get granular access to all the required information. In the meantime, unauthorized individuals or companies never corrupt, copy, or share sensitive data.

Data rooms for risk management

Significant changes in the business environment or legislation pose risks, and companies must act to manage them. Secure data room service providers help businesses mitigate risks through the following:

  1. Virtual data rooms reduce the time businesses need to adapt to the changes and edit documentation to incorporate these changes
  2. A risk management data room gives users full control over the process. Built-in tools allow admins to track every transaction’s progress and get an overview of where every person is
  3. When admins see unusual activity, they can restrict access with a few clicks or taps and even delete downloaded documents from the user’s computer remotely

Data rooms for real estate transactions

Data rooms provide two main benefits in real estate transactions – the ability to work with large files and the anonymity of potential buyers.

The first main benefit of a data room is that it allows real estate agents to share as much data as they need from the beginning of the deal to its closing.

The second main benefit allows real estate agents and property owners to hide the fact that several potential buyers study the property in the data room and then pick the best option.

data room use cases

Which functions do virtual data rooms offer?

The purpose of any virtual data room software is to keep, manage, and share confidential documents during the deal-making process. Online data room providers help the seller become better prepared for the deal and create a well-planned strategy. On the other hand, the buyer can examine all documents and foresee risks.

data room features

To maximize the benefit, look for virtual data room vendors offering the following:

  • Secure data management
  • Data encryption
  • Antivirus protection
  • Account theft prevention
  • Digital rights management
  • Document filtering tools
  • Advanced search
  • Activity tracking and audit log
  • Compatibility
  • Scroll-through viewer
  • Multiple files format support
  • Bulk uploads
  • Drag and drop files
  • Multiple projects in one account.

In addition to these, look for the best virtual data rooms that offer other advanced security options such as:

  • Multiple-step login authentication
  • Print Screen button disabling
  • Q&A functionality
  • Restriction access by time and IP
  • Microsoft Office integration
  • Dynamic watermarks

Also, look for a data room provider that offers personal training, if needed.

1. iDeals

  • Vendor: iDeals Solutions Group
  • Headquater: New York
  • Company size: 100-500 employees
  • Founded: 2008
  • Free Trial: 30 Days

iDeals Virtual Data Room is a secure virtual data room solution used by more than 4,000 companies worldwide, including many Fortune 1,000 companies since 2008. The best virtual data room solutions from iDeals are based on a continuous innovation approach, including constant R&D efforts, powerful cloud infrastructure, and instantly available customer services. With iDeals’ advanced document sharing technology and shatterproof security, dealmakers worldwide can fully comply with due diligence requirements.

Pros
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Multi-platform
  • Multilingual
  • Easy file uploading in any format
  • Solid data integrity/protection toolset
  • Easy user management
  • High data transfer speed
  • Customizable look & feeling
Cons
  • Downloading encrypted files needs installation
  • File types cannot be converted

2. Citrix

  • Vendor: Citrix Systems
  • Headquater: Richardson
  • Company size: 5000-10000 employees
  • Founded: 1989
  • Free Trial: 14 Days

ShareFile online data room provider is a cloud-based data room appropriate for the deals executed by various professionals such as financial advisors, brokers, government contractors, biotech and bio-licensing companies, real estate firms, investment banking, private equity firms, etc. ShareFile virtual data room is equipped with a multi-level security system: the data is encrypted, the documents contain dynamic watermarks that prevent unauthorized dissemination, and access is allowed only based on two-step verification.

Pros
  • 30 days of free trial
  • 24/7 customer support with live chat and online training
  • Office 365 integration
  • Instructions are clear and concise
  • A lot of different formats supported
  • Simple tools to make it easy to send big files up to 100 GB
Cons
  • Not as intuitive to use as other similar products
  • Screen sharing is not possible
  • The mobile application isn’t convenient enough
  • The interface is available in English language only

3. Datasite

  • Vendor: Datasite LLC
  • Headquater: Minneapolis
  • Company size: 500-1000 employees
  • Founded: 1968
  • Free Trial: 14 Days

DataSite is a powerful data room solution that streamlines the due diligence in M&As, disposals, IPO, or any transaction requiring due diligence process. These features from DataSite enable customers to complete faster, smarter, and better transactions. DataSite’s data room dramatically reduces transaction times and deal expenses through the presentation of documents in the data room.

