Is Your Data Safe in Evernote?

In the last few months, Evernote has become my digital filing cabinet. It has enabled me to go completely paperless. Once I scan the paper into Evernote, I toss it into the recycling bin. Simple. Clean. Efficient.

An Illustration of a Door to a Bank Vault - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #13516826

Photo courtesy of ©

However, as I have shared my enthusiasm for Evernote, several readers have expressed their concern for the safety of their data. Some have asked:

  • What happens to my data if Evernote goes under?
  • Who owns the data, since my information syncs to the Evernote servers?
  • Do Evernote employees have access to my sensitive data? What if there’s a security breach?
If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest that you buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, 4.0. It will save you HOURS of learning Evernote on your own.

I have researched Evernote pretty thoroughly, and I have concluded that my data is safe for the following six reasons:

  1. Evernote is a successful, financially-solid company. Currently, the company has over six million users and more than 200,000 Premium (paid) users. It has raised three rounds of funding, including $20 million in its last round. Its investors include some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. This is no guarantee that Evernote will make it, but certainly a lot of very smart people are betting on it.
  2. Evernote has a clear data-ownership policy. Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, has blogged publicly, “We do not own your data. Putting notes and other content into Evernote does not change its ownership or copyright status. If the data was yours to begin with, it remains yours after you put it in Evernote … you retain all the rights to your data.”
  3. Evernote data is stored both locally and in the cloud. This is the beauty of cloud (remote server) technologies. A copy of my data is stored on Evernote’s servers and backed up by them. However, unlike some other cloud services (e.g., Google Calendar), my data is also stored locally on my hard drive. Even if the Evernote servers go down, I have the most recent copy of my data.
  4. Evernote can encrypt sensitive data within a note. If you have something within a note that you want to keep private—passwords, financial information, counseling notes, etc.—you can do so by highlighting the data, right-clicking, and selecting “Encrypt selected text.” You will then be prompted to enter a password. In order to view that information in the future, you (or anyone else) will have to enter the password to do so.
  5. Evernote data can be stored only on your local machine. When you create a notebook, you have the option of creating a local notebook or a synchronized notebook. The notes within a local notebook will not be sent to the Evernote servers. As a result, they will not be synched on your other devices (e.g., iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.). However, they will be totally secure—or at least, as secure as your local drive.
  6. Evernote data can be exported and taken elsewhere. Not only does the company provide ten ways to get your information into Evernote on sixteen different devices, but it is committed to making it easy for you to get all of your data out of Evernote as well. Using the desktop software, you can export all of your notes and content in HTML or XML format. As they say on their blog, “Our philosophy is that if you’re confident that you can leave Evernote at any time, then you’ll be confident enough to want to stay.”

There are no absolute guarantees in the world of digital media and cloud storage, but this is compelling enough to me. I use the various security tools Evernote provides and keep my local Evernote database backed-up. As a result, this is just not something I spend time worrying about.

Update: If you need something even more secure than what Evernote offers out-of-the-box, you can store your database locally on an encrypted database. If you are on a Mac, you can follow this guide. I am using this now. It took me less than ten minutes to set it up.

If you are on a PC, you might check this guide. You might also consider a free product called TrueCrypt. This is a free, open-source solution. However, I don’t have a PC and haven’t tried it.

Thanks to Atle Iversen, who works for the company that makes Dropbox. In the comments below, he suggested the encryption option for more sensitive data and recommended TrueCrypt.

Question: Are you satisfied with Evernote’s security policies and tools? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • David Santistevan

    I’m totally satisfied with Evernote’s security. Like you said, having everything stored on my hard drive puts me at ease. I’m convinced that the uses for this program are endless. I use it everyday and learn new techniques every day. Thanks for all the thorough posts.

    • Caleb Phelps

      My thoughts exactly David. Every time I use Evernote it seems like there is another way to apply it to another situation or area. It is like the swiss army knife of note taking!

      • David Santistevan

        Haha – great analogy there. I totally agree! Evernote has revolutionized how I approach songwriting.

  • SoloBizCoach

    I really like that Evernote clearly states that the user owns their data and not Evernote.  So many of online services are ambiguous about this point, or they outright claim ownership.  That is totally against the spirit of the Internet.

    • B_Schebs

      I agree with you @SoloBizCoach:disqus , it seems cheap and underhanded that sites try to claim ownership for anything posted/stored on them.  In my opinion, the rights of ownership should always stay with the creator of the material, unless they choose to sell/give (and not by just simply storing it somewhere) the rights away.

