Share Outside the Box

25 August, 2017

Business file sync and share platforms (FSS) are great for sharing files with your business colleagues for collaboration. They’re also great for storing and syncing files across devices, and they offer best-of-breed features for collaborative authoring and editing. But these generic file sharing platforms, like Box and Dropbox, evolved from consumer-grade file sharing and consequently lack the features needed to maintain control of content after it's been shared.

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The Difference Between File Sync & Share Platforms and a Virtual Data Room

Once a document has been shared, file sync and share services give recipients permanent access to the documents, and you have lost control. Because they lack the ability to "remotely shred" a file through Information Rights Management (IRM), solutions like Box and Dropbox offer significantly less control over shared content compared to some virtual data room providers. They can only protect your document while it remains within their storage cloud. Once the document has been shared with another user, the security ends. Contrast that with full-featured virtual data rooms that secure your documents at all times, even after they have been shared, by verifying, tracking, enforcing permissions and even being able to revoke access to documents after they've been downloaded.

In addition, full-featured virtual data rooms allow fine-grained control over the organization of your documents. You can use drag-and-drop to set the order of folders and files, as well as auto-numbering to quickly assign a decimal index to your hierarchical structure. Such features are expected for structured document review processes like due diligence.

If you’re sharing documents for collaboration with trusted internal users, then a file sync and share product like Box or Dropbox might be an excellent choice—that's what they were designed to do, and they're really good at it. Box offers comments, tasks, version history, controlled collaboration, deep integration with Microsoft Office for direct editing of content, and the Box API that enables so many third party solutions to integrate with Box. This rich feature set allows Box customers to develop best practices for document-centric collaboration.

The matrices below show the many differences in features between file sync and share platforms (FSS) and a full-featured virtual data room. Note that not all virtual data rooms are full-featured. Make sure you ask the right questions when making your technology selection as the features with astrisks by the check mark may not be supported.

DOCUMENT CONTROL

Virtual data rooms were designed to protect and control documents throughout the due diligence process, even after they've been shared or downloaded to a third-party computer. You can designate who gets to see what, apply dynamic watermarks to every page of a document, prevent printing, and disallow screen shots. With file sync and share platforms, documents can be deleted from folders by third parties, shared with others and, once accessed, kept on someone else's computer indefinitely. To ensure security, you need to trust the third party to properly dispose of the sensitive information, and to keep the document untouched in the file sync and share solution. In other words, once you share a document, it's out of your control. 

FEATURES VDRs  FSS
Information Rights Management for Remote Shredding green_check.png*  red_x.png
 Secure Print (prints to physical printers but not to PDF or TIFF) green_check.png  red_x.png
 Fully Configurable Document Security Policies by User, Group, Amount of Time and Viewing Permissions green_check.png*  red_x.png
Block Screen Capture, Even for 3rd Party Screen Capture Products green_check.png* red_x.png
Dynamic Watermarking green_check.png red_x.png

CONTENT ORGANIZATION / PRESENTATION 

File Sync and share solutions were created for individual users to house content, share it and engage with it. Folders are often organized differently depending on the user. While that's fine for internal file sharing, external sharing for due diligence, fundraising, partnering and compliance requires more structure.  

A virtual data room allows you to present your documents in a structured, attractive and professional way for efficient and rapid review on multiple computers and devices, thus streamlining the due diligence process. A good virtual data room allows for users to search for documents quickly, preview documents via zoomable thumbnails and provide features such as infinite scrolling to speed the document review process. 

FEATURES  VDRs FSS
Hierarchical Tags with Permissions green_check.png  red_x.png
 Place a Single Document in Multiple Places in the Organizational Hierarchy green_check.png*  red_x.png
 Zoomable Thumbnails to Facilitate Searching and Quick Overviews green_check.png*  red_x.png
Infinite Scrolling to Minimize Clicking green_check.png* red_x.png
Instant Full-Text Search with Relevance Ranking green_check.png* Limited
Smart Filters for Advanced Searches green_check.png* red_x.png
Auto-Numbering of the Hierarchical Index green_check.png  red_x.png

MONITOR USER ACTIVITY

A good virtual data room can provide both page-level tracking and time-based monitoring of who's seen which documents, when and for how long, providing detailed audit trails for compliance and insightful business intelligence into a users' document review progress. Virtual data rooms are also equipped with powerful and flexible reporting tools, allowing administrators to quickly generate insightful reports about user activity in the data room. File sync and share solutions have no such capability.

FEATURES VDRs   FSS
Page-Level Activity Monitoring green_check.png*  red_x.png
Monitoring of Viewing Time green_check.png*  red_x.png

EXPEDITED DOCUMENT REVIEW

Virtual data rooms provide many other features designed to facilitate document review, such as the ability to batch download documents and batch print documents (complete with a table of contents, page numbers and separator pages for a professional presentation). Most virtual data rooms also have a Q&A module to further facilitate the document review process and to ensure that questions are posted in a secure environment and routed to the appropriate expert.

File sync and share tools also offer the ablity to comment on a document, and the ability to co-edit documents in the cloud. This is a huge value add as organizations have a larger ecosystem of co-collaborators and require tools to communicate with remote team members. However, file sync and share tools have little in the way of privacy policies for Q&A that enable you to communicate with select individuals within the document, without outside parties seeing.

FEATURES VDRs   FSS
Secure Batch Download green_check.png*  red_x.png
 Secure Batch Print with Table of Contents & Separator Pages green_check.png*  red_x.png
Inter-Document Hyperlinking green_check.png* red_x.png
Q&A with Privacy Settings & Threaded Discussions green_check.png  red_x.png

FAST AND EASY SETUP

File sync and share solutions are easy to set up, but they lack advanced features that are designed specifically for the document review process required during due diligence, such as the ability to automatically unzip large uploads and to automatically covert documents into PDFs. 

FEATURES  VDRs  FSS
Auto Unzip for Large Uploads green_check.png*  red_x.png
 Easily Audit Permissions with Simple Permissions Report green_check.png*  red_x.png
Automatic PDF Conversion from Hundreds of File Types green_check.png* red_x.png

INDUSTRY SPECIFIC FEATURES 

File sync and share solutions are "one size fits all." This may work just fine if you are sharing a video with someone to edit or are co-editing a manuscript. However, if you have a more complex process - like regulatory submissions - you may require a more advanced document sharing tool. File sync and share tools do not provide additional features that specifically cater to specific industry needs such as Life Sciences. 

FEATURES VDRs   FSS
Inter-Document Hyperlinking for eCTD Regulatory Documents green_check.png*  red_x.png
 Auto Conversion of SAS Analytics Files to Protected PDF  green_check.png*  red_x.png

SERVICE & SUPPORT 

A good virtual data room is easy to set up and intuitive to use; however, if questions arise, virtual data room providers offer 24/7 support complete with screensharing capabilities to quickly resolve problems. File sync and share solutions offer limited support. 

FEATURES  VDRs  FSS
Free 24/7 Support green_check.png  green_check.png 
 Free One-on-One Training  green_check.png green_check.png

*Not all virtual data rooms offer this functionality

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We work with a rich ecosystem of industry influencers to take on topics that matter to bring you insight for biopharma partnering, mergers and acquisitions, fundraising and best practices for secure document sharing during due diligence activities.

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