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FileHold Review: Best Document Management for Windows

Our 2017 research and analysis of document management systems leads us to again recommend FileHold as the best document management system for businesses using Windows. We chose FileHold from a pool of the dozens of document management systems we considered. To read our full methodology and for a more comprehensive list of document management systems, visit our best picks roundup page.

FileHold is designed specifically with Windows in mind. The software, which is full of impressive features, uses the same filing structure as Windows Explorer. This makes adjusting to the system easy for employees.

What makes FileHold so appealing to small businesses using Windows computers is that it has the same look and feel of programs they're already accustomed to. The filing structure incorporates the same cabinet, drawer, folder and subfolder approach that Windows uses. Once installed, employees should be able to quickly get up to speed on how to use and navigate the system.

We were impressed with the system's clean interface. Unlike other systems that are cluttered with icons and images, all you see when you log in is the document library running down the left-hand side of the page and a search bar along the top. Filing, searching and reviewing documents is all done from this same page. Many of the other systems we examined force you to toggle back and forth between pages, depending on what you're working on.

The FileHold library structure is designed with Windows Explorer in mind.

We found the system's MyFileHold folders to be extremely helpful. These are separate folders located on top of the general library of cabinets and drawers for  users' "favorite" documents, their checked-out files, any alerts or reminders they have, the files they recently accessed and the documents they recently added to the system. This provides a quick snapshot of the documents currently being worked on and the items that need immediate attention.

Editor's Note: Are you looking for information on document management systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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FileHold allows for a good amount of customization, as employees can tailor portions of the system to their personal preferences. Quick links can be customized for a variety of tasks, such as adding files, linking documents together and checking out files. Additionally, you can choose the specific metadata attributes — like document type, version, number of linked files and the author — that are shown alongside the file's name.

Filing documents in the system can be done in multiple ways. You can drag-and- drop files already on your computer or network, as well as scan documents directly into the system. The Microsoft Office integration allows you to add documents you are working on in Word, Excel, Outlook or PowerPoint with just a click of a button.

Once in the system, documents are placed in an inbox. Here, you define its metadata attributes and choose the location in which you want it filed. FileHold offers a multitude of attributes that can be attached to each file. We like that you can select different properties for different types of documents. For example, attributes for invoices may include the client the invoice is for and the date it's due to be paid, while brochures may have properties like who created it and when it was added to the system.

FileHold offers several easy ways to quickly find the documents you're looking for. The easiest option is to type in words or phrases you are looking for in a document into the main search bar, which is similar to the Google search bar. This searches the entire library of files. However, instead of only bringing back documents with the exact wording of what you searched for, this option returns results that include synonyms, stemming words and words that are closely associated with your original search terms. When the results are returned, you can click on a file, and a preview box highlights the words you were searching for, so you can quickly see if it's the document you need. You can also conduct advanced searches that allow you to look for files based on metadata attributes.

FileHold allows you to search for files based on the meta data attributes you define when filing documents away.



Few document management systems offer more features and tools than FileHold. It has nearly everything that not just a small business, but a business of any size, would want from document management software.

We were especially impressed with the numerous collaboration tools, which include a check-in and -out feature that blocks more than one person from working on the same document at the same time. You can also set alerts that automatically notify co-workers when documents are checked in and out or when changes are made to files.

In addition, the software keeps an audit log of everyone who accesses each file and when they do so, and allows workers to review previous versions of documents after changes have been made.

For businesses with remote employees, the system can be accessed from anywhere, via any Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When users are logged in remotely, the software allows them to search, retrieve and work on any document saved in the system. Not all of the self-hosted systems we examined offered this range of remote access.

To ensure employees are only seeing the files and documents they're supposed to, FileHold offers a choice of 11 different security roles, ranging from "read-only" to "system administration."  You also can set specific access permissions for entire cabinets and folders, as well as for individual files.

Some other standard features include a calendar that keeps track of uncompleted tasks, the option to virtually link files in the system and scanning software that automatically converts the text on typed paper documents into editable and searchable data.

There are also a number optional features that can be purchased for an added cost, including workflow capabilities, the option to create guest accounts for short-term "read-only" users, and electronic signature functionality.

Since FileHold is a self-hosted system, most of the costs are just one-time fees. The price is broken up into several parts, with charges for the software, user licenses and installation, implementation and training.