      • Jmhardy97

        Great point! There are some sights that. Need to read this!


    • Michael Hyatt


    • Joe Lalonde

      That is a nice touch by Evernote. So many companies are not clear about it.

    • Dan Greegor

      I agree. If it is my information; it is my information. PERIOD! Unless I stipulate otherwise, my information should be mine alone.

    • innn

      “As a rule, Evernote employees do not monitor or view your personal information or Content stored in the Service, but it may be viewed if we believe our Terms of Service have been violated and confirmation is required, if we need to do so in order to respond to your requests for user support, or we otherwise determine that we have an obligation to review it as described in our Terms of Service.” Your Notes also may be viewed where necessary to protect the rights, property or personal safety of Evernote and its users, or in order to comply with our legal obligations, such as responding to warrants, court orders or other legal process.

      I think it’s safe to assume that at some point your notebooks will be accessed by someone within Evernote and that if you were subject to a legal or criminal investigation your notes could be subpoenaed. How vigorously Evernote would challenge such a request is unclear. If you’re concerned about storing particular documents in the cloud, you may want to consider using offline notebooks for sensitive documents (a Premium member feature).

      Recommendation – Do not store sensitive data in shared notebooks, and don’t log anything in Evernote you wouldn’t be happy for your mum to see on the evening news.

      “Your data will be stored physically in the the US and therefore subject to US data protection laws, which may be less stringent than those in your native country.”

      • Brooklyn Criminal Law Firm

        Hi innn, you’ve made 2 assumptions that are absolutely true:

        1) at some point your notebooks will be accessed by someone within Evernote, and

        2), if you were subject to a legal or criminal investigation your notes could be subpoenaed.

        What you thought was unclear (“How vigorously Evernote would challenge such a request is unclear.”) is in reality very clear (as legalese goes): Evernote would not challenge it at all. They would facilitate the transfer of your notes (gift-wrapped if necessary) to any government actor or agent, and would not tell you about it either.

        Your recommendation is partly troubling (“Do not store sensitive data in shared notebooks, and don’t log anything in Evernote you wouldn’t be happy for your mum to see on the evening news.”)

        One can see why not store sensitive data in shared notebooks–if you’re sharing sensitive info, it’s going to leak.
        But what about the owner/user’s unshared notebooks? Is there no way to guarantee privacy there even while syncing devices?

  • Headbishop

    I’ve been following your thoughts about Evernote but wonder if anyone who has used both Evernote and OneNote believes Evernote is so superior to OneNote that it would be worth making the switch. I realize a lot of that decision would probably depend on a number of variables, but I’d like to know.

    • B_Schebs

      I am making the change over from OneNote to Evernote currently.   The biggest reason for me, was lack of an easy way to use OneNote with my iPad.

      • Michael Hyatt

        I didn’t think about that, but it is probably a good reason.

        I used to be a big Microsoft fan (back in the 90s). It is frustrating to me that they don’t seem to have much vision any more. You’d think they would have ported everything to the iPad by now.

        • B_Schebs

          I was able to find 1 app.  but you had to sign up for like 3 other services to make it work.  Way to much hassle.  

          • Steven Cribbs

            Which app did you find?  I wouldn’t want the hassle either – but, I am curious to know what is out there.

          • B_Schebs

            it is an iphone App,  that will work on the iPad.  I just searched the iTunes store for OneNote and it was there. 

          • Steven Cribbs

            Thanks.  I do have a OneNote app on my iPhone that seems decent enough (I haven’t used it a whole lot yet though).

    • Anonymous

      While I don’t personally use OneNote, my father does. He also uses Evernote. I think he does a lttle of both. Particularly with his Premium account, he’ll upload OneNote stuff to Evernote to retrieve it on another computer. However, I don’t think he has any intentions of going “all in” with Evernote. He teaches Bible classes using OneNote to organize his notes, and with some of what he does, I’m not sure that Evernote can completely replace the functionality.

    • Steven Cribbs

      I have been using OneNote for a while and playing back and forth between OneNote and Evernote for a couple of months now.  I REALLY LIKE OneNote.

      There is one thing, though, that might cause me to move more towards Evernote … iPad support.  I don’t have an iPad yet; but, I may get one in the next couple of months.  Part of my desire with the iPad would be to connect to my notes system.  So, that might be a deal-changer.

