Migrating off Evernote

In late 2016, Evernote updated their privacy policy to explicitly grant their employees the right to view your personal information. In their own words:

And please note that you cannot opt out of employees looking at your content for other reasons stated in our Privacy Policy (under the section, “Does Evernote Share My Personal Information or Content?”).

This is unacceptable for most of the things you’d want to use a note taking application for, and I believe that makes it wholly unfit for any kind of business or private use. The good news is that there are viable alternatives now. These are the options I particularly like:

Synology Note Station

If you have a Synology NAS, you can install Note Station which is basically Evernote but hosted on your own server. It has nice (and free) iOS apps, and an Android app that I haven’t used. There’s no desktop app yet but it does have a nice web interface. This is probably the easiest drop-in replacement for Evernote – if you have a Synology.

Note Station and its mobile apps are free but might not (yet) be quite as polished as you’re used to.

DEVONthink

If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, I highly recommend DEVONthink Pro Office (DTPO). It’s not so much a note app as a personal knowledge repository. My home ScanSnap scanner deposits docs directly into my DTPO inbox and OCRs them so they’re fulltext searchable. It also has a nice UI for creating your own notes, spreadsheets, etc. directly in the app, and great system integrations to make it easy to save data from almost any app into it. It has an amazing AI classification engine, so it can perform actions like automatically filing documents that look like invoices into my “Invoices” folder.

DTPO also has a new iOS app 1 that syncs to it via options such as:

  • Local Wi-Fi peer-to-peer connections so that your data’s never stored on any server,
  • Dropbox, which is handy if you already use it, or
  • Your own WebDAV server, with end-to-end encryption so you don’t have to trust your storage provider. I use my Synology NAS for this method.

Finally, DTPO has a web interface so that you can browse your document databases from another system which doesn’t (or can’t) have DEVONthink installed on it.

DTPO isn’t cheap, but I think it’s absolutely worth the cost.

Recommendation

Of these, I prefer DEVONthink Pro Office as it’s more mature and already has almost every feature imaginable. Note Station is pretty good today, too, and has a lot of promise. Either one will move your data to being completely under your own control and I like that a lot.

  1. DEVONthink To Go was completely rewritten and released in the summer of 2016. The old version was not well regarded. The new version is amazing and updated frequently. If you had stayed away from it based on reputation, give it another look.