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Evernote, Cloud Computing, and Reality

I’ve been an Evernote user for four and a half years (which, incidentally, is pretty much the longest I’ve used any single program other than MS Office and Quicken) and recommended it to several of my colleagues. That’s where I keep notes from every meeting and conference I’ve been to since becoming a librarian, all my class outlines, all my notes in preparation for difficult research consultations, many to do lists, my email archive from our old email system, everything. And it’s great.

And I now need to figure out how best to maintain a local backup.

The Cloud: It's great until it isn't

The back story. Early this month I took extensive notes, almost a transcription, of an intense two-day meeting. My department was going to use these notes as the basis of several important projects (a strategic plan for Information Literacy on campus, just for one). I carefully synced with the servers even more often than the automated sync happens along the way, added and edited the note over the course of the next two weeks (on several computers, always carefully syncing with the servers), and then opened the note at the beginning of the first follow-up meeting at which we were going to actually start mining it and using it. But between the time when I opened the note and when I came back to my computer after talking about a minor scheduling thing with a co-worker, the note had gone completely blank.

Totally blank. Nothing there.

So I freaked out (very quietly and over the course of several hours) while we tried to see if we could recover it and opened up a co-worker’s notes to see if we could work from them in the mean time. After searching user forums and even buying a premium account so that I could see note histories (still to no avail), I emailed Evernote in desperation.

Their reply? Don’t worry, there never was a note.

Now, it was good of them to have a technician go back into the server logs for me, for sure. The fact that the server logs showed that the note had never been edited after I created it, though, was much less heartening. Combine this with an email my mom received earlier this month saying that they may have accidentally lost some of her notes off of their servers, and I’m much more motivated to create local back-ups.

So, if you use Evernote, here’s what I recommend (and I’m open to better recommendations if you’ve got them):

  1. Select all your notes
  2. Go to File > Export
  3. Save all your notes someplace easy to remember
  4. Repeat often, particularly after taking transcription-like notes during department-shaping 2-day meetings.

It’s kind of a clunky back-up mechanism, but for now it’s the best I can come up with. Too bad there isn’t a 4-step mechanism to reset my feelings toward the far too happy elephant in their logo.

Published inRandom Thoughts


  1. […] fantastically useful product, and I don’t know yet whether I trust that all my documents will always be available, but so far Evernote has become one of my most useful […]

  2. min min

    Thanks for the info! I was looking at how to make back-up.
    BTW, Do you use Mac version or Windows version!

  3. I use the Mac version now, but I’ve used the windows version in the past. Much happier now that I have Time Machine backing up my local version.

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