Pros
  • 14 days of free trial
  • Can be integrated with the different software
  • Support for MS Office files, PDF, and some graphic formats
Cons
  • No training options, no online help center
  • No Android and iOS application
  • Only cloud deployment

4. Box

  • Vendor: Box, Inc.
  • Headquater: Redwood
  • Company size: 1000-5000 employees
  • Founded: 2005
  • Free Trial: 14 Days

Box Virtual Data Room is a secure content management and collaboration platform founded in 2005. Recently, Box introduced a virtual data room service with advanced protection features and a convenient file storage system to upload contracts, financial statements, and other due diligence files. Multiple layers of protection keep business-critical information safe and secure while helping teams and enterprises across industries easily share, manage, and collaborate on their most important information from anywhere, on any device.

Pros
  • 14 days of free trial
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Custom branding
  • Comprehensive reporting
  • Integrates with more than 1400 apps
Cons
  • Provided only in English
  • Mac/Linux are not supported

5. Intralinks

  • Vendor: Intralinks Holdings, Inc
  • Headquater: New York
  • Company size: 500-1000 employees
  • Founded: 1996
  • Free Trial: 30 Days

Intralinks is a global technology provider of secure content management and collaboration solutions. Founded in 1996, Intralinks data room enables the exchange, control, and management of information between organizations through their virtual data rooms and deal space solutions, suitable for data sharing inside and outside of the corporate firewall. The company’s key product, Intralinks VIA, supports strategic collaboration solutions for a range of industries, including financial services, life sciences, technology, and manufacturing.

Pros
  • 30 days of free trial
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Ease to manage Q&A and users
  • Easy to navigate
  • High level of data security
  • Works swiftly with big volumes of information
Cons
  • High price
  • Only cloud deployment

6. Dealroom

  • Vendor: Dealroom
  • Headquater: Chicago
  • Company size: 51-200 employees
  • Founded: 2012
  • Free Trial: 14 days

This Chicago-based data room provider offers secure data room solutions for M&A, due diligence, project management, and other kinds of complex business transactions. Dealroom provides a wide range of security features, as well as integrations with Microsoft Office, Slack, and Google Apps. Also, their Agile framework may be effective for corporations working with massive amounts of data.

Pros
  • Free Trial available
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Integration with a variety of platforms
Cons
  • High price
  • Slow support response

7. Brainloop

  • Vendor: Brainloop AG
  • Headquater: Munich
  • Company size: 100-500 employees
  • Founded: 2000
  • Free Trial: 7 Days

Brainloop Secure Dataroom is an advanced virtual data room with complete security architecture, global 24/7 availability via a web browser, and its own tablet apps. Brainloop data room ensures secure collaboration in a transparently secure online workspace while delivering end-to-end protection for confidential documents. Enterprises worldwide use Brainloop for boardroom communications, research and development processes, legal work, and any other area where you need to share confidential documents.

Pros
  • Free Trial available
  • 24/7 customer support
  • High level of data security
  • Personalized watermarks are generated automatically
  • Q&A module with graphical reports
  • Multi-platform
Cons
  • The number of supported languages is very limited
  • Product is slow to change
  • More focus on Germany than in other markets

8. Ansarada

  • Vendor: Ansarada
  • Headquater: Sydney
  • Company size: 100-200 employees
  • Founded: 2005
  • Free Trial: 14 days

Ansarada’s virtual data room solutions have proved to be helpful in a wide selection of deals and issues, from M&A due diligence to board communications. While offering quite standard document management functionality, their use of AI and a custom Deal workflow is a feature that makes Ansarada a great provider, along with collaboration and time-management tools.

