If you’re looking to choose the best document management software for your business, you probably already know there’s a very wide scope of software available. Some programs focus on providing tools for sharing and collaborating on documents while others focus entirely on storing documents securely.
We looked at three of the top document management services: Google Drive, M-Files and eBridge, which together represent the wide spectrum of software available to small business owners. Below, we compare their price, features, security and compliance.
Best Document Management Software For Small Business Owners: Google Drive
We recommend Google Drive as the best document management software because it is the easiest to use, offers the most features, and comes at fraction of the price of it’s competitors.
Best Document Management Software Comparison Table
30 Day Free Trial of Google Apps for Business (Which includes Google Drive)
30 GB storage
$10/user/month unlimited storage
30 Day Free Trial
$40/user/month licensing fee
Additional fees for set up, training and add ons.
Starts at $150/month
Unlimited users, but you can only save 10,000 pages per month
Audit Trails ($10/month edition ONLY)
256-bit AES encryption
256-bit AES encryption
Monthly backup disc of all your documents
Document Editing & commenting
Google Apps “suite” also includes Email, web chat, video chat and more.
Scan documents into PDFs with selectable text
Add-ons available to scan documents into PDFs with selectable text and eSign documents
Scan documents into PDFs with selectable text
ISO 27001, HIPAA
ISO 9000/9001, GMP, FDA 21 CFR Part 11, HIPAA, SOX
FDA 21 CFR 11, PCI, HIPAA, SOX
Phone support is available to paying users.
Free help center with many articles and guides
Free phone and email support
Free phone email and chat support
Why We Recommend Google Drive As The Best Document Management Software For Small Business Owners
Google Drive has many features that go beyond a traditional document management system. From your browser, you can open and view files of many different types including Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and more. You can also create and edit documents within your browser and collaborate with other users in real time, which the other programs we reviewed did not support.
Google Drive is the best document management software to use. You don’t have to install any software on your computer. However, if you want, you can integrate Google Drive to appear like a hardrive on your computer, which enables you to drag and drop files to and from your Google Drive. Because Google Drive uses lighter encryption than M-Files and eBridge, your documents load faster.
Also, the price is significantly lower than the other services we reviewed. The entire Google Apps suite which includes Google Drive is $5/User/Month. That compares to $40/user/month for ebridge and $150/user/month for M-Files.
When To Not Use Google Drive For Document Management
If government level encryption security is needed, we recommend eBridge.
Google Drive uses lighter encryption than the other services. The key difference is that Google only uses encryption as files are being transferred to or from your computer. Documents are not stored encrypted. M-Files and eBridge, on the other hand, store your files encrypted with 256-bit AES, the same encryption standard used by the US federal government.
This isn’t to say that Google Drive is not secure. Your documents are still heavily protected at Google’s data centers. However, in order to be compliant with certain regulations, you may need to go with a alternative service. In these situations, we recommend eBridge.
How Document Management Software Works
Document management software is a way to store and share files securely. The 3 services we looked at are hosted services, which means your documents are stored on their servers, rather than your own. This typically makes your documents more secure, as they’re stored in a physically and digitally-protected location. Another key benefit is you get copies of your data stored on multiple hard drives (often in multiple data center locations) so you don’t have to worry about data loss from equipment failure or natural disasters, like an office fire or flood.
Besides the added security, document management systems also provide a way to easily organize and share your documents. You can sort files in folders or tag them with keywords. If you want to upload paper documents, you can scan them and run it through optical character recognition (OCR) that will read and save the document text. This enables you to search for documents by body text.
Each of these services allow you to add multiple users, so your employees can easily share and collaborate on documents. You can set access levels to control what each user can view or edit. To share documents with people outside your company, you can generate a secure link for them to view the file.
Document Management Software Cost
Document Management Software Security
As a business, the two main threats to your private information are hackers who access your documents from the outside and employees who comprise data from within.
Breaking it down further, there’s two main ways a hacker can access one of your files. They can intercept it while it’s being transferred to or from your computer, or they can hack the web server it is stored on. All of the services we reviewed send your files encrypted. So if somebody were to intercept them, they would receive your files and jumbled code.
Both M-Files and eBridge, however, also store your documents encrypted with 256-bit AES, the same encryption standard used by the U.S. federal government. So if hackers were to access the server, they still couldn’t read your files without your unique encryption key. Google does not store files encrypted.
The way to protect documents from users within your business is to set access permissions, which each of these services support. As a backup measure, each document is also embedded with an audit trail – an encrypted piece of data that tracks every action related to the document and logs the time and username. So if document does leak, you can use the audit trail to trace it back to a specific account, time and date.
Now, here’s how the three services compare:
Google Drive: SSL encryption is used when transferring files, but documents are not stored encrypted. Audit trails are saved, but only at the $10/user/month level.
M-Files has a sophisticated version management system. Although you can’t edit documents from within the browser interface, you can “check out” documents, so other users know you’re working on a new version. Once complete, you can upload it while the system hangs onto old versions. An activity log tracks who made the latest edits.
Document Management Software Compliance
The security measures of the best document management software can help keep some businesses compliant with the law. To protect private information, or to ensure documents aren’t tampered with, many industries require audit trails and other security measures for the storage of electronic documents. Here’s the specific regulations I came across:
● PCI Compliance is necessary for businesses who store credit card information, such as a merchant who tracks receipts.
● FDA 21 CFR Part 11 relates to businesses in pharmaceuticals and life sciences that are regulated by the FDA.
● Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) set requirements for publicly-traded companies to safely store electronic documents.
● HIPAA sets electronic document storage requirements for health care providers (including doctors, hospitals, clinics and more).
● ISO has requirements for the storage of electronic documents. These are not requirements by law, but you need to follow them for ISO certification.
Advanced Document Management Software Features
Here’s the advanced features offered by each document management system:
The Google Apps suite includes Business Email, Calendar, video conferencing and more. There’s also many 3rd party add-ons you can install, including apps that will encrypt your files in 256 AES (the same as M-Files and eBridge).
Best Document Management Software: The Bottom Line
For a low-cost web service, Google Drive is surprisingly powerful as the best document management software. Document editing and real time collaboration are unique tools you won’t find in the the other services. Also, Google Drive includes optical character recognition (OCR) scanning, HIPAA compliance, and 256-bit AES encryption (as a third party add on), which were features we thought you’d only find in the most advanced document management systems. The only reason we could think of why you might choose M-Files or eBridge is if you need to be compliant with set of standards Google Drive does not cover, such as PCI or FDA.