      So, if I don’t do an iPad or they come out with a good iPad app, I will stay with OneNote.  Otherwise, I will consider switching.

    • Kenneth Clapp

      Headbishop, I used to be an avid user of OneNote. The main reason I changed was after my laptop went the way of the dodo I made the decision to go with a Mac instead. There are some ways OneNote is still superior to Evernote, particularly in the note taking department. Everything in OneNote is rich text, you have the freedom to draw and highlight while taking notes, and in general the interface is just more full featured. Evernote, on the other hand surpasses OneNote in it’s own ways. First is the cloud concept that allows you access from just about anywhere. It is also easy to share notes through social media or email (or create a shared notebook – premium only feature). It is easier to get clipped material into Evernote, and the way evernote organizes and searches your material (including the excellent feature of automatic OCR in images and PDF files – of course PDF OCR is only on premium accounts) is just about to die for.

      I guess in short my response would be, OneNote is a great note taking, binder type program if you can afford it and use a Windows based PC. Evernote is a great alternative that may be lacking a little in the note taking abilities, but more than makes up for it by being cost effective, cross platform and cloud based. As much as I love Evernote I wouldn’t go back. Now  free hand notes are taken on my ipad using and an app like penultimate. My notes are simply sent to evernote from there as a searchable pdf.  Hope this helps

      • Michael Hyatt

        Well said. Thanks for helping to clarify this. I used to use OneNote seven years ago or so, before I switched to Mac. My information is a little out-of-date.

    • Headbishop

      Thanks all for the great responses. A big help.

  • Dr. Brad Semp

    Data security is always a concern in today’s world and I appreciate you conducting and sharing the research that you did on the subject as it pertains to Evernote.  There is a need to do due diligence.  However, I personally have very little worry about security or data loss based on the factors that you provide.  Everything is moving toward the Cloud.  I now have data on Google, Amazon and Evernote’s “cloud” and if I worried about the “what-ifs” than it would leave very little time for me to enjoy my life.  :)

    I still encounter clients and customers today who rarely state, “I am just not comfortable using my credit card over the internet.”  After raising my eyebrows, I just remind myself that everyone’s level of comfort with risk is different.  Everyone’s level of comfort with internet and storage technologies also varies from the absurdly paranoid to the freakishly worry-free.  I tend to fall on the latter end of that spectrum.

    • Michael Hyatt

      The amazing thing about the people who are not comfortable using their credit card on the Internet is that they will happily hand it to someone they don’t know in a restaurant (the waiter) who disappears into another room for five minutes. I wrote a book on privacy in 2001. I have done a complete about-face on these issues.

      • Dr. Brad Semp

        Michael – You are 100% correct…..I’ve chuckled with friends before about that same topic but it totally slipped my mind when writing my comment.  It is such a valid point – thanks for pointing that out!

      • Joe Lalonde

        That’s a great point about credit card security. You never know who you’re handing it over to.

      • Dan Greegor

        I like the one thing that credit cards have is the credit monitoring/fraud protection that some offer. This gives the owner a chance to verify charges or contest false ones. I have yet to see something similar to personal information. There are the ID protections but they do not protect against theft of works. However, I’m sure someone somewhere is working on that.

      • Jmhardy97

        Great point. I will share that example in the future. The topic always seem to come up.


  • B_Schebs

    I have just started really diving into EN, but so far I have had no concerns with security.  I think the fear is more a fear of change, than of security.  Paper copies can be stolen, burned, flooded, eaten by a dog (at least that is what I told my teachers), or lost.  with that said, all data, in a cloud or on a desk is at some risk of being lost or stolen.

    • Michael Hyatt

      This is such a great point. People often forget this. I feel more secure with my data in the cloud and on my own backups then I ever did with loose paper in drawers or on the desktop.

    • David Santistevan

      Excellent point. I wonder what it is that keeps people so attached to physical documents?

      • B_Schebs

        I honestly feel that is it a fear of change and the unknown. 

        • David Santistevan

          I think you’re right.

        • Steven Cribbs

          Fear of loss (losing something that they have known, depeneded upon, even liked – missing what they once had).  Fear of the new and unknown (concern that it will not be as good as the old).  So, yes, I think fear of change is a big deal for a lot of people.

