Best Data Discovery Tools

A typical modern-day business will have large amounts of data spread across numerous storage sites. And, the bigger the business is, the more critical it will be that they have instant access to it at mission-critical decision times

The best data discovery tools in this post will help such businesses rein in their data assets and better leverage the information they have at hand.

Here’s our list of the eight best data discovery tools:

  1. ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus EDITOR’S CHOICE This on-premises software package discovers sensitive data and categorizes it. Other features include file protection and data access control plus controls over data movements. This system has a data activity logging features that is useful for compliance reporting. Available for Windows Server and offered on a 30-day free trial.
  2. Informatics An enterprise-level data management solution with an AI-powered data catalog to scan digital assets; it works with a broad scope of data and can easily track transformation from start to finish.
  3. Qlik Sense An intelligent tool that works well in cloud computing environments; it offers smart visualizations for insightful data mapping to help in-depth analysis, regardless of the data size.
  4. TableauA popular data discovery tool that has been widely adopted; its strength lies in its reporting capabilities, its ability to discover a wide range of data storage types, and the security it brings to the table.
  5. SyncSpider An ideal solution for inventory control data users that require up-to-date information on their assets; it works well with business technologies like POS and can pull data from a wide range of sources.
  6. Nightfall A cloud-based discovery tool for identifying, classifying, and securing data; it is light on network resources despite using advanced machine learning technology.
  7. Osano An easy-to-use tool that connects to databases and platforms regardless of their location; also uses machine learning technology to find and classify data and present it in insightful dashboards and reports.
  8. Atlan A versatile tool that is quick and interactive with user-friendly search capabilities; it can track data from past to present and even foresee its impact in the future.

What is data discovery?

Data discovery is the process of collecting and evaluating data from various sources to understand trends and patterns in the data. This understanding can then be leveraged to gain insights into performance or a platform for newer ventures and decision-making.

Data discovery, also known as data mining, can be used in the research field to discover and extract patterns in large data sets and help spot common data structures that can be brought together for more profound, insightful information.

The data discovery process usually involves methods at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and database administration systems.

How does data discovery help?

Data discovery helps organizations:

  • Discover new opportunities It helps uncover new insights for methods of business value creation.
  • Replicate success Can drive similar high-value business outcomes where data was the catalyst of a modern business’ operations success story.
  • Secure data Can apply data protection to lower the risk of its exposure and prevent abuse, theft, and leaks.
  • Achieve compliance Businesses can keep track of their data and its security to make sure they understand how safe it is to ensure they are compliant with industry standards.
  • Adopt the cloud In cases where a move to the cloud (or further expansion) is needed, and data discovery tools gather all the digital assets in an ecosystem. This helps ensure that not a single piece of data is overlooked.

What makes for a good data discovery tool?

The seven best data discovery tools on this list have been selected based on the criteria below.

Some features to look out for when choosing a good Data Discovery Tool include:

  • Ease of use A great tool is always easy to set up and start using. Likewise, a data discovery tool needs to be simple enough for non-technical users to create the dashboards and insights they need straight out of the box.
  • Deep discovery capabilities Should also be able to track data regardless of its location – be it in the cloud or on-premises; as long as it belongs to the organization, the data should be displayed in its dashboards.
  • Ability to process big data Most companies need the help of data discovery tools because they have large amounts of data. Therefore, a good data discovery tool should be able to find data, process it, and present it with ease and in the shortest time possible.
  • Recognition of data types The tool should also identify data types in whatever format they may be stored in, and even if it has been corrupted or is missing attributes.
  • Display data in insightful dashboards The reports and dashboards created from discovered data should help with easy and informed decision-making.
  • Collaboration features It is rare that only one user creates a dashboard and then uses it Therefore, a good data discovery tool should allow dashboards and reports to be easily shared among stakeholders.
  • The price Cost-effectiveness and a positive return on investments (ROI) will always be at the fore of any product.

The best data discovery tools

1. ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus

ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus provides data loss prevention through data discovery and classification, file protection through containerization, and data movement controls. There is a Free version of this package for Windows Server that will cover 25 endpoints.

Data discovery features include:

  • Discovery of PII, PHI, and financial data
  • Performs qualitative and quantitative analytics
  • Contextual analysis of adjacent data to identify composite filed that combine to form identifiable information
  • Image searches and document scans with OCR
  • Data searches use regular expressions and fingerprinting
  • A classification service that can be tailored by the selection of a template
  • Data access controls that map user accounts to data sensitivity levels and other data attributes
  • Data movement controls by linking user privileges to the data sensitivity level and the action being attempted.

ManageEngine Endpoint DLP is available for a 30-day free trial.


ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus is our top pick for a data discovery tool because this package implements file protection and data access controls as well as discovery and classification. This system uses containerization to protect data files and it will only allow access to files to trusted applications, which you need to define. The system watches data movements to USB devices, email, or cloud platforms and blocks or allows each transfer depending on the user’s data access privileges.

Official Site:

OS: Windows Server

2. Informatica

Informatica dashboard - search results
Informatica EDC – search results for query

Informatica is a tool for Enterprise Data Cataloging with a broad and deep lineup of enterprise-grade data management solutions.

It has an AI-powered data catalog that scans assets across business enterprises and an array of features used to index metadata and provide detailed analysis across its databases.

It offers data discovery features like:

  • Scanning and indexing metadata, discovering and profiling data, and providing detailed lineage across an organization’s data sets.
  • It can automatically scan across multi-cloud platforms including business intelligence (BI) tools, extract, transform, and load (ETL) systems, and third-party metadata catalogs;
  • It can easily work with various data types and track its end-to-end lineage; it tracks data movement, from high-level system views to granular column-level lineage, and gets detailed impact analysis.
  • Informatica also has advanced data dependency tracking to help understand each transformation to the data across various sources.
  • It is a versatile tool that supports multi-vendor ETL tools allowing for the extraction of metadata and lineage from popular tools like IBM DataStage, Oracle Data Integrator, and Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services (MS SSIS)
  • It is intelligent enough to scan static and dynamic code to get detailed data lineage from SQL dialects and stored procedures.
  • All extracted data is automatically curated by leveraging AI-powered domain discovery, data similarity, business term associations, and recommendation technologies.

Try Informatica FREE for 30 days.

3. Qlik Sense

Qlik Sense - data storage discovery
Qlik Sense dashboard showing various cloud assets

Qlik Sense is a data analytics and discovery tool with a broad application spectrum. It is a “modern” tool that works well in cloud computing environments.

Some of its features include:

  • This tool has a unique Associative Engine for indexing and understanding the relationships between data; users can search and filter their organizations’ information without any restrictions.
  • They can enjoy a fully-interactive analytics experience with innovative visualizations putting data in context, highlighting outliers, letting users drill down into selections, and creating data sets for further in-depth analysis.
  • Discovered and extracted data can easily be prepared and integrated; users can work with an unlimited combination of data, big or small.
  • Application automation allows for the building of automation workflows and the triggering of event-driven actions; visual and low-code environments coupled with an extensive library of connectors make designing the workflows and triggering actions a breeze.
  • All stakeholders can work and contribute to analytics or discussion threads; the data is made available to concerned users allowing for decisions based on collaborative inputs.
  • Qlik also offers advanced analytics integration – with real-time, engine-level data exchange – which allows users to explore calculations using visual inputs into its apps; this way, users can derive answers to any unique questions they may have.

Try Qlik Sense for FREE.

4. Tableau

Tableau - sample data visualization
Tableau dashboard with sample data report

Tableau is perhaps one of the more popular tools on the list here. It is widely used and offers many ways of quickly bringing all of an organization’s data together. It is a data visualization software that focuses on business intelligence (BI).

There are more features:

  • Tableau offers a visual analytics platform that helps people see and understand data – and it is quick, flexible, scalable, and secure.
  • It further enables solutions in the organization by enhancing capabilities of storing and processing data, preparing and transforming data, cataloging and managing enterprise metadata, query acceleration, and more.
  • It integrates well into any architecture without compromising security as it brings along single sign-on (SSO) authentication methods for enterprise-level security.
  • It is easy to use and can be used straight out of the box; users can build powerful dashboards in a matter of hours and customize embedded analytics integrations with JavaScript APIs.
  • Data from various sources – including spreadsheets, cubes, and relational databases – residing on-premises or in the cloud can be connected to build insightful information.
  • Dashboards are reusable, eliminating the need to create content repeatedly; once dashboards are built, they can be assigned permissions for other users to see the data they are allowed to.
  • Tableau can enhance digital products by allowing developers to embed dashboards into their applications.

Try Tableau for FREE.

5. SyncSpider

SyncSpider - integration screen
SyncSpider dashboard for integration with various apps

SyncSpider serves to allow its users to keep using their current enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems as their primary data sources and sync data with any app. A typical scenario where this tool can be applied would be in an inventory control system that needed to remain up to date at all times.

