Why am I doing this to myself?

For my work as a security consultant and privately as a super-nerd, I’ve been using Evernote for years to keep track of my notes, memos, and as a reference tool. Taking notes is essential for maintaining an overview and control over my work. Recently, the prices of Evernote have increased significantly. Yes, I understand that Evernote may have kept prices too low for years. But with the current prices, I find it increasingly difficult to justify this pricing to myself, especially when compared to alternatives. I don’t mind paying for a adequate solution, even at the current prices, but I need to perceive proportional added value for it. And that is no longer the case.

Additionally, the nature of my work has recently changed, resulting in me dealing with a multitude of projects in varying environments and relationships. Since Evernote does not support folder structures, I’ve relied on tags. However, I can’t archive tags. Now I have too many tags, making the list of tags confusing. As a result, I’m struggling more and more to quickly find the right notes. Yes, I know that Evernote can work with subtags, but the three underlying the subtags are not visible in notes and aren’t working well. Ultimately, Evernote no longer serves its purpose well for me, which is organizing my notes effectively.

Furthermore, I want to adopt a better method for keeping track of and organizing notes, based on Tiago Forte’s “Second Brain” methodology. With this method, I can better distinguish between projects that are current versus those that can serve as reference or archive.

So, I’ve decided to drag Evernote to its grave. Apart from the fact that I expect exporting my notes out of Evernote to be a nightmare. The new solution will have to prove itself worth the effort if I am willing to burden myself with the consequences of this decision. But where do I start? After some extensive research on the internet, there doesn’t seem to be clear-cut advice. You can say what you want, but Evernote isn’t that bad. Except for the bloody lack of folders because that’s just entirely absent. To make the decision properly, I’ve decided to compare all the solutions I’ve found, and there are quite a few. For myself, I’ve outlined what’s important and desirable, categorized into topics.

Because this evaluation is quite extensive (under the motto ‘if you’re going to do it, do it right’), I suspect this will take me longer to complete. I will approach this step by step, one product at a time. In the coming days and weeks, the products mentioned later in this article will be evaluated. If you happen to read this article and feel the need to include another product, please send me a message.

The selected note-taking apps will be evaluated on a number of topics and features. For me, confidentiality, integrity and availability (the CIA-triad) are the most important factors, with distance followed by other requirements. It has to be there when I need it, I need to be able to trust it blindly wherever possible. Therefore, the reputation of the supplier and the product are also assessed based on what is available on the internet and what the supplier publishes about it.

Scoring & conditions

For each criterion, property, function or feature, a score is given from 1 to 10. If the property is a closed question, 1 resembles a negative answer and a score of 10 resembles positive answers. The score for the product is the average of all scores.

  • Score 1
    • The product performs poorly in this aspect, the function or feature is absent, or there is little information made available by the supplier regarding the criterion.
  • Score 5
    • The product somewhat meets this criterion, the function or feature is limited available, or there is information available regarding the criterion but lacks transparency.
  • Score 10
    • The product meets or adequately satisfies this criterion, the function or feature is present and well-implemented, or there is sufficient knowledge available on this topic to have confidence in it regarding the criterion.

As for the conditions, the evaluation of this has been conducted during the months May, June and July of 2024. For platforms, tests have been conducted with both MacOS and Windows 10 laptops, as well as an Apple iPhone for evaluation the mobile applications.

Results

Even before I begin this evaluation, I realize that I will gather and analyze a lot of information. If I were to compile the results into one long post, nobody, including myself, would be able to find the specific information we’re looking for. Therefore, I’ve decided to create a separate post for each product/service I evaluate.

If you are keen to know more, you can click through to the post for the specific products and services.

Detailed results per product

  • Evernote
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Google Keep
  • ClickUp
  • Joplin
  • Zoho
  • Apple Notes
  • Notability
  • Boostnote
  • Quip
  • Obsidian
  • Milanote
  • Bear notes
  • Hive
  • Notion
  • Nimbus
  • Amplenote
  • Dropbox paper
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