The pitfalls of keeping paper records are many. It can be difficult to keep them organized, know when to reduce archives, and find the space to store them all. Luckily, most businesses are going fully digital. However, that raises the question of what to do with your old paper records, or any new physical documents you might receive.
Document management software helps you to digitize paper records and organize them in a way that provides seamless access to any users who might require it. You can also continuously edit and update documents in these systems, generally storing previous versions so you can keep track of changes over time. There are many things to consider when selecting a document management system, though, so we examined dozens of vendors to find the best ones on the market in 2019.
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Best Low-Cost System
eFileCabinet Online is a cloud-based solution that allows remote employees to log in from any computer with internet access and have the exact same functionality as they do when working from the office. In fact, we selected eFileCabinet last year as the best document management system for businesses with a remote workforce. It has a sophisticated mobile app that provides access to every stored file. The system uses a traditional cabinet-folder filing structure and provides several ways to search for documents. eFileCabinet Online is available in three pricing plans, which vary in features and storage. Go here for a full review of the eFileCabinet Online document management system. To read our review of the software we chose last year, Dokmee, click here.
M-Files is a comprehensive document management system that contains numerous features to help businesses organize documents, digitize large volumes of physical documents and automate several workflow processes. The interface is modeled off Windows Explorer and easy to learn. Rather than being sorted into folders, documents are assigned metatags that allow quick and easy searching. M-Files offers an on-premise, cloud-based or hybrid system. Go here for a full review of the M-Files document management system.
FileHold's self-hosted document management system is accessible to businesses just starting out, thanks to its one-time payment and financing options. The system is easy to use for employees who are used to a Windows Explorer interface. It's simple to file documents away and even easier to search for them when needed. FileHold offers nearly every feature businesses need from a document management system, including collaboration tools, multiple remote-access options and numerous security restrictions. Go here for a full review of the FileHold self-hosted document management system.
Alfresco One offers document management systems in on-premises, cloud or hybrid models and supports automated workflows and secure collaboration on all platform types. The software supports a wide range of document types, including digital files, scanned documents, photos and videos. All automated workflows and collaboration can be synced in the cloud, so all users see updates and changes in real time. With the hybrid solution, users can collaborate both inside and outside the company firewall at the same time without missing a beat, making Alfresco One our best pick for document management software for team collaboration. Go here for a full review of the Alfresco One document management system.
To help you find the right document management system, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our 2019 best picks and an explanation of how we chose them.
Locating the Best Services
To determine the best document management systems, we started with a pool that included all the vendors on the list below. After some preliminary research, which included looking at other best-picks lists and researching each system, we interviewed small business owners and discovered more vendors to add to our list.
Choosing the Best Services
Next, we researched each provider by investigating its services, watching tutorials and how-to videos, testing out the system when possible, and reading user comments. We also considered the pricing listed on these services' websites. After narrowing down the list to 11 contenders, we contacted each company's customer service department by phone, or live chat if possible, and posed as new business owners to gauge the type of support each provider offers.
Researching Each Service
Our process involves putting ourselves in the mindset of a small business owner and gathering the data that would be readily available to such an individual. We evaluated ease of use, whether the solution was on-premises or cloud-hosted, the file cabinet structure, search capabilities, scanning options, editing abilities, collaboration tools, security measures, integration options, workflow abilities, mobile access, customer service, and, finally, cost.
Previous Best Picks
In the past, we've selected companies for a wide range of best pick use cases. Some of our picks have changed, but if you'd like to more thoroughly review your options, you can still see our previous best picks below.
Agiloft is available as a cloud-based or self-hosted system. It offers features such as full text search of documents and their attached files, a graphical workflow editor, revision tracking with check-in and checkout control, full audit trails, and email integration.
Alfresco Content Services's workflow automation and collaboration tools make it an effective document management system for working in teams, earning it our pick as the best document management software for collaboration.
Box is a cloud platform that allows businesses to securely store, share and manage all their company files. With this system, small businesses can collaborate on any kind of document or media file. It supports more than 200 file types, including PowerPoint, spreadsheet, PDF, image, video and audio files. Box allows you to organize files using a familiar structure that's easily tailored and lets you invite co-workers to view folders and customize their level of access.
