How to Redact PDFs Securely [It's Free and Online]

09 January 2022 by Anith eDiscovery redaction

Takeaway: Use GoldFynch to redact your PDFs securely. It’s online, free (you get to store and redact 512 MB worth of PDFs), and comes with bonus features like automatic OCR and metadata protection. And since it’s designed for eDiscovery, you can trust that the redactions are thorough and complete.

PDFs are usually expensive to redact – when you do it right.

You can redact paper documents using a sharpie to cross out sensitive text, but you can’t do that with a PDF. Or rather, you can (with a ‘virtual’ marker), but it’s easy for someone to undo later on. Of course, you could print the document, redact the paper version, and then scan it to make it electronic again. This will redact it thoroughly but it’s impractical when you’re dealing with dozens (or hundreds) of PDFs. So, if you want redactions that are thorough and convenient, you’d usually have to buy software like Adobe Acrobat Pro that has a redaction tool. And this can be expensive, especially since you’ll have to buy an entire suite of tools by default.

Thankfully, there’s a more affordable option. You can use eDiscovery software like GoldFynch to redact PDFs online, for free.

GoldFynch is an eDiscovery application designed for small and midsize law firms. And since redactions are an important part of eDiscovery, GoldFynch comes with a redaction tool that you can use on your PDFs. The bonus? You’re getting redactions thorough enough to submit for trial.

Step 1: Log into GoldFynch (it’s quick and easy)

GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you won’t have to download/install anything. Simply go to the GoldFynch signup page and zip through the quick signup process via your email address. You’ll get instant access to GoldFynch’s redaction tool and a free trial ‘case’ – i.e., 512 MB of online storage for your PDFs.

Step 2: Drag-and-drop PDFs into GoldFynch

You’ll load your PDFs into GoldFynch by dragging and dropping them into your web browser. It’s that simple! Of course, GoldFynch does a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes to index your files and make your data ‘searchable.’ It’ll also use optical character recognition (OCR) to capture text from scanned documents. (Remember, a scanned document is technically just a photograph of a page. So, you’ll need OCR to convert this ‘picture’ of text into actual text that a computer can process.)

Step 3: Search for text you want to redact

You’ll be able to manually scroll through your PDFs or use GoldFynch’s search engine to find the text you want to redact. And you can search for keywords, names, dates, phrases, and even file metadata. (Metadata is a file’s digital footprint that tracks its history – e.g., who created it, when it was created, who last opened it, etc.) This means you can give GoldFynch a very specific command like, ‘Find the PDFs that mention the ‘Anderson Meeting,’ but only those that were edited after January 2018.Learn more about GoldFynch’s search engine.

Step 4: Redact the text

You’ll redact sentences and paragraphs by drawing little black boxes over them. These boxes stay translucent while you’re editing and turn opaque once you’re done. GoldFynch also lets you auto-redact entire pages if you specify a page range. And it has a redaction manager that lets you move from redaction to redaction directly, without having to scroll through all the pages in-between.

Step 5: ‘Produce’ your PDFs

Once you’re done redacting, you’ll move on to ‘producing’ your PDFs. (‘Production’ is an eDiscovery term, but think of it as a way of finalizing your redactions.) You can either produce all your PDFs or use GoldFynch’s ‘tag’ feature to select specific ones. (Tags are virtual ‘sticky notes’ that you can add to your PDFs to help group them. You’ll be able to select entire batches of PDFs by clicking on the relevant tags. And you’ll also be able to tell GoldFynch to leave out files with specific tags. Learn more about tags.)

Step 6: Download and/or share your PDFs

You can download your PDFs as a ZIP file, or you can share them through GoldFynch via a download link. The advantage here is that you can invalidate the link at any point to revoke someone’s permission to access your files. Learn more about sharing productions.

But remember that GoldFynch can do more than just redact PDFs.

You can use GoldFynch’s search and tagging features to do more than just find text to redact. Upload a mix of files (email PSTs, Word documents, spreadsheets, archive files, etc.), and GoldFynch will help you sort through them, group similar documents, and gather the information that interests you.

Finally, if you need more storage space for your PDFs, you can instantly upgrade to one of GoldFynch’s paid cases.

To get more space, upgrade to a paid case beginning at 3 GB and going to 100 GB and beyond. Here are some reasons why this is worth it:

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?