If you are frequently tasked with redaction as part of your role, you know how tedious and time-consuming it can be.
As such, many redactors are in need of a tool that redacts sensitive data from documents quickly, efficiently and often turn to PDF editors. I know, because I’ve been there too. In fact, that’s what led me here!
In this article, we will explore what actually happens when you search “redact PDF online” and how to find a tool for proper pdf redaction and why I decided to get involved.
Basic PDF tools that miss the mark on redaction
When I first searched “redact PDF online”, I saw three ads. The first ad is a standard PDF editor that offers the usual PDF tools — edit PDFs online, convert PDF to Word, write text in PDF online. Unfortunately, it’s not what I was looking for, since I specified redaction in my search query.
The second ad took me to a Chrome extension, which is a simple PDF editor. In the opening line of the description, it states, ‘Easily edit, annotate, eSign and transform any PDF from Google Drive into a fillable PDF form’. If you scroll further down, it lists all the features the extension offers but the closest thing you get to a redaction tool is ‘Blackout and erase sensitive information in a PDF’. As we’ve mentioned in the past ‘blackout and erase’ does not constitute permanent redaction and could leave sensitive data vulnerable. So, while this tool is closer to what we’re looking for, it doesn’t truly redact.
The final ad is the same as the previous one, taking you to the exact same page as before. So far, I’ve clicked on three ads and have yet to find anything that will properly redact my PDF document.
At this point, it is easy to see that the advertised tools are better positioned to deliver on basic pdf editing. However, I still need to redact a pdf - which means that I have one of two options: 1) use the blackout/erase tool in the second ad or to keep looking.
I decided to keep looking.
PDF editing tools don’t work for redaction!
Once I’ve gotten past the ads, I now have organic search results. The first is a tool that seems promising. It’s got a 4.5-star rating from a total of 99 people. Once I’ve clicked on it, it says it’s quick and easy, platform friendly and offers private processing, meaning no files are downloaded or stored on the server.
To test it out, I pulled up the document I wanted to redact, selected the words I wanted to permanently remove, clicked the “redact” button and waited for the tool to work its magic. It told me my document was done and ready for download. I was feeling hopeful because of how simple everything was. Then I checked my downloaded document and the words I had redacted had not been…redacted.
I tried again, and the same thing happened. It could, of course, be human error, but it seems bizarre to me that I followed all the instructions and yet, my document still had confidential information visible.
At this point, I decided to move on and find a different tool.
I clicked on numerous links and explored various websites. Soon,I realized that there are a lot more PDF tools out there offering something similar to redaction, as opposed to actual standalone redaction tools. This, of course, is not ideal but as long as it gets the job done, right? Not quite. Almost every website I visited asked me to sign up, log in, download something, and unzip files. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad but when you’re looking for a quick solution, it’s not ideal. Many of the solutions were not able to deliver on promises, leading to me to filter through several websites and sign up for numerous free trials to find a tool that I liked.
The more I searched, the more I realised that a quick, easy-to-use and permanent redaction solution was very difficult to find.
That’s why I decided to create my own.
What to look for in a tool for redacting PDFs
Manual redaction can be a long, tedious and ineffective process subject to human error. “Black out” or “erase” functions may appear to remove sensitive information from a document, but often the information is simply covered up by a removable box and still exists in the documents metadata. That’s why permanent redaction is the most important element of a redaction tool for pdf or other document types containing sensitive information.
The redaction tool that I built in response to market needs.
I built Redactable because I needed an easy-to-use, permanent redaction tool. Redactable helps you quickly and easily make permanent redactions to ensure all confidential data is truly erased for good. Redactable makes it easy to redact documents right from your browser, no downloads required!We automate the redaction process from start to finish, creating a user-friendly experience for everyone. You don’t have to be a redaction expert because our intuitive software makes everything simple!
Try Redactable out for yourself, click here.