Computhink's Contentverse is made for companies of all sizes. The system stores all contents in a digital file cabinet and allows you to retrieve any file quickly, even if you remember just a sliver of its name or contents. The system lets you view more than 400 file types, regardless of whether you have the native app on your computer. The company's conversion team can even scan all your company's existing paper documents into the system for you. The software is compatible with all mobile devices and integrates with Microsoft Office.
DEVONtechnologies' DEVONthink Pro Office only works on Mac, but it lets you share data with both Mac and PC users. This system keeps all information in one easy-to-back-up database and presents it to you in a variety of ways optimized for your work style. The software automatically files new documents for you based on how you filed similar documents. The advanced search function retrieves the documents you need for your task, while smart groups present related files together. With DEVONthink, you can view all your data in one place and write in a rich-text editor.
AscendoSoft's DigitalDrawer is on-premises, secure digital filing software. Businesses use it to electronically store, organize, find and manage documents. The software is typically used in various small and midsize businesses, such as retail, manufacturing, real estate, car dealerships and education.
Doccept is a multiuser system that allows organizations to streamline business processes. The system uses the latest Java and web technologies, which enables it to be a cross-platform application. Doccept is accessible over a local area network or the broader internet. It doesn't require any client-level installation. The system is mobile-friendly and can be used on both iOS and Android tablets. Doccept allows unlimited documents, folders, workflows, document metadata properties, document types, roles, groups and users.
DocPoint Professional Edition is a document and imaging management solution for small businesses that deal with large volumes of paper documents, computer-generated files and email correspondence. The software is installed on the organizational server, and each workstation is securely connected to the server. DocPoint adapts to meet multidepartmental needs while allowing users to maintain established and preferred procedures. It can capture a large volume of information, as well as retrieve documents and records quickly.
DocStar's document management system is available as self-hosted software or a cloud-based solution. The service offers specific solutions for a variety of industries, including insurance, financial services, healthcare, real estate and property management, manufacturing, legal, nonprofit, education, banking and financial institutions, and the public sector.
Document management software comes in varying degrees of complexity and diverse price points. For small businesses, the enterprise solutions might be too expensive or unwieldy. Here's a look at the best document management software for small businesses.
Docsvault is a complete document management solution that allows you to capture, centralize, manage and secure all your paper documents, electronic files and emails. The system allows you to access data outside your office using any web browser or an Android or iOS mobile device. The software features electronic document workflows, version control, document profiling and tagging, audit trails, and email notifications.
Document Locator by ColumbiaSoft is available as an on-premises or cloud-based document management system. Version control, document workflow, paperless scanning, email management and a full complement of document control features are included in the system. The software is built right into Microsoft Windows Explorer and Microsoft Office.
Ricoh's cloud-based DocumentMall offers features such as full text search, document type indexing, auditing, check-in and checkout options, and workflow capabilities. You can access documents whenever and wherever you need them using PCs, BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads.
DocuPhase's document management software features full text search, automated document routing and auto-indexing. The system links to your existing business software and applications, which means your documents and records are updated once and then pushed to your other databases and systems. Included with the document management system is a "lite" version of DocuPhase's Workflow Automation software, which allows document routing and workflows.
DocuVantage's cloud-based system includes document capture, imaging, archiving, optical character recognition, full text search, annotation, redaction, collaboration and version control. DocuVantage has four service plans, each of which includes 1GB of storage per user. The system can store a wide variety of document types, including word processor files, photographs, scanned images of paper documents, text and graphics files, contractual documents, marketing files, spreadsheets, PDFs, customer service and maintenance records, patents, patient and legal records, engineering drawings, student transcripts, accounting and product development records, and material safety data sheets.
DocuWare can be hosted on your own server or in the cloud. Paper or digital documents arrive in electronic baskets that mimic the inbox on your desk. You can sort, organize, staple or clip them together, and add notes, comments, signatures and stamps before the documents are filed away in digital cabinets. DocuWare's indexing features automatically ensure all document types are filed away in the right place.
