Pros & Cons of DataSite: Analysis of a Top Virtual Data Room Software

What are the pros and cons of DataSite?
The pros and cons of DataSite are demonstrated by its efficient, secure virtual data storage. DataSite gives dealmakers granular access to and control on how documents can be shared. DataSite, however, needs to optimize its engine to support more users simultaneously uploading data.

Is DataSite your best bet to cover your M&A requirements? As one of the secure virtual data room solutions in the market, it certainly has a lot of features going for it. But other solutions may just be as robust, if not better. By looking into the pros and cons of DataSite, we will help you see if this is indeed the solution for you.

A virtual data room (VDR) can make your dealmaking life easier. While the name is reminiscent of an actual or physical location, a VDR is instead an online database. The increasing reliance on cloud services and computing makes VDRs extremely important to large enterprises.

We’ve laid out a detailed look at Merrill’s DataSite and how it differs from its contemporaries in the virtual data room software category. We’ll take a peek at its strengths, disadvantages, and real-life uses. We’ve done the legwork for you so you can judge whether DataSite is a good fit for the current requirements of your business.

datasite pros and cons

The increased dependence of businesses on cloud storage has given rise to the extraordinary growth of VDRs. As detailed on our cloud and document management statistics article, 80% of employees want a company’s files to be accessible and shared as needed. For certain organizations, however, your run-of-the-mill cloud storage won’t cut it. Highly-secure repositories of sensitive files and intellectual property documents need a more specialized solution.

When performing due diligence on M&As, most companies used to send reps to a secure location to review the particulars of a deal. VDRs have allowed such businesses to cut travel times and costs, while also improving security. As a result, multiple parties reach a resolution much faster, with better and more input than they used to have.

The industry’s market growth also reflects this growing need. According to IBISWorld, the VDR industry is expected to grow by about 6% year after year. This is a more modest estimate from their estimate of 10% in 2016. This growth, however, represents a $166 million revenue increase from 2016 to 2019.

Source: IBISWorld

What is DataSite?

merrill datasiteone dashboard example

Datasite is a virtual data room software. Like most modern applications, it’s SaaS-enabled.

Most software developers are now turning to SaaS, as evidenced by our paper on SaaS statistics and market share, and Merrill’s flagship software is no exception.

This application allows you to organize and convert your paper files into digital documents using OCR technology and then secure them in an online platform. This software also gives you the ability to share these digitized documents in batches or large volumes, as needed, to members of your enterprise or other parties. The vendor, however, doesn’t offer a free trial, only a free demo.

If you want to check its comprehensive feature set, you can easily sign up for Datasite free demo here.

Also, DataSite expedites transactions. As it’s a fully cloud-based solution, it allows you to get the pertinent information you need more quickly. The software not only gives you access to sensitive documents but also lets you set granular access control. What this means is that you can set rules and policies for each level of permission, with a breadth of permissible actions like viewing and editing sensitive information.

Merrill’s premier VDR software also complies with all industry standards. All the expected options for a VDR are there—secure sharing, storage, integration, navigation, and redaction—but it also gives you a few other exclusive functionalities. The software’s main advantage is its active development process, offering clients new, in-demand features every few months or so.

Detailed Merrill DatasiteOne Review

DataSite provides you with the following features:

  • Online file sharing
  • File indexing
  • Comprehensive search functions
  • Real-time permission control and reports
  • User access controls
  • Activity and user tracking
  • Integrated redaction
  • Cloud-based access and iOS native app
  • Q&A management
  • OCR with support for 11 languages
  • TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption
  • Custom dashboards

DataSite Advantages and Disadvantages

In any M&A process, searching for a relevant document should be both lightning-fast and precise. DataSite expedites such a process through an efficient and logical organization of files. The software’s indexing is one of the best in the business, which allows for the staging of content before the system indexes it.

But what’s impressive is not simply what’s under the hood. The application encourages QoL functionalities to make it easy for any user. For example, DataSite supports drag-and-drop uploading and sorting. It can even allow you to batch-upload entire directories (up to 50 GB in size) while retaining their structure. DataSite may need a small update to its engine, however, as it lags when multiple users upload vast volumes of data all at once.

You can even create files directly from the platform itself and publish them later. It also supports a native file viewer with customizable watermarks.

Like any VDR, DataSite also uses OCR to convert paper files to digital versions, but taken up a notch—its built-in OCR supports 11 languages. With its comprehensive search feature, DataSite can look at the content of the document itself, not merely the title. Its OCR search function is also 10 times faster than its contemporaries.

