Track PDF documents & files: track PDF opens, views & prints
How to track a PDF file using Safeguard Enterprise PDF Security
Track PDF opens (views) and prints and see how your PDF documents are being used.
Securely track PDF files – stop tracking being removed and know with certainty who is viewing them.
Track PDF opens & prints with Safeguard Enterprise PDF security software
How to track PDF opens & prints
Right-click on your PDFs in Windows File Explorer and select the menu option ‘Make Secure PDF’ to invoke Safeguard Secure PDF Writer.
In Safeguard Enterprise Secure PDF Writer, go to the Printing & Viewing tab:
- To track PDF opens, check the box ‘log document views’
- To track PDF prints (printing must be allowed), check the box ‘log print requests’
PDF Tracker Software
Using Enterprise PDF DRM Security software you can track PDF documents to see who has opened (viewed) and printed them.
- See what users are opening your documents
- See where they are being used and how often they are being viewed
- See when documents are being opened
- Track print use – see how often PDFs are printed, when and where
- Track PDF files no matter where they are stored or who they are sent to
- Prevent users from removing tracking controls
- Instantly revoke documents if you think they are being misused
Tracking PDF files & logging document use has never been easier.
Tracking PDF Files: how does it work?
Tracking PDF document use always sounds like a really neat idea. When you track a PDF it should tell you who opened or printed a document, when it was, and where they did it. At least in theory.
Why Track PDF documents?
There are normally three reasons for wanting to track PDF files:
- Marketing analysis – which are the most popular PDF documents in terms of how often they are read rather than just numbers sold. If you are tracking PDF opens then you can see if a document is opened lots of times by the same person.
- Authorized use – did someone unauthorized try to open a document, or an authorized person open it from a ‘strange’ location. So when you have a question about document distribution you can track PDF files and see where they went.
- Compliance – management standards such as ISO9000 have a requirement that documents have not simply been produced and distributed. By tracking PDFs it assists you to demonstrate full compliance with standards and regulation.
How to implement PDF Tracking
To track PDF opens you have two choices for how you do it. You could be using either a
- page server, handing individual pages down to a client
- reporting server that relays from the client when a document is opened (and maybe when it closes, but most likely not).
So the first thing to understand is when tracking PDF documents you are forcing recipients to always be online. Because the technology used to track PDF opens needs to ‘phone home’ to tell you what is happening.
For a business proposition this could be a disaster. Many people need offline access to documents, but a PDF tracker cannot see that. So tracking PDF ebooks and magazines may not be such a good idea.
Tracking a PDF document and privacy issues
Privacy is becoming a bigger issue. In many countries you must register what it is that you intend to collect if it relates to personal information – and in the EU the opinion is that anything linking a person to an IP address is personal data. You also have to register what you will use the data for, and ask the consumer for their informed consent to track PDF opens, views and prints. So you may have to set up a raft of policies and procedures before you can track PDF use.
This does not apply to business users, but it may be a fine point. Plenty of institutions, such as banks, do not, as a matter of policy, allow PDF tracking of documents used internally. Some PDF tracker products cannot be used in those environments.
Tracking PDF documents and identifying users
Finally, when tracking a PDF file, who is the recipient?
On a home PC or a laptop it is whoever is using it, although you don’t ever know who is actually sitting in front of the screen (unless proctoring software is installed, which is used to prevent cheating in online exams, tests and courses). For mobile devices, people are generally completely relaxed about letting others use them, so you may not be tracking what you think.
Secure data room systems that provide document tracking don’t really identify the user – they just identify a login. Users can share their login details with others so you have no idea who you are really tracking. Some systems such as Digify or DocSend automaticaly remove tracking if you let users download or print documents!
Tracking a PDF by IP or email address
It is useful to know where is the PDF document is that is being tracked – that can give you a clue if it is being shared with others.
Some theories say you can track PDF documents by IP address, but that doesn’t mean much if you are seeing an ISP with thousands of customers. Users also regularly change IP addresses, use a proxy to mask their real IP address, or can use a VPN to share the same IP address with others.
Similarly, PDF tracking by email address may not mean so much if it’s not a company email address since many people use freemail accounts to avoid identification and can share generic email accounts with others.
Why Safeguard to Track Opening of PDF Files, Views & Prints?
Safeguard to track PDF files vs PDF Tracker applications & PDF Analytic software
Protecting and tracking PDF files with Safeguard PDF security software is secure and simple.
As well as being able to track opening of PDF files and prints and stop tracking from being removed, Safeguard Enterprise PDF Security software enables you to:
- Stops users sharing PDFs and editing, copying and pasting content
- Stop printing or limit the number of prints
- Lock PDF files to specific devices and locations
- Make PDFs expire on a specific date, after a number of views, after a number of prints, or after a number of days from opening
- Stop screen grabbing applications and Windows print screen
- Watermark viewed and printed pages with dynamic user and system data
- Revoke PDFs at any time if you think they are being misused
Safeguard PDF security is much more than a PDF tracking solution – it enables you to distribute and/or sell PDFs securely and control their use regardless of their location.
Tracking PDF Documents
Track PDF opens
Track PDF prints
Best way to track views on PDF files
Most PDF tracking software or PDF analytic tracking software adds a tracking pixel to the PDF document to track when a PDF file has been opened. However, if users can print the document, they can ‘print to PDF’ and remove this. Even if print restrictions have been applied with PDF editing software (to prevent printing) the print restrictions can be removed with password recovery software. So clearly PDF tracking software that use a tracking pixel is not a good option.
Using PDF DRM is the best way to track views on PDF files if you want to make certain that:
- tracking cannot be removed
- you are tracking the intended person and not someone else
The Safeguard Secure PDF Reader (used to open protected PDF files and track PDF views and prints) locks protected documents to authorized devices and additionally controls the locations from where they can be viewed (e.g. the office only).
By using a secure PDF Reader you can therefore limit who can potentially view your documents and provide additional certainty that you are actually tracking the person you intended.
Safeguard Secure PDF Reader checks document access rights and controls in real-time so you can instantly revoke access if you feel that your PDF files are being misused.