Dokmee Cloud from Office Gemini has multiple editions targeted to companies of all sizes. It can run in a Windows-based intranet, as a web-hosted system or on a software-as-a-service model. The system is designed for various purposes, including document capture and storage, search and retrieval, and file sharing. You can automatically create folders from index fields and store an unlimited number of files in each folder. You can also index documents and folders for easy search and retrieval. Additional features include email management, an audit log and the ability to annotate.
You can use Dropbox's user-friendly interface and cloud storage for your office's document management needs. The standard version provides you with 2TB of storage, which you can upgrade to unlimited storage. Dropbox integrates with Office 365. Additional business features include file backup, recovery, administrative tools and two-step authentication.
DynaFile's scan-to-cloud software uses metadata properties to index every document added to the system. You can store an unlimited number of documents and access them anytime from your web browser. DynaFile offers a completely configurable search method to find the documents you are looking for quickly and easily. The textual search area allows you to define how you classify and categorize documents, with as many indexing fields and types as you require. You can set access permissions for individual users or groups of users and apply them to specific types of documents.
DocXellent's ENSUR is a commercial off-the-shelf, web-based document control and quality management software system. Document version control, workflow, change controls, packaging specifications, standard operating procedures, nonconformance investigations, corrective and preventive actions, training, and other quality procedures are swiftly automated by ENSUR. The software's multilayered security model and comprehensive audit trail keep your documents in the hands of only the people with the proper rights to access them. The software is available as a cloud-based or on-premises solution.
Easy PDF provides users with a straightforward website that can turn a PDF into many different file formats. Word documents can also be turned into PDFs. The service also offers the ability to merge and compress PDFs if needed. The website says users have no limits on the PDF conversions.
Enadoc is a cloud-based document management system. Users can create libraries before capturing documents and then store the documents in the libraries. From there, you can locate documents by clicking on the tag that contains all the keywords assigned to the document, and give colleagues permission to access the documents they need.
Lucion's FileCenter Pro uses a familiar cabinet/drawer/folder design for organizing files. But FileCenter also provides an Explorer view for those who prefer a traditional Explorer layout. The system can store any kind of Windows file and is fully compatible with most cloud service providers.
FileHold is our pick for the best document management system for small business. FileHold can support as many users as needed. Its suite of features allows document scanning, capture, indexing, storage, search, versioning, and document workflow review and approval. It can be installed locally on your server or in the cloud. Integrated with Microsoft Office, FileHold works on your desktop, browser and mobile device.
eBridge is a cloud-based document management system. You can access all the information stored in your electronic filing cabinets via web browser. eBridge allows you to attach or import images from any scanner, office copier or multifunction printer. You can search with up to seven key fields, find documents from your mobile device and search text in PDFs. The system allows unlimited users, storage and retrievals. All data includes an audit trail and is encrypted when stored.
eDoc Organizer offers three types of solutions: a cloud edition, which allows secure access to documents from anywhere using any device; an on-premises edition, which allows you to store documents on your computers; and an enterprise edition, which provides secure access from anywhere while still being housed on your corporation's server. Features include optical character recognition, a comprehensive search engine, audit logs and version control.
Canto's Flight is an on-premises or cloud-based digital asset management system that allows you to store, organize, track and repurpose your branded assets, such as photography, videos, rich graphics, 3D imagery, text documents and presentations. Users can create workflows to organize and deliver assets or access content from anywhere and any device.
FossLook is an electronic document management solution that can organize, secure and manage all your business's documents. Key features include an integrated mail server, customizable document types and folders, document collaboration, workflows, templates for printing documents, and a log of document history and statistics. The system also allows businesses to link documents together and provide specific employees access to certain files and documents.
Fujitsu's PaperStream Capture Pro is front-end capture software. It automates documents by offering seamless front-end capture, image enhancement, and organized, indexed and extracted data for release. The software, in combination with Fujitsu's Fi Series document scanners, automates processes that were once manual, including document separation, image cleanup, data extraction, indexing and validation. The solution is easy to set up, with no IT resources required. PaperStream Capture Pro is customizable and scalable. It's designed for any paper-intensive business, big or small. Fujitsu also offers PaperStream Server, a web-based document processing platform that enables organizations to scan, import, process, tag and introduce business-critical content into enterprise content management systems.