  • Dave Ferguson

    I appreciate the detail here.  With regard to my local copy of data in Evernote, I added my Evernote directory to my daily incremental backup (from the laptop to an external drive).  I also do two full backups monthly, one to the external drive that stays in my home office, and one to a separate external drive that I store in a safe deposit box.  

    It’s not that I don’t trust a cloud-based backup; it’s more that these local ones are a low-effort way to have an alternative.  I’m self-employed, so nobody’s as interested in the integrity of my data as I am.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I do the same thing. My philosophy is that you can’t have too many backups!

    • Robert Ewoldt

      The more copies, the better!  I’m paranoid that way.

  • JB

    You discussion on Evernote’s security does satisfy me. In particular the fact that the data is stored both locally and in the cloud. I have yet to attempt to dive back into using Evernote though. Not from a standpoint of fear of new technology, but rather, I have only just started to give Hoot Suite a try (instead of Tweetdeck), and I want to give it a fair shake before I try another new app. I assure you that after reading post after post of yours on Evernote I will try it again soon.

    • JB

      And apparently my desire to try Evernote is different than everyone elses. I just want to end the stacks of papers both physical and electronic that I have in multiple locations such as my laptop, my phone, my nightstand, my truck, my desk, etc.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good. I’m glad. It is worth the investment of time to learn it, in my opinion.

  • Allen Marsh

    Evernote is great. I do not put anything on there however that I would not be okay with someone else seeing. This is a great service and I have shown it to several friends who all love it as well. As time passes I am sure I will find more uses for it and start putting more sensitive items on the server. I have only used it for about 4 month so I am still working on integrating it into my daily life.

  • Jay DiNitto

    I have data in Evernote? Shoot!

  • Jason Fountain

    Thanks for the posts explaining Evernote. I have a few weeks off this summer and I’m going to have to purchase the ebook you recommend and re-read your posts. I’m slowly inching toward the edge…your posts keep pushing me. I guess I’ve not seen the full value of EN, but it may be time. Thanks for the insightful topics.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. Useful post. Similar matters to consider with Dropbox and others.

    Did you look into the question regarding ‘ownership’ of data, being on Evernote servers?

    • Michael Hyatt

      See point #2.

  • Anonymous

    Duh – sorry; somehow missed point 2 on first read!

  • Brian McKinley

    Thanks for the information. I’ve just begun to use Evernote thanks to you. It has made my life and note taking so much easier and efficient. I now feel more confident in Evernote’s service and will start adding more items now that I know how secure my data will be.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the update.  This does make me feel better about using Evernote especially from a security standpoint.  Then again, I assumed since you were such a big fan of it and using it quite a bit that you had already considered this.  The big part right now for me is getting through the tedious part of taking things from the different systems I use and getting it into Evernote.  No small task, but given your discussions on Evernote, I will be happy I did it once I am done.

  • Lincoln Parks

    Thanks Michael, I was sharing Evernote and its capabilities with a few business colleagues and they were asking about encryption and security as well. I am going to pick up the book and really dig into this. My wife would also love this because she is trying to cut down on the clutter of our filing system and paper work. If she could file her items away in Evernote and secure them she would be in digital heaven.  Thanks again!

  • Ryan Knight

    This is good to hear. I am slowly trying to adopt the Evernote strategy and want to know that I can trust them to hold my filing cabinet. The fact that the CEO is actively reaching out to reassure people is comforting to me along with the policy and all the users. In this day and age, no company is “too big to fail” but Evernote definitely has a strong reputation going.

    • TNeal

      A good reputation depends on the positive words of others. Word of mouth can, in this day and age, spread quickly. Michael started the good word about Evernote but others have picked up the message and passed it on. You’re comment reminds me of this truth.

      • Ryan Knight

        What other leaders recommend Evernote? I’d like to peruse through different
        strategies so I can pick and choose recommendations I like and customize it
        for myself. Thanks!

        • TNeal

          I’m just noting the response of those who follow Michael’s blog. I’ve started using Evernote in the past few months and I like the simplicity of it. But I’m not filing away tax returns or my personal data on it (at least not yet). Others have shared similar satisfaction in their comments. As a writer and occasional public speaker, I’ve got easy access to illustrations and notes. They are no longer scattered in my email files or among Word documents or any other place I’ve put them in the past. If I remember even a portion of a quote, I can locate it. That’s what I’ve experienced.

  • Anonymous

    There are some things, like counseling notes, that I won’t store in Evernote just in case, but I actually still keep those on paper and in a locked filing cabinet. Very old-school.

