With COVID-19 continuing, a large part of the working population is performing their 9-5 online from the comfort of their own home. But many entrepreneurs are now aware that not all of the data they need is accessible online from home. In some cases, it’s because it’s confidential. For others, it’s because they didn’t store data on a central server.
A virtual data room, whereby businesses can store data securely in one place, offers companies a valuable solution for managing a distributed workforce.
What is a virtual data room (VDR)?
A virtual data room is a highly secured online archive to store documents. This includes confidential documents such as financial transactions, insurance documents, patents; and other due diligence documents. A VDR essentially houses all documents that are important for your business. VDRs are increasingly used today by:
- Banks, insurance and other financial institutions
- Lawyers, consultancy and accountancy firms
- Real estate, trade and brokerage
- Large and small companies that want to share confidential documents online with employees, business partners or customers.
What benefits can SMEs experience by using a VDR?
Key advantages of a VDR are security and central availability, including:
- Advanced multi-level authentication procedures to prevent hackers from accessing your documents.
- Advanced encryption for the transfer and storage of data.
- Access rights determine which staff members are authorised to carry out particular actions.
- Having everything in one central location (which staff can reach at all times from anywhere.)
- Registering and reporting changes in documents (who changed what, and at what time).
You can share VDR documents with people inside and outside the company. An administrator determines which documents are shareable and with who. They also determine access rights, such as who can read, change, upload or download, documents. This is useful when working in the cloud for management and employees, but possibly also for customers. For example, they can view their own contracts and delivery terms.
Temporary virtual data rooms
A virtual data room doesn’t have to be set up for life. You can temporarily rent a data room for purposes such as contract negotiations with a large customer, an audit, or a special project. It saves travel and accommodation costs, and parties can exchange and work in documents directly and confidentially.
What are the key differences between VDR and cloud storage
Businesses in Australia have a wide selection of (free) cloud storages available to them today, including OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud. The three main major differences between generic cloud storage and a VDR are:
- VDRs meet the highest safety standards. The opportunity for cybercriminals to steal data is (almost) zero. The software uses advanced encryption and bit keys during data transfer and storage. The files can only be read by authorised persons. With generic cloud storage, these protections are not available.
- VDRs have document management software. It registers and reports all actions that occur within a document.
Steps to set up a virtual data room
Setting up a VDR starts with a thorough inventory of the data you want to include. This gives you a good overview of the size of the VDR you require. From this, you can start to look for a provider. In addition to the price, you should consider a number of factors:
- Security: Choose a provider that uses a high level of encryption; at least a two-step authentication procedure.
- Document management and control: What functionality does the VDR offer, what are the options for recording authorisations for persons and documents, and what reporting options are there.
- Ease of use and accessibility: Can you also access it with a smartphone or tablet? What happens if many users want to work at the same time.
- Support: 24/7 support is particularly useful if you operate in international markets.
5 VDR options for SMEs in Australia
VDR software is a cloud software, so you don’t have to install anything: An internet connection is enough. To help you find a VDR provider, we have selected five options for you. Find the detailed methodology at the bottom of this page.
The five tools mentioned meet the following basic conditions:
- Suitable for SMEs
- Web-based, but it is also available via a smartphone or tablet (Android and iOS)
- Use a security system with at least a two-step authentication procedure.
This is a data room with extensive functionality, including protecting documents against screenshots and photos. Setting up this data room doesn’t require extensive IT knowledge. In addition, iDeals offers free training with the Pro and Business packages to its users. You can work with the iDeals data room from AUD$150.00 per month (annual billing) which gives you:
- 30-day free trial
- Maximum 500 MB of storage
- Maximum 10 users, 2 administrators and one project room
- Drag-and-Drop function to easily and quickly move files to the data room.
Clinked is a simple platform that’s quick to set up, with a clear dashboard that provides direct insight into activities of (project) groups and accounts. For important files, you can stay updated via email notifications. Clinked’s data room starts from AUD$140 per month and offers:
- 10-day trial with 10 users
- 100 GB storage
- Up to 100 users, unlimited ‘fellow users’
- Integration with Zapier is possible for expansion and integration with other platforms.
Box is a somewhat lighter software but offers more than enough possibilities to experience working with data rooms. Users report some challenges with the upload speed, but with the most basic version, you can rent a virtual data room for AUD$7.50 per month, per user. For this, you get the following features:
- 14-day trial period
- 100 GB storage
- Maximum 10 users
- Box is always free with one user, which works well for freelancers.
Onehub distinguishes between paid users and free users. Free users can only view, print and download, and their number can be up to 200. The platform integrates with Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive. A clear dashboard immediately gives users a good overview of the actions in their virtual workspace. The most basic plan costs AUD$23.00 per month and includes:
- 14-day trial period
- Maximum 3 paid users (+ 200 free users) with a maximum of 50 workspaces
- Maximum 1 TB of storage
- 20% discount to non-profit organisations and schools.
With Koofr, you can connect your existing accounts to various online storages, such as Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive. If you have the Koofr app on your smartphone or desktop, you can automatically synchronise all documents and photos. It is a limited data room, but a good option to try out for the first time. There is a free version that gives you 2 GB of storage. The simplest paid version costs AUD$10 per year, with the following features:
- 10 GB storage
- Unlimited sharing of (password protected) links to documents
- Unlimited file size.
The above tools were chosen according to the following criteria:
- Suitable for SMEs
- Customer rating of 4.5 stars or more on GetApp
- Available on Android and iPhone
- With a mobile web app
Note: the five software platforms have been listed in a randomised order.