Google's suite of applications, including unlimited storage, is available for business and enterprise use. Along with using your business email through Gmail, video and voice conferencing, a shared calendar, and the rest of Google's ecosystem, you get an expanded version of Google Drive. Features include versioning, archiving and data loss prevention.
Square 9's Global Search is document management software for small and midsize businesses. With its modular design, the software offers flexibility in both pricing and configuration by allowing organizations to select only the tools needed for their specific business application. All documents are securely deposited in the archives you designate. You dictate permissions and determine who has access to your files and what they can do with them.
Greenbox serves as Discus Business Solutions' document management system. The platform helps companies keep their data secure and stored. The business, which is based in India, includes features like cloud storage, system and administrative authority measures, and search tools on Greenbox.
HyperOffice's document management system allows you to store, organize, search, collaborate and manage access to documents from any web-enabled PC or Mac. You can store documents online in a familiar structure, set permissions on who has access to which files, and share documents with colleagues and clients. Added features include version controls, full text searches and online data backup.
eQuorum's ImageSite is a single-source document management system. Installation is simple and typically completed in a few days. The ImageSite suite includes document management software tailored to your industry and unique business requirements. Using ImageSite: Business Management With Workflow and Lifecycle allows organizations to productively manage all files throughout their life cycles. This system also works well with large engineering files like CAD and scanned drawings.
Active Innovations' InfoRouter is on-premises, fully browser-based document management software. InfoRouter includes workflow, document routing, electronic forms, scanning, storage, archiving, indexing and records management modules under a single integrated software suite.
Lennox Hill's isoTracker enables businesses to take an automated approach to document management. This web-based system provides a central repository to store and organize documents. Integrated workflow tools are used to upload, review, approve, check out, modify and access documents from any location in a controlled way. Automatic email notifications ensure that tasks are communicated instantly, while integrated analytics and reports provide information on each document from the time it's created until it's superseded by the next version.
Konica Minolta's Enterprise Content Management system allows you to manage documents and control the auditing and access of data. Its automated workflow solutions can scan, process and index documents, allowing you to cut down on paper waste and boost efficiency. You can monitor certain tasks or documents and get alerts when things change.
Laserfiche Enterprise Content Management allows organizations to securely manage and share documents, videos, photos and other content. You can update documents, add document annotations, redact confidential information and change document metadata from a single interface. It includes the ability to add, view and modify document metadata to index, search and retrieve documents.
LogicalDOC can be hosted on your own server or in the cloud, and it can be installed on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It contains a web-based user interface that allows file sharing, setting security roles, and finding and auditing enterprise records. Features include full-text indexing, version controls, check-in and checkout functionality, retention policies, and incremental backups.
MaxxVault provides cloud-based and self-hosted electronic document management systems to companies of all sizes in more than 25 industries. The system can be scaled as needed, from just a few features for a single department to a full-blown, enterprise-wide installation. The system organizes documents based on index criteria and tracks each document's access and activity.
NetDocuments offers a suite of tools for document creation, organization and editing. You can organize documents across cabinets, tags, folders or workspaces. The cloud-based system also lets you conduct full-text enterprise searches, including search analysis, metadata, phrase and proximity searching.
Nuance's PaperPort Professional 14 is a complete solution for scanning, converting, organizing, assembling, and sharing documents and photos on a PC or on the go. The system's All-in-One Search uses optical character recognition technology to let you easily find scanned PDF documents, and even digital photos, anywhere on your local PC or network. The system includes the Nuance Cloud Connector, which adds connectivity to more than 20 online services. The software is compatible only with Windows computers.
OnBase by Hyland is a flexible document management system you can tailor to meet your business needs and grow with your organization over time. Apart from using it to store, secure and organize your documents, you can access documents anytime and from anywhere on the device of your choice, review and approve workflow processes online, and keep a full audit trail of your documents.