    For anything else that I’m ok with being visible to others, Evernote’s systems work for me. Like a few others on here, my Evernote local directory is automatically backed-up, so if the cloud and the computer crash, there’s still the external hard drive. And if all three go down, well, that’s just a bad day and I’ll live.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Is their a reason you wouldn’t store your counseling notes on a local (unsynchronized) notebook?

      • @doughibbard

        Thinking about it, that’s less about security and more about accessibility. I don’t want to be referring back to a screen in a follow-up appointment.

        Although I’m slightly paranoid since I don’t have exclusive control over the computer in my office.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Makes sense. Though this might provide a good excuse to buy an iPad. ;-)

  • Donna Moritz

    Thanks Michael – great Evernote post as always.  I love Evernote and your series of posts about it have been fabulous.  In fact your blog is one of the few that I always read – exceptional content – keep it up!  Thanks! 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Donna. It is kind of you to say so.

  • Chris Neiger

    I’ve been using Evernote since I saw you post about it a few months ago. It’s a great program for organizing blog ideas, goals and work information. So far, security hasn’t been an issue.

  • Ben Tune

    I have been using Evernote on my iPod for a while now.  I mainly use it to keep track of simple lists like what to buy at the grocery store or gift ideas for my wife and kids, so I have never thought about how secure it is.  

  • Jeff Goins

    Thanks for sharing this, Mike. As you know, I’ve had some questions about this. Would you feel comfortable writing a book on Evernote?

    • bethanyplanton

      Good question. I am interested in the answer to that as well. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Do you mean write a book ON Evernote or write a book ABOUT Evernote? If the former, yes. However, I personally would rather use a processor for the actual writing and Evernote for the search. It would be difficult to get the manuscript out and to the publisher using Evernote.

      • Jeff Goins

        The former. So you’d write it in Pages or Word and THEN also import it into Evernote? Am I hearing you right?

        • Michael Hyatt

          No, I write in Pages and attach the files to an Evernote note. All my books-in-process are in one notebook called “Books.” Each book has it own tag. I then have one note per book that is just an index to the individual chapters. (I put each chapter in it’s own Pages file.) I also have other notes with articles, web clippings, etc. that pertain to specific books. It is a work in process and really I am just getting started.

          I am also doing all my blog posts in Evernote—at least all the research and first draft, then I transfer to MarsEdit for HTML formatting, tagging, and scheduling. I have even created an Evernote Blogging Template that includes the SCORRE method we learned at DCW. I plan to post on this, perhaps as early as next week.

          • Jeff Goins

            You’re a machine. A machine, I say!

          • David Santistevan

            Agreed, Mike. Your work ethic and organization is inspiring! Same to you, Mr. Goins. Rockstars in every sense of the word :)

          • Jeff Goins

            I’m just trying to keep up with this guy.

          • Michael Hyatt

            Ha. I am so impressed that you have found your voice so quickly, Jeff. You are doing a great job. It’s only a matter of time before you pass me. Someday, I will say, “I remember back in the days when I had more traffic than Jeff Goins.” They will respond, “No way!”

          • Jeff Goins

            I NEVER write this, but here goes… LOL

  • Jon Stolpe

    I’m still getting up to speed on Evernote, but I can see that it is useful.  I appreciate the comments about security.  I do have a question:  How do you keep your data accessible in case of emergency?  In other words, what happens if you die, and someone needs to get to the information that you stored on Evernote?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • B_Schebs

      Why not keep the User Name and Password (along with all others) on a piece of paper with your will/locked in a safe deposit box?

    • bethanyplanton

      I think your question can be applied to your computer or anything else that requires a password as well. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      My wife knows how to access it. It’s like all other important data: you have to provide the information ahead of time.

      • Jon Stolpe

        B Schebs, Bethany, and Michael, Thanks for the feedback.  I actually
        have a list saved that I should print and throw in the safe deposit
        box.  Again, I’m excited to see where this whole Evernote thing takes

        • B_Schebs

          No Problem, glad I could provide an idea.

    • Jeff Randleman

      I use a product called Set Your House In Order.  It’s a place to gather all the important documents, passwords, etc.  You can do it with their book, or the softwatre version, like I do.  It allows a place to import scanned images of these documents, as well as to list where that particular document is stored, how to access, passwords, and much more.  I think it cost me about $30-40 or so.  So far I love it.  Easy to use. 

