I love using the Google search engine (who doesn’t?). I can very easily and quickly search for anything on the Internet using any web browser, and find the information that I’m looking for in a snap. Often, I’ve wanted to have a Google-like search engine just for my personal information which can be accessed on my PC or on the web. It turns out I may have found my answer with a product called Evernote.
Evernote is a cool product that can store various bits of information in a central database system “in-the-cloud” (Internet), on your PC, or on your smartphone. You can create multiple “notebooks” and store “notes” in each of them. Notes can consist of plain or formatted text, web page content, pictures, and audio. The single most useful feature I’ve seen, is the ability to easily grab content from a web page and save it to Evernote. A perfect example is when I come across a web site and I want to look into it further at a later date, I can easily save the full web page (or a portion of it) to a note in Evernote. In fact, there’s a FireFox browser plugin that easily does this for you.
All data stored in Evernote can be searched using a text string, just like with the Google search engine. In fact, if you store images in a note that contains text (say, when you snap a picture with your phone of product description at the store), Evernote can recognize the words in the image for the search! Speaking of snapshots, the Evernote app that runs on your smartphone (iPhone,Blackberry,Windows Mobile, or Palm Pre) interfaces with the Evernote database very nicely, and you can use the camera on your phone to easily snap a picture and store it in Evernote as a note. The Evernote site suggests using your phone’s camera for taking snapshots of business cards, airline tickets, travel receipts, etc. which is a great idea if your phone has a good camera (unfortunately, the camera on my Moto-Q phone is crappy).
You can also send an email to a special email address setup for your Evernote account and the infomation will be stored as a note in your default notebook.
Now, I went through an exercise several months ago trying to find a method for storing information in a database that I could access from my PC, from the web, and from my phone. I examined and tested Google Docs and Zoho for this capability, and ultimately determined that neither met my needs. Specifically, it was difficult to use my older Windows Mobile 5.0 Moto-Q phone to search and display my stored information. With Evernote, that wasn’t a problem.
As a test, I created a simple grocery checklist using Evernote on my PC. I then synced it to the web, and was able to access that same list very easily from my Moto-Q phone using the equivalent Evernote application. I found it using a very simple search and displayed the contents on my screen. Exactly what I need!
I can’t emphasize enough the power of the simple search engine. With Google Docs and Zoho I tried to organize my data into different folders, etc. but I couldn’t search for data as easily as with Evernote. In my case, I plan to use Evernote to store this type of data:
- Web pages that I come across that I want to check out later
- Future blogging topics
- Dinner recipes (so I don’t forget an ingredient when I go food shopping)
- Travel information (hotel, airport, and restaurant details)
- To-do checklists
- Grocery shopping list
- Automotive servicing records (oil changes, repairs, etc)
- Work related data (customer visit logs)
Evernote does have the ability to encrypt text, but I’m unsure to what level of encryption it is or the encryption method. As such, I’m not planning to store sensitive information in Evernote until I learn more about it.
Now, Evernote has both a free and paid subscription version which you can use. The free version limits the amount of data you can upload per month to 40 MB, which is pretty good for most basic activity. The subscription version ($5/month or $45/year) allows you to upload 500 MB per month and adds in a few more features.
So if you want a nice method for organizing and retrieving your important data from multiple devices and platforms, give Evernote a try!