There are more features:

  • SyncSpider can connect POS systems to cloud apps and sync legacy systems to cloud stores or more modern CRMs; it can also store data collected online in local databases.
  • All this can be achieved using schedules or event-based triggers that ensure that data is always in sync; it is a tool that helps automate daily tasks by syncing data based on events.
  • It can be used to migrate data from one platform to another fully; anyone can do it as the tool doesn’t require any advanced technological know-how.
  • SyncSpider can bring any two disjointed feeds, regardless of the file formats, and even map and match data; it can create new categories by pairing data of the same types – even when they have different labels.
  • Other import and export features include pulling data from FTP servers, importing images from URLs, and accessing the platform’s file storage system.
  • Operations allowed include combining fields, concatenating data, calculations, and creating collections.

Try SyncSpider for FREE.

6. Nightfall

Nightfall - Selecting data detectors
Nightfall dashboard for data filtering

Nightfall is built to discover, classify, and protect data across any app. Although it is primarily a data loss prevention (DLP) tool, it uses machine learning to find critical data that can then be used in processes like sensitive data identification, data classification, contextual search, and behavioral analytics.

But, this tool can do much more:

  • Nightfall uses APIs to integrate, which allows it to be set up without the need for agents; this means it doesn’t affect network performance or deduct from the user experience (UX) on connected devices.
  • It is a cloud-based tool that helps identify, classify, and secure data; it facilitates collaboration thanks to teams’ ability to set up automated workflows for alerts, quarantines, deletion, and more actions.
  • It uses deep learning capabilities to accept structured results like API keys and credit card numbers; it has an API to help with integration with third-party productivity applications like Google Drive, Slack, AWS, and GitHub.
  • This machine learning technology can also be used to identify and classify sensitive data and personally identifiable information (PII) for a more secure processing workflow; it also has a proprietary data detection engine that can be integrated into new products and applications to eliminate the need for new sensitive data detection modules.

Try Nightfall for FREE.

7. Osano

Osano - products dashboard
Osano dashboard for asset details

Osano is also another cloud-based data privacy platform primarily designed to help businesses comply with data governance laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Meanwhile, the tool also has an AI-driven data discovery capability that quickly and automatically finds, classifies, and evaluates all data across an enterprise’s systems.

There’s more:

  • Osano can be easily connected to databases and platforms with a few clicks; it can automatically detect, categorize, and filter data regardless of where it resides – on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Its machine learning technology can, for example, scan API endpoints for SaaS providers to see if any personal data is being passed and, if found, can classify it into one of over 160 different types.
  • The installation and setup of this tool are easy and can have users up and running in under an hour; once done, its automatic AI-driven classification can immediately identify over 70 types of personal data, PII, and other sensitive data types.
  • All this data is presented in aesthetic, easy-to-master, and insightful interfaces that allow users to use it efficiently; it quickly delivers on queries and can access and track information efficiently enough to streamline data identifying and classification without a lot of fuss.
  • Osano was built for businesses of all sizes, and at any stage, in mind, making it a genuinely inclusive data discovery tool.

Try Osano for FREE.

8. Atlan

Atlan workflow dashboard
Atlan sample workflow for fraud detection using digital assets

Atlan is a fast and intuitive data discovery tool with Google-like search capabilities to find data in tables, databases quickly, and BI dashboards – or even saved queries.

It has a single search window for all data and dashboards to make information available for non-technical users to view all of their organization’s data and assets.

Looking at more features:

  • Atlan automatically profiles data to spot anomalies like missing values or outliers; users can create custom SQL-based quality checks for more customized data quality reports.
  • The tool can correlate business terms with data objects like columns and tables to create a better understanding of data and how it can be used; once discovered and correlated, the data can then be converted into BI reports for a better browsing experience.
  • The data itself can be traced back to see how it has evolved through its lifecycle and find out where it originated from; it can also give insight into how assets will be impacted as the data continues to change going forward.
  • While Atlan offers easy governance to manage data usage and adoption across the enterprise via granular governance and access controls, it allows easy collaboration through inline chats and annotations for a better shared and collaborative experience.
  • A visual query builder lets users run Excel-like queries like filters, aggregations, and grouping with no coding required.
  • Automatic data quality profiling and impact analysis help prevent data issues before they affect performance or interrupt business processes.

Try Atlan for FREE.

Time to adopt one of the best data discovery tools

Data discovery tools are a critical part of the modern business’ technology infrastructure. It is a tool everyone from the administrators in the IT department to the developers and analysis in the DevOps team and the leaders at the top can benefit from.

Also, data is the catalyst for digital transformation. An intelligent data catalog serves as the foundation for such digital transformation – and whether a business is looking to move or expand into the cloud, achieve data governance and privacy, or simply leverage all of its mission-critical data – data discovery tools will always be the enablers.

It, therefore, makes sense that businesses adopt one of the seven data discovery tools we have seen in this post.

We would like to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment below.