  • Eric Cobb

    I think you need to change the title of your blog from “Intentional
    Leadership” to “Evernote Evangelist”, because, let’s face it, you’re
    developing an unhealthy obsession with that program.  ;-) 

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am committed to writing one post a week on productivity. Evernote just happens to be the tool I am learning about currently. Thanks.

  • Daren Sirbough

    I love the idea of going paperless. I’m a musicians though and getting charts into evernote is very different though a lot of my notes have now moved to evernote. It’s great. As for the safety issue, I think it’s great that you wrote this article. I was actually wondering how safe my information was in the hands of the directors at evernote. After reading their policies I do trust that I can bank on them for now and the future.

  • Dan


    I am a new reader and have even begun using Evernote as a sticky note reminder system for client commitments and business development tasks.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions on other significant issues of leadership, and truly agree on the capacity of intentional leadership.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dan. Welcome!

  • Anonymous

    While I’m not concerned about security, the thing that has been a problem for me is the level of formatting control in Evernote. I realize that EN is mostly about getting the information stored, but I would like the ability to do basic styling of tables — at least being able to hide certain parts of the border so that I can look at my data more clearly. Also, being able to style numbered lists into an outline format would be nice. Just having numbers is a bit stifling when it comes to preparing sermon outlines.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yea, lot of people complain about the Evernote Editor. It’s adequate for me, but I use a word processor or outline processor (OmniOutliner) for more control. Then I simply attach the file to a note. Honestly, it works great. I would hate to see Evernote spending to much of their limited development time replicating features that are better handled by other programs. By the way, you can also attach a PDF of the same document, so the whole thing is searchable.

      • Anonymous

        I’m using Evernote as my way of doing general thought collection: I have an
        idea about a sermon or something else, I open up EN and write it down. Since
        I’m working across five different computers and two operating systems,
        editing is an issue and attaching an OmniOutliner file or a PDF doesn’t
        exactly get me what I need.

        Perhaps instead of the Evernote team developing this kind of functionality
        directly, they could make EN pluggable so that someone else with enough
        interest could write a plug-in, similar to the early days of WordPress.
        Maybe eventually they could designate a core plug-in set that gets packaged
        with EN installs.

        • Michael Hyatt

          That’s a great idea!

  • Ralph Stoever

    This post is a good example of research and validation of a service provider along many critical dimensions and thanks for posting it!

    I’d see 3 additional points, just to see security approached more rationally and less through the emotional fear filter:

    1) Security is a relative concept. You must compare one security option to another. In this case, where is your data secure? On a local machine? In the cloud? With a large provider or a smaller one? In many cases, this will depend on the specificity of your needs and your potential relationship with the provider. 
    2) There is no absolute security. Nothing is absolutely safe. Would that be necessary at all? Is there anything that important? Are there things that cannot be replaced and that must be kept absolutely secret over a long time?
    3) You can always buy more security at exponentially increasing costs. It is a cost utility calculation. If you pay more for security than the cost of replacing the data or of a competitor redeveloping it, why do you?

    Besides the above, it’s also helpful to distinguish between safeguarding data against loss (where, for example, multiple copies of the date are helpful) and safeguarding it against theft (where as few copies as necessary are best) Security is not a homogenous requirement.
    For a more detailed and inspired discussion of IT security and secrecy, check out Bruce Schneier’s ‘Secrets and lies’ book or his TED talk.

    • TNeal

      Ralph–you add to the resources available through Michael Hyatt’s website. You are part of the reason Michael sets the table and others bring plenty of food for thought. Thanks for your addition to the feast of ideas.–Tom

      • Ralph Stoever

        Hi Tom! Thanks for the compliments. I guess it takes a good host to gather a good crowd.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Excellent comment, Ralph. Thanks.

  • HRG Inc.

    This is a fantastic and extremely well-timed post, Michael. Your exuberance for Evernote piqued my curiosity enough to start my own personal beta test of the service. Still, concerns about security have been holding me back from going all in.

    Admittedly, my concerns are all founded only on “what if?” thinking. I researched Evernote and found no substantive complaints from users. I did not even find any anecdotal reasons for concern.

    Another commenter offered the example of people who are still uncomfortable giving their credit card number over the phone. Fact is, your card is in more danger when you use it in a brick-and-mortar store than over the phone. Then again, many people still assume air travel is more dangerous than over-the-road.