Dashboards and Analytics

DataSite gives you several choices when you want to visualize the data and the performance of the deal. The powerful analytics of the dashboard comes with several filters to sort data, such as by document, user, role, Q&A, and more—features you’d expect from full-fledged business intelligence tools. You can use these features to detect trends or develop insights using the system itself. Even better, you can request a customized dashboard for your particular needs, which may come with special filters and formatting.

customize datasiteone

Note DataSite’s filter drop-down list, which allows you to customize how you want to sort and view your projects.

What’s more, you can export your analytics (and visuals) to several local file types. These include PDFs and Excel spreadsheets. You can even attach them to emails. All in all, DataSite’s UX even enables users to have real-time answers regarding the specifics of the deal in an objective manner.

Best-in-Class Security

DataSite is no VDR if its security is lacking. The solution uses the most stringent security protocols when securing your data. DataSite boasts of ISO 27001 certification, with additional accreditation such as SSAE16 SOC 2 Type II and Privacy Shield. Its standards are also in line with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

As for the data itself, the software encrypts data on transit with the TLS 1.2 protocol. For its storage, DataSite protects your documents with AES 256-bit encryption. In addition, the software also uses two-factor authentication and mobile-based biometrics, when available, to secure all the details of your deal.

Integrated Redaction

DataSite has an integrated redaction tool. This is especially important in M&A due diligence, where some parts of a document are so sensitive that they cannot be divulged, even to another interested party. The software’s redaction is also flexible, allowing you to search for and mark images, notes, or text, and remove them as needed when the deal is concluded.

You can even find documents with redaction marks. Unlike other VDRs, DataSite’s redaction mark search is faster because it gives you additional search tools.

redaction marks, datasiteone

You can find documents, drafts, or any content that has redaction marks or auto-redact certain files that meet criteria.


DataSite employs a SaaS model, with a multi-tenant web app. This allows scalable, on-the-go performance and management. Web access is fully responsive so that you can view and use your account on your mobile.

This gives you total control over your documents as you would in your office desktop, with helpful displays such as the systems status that gives you a glimpse of the network’s state and uptime.

When people talk about the pros and cons of DataSite, support for mobile apps is one of the topics. The software currently only has a native mobile app for iOS, which can give you the same functionality as you would in web access. Support for Android may yet be forthcoming, but regardless of the OS, you can access the platform using a mobile browser.

Apple App Store page for DatasiteOne

The Apple App Store page for DataSite, taken on an iPad running iOS 13.

Granular Access and Permissions

DataSite allows you to set access and edit permissions at every level and user using role-based security rules. For example, you can set access policies for uploading, viewing, downloading, and printing documents. You can track file access per user, which includes information such as the last user who viewed it and what changes have been made on a particular file.

The program also features a landing page, on which you can see your projects in one unified display. From here, you can set permissions in real-time or share files. What’s more, you can access these even on mobile, with support for up to 14 languages.

Round-the-Clock Customer Support

Merrill has a 24/7 customer support, with a variety of channels you can use to contact them. Whether chat, email, phone, or even in-person, you can reach resolutions for your burning questions with their helpful staff. Even better, their customer support agents can speak up to 15 languages, which makes it easy for users whose native tongue is not English.

DataSite: Is It Worth the Purchase for Your Business?

A company that’s looking for M&As needs a complete solution for dealmakers on both sides. A virtual data room software can help you in this regard. It can facilitate the exchange of and access to documents that either side requires due diligence and can also act as a repository for the agreements and records that have been made in the process. Plus, once you reach a deal, your VDR can also act as a secure database for any file you wish to protect.

Looking at the pros & cons of any VDR should be a priority. In this regard, DataSite is a sound choice, as it ticks all the boxes you require for your virtual data room. It has best-in-class security, with mobile access thanks to its cloud deployment. It also allows for easy indexing and fast retrieval of files and an OCR system that supports multiple languages. Lastly, its customer support is one of the best in this category, offering 24/7 assistance with multiple channels.

Don’t just rely on our pros and cons of DataSite article. To see if the software is right for you. You can sign up for DataSite free demo and see what the software offers in practice.

Also, a VDR is just one of the B2B solutions when you want to fully migrate to the cloud. As it happens, we have a complete list of cloud management software that you can peruse. Our list may help you find a solution that can complement your choice of DataSite.

Stephanie Seymour

By Stephanie Seymour

Stephanie Seymour is a senior business analyst and one of the crucial members of the FinancesOnline research team. She is a leading expert in the field of business intelligence and data science. She specializes in visual data discovery, cloud-based BI solutions, and big data analytics. She’s fascinated by how companies dealing with big data are increasingly embracing cloud business intelligence. In her software reviews, she always focuses on the aspects that let users share analytics and enhance findings with context.

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