Pros
  • Strong audit capabilities
  • Broad spectrum of security options
  • Online help pages
  • Q&A tool
  • Automatic indexing
Cons
  • Not intuitive
  • Expensive

9. SmartRoom

  • Vendor: SmartRoom
  • Headquater: Los Angeles
  • Company size: 100-500 employees
  • Founded: 1998
  • Free Trial: -

SmartRoom provides virtual data room services for numerous business areas, such as capital markets, legal solutions, and corporate exchange. Secure document hosting and sharing among partners, convenient management of sensitive data and intellectual property, confidential discussion of the data directly within the platform – all these key features attract deal-makers (investment bankers, private equity managers, etc.) and make them look for the most protected, efficient, functional and convenient data room available.

Pros
  • Free Trial available
  • 24/7 customer support
  • A lot of additional features provided
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Some users are dissatisfied with the quality of support
  • Only cloud deployment

10. Venue by DFin

  • Vendor: Donnelley Financial Solutions™
  • Headquater: Chicago
  • Company size: -
  • Founded: 1983
  • Free Trial: 10 days

Donnelley Financial Solutions is a great workspace disregarding the type of the deal, project, or industry requiring a virtual data room service. Data rooms by Donnelley Financial Solutions are equally suitable for due diligence processes, fundraising, intellectual property management, communication with investors, for developing and managing document repositories.

Pros
  • Demo provided
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Intuitive calendar-view report tracking
  • Multilingual
  • Integrates Google Search
Cons
  • Free trial not provided
  • No mobile app
  • Only cloud deployment

Virtual data room comparison: How to choose a virtual data room

Deciding on the best virtual data room services can be challenging, especially if you’re a newbie to the data room industry and have never dealt with data room service providers.

There are many VDR providers on the market with advantages and disadvantages.

How to select the best data room for your needs, then? Naturally, it would be best to rely on your business needs.

First, determine what goals you have and what results you want to achieve.

Second, compare virtual data rooms on the web, considering expertise, pricing, security measures, storage capacity, virtual data room reviews, mobile applications, etc.

What to pay attention to during the data room comparison? 

The data room comparison table above might significantly save time on the investigation. There, you already have the top ten vendors that are industry leaders. Just rely on the rating, review, and comments of each provider and decide which one is the best for you.

Still, you can make a virtual data room comparison on your own. 

If you choose this alternative, we recommend considering these criteria when reviewing virtual deal rooms:

  • Reputation of the provider
  • User-friendliness
  • Access security
  • Document protection features
  • Document management features
  • Possibility of reports and analytics
  • Unique features that make a vendor stand out
  • Quality of customer service
  • Pricing

Now, check each of the points in more detail and compare three of the best data rooms — iDeals, Citrix, and Datasite.

Provider’s reputation

First, search for clients’ feedback if you’re seeking the best virtual data rooms. 

For this, monitor such popular reviewer platforms as Capterra and G2. Mind the overall rating, how many reviews a particular vendor receives, and whether the feedback is positive or negative.

When it comes to the providers we reviewed, this is what we’ve found out:

  • iDeals is rather popular among its customers. Most reviews iDeals gets are positive, and those with a lower rating are also more of a suggestion than negative experiences.
  • The number of user reviews Citrix gets is slightly higher than iDeals has, and they’re also mostly positive. This definitely speaks loud about the provider’s popularity. Still, compared to Citrix, iDeals doesn’t have any one-star reviews.
  • The overall impression users get from Datasite is mainly positive. We haven’t spotted any reviews lower than four stars. On the other hand, the number of customers’ reviews is significantly lower than iDeals and Citrix have. So, though the Citrix service quality is high, its popularity is still growing.

Usability, ease of use, and user experience

The interface of your future software is more important than you think.

Specifically, crucial things are how folders are organized and whether there are any automatic indexing options. In addition, it must be easy to navigate, regardless of your technical background.

