In this brief walkthrough, we've shared the benefits and drawbacks of Adobe Reader DC vs. XI, so you can choose the best version for your needs.
Adobe Acrobat DC
In 2015, Adobe released Acrobat DC (or "Document Cloud"), which shares cloud-based functionality with the Adobe Creative Cloud. For the first time, Acrobat (and the free version, Reader) had cloud storage and online tracking features.
Today, DC users can receive notifications when their PDFs are opened, and collect signatures from colleagues in different countries. DC makes it easy to store files with cloud-based services like Dropbox and OneDrive. Furthermore, you can quickly convert almost any media file to PDF, including Photoshop, Powerpoint, and InDesign files.
You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader DC for free here. Meanwhile, Acrobat Standard DC costs $12.99 a month for an annual subscription (Windows only), and Pro DC costs $14.99 a month. Adobe's cloud-based subscription service is extremely convenient, because you always have the latest update. However, some users will be put off by the monthly fee.
Adobe Acrobat XI
This is the eleventh version of Adobe Acrobat, and the final non-subscription version on the market. You can pay a one-time fee to purchase the full software, and then use it as long as you like.
Acrobat XI allows you to manage PDFs on a hard drive or shared network. Just like with DC, you can merge documents, find and edit text, and export files to other applications like Microsoft Word. You can also collect and monitor e-signatures, so that you know when another Acrobat user signs a document.
However, XI can't convert Word, Photoshop, or any other non-Acrobat documents to PDF format. The software isn't integrated with the Adobe Creative Cloud, either, so there are less options for sharing and storing PDFs online. Finally, there are less security measures in place when collecting digital signatures.
Adobe will stop supporting the XI series on October 15, 2017, so there won't be any new updates after that. If you're not interested in cloud-based functionality or technical support, though, XI might be a more affordable option for your document editing needs. It's still possible to purchase XI at a few third-party retailers for around $55.