Evernote vs Dropbox
For several years now I have used Dropbox for my reference files and project support material. Most of these are plain text files that I edit on my Mac, iPhone and iPad. I also have various other file formats, Excel files, pdfs, etc. I'm intrigued by Evernote however and am considering switching to this tool. I like the idea of organizing things with tags. I also like the idea of being able to have richer formatting available than just plain text files give me. For example, throwing in an image in a file I'm working on. It sounds like Evernote would be great for things like that.
I have a couple of things that are stopping me however.
1) I like the fact that my Dropbox files are not dependent on the Dropbox service being around forever. Dropbox goes out of business, I still have all my files sitting on my HD.
2) My data isn't locked into a proprietary database, so if I decide to move to another better service, there is nothing stopping me.
Are the features of Evernote good enough to overcome these two issues?
I can't help you with 1, but Evernote has no problem with you leaving and taking your stuff with you. Check out their rather extensive Q&A.
Originally Posted by gnugrep
I am the Party
After posting my message, I decided to spend some time playing around with Evernote to see what it can do. I have it on my Macbook and iPad. I put in a number of notes, added some tags, etc. I then opened up the iPad app and after logging in, it said there was some sync problem. I shut it down and started it again. It appeared to sync, but the notes weren't the same as what I had on my Mac. They were older versions. I then tried adding a note on the iPad. When I opened Evernote on my Mac it didn't show up at all. I then went to the website and saw that the note I created on the iPad was there, but only the title, not the body! So I checked Evernote in 3 different places and my notes are in 3 different states. So now I have a new concern to add to my list above. Are these syncing problems common? In the 2 years I've been using Dropbox, it has been rock solid. It always syncs flawlessly and I don't even think about that part of it anymore. I don't think I can use Evernote if these syncing issues continue.
I use a PC, iPhone and iPad. Syncing has always been flawless for me.
Originally Posted by gnugrep
I am the Party
I shared your concerns, but have had no problems...
I also had used Dropbox extensively, and wondered why I also needed Dropbox. Let me offer 3 reasons:
1) Let's say you are doing a home renovation and are shopping at various places for lighting. You see an example you like, so you snap a picture with your phone. You also snap a picture of the UPC code that has the price and specs. A helpful salesman appears and you want to record what he is saying. You have a voice recorder on the your phone. You also want to type a few notes, and your phone has a note-taking app. The problem becomes the photos are stored will other phones. The audio note is now stored with other audio notes. Your typed notes are with other notes you have typed. When you get home, you have to remember to find each of these items and transfer them to your phone, create a folder to put them in, and put them into Dropbox. With Evernote on your phone, you create a new note. You take the pictures, record the audio, and type the notes all in the same note. When you get home, the same note is automatically on the Evernote desktop client.
2) With Dropbox, you view anything from your mobile devices...but can you edit them and save the changes from your mobile device? (It's going to depend on what software you have on the phone, but it's doubtful. From my BlackBerry, I could. From my Android, I can't).
3) When you do open something from Dropbox on my phone or tablet, it's actually downloading a copy onto that device. If I open that same document later, that's a second copy now downloaded. So, it's not a very clean setup.
As for the syncing problems, I have not had any problems. Not sure what to tell you there other than be sure you have the latest software update and search Apple forums for posts about problems syncing with Evernote.
I share your concern about having your data in a proprietary database. What if Evernote goes belly up? So many people depend on it, I think it's going to continue to be very stable. Never-the-less, you can export your stuff. For example, you can right-click a notebook and click "export." You can choose to export as html, for example.
I would encourage you to continue giving Evernote a try. At first, it may look like if you have Dropbox you don"t need Evernote, but having gone down that road, you really do need them both.
Now you guys got me wondering what evernote is. I will download it now so I can see what you guys are talking about.
More on Evernote vs Dropbox
Evernote is the base for my daily workflow system. Dropbox is my archive of things I won't need anytime soon. I also use Dropbox to share files, pictures, audio etc. both have their place but I get much more use from Evernote.
In regards to concern #1...
When you're using the Evernote desktop app, you are in fact creating a local copy. So if Evernote goes out of business, you will still have access to all your content locally.
Analyze your workflow first
Don't get hung-up on "the system"...I did for a year or so (and tried several of them), but my current system uses different things for different purposes. It's all about reducing barriers to entry and creating hard edges (to use DA's phrases). I wouldn't count on Evernote as a storage system. Even if you CAN get your stuff out, it may not be easy. I don't know whether it is, but like you said, it doesn't sync folders to your PC like DB does so you can drag and drop like you already know how to do.
I don't really like DB either b/c you can't edit online. Google Drive and SkyDrive are much better for that (with SD winning out by far b/c you can just edit, create, save, Office format, unlike GDrive). I do like how DB handles images, but I'm sure the others will catch up soon (if they haven't already).