OpenKM allows businesses to control the production, storage, management and distribution of electronic documents. The system includes administration tools to keep detailed logs of activity, set automations, and define the roles of various users, their access control, user quotas and the level of document security. Some other features it includes are automatic cataloging, automatic metadata capture, optical character recognition, version control, tracking and barcode reading.
OpenText's enterprise content management systems are available on-premises, across mobile devices and in the cloud. OpenText's Content Suite is a set of enterprise content management technologies, including a platform that unites capture, document and records management. It also includes workflow, search and archiving tools; auto-classification; contract management; and engineering document management.
PSIGEN's PSIsafe (formerly Cabinet SAFE) is a completely paperless document management solution. The system is available as licensed software either installed on your server or hosted in PSIGEN's secure, private cloud. Both versions are configured with each installation, creating a tailored solution for all organizations. This document management system lets you access and use any document, anywhere, anytime. The software integrates directly with a wide variety of third-party programs, including accounting software, email clients and customer relationship management suites.
PaperTracer automates workflows by integrating paper and digital documents into a centralized database. The tracking and reporting capabilities simplify audit procedures to support management and regulatory compliance requirements. The system is available in two versions: PaperTracer Enterprise, which allows you to choose from customizable templates or create your unique integrated solution, and PaperTracer Express, which offers the most commonly needed templates that are the right size for small and midsize businesses.
Paperless is a simple electronic system that helps you convert your paper files into digital documents, and organizes all those digital documents and files in one library. Once you've scanned and imported your documents and files, Paperless allows you to input metadata to help you search for your files later. You can sort files into categories and subcategories, adding as many tags as you need to each file. Additional features include the ability to integrate your email program and send documents to employees and clients directly. Paperless is available for both Windows and Mac.
PinPoint is a cloud-based or self-hosted system that does not need any workstation installations and can be run from any PC (Windows 7 or higher), Mac, iPad, iPhone or tablet. The system files documents automatically, allows batch processing, and gives you the ability to search content and metadata to locate documents and files instantly. PinPoint also integrates with popular applications such as Dropbox, Salesforce, Google Drive, OneDrive, SharePoint and QuickBooks.
Imagetek's Radix is a secure, hosted document management software service that is accessible through a web browser. All your content is indexed and can be retrieved through an easy-to-use interface. You can also use your current internal databases and software.
The ShareDocs Enterpriser document management system lets you create, share, preserve, procure and manage official documents. The system is meant for all sizes of enterprises, geographically distributed companies and enterprises where critical information is locked away in physical documents. With the system, users can search with a word or phrase from the title of that document. Because it has a provision for hierarchy-specific access, people in every component of the organization can only access data permissible to their roles.
Speedy Organizer Enterprise is a complete digital document management system that operates on Windows and Windows Network Servers with up to 200 users. Speedy Organizer automatically applies filing rules to digital documents that already exist in a Windows file folder, as well as when they are being scanned in and created from paper originals. The software allows you to choose where your documents can be stored: on your local computer, on a server, on a network storage device or anywhere in the cloud, including Google Docs and Microsoft OneDrive.
Thru is a file-sharing and collaboration platform that allows enterprises to securely access, manage and share documents from web browsers, mobile devices and business applications, such as Microsoft Outlook, IBM Notes, Microsoft SharePoint and Salesforce. The platform is available as a cloud-based or on-premises solution. With Thru, companies can streamline large-scale business projects by categorizing files of any size based on project name within shared folders. You can prevent unauthorized deletions and changes with the system's access rights and permission controls.
Xerox's DocuShare is a cloud-based or self-hosted system that is available in various versions. Designed specifically for small businesses, DocuShare Express automatically indexes document content and properties for easy search and retrieval. With this system, employees can review the latest versions of materials 24/7 from a web browser in any location.
Optix's Workstation by Mindwrap is available for both Windows and Mac OS X. The system allows all users to scan, index, view, search and store documents. The system includes check-in and checkout tools, and processes workflow items.
Zoho Docs is an online document management system where you can store all your files securely in a centralized location and access them from anywhere on any device. You can upload, store, create, edit, share and view files such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations, pictures, music and videos. Tools such as shared folders, tasks and groups provide a collaborative environment for you and your team. You can also collaborate on documents in real time.