Here is what users say about iDeals, Citrix, and Datasite:

  • Ease of use is actually the most common remark all the customers mention when reviewing iDeals. The software is user-friendly and easy to set up. There are no extra plugins or software to start running iDeals, making it even more attractive to users.
  • On the contrary, a few customers indicate that Citrix could perform better regarding usability. Among other things, they mention some disconnections from the Outlook integration and find it confusing to navigate for recipients.
  • There are not so many Datasite user reviews to evaluate its intuitiveness, but all the existing ones still praise its great usability. And we can confirm that as well. The software is modern and has an intuitive interface. Setting up, data exchange, and navigating through them is easy.

Access security

Your initial goal of using a virtual data room software is probably to securely exchange confidential documents with multiple parties.

Obviously, it will be vital for you to control the permissions of each virtual data room user. 

The best data rooms offer such basic features as multi-factor authentication, granular user permissions, and more.

  • iDeals has proven to be a vendor with the bare minimum of access security features. However, it also offers user security impersonation, mobile device management, access control, expiration date, time and IP restriction.
  • Citrix also seems to win clients’ admiration when it comes to access features for data protection. Clients don’t report any particular problems with setting up access rights. What we liked the most about Citrix is setting up view-only access to any file.
  • Datasite also allows you to control all the user permissions and keep your data protected from third parties.

Document security options

The safety of your documentation is one of the first things you expect from a secure VDR vendor.

All the online data room providers ensure your security with the help of different features. The most common are dynamic watermarking, two-factor authentication, access permissions, and more.

We’ve investigated what our top-3 VDR providers have, and here are our observations:

  • iDeals seems to have all the basics and more. Besides standard features, there are a secure spreadsheet viewer, fence view, and remote shred. As potential subscribers, we would enjoy that the provider pays so much attention to the ways confidential data can be protected.
  • Citrix’s customers are also satisfied with the document security they get. Most reviews point out that safety measures are a strength of the software. Still, the range of data security features isn’t that varied compared to iDeals.
  • Instead of implementing several security options, Datasite focuses on a couple of main ones, with AI redaction being the key feature. It’s easy to redact GDPR-related information with a single click. For some, it’s pretty enough. But in our opinion, some upgrades in document protection options would not harm.

Document management features

Users should be able to manage all the documents they have efficiently.

Naturally, the range of features from a particular vendor mainly depends on the size of your business. For instance, if you have a startup, the volume of your documentation will be considerably lower than an enterprise would have. Thus, you won’t need numerous management tools.

We’ve investigated how iDeals, Citrix, and Datasite offer to manage the documentation.

  • Considering the list of document management features iDeals provides, this secure platform would perfectly fit the needs of any business. It offers drag-n-drop, bulk uploads, automatic index numbering, full-text search, optical character recognition (OCR), integrations, and more. You can also upload files of 25+ formats, which significantly simplifies the workflow.
  • Citrix also strives to make data management easier with such features as full-text search, folder creation templates, and file versioning. Although these tools are pretty enough, large companies might desire more variety.
  • Compared to Citrix, Datasite is more versatile. Users can manage their files through multilingual search (about 16 languages), OCR, file preview, smart AI categories, and even translation of documents. It means large enterprises and small and medium businesses can easily navigate data.

Reports

Tracking all the activity in your virtual data room during the project greatly adds to its effectiveness. 

Search for what analytics and reports feature a particular vendor offers and decide depending on how those services fit your needs.

  • iDeals understands the users’ need to control the activity in their workspace. Using the iDeals virtual data room solutions, you can get a record of every action performed on your files, thanks to full audit logs, color-coded reports, and group overview reports.
  • Though Citrix provides a few reporting options, they still allow for efficient tracking. The analytics section offers a snapshot of statistics on the most active users, most viewed documents, and recent searches.
  • We find the reporting and analytics abilities of Datasite not that varied compared to iDeals, but still effective. You get detailed reporting inside your data room, and that’s enough to track where your project is moving and how fast.