Here's what I use, how, and why
-Outlook: Calendar only (b/c my office uses it). Sometimes I set reminders with Outlook tasks b/c I'm still not good at checking my contexts in the right places. I tend to forget to check "Home" when I get home in the evening for example. Using reminders is okay...the key (per GTD) is to not grow numb to them. So if you find that you're setting reminders and then just ignoring them or postponing them, try a different method. I just use them for the most time sensitive stuff (what I used to write on my hand).
-Gmail: For email (b/c I like the interface). You can redirect email from Outlook (if your using Exchange anyway) and other email systems have other forwarding option. I went to one Email inbox in the past year and I highly recommend it. No more separate email for personal and work. Why make two things you have to check when you can have one. It feels much better to me to process things in one step regardless of the context in which I will deal with them. Don't forget to use the 2-min rule in email...enough soapbox
-OneNote: For all my active and dormant project materials, logs, reference materials, someday maybe lists, Pomodoro forms (I use that tool also), etc. I try to store everything here that isn't a final drive, data file, or is shared so it would make more sense on server. OneNote can store files too, but it's not an idea method. More like a temporary or for reference place.
-Diigo: For web links (because they're easier to share that way...can sync Diigo with Delicious. Xmarks is another good bookmark sync if you want your favorites to show up IN your browser. I've found it's not so bad to have the Diigo page pinned to my taskbar (in IE with win 7+ or use application shortcuts in Chrome). Diigo also has other features like groups, website annotation (which is why I started using it) etc. Free account is pretty good but you can go paid too. It's developed by/for educators but it doesn't have a "grade school feel"...I'm waiting for the corporate world to discover this great tool.
-GoogleDrive, SkyDrive, and Dropbox (plus our file servers at work of course): For file sharing for joint projects. Most people seem to use DB and SD seems used by almost no one yet. GD is in between. I have a SugarSync account, too, but don't use it b/c no one else I work with does. I have a lot of GoogleDrive storage so I setup my SkyDrive to be nested within my Google Drive., and my DB within my SkyDrive. This means that I can access any of those via Google Drive, and can access DB and SD via the SD interface which is by far the best for editing online. I keep track of where files are by having a "File Location" page in my OneNote section for each project.
-Evernote: Only for Next Actions (because it was hard to get a useful NA setup in OneNote that was easy to maintain and I didn't grown numb to...also b/c you can email notes to Evernote and you can't do that in OneNote...minimizes barriers to entry)
So how do I use all this and why did I make it so complicated? Actually, when I was trying to fit everything into once system (Vitalist, Toodledo, OneNote, Springpad) it always ended up more complicated. Some facet wouldn't work well for my workflow or didn't meet my preference for display/interaction. The OneNote iPhone app is pretty smooth but really limited. I didn't like the way Evernote didn't (when I last tried it for this) let you mix text and handwriting in the same note. I even thought about going full paper at one point, but I knew from past experience that that option wouldn't work for me.
I use notebook sections in OneNote as my project lists and prune them monthly. If I don't think I'll be working on it that month. I move it. I do the same with my SkyDrive folder. I really like the month review habit b/c it gets me refocused helps me figure out which bites of the elephant I can reasonably swallow over the next 4 weeks. I don't move project folders around at weekly review unless a project completely and clearly closes out mid-month. I don't do any tweaking during the week (actively trying to minimize that and just go with my system). I have one notebook in Evernote for Next Actions and tags are my contexts (I like that b/c then I can multi-tag if it's needed).
If you think functionally/procedurally, and test it, you'll find the best solution. If you're planning to use whatever solution from multiple interfaces/devices (e.g., PC, Mac, iPhone, etc) try some basics tasks from each before you commit. You don't want to move everything into Evernote on your PC and then find out that you don't like the Android app for example (or it doesn't do what you need it to do).
PS - Despite my high-tech setup, I still carry a paper notebook for most meetings. I just find it easier to take notes that way a lot of the time. I highlight next actions so they're easy to find when I'm back at my desk or doing my weekly/monthly review, and then I can get them into Evernote. I'll probably move away from that over time, but it beats fumbling with an app, syncing, entering text, being stuck with the computer or phone doesn't work, etc. when all that's needed is a space to write ideas and a way to tag actions. It has a benefit, too...I've found that about 1/3 of the items that I THINK are NAs in the heat of a meeting don't look as important once I'm doing my weekly review (or someone else has done them, or I can delegate them). So it serves as a screening process that reduces my number of NAs.
Hope that helps!
Sync problems a deal breaker
I've been trying evernote for a week now and I still can't get over the fact that they are still not in sync. I've tried everything to get them to sync up, but iPad, iPhone and Mac all have different notes. I'm sticking to plain text notes and dropbox.