The system is offered in two different pricing plans: FileHold Express and FileHold Enterprise. The express plan is designed for businesses with 20 or fewer employees, while the enterprise plan accommodates larger businesses. Both plans offer the same exact user experience, features and tools. The difference is in the pricing structure.

The one-time costs for FileHold Express are:

  • Server software: $3,750 (includes five users and six months of support).
  • Additional licenses: $200 each, up to 20 users. Includes web and desktop document viewers

Besides the server software and license fees, the enterprise plan also includes concurrent session costs. These determine how many users can access the system at one time. The one-time costs for FileHold Enterprise are:

  • Server software: $4,400.
  • Concurrent sessions: $400 each.
  • Registered users: $60 each. Includes web and desktop document viwers

The other major portion of the one-time fee is for installation, implementation and training. FileHold offers three levels of this service that range from $1,200 for 8 hours of support and training, to $3,600 for 24 hours of support and training.

Additional one-time costs include fees for any optional features you may want. The prices, which vary for each feature, are determined by your total software, user license and support costs. For example, the workflow feature is 10 percent of your initial price. 

The system also includes access to "Courier," a secure, audited document workflow and transmission tool. This feature allows you to securely share documents without sending them as an attachment. Each transmission costs about 8 cents.

The only recurring cost is for ongoing support. You have the option of paying a yearly fee that gives you upgrades to the software and ongoing technical support. This cost is 20 percent of your original fee.

Since the cost might be too much for a small business to handle at one time, FileHold offers both interest-free financing and rental options. These payment plans weren't something most of the other systems we analyzed offered.

Overall, we were very pleased with the level of customer service we received from FileHold. To gauge what customers can expect from the support team, we called the company multiple times posing as a new business owner interested in document management systems.

When we called the first time, we were taken aback when we were told that, to learn more about the system, we would have to send the company an email. Of all of the document management system providers we contacted, this was the first time we were told that, to get our questions answered, we would need to send an email first. Initially, we were put off by this request, but the level of service we received after this was prompt and outstanding.

We immediately sent an email to FileHold requesting to speak with someone about the software. To our pleasant surprise, a member of the company's support team replied within 10 minutes. Instead of trying to answer all of our questions in an email, he asked if he could give us a call to discuss them over the phone. He called us just 2 minutes later and walked us through how the system works and the pricing structure.

While some providers made us feel as though we were wasting their time, this representative seemed more than happy to take as long as was needed to answer our questions. During our call, we discussed the features the system offers, how to use the system, setup time, the type of support offered and the costs. Rather than providing us with short, one-word answers, as some of the other providers we spoke with did, the FileHold representative gave us lengthy and well-defined responses to our questions that left us with a very clear understanding of not only what the system offers, but how much it costs.

To ensure the company was still offering a high level of service, we made a second round of calls several months later. This time around, instead of asking us to send in an email, our call was immediately transferred to a representative who was able to answer all of our questions. We spoke in detail about the pricing structure, many of the features, mobile access and customer support. By the end of our call, we were just as pleased, if not more so, with the service FileHold offered.

At the end of each of our calls the representatives encouraged us to test out the system's free trial, schedule a demo of the software and watch one of the numerous videos the company has on its website.

We found the videos extremely helpful. While most document-management companies have online videos, very few have the variety FileHold does. The company has more than 20 different short videos on specific functions of the system. For example, there is a video on just the interface, one on how to search for documents and another on the Microsoft Office integration. Instead of trying to cram everything into one long and hard-to-understand presentation, FileHold broke everything out, and we found that method easier to understand.

Once your system is up and running, you can contact FileHold's customer support team via email or by submitting a help ticket online. (Phone service is not an option.) There are also extensive resources on the company's website, including a series of user guides. In addition, the software includes built-in access to help guides.

The biggest potential downside to FileHold is the cost. This is not a cheap system. For businesses with even just five users — the minimum allowed — the software and installation will cost you at least $5,000. Plus, if you want ongoing upgrades and support, you will have to pay another $1,000 annually. However, the company does offer interest-free financing and rental options to make things easier on businesses not prepared to spend all of that money at one time.

Another possible shortcoming is that customer support is available only via email and online. Even though the we received an extremely quick response when we emailed, some businesses might be turned off by not being able to pick up the phone and call someone for help.

It's also important to note that this system isn't compatible with Mac computers. If your office is Mac-based, we would encourage you to consider either our best document management system for small businesses or our best document management system for businesses using Macs.

Ready to choose a document management system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: Are you looking for information on document management systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.