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Planning for a post Evernote era - Part 1

The Evernote world is aflutter this week after Tech Crunch said that following the departure of several key high level people, Evernote might be in a "death spiral".

While I hope that does not happen, even if they do survive, we should all plan for their demise.  No app and no company is forever.  Indeed, for every piece of software we use, we should ask ourselves, "Is any of the data managed by this program something I would need if this program no longer was being updated?"  And in the case of software like Evernote, if its back end servers were turned off forever.

If the data is required, we need to figure out how to get the data out of the program, and readable without the program. One should actually ask and answer the question before they begin using a new piece of software and loading our precious data into it.

I'll be writing more about this topic and Evernote. For now, know that even if Evernote shut off its servers tomorrow, your data remains in your Windows app, and I'm fairly sure, your Mac app as well.

On Windows, your data is stored in Evernote's .exb file.  You can see where it is in Evernote by going to Evernote's Tools menu, choosing Options.  In the General tab of the Options dialog box, notice the Evernote Local Files path.

That file can still be read by your Evernote client even if not connected to the servers. You can prove that for yourself now by disconnecting from the internet by shutting off your WiFi or unplugging your network cable.  You can still use Evernote.

Should Evernote go under, your client will no longer be updated. It should continue to work on Windows (and Mac?) for a long while. You will even be able to add new notes, but of course they will remain only on the desktop.

Eventually though, operating systems upgrade to a point where apps have to be modified to work with them.  If Evernote goes under, their clients will no longer be updated.

At that point you'll need your notes to be readable by other tools.  There is no better format than ordinary text files.

You can output your Notes into .Enex files; something like .xml files.  They are text files with strict formatting defining your data. There are already tools that read Enex files. If millions of Evernote users are suddenly cast out into the wilderness, I'm sure more tools will be created.

More about that in a future post.


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