Why I Don’t Use Evernote.

If you where to look for the note-taking app with the most “buzz” surrounding it, it would far and away be Evernote. Evernote has millions of users, a well-known brand, and has permeated not only the lives of individuals but also businesses. It is extensible and flexible. OneNote – what is that? Ohhh, Microsoft’s product. That isn’t cool…Not to mention that its pricey.

Image representing Evernote

Image via CrunchBase

I used Evernote for a time (maybe a few months or a year) and then abandoned it. I wanted to like it and many things I did like about it – but there was one significant issue which remains an issue that forces me to keep my distance from Evernote – versioning.

What is versioning? Quite simply it is keeping a history of changes to a document and allowing the changes to be rolled back, compared, merged, and so on. Google Docs is a great example of this functionality.

Several times while using Evernote I took some fairly extensive notes only to have the noted get overwritten and I was unable to recover them. Even using Premium, which does include some limited versioning features, the number of revisions stored was so few that it was easy to make a few changes, realize you lost something important, and be unable to roll back.

Okay – that is me. But we aren’t really here to talk about me, we are here to talk about you and whether you should be using Evernote. My answer: probably not.

Why? Because I’ve worked for years in IT and have had innumerable individuals come to me asking for assistance in recovering their data – from floppy disks, flash drives, hard drives, and so on. I’ve seen the tears and the anger when the individual learns that their masters’ thesis that was 90% complete has been irretrievably lost.

“That hasn’t happened to me yet.” I know – but it only has to happen once…and IMHO, Evernote is not a reliable tool for writing significant documents or even for keeping one’s research notes about significant projects. There is too much possibility of “device failure” – in this case, the unavailability of previous versions when you need it most.

What do I use? Google Docs / Google Keep. Granted, I’m not particularly satisfied with Google Keep. I’d much rather be using Evernote. I think Evernote is a great company and a great program, I am just befuddled how such basic functionality could be unavailable at all in the free version and only marginally supported in the premium version. In a day where even our consumer backup and sync applications perform versioning – how can an app so widely used and loved lack robust versioning functionality?

2 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    Weird Dave. I’ve never lost any data using Evernote. I saw it once when someone changed passwords and their phone app wasn’t syncing, but that’s it.

    There are some awesome uses for it –
    * Curating the Internet for Articles: I use the Evernote Webclipper to grab sections from webpages and assign them to my Articles collection with different tags.
    * Work Snippets: I create short articles in a work collection containing helpful code snippets. When I search on Google, it also searches my Evernote and displays a snippet if it relates to my search.

    I really really wish you could work on a collection with someone else without paying $5/month. That’s a real problem in my opinion.

    • davemackey says:

      I’m glad you’ve never lost anything…I use Diigo for curating internet articles…and for code snippets, hmmm…I guess I don’t use them much…but then again, I haven’t been doing much coding recently.

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