Unique features 

When it’s hard to decide, pay attention to what makes each virtual data room vendor stand out.

Here is what we’ve found out about iDeals, Citrix, and Datasite.

  • iDeals focuses more on your VDR experience quality than on the uniqueness. They ensure hassle-free usage with basic security and management features but make them much more varied compared to other vendors. It includes full customization, user-friendliness, various security tools, and more.
  • Citrix offers Citrix ShareFile StorageZone Connectors. This feature allows mobile users to connect securely to existing CIFS network shares and SharePoint document libraries.
  • Datasite stands out thanks to its Sandbox (staging folder). It’s basically a free staging area before and during the live period, where you can organize new docs away from bidders.

Support and customer service 

When searching for the best virtual data room solutions, consider the quality of customer support.

Pay attention to what ways of contact are on offer, how fast you get the answer, and how knowledgeable the team is. 

  • Most iDeals users state that experts provide exceptional services. And we can definitely confirm that. We tried to reach the support team via all three existing contact options: chat, email, and phone. The speed of answering in chat was only 15 seconds, which speaks loud about the customer-focus approach.
  • On the contrary, the experience with Citrix wasn’t as pleasant. The software doesn’t have any chat option on the website, so if you have an urgent issue, you might not get help timely.
  • The support of Datasite seems flawless to us, though there’s no online chat. They’re available 24/7 via email or phone call. The virtual data room reviews indicate that user experience with support was nice, and the manager was helpful.

Pricing

Naturally, price is one of the critical factors that might influence your decision. 

The pricing models of modern virtual data room providers are different, so you should focus on your needs and make sure the price and quality ratio is justified.

Here is what we found out about iDeals, Citrix, and Datasite pricing.

  • iDeals offers three subscription plans based on the business requirements. You can view all the details about options included in each plan, which helps make the right decision. The only thing we missed was pricing info on the official website — to know the cost, we had to contact support.
  • On the contrary, Citrix has transparent pricing. We learned what features each of the four pricing plans includes and the exact price per month. 
  • The Datasite pricing isn’t that obvious. To get any pricing info, we had to reach the support and sales because there’s nothing about the virtual data room pricing model on the official website.

Considering the detailed comparison of iDeals, Citrix, and Datasite above, each vendor has its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing virtual data room solutions, focus on your needs and pay attention to the factors we’ve relied on when comparing those three best data room providers.

With these tips, you can now understand what is a virtual data room and compare the VDR providers to determine the best virtual data room solutions for your business.

 

A virtual data room provider is a company that offers unique business software. The platform aims to secure file sharing, facilitate the deal management process, and improve teamwork through beneficial collaboration tools. Thus, it is popular not only with corporations but also with small and medium businesses, taking a comprehensive approach to data protection and offering dozens of easy-to-use features.
The cost of setting up online data rooms varies and depends on the provider's reputation, features, security level, customer needs, usage period, and other factors. Usually, vendors have several tariff plans, differing in the number of users, workspaces, and storage size. Therefore, the more correctly clients evaluate their needs when purchasing software, the more cost-effective the investment is for the team. Ultimately, online data room functionality and security justify the cost compared to traditional storage.
Dropbox is a commonly used file-sharing service, but it is not a virtual data room. The critical difference is that Dropbox is more suited to personal use, while virtual data rooms provide sophisticated mechanisms that can protect organizations' sensitive corporate data. So, although directors choose Dropbox to share files during transactions, they cannot be sure of their security as opposed to data room software users relying on the tool during M&A, due diligence, fundraising, and other complex transactions.
The electronic data room functionality is so powerful that it can meet the needs of any industry for any business transaction. So, typically teams use the software for M&A lifecycle management, an initial public offering, fundraising, strategic partnerships, intellectual property management, audits, board communications, corporate development, secure document sharing, and other deals. In addition, the data room services are the best format for fast file-sharing, business communication, and in-depth data analysis in cooperation with investors or other partners.