    I would feel better if Evernote’s security policy were more “official” than it appears. Even if it were, however, there are no absolute guarantees with anything, ever.

    So, thank you. Your post compelled me to challenge my own doubts on the subject and think it through. (Guess what I’ve concluded!)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you! As another commenter noted, “Nothing is absolutely secure”—at least at a cost that most of us would be willing to pay! Thanks.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Overall, I think I’m satisfied with their security measures. However, I know there’s always the chance of the information they have stored could be compromised. So, for now, I’ll use them for non-sensitive material.

  • W. Mark Thompson

    Good info. Security is always a concern. Thanks!

  • Robert Ewoldt

    I think #3 is the biggest one for me… I need to know that my info is stored in more than one place.

  • Caleb Phelps

    Whenever I tell people about Evernote I can’t help get excited about it myself. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the program, but the fact that it’s free feels like a gift! On that note, I am at peace with Evernote’s security policy. There are some companies that come across as shady. Not Evernote. From the day I started taking notes for class with it, to now where I keep song ideas marinating constantly, I have never felt like my notes are at risk of being lost or stolen. Add the fact the tools they enable their users with are outstanding, you can’t beat it.

  • TNeal

    Interesting to note the security issues that I have never considered. For one, I’m storing notes from books, posts, and other resources but not sensitive data. What this post does is alert me to additional possibilities which I’ve yet to consider. Sometimes I just need a nudge in the right direction. I could put some important and often displaced information into a note where I could easily retrieve it. Thanks for the heads up and the confidence builder.

  • Dan Greegor

    I really like Evernote. So far I haven’t uploaded anything that would give cause for privacy concerns so I cannot comment much on that aspect.

  • Hans416

    Michael, this is a brilliant post. Your research and attention to detail are spot-on. you should do a survey and see how many new evernote users are a result of this blog series

    • Anonymous

      I agree.  There’s a lot of research condensed here.  Thanks for answering a ton of questions.

      • Luba_ch2000

         Hallo. I have a question. How do you save the evernote data on the local server??… On my computer? I didn’t quite understand that.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Unless you share are the Notebook, it is only saved on your local drive.

    • bethanyplanton

      I know I am one of the Evernote users that started because of Michael’s blog posts. 

      • TNeal

        Me too!

      • Jeff Randleman


    • Michael Hyatt

      That would be interesting to know. I can tell you that I got a personal call from the VP of Marketing, so I think it is on their radar. ;-)

  • bethanyplanton

    Thanks for doing the research and sharing all of this! These were things I hadn’t really thought of, but now I feel even more confident about using Evernote. 

  • Ben Zuehlke

    Thanks for the tip on encrypting data! I’ve always been slightly concerned about the personal data I kept in my Evernote account. Not anymore :)

  • Ashleyscwalls

    I am interested in trying this system, but I am not sure if I have enough stuff to upload, as in is it worth the time and investment for me. Any thoughts?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know what to tell you other than to try it. Evernote has a free version, so the only investment will be your time to get started.

    • TNeal

      I don’t know what you normally store, copy, keep, but I’ve increased my note taking–from very little to a whole lot–and use Evernote more than I used everything else combined. I’ve had no problem retrieving the information. I record good posts (like this one), illustrations, and my own general thoughts.

      Michael notes that it has a free version and that’s what I’ve used for about two months now. He expands Evernote’s use in this post and others beyond what my current use (which is why I record this stuff and recognize I’ll be ready to run with it after I’ve learned to walk it through).

  • Dariengabriel

    Extremely helpful. Thx Mike!

  • Christian Ray Flores

    I am a huge fan of Evernote. Thanks for clearing up the safety and encryption questions, I’ve had them but was too lazy to explore the fineprint. 

    I wrote post about Evernote on the Third Drive that might be helpful :

    • TNeal

      What I like about your Third Drive post is it’s easy to read, has good information, and packs a lot in a short punch. Well done.

    • Anonymous

      Nice post.  I like the outline format.  Nice and succinct sentences.  Thanks for the post.

  • Adam

    I have been completely satisfied with the security that Evenote offers. Really like Evernote and all that it offers. 

  • Fernando Almeida

    Thanks for the detailed explanation about safety and evernote. I was not aware that we could encrypt information into evernote.
    The issue with storing notes locally and on the cloud could come at the time when for some reason your online data is wiped out, and then you connect and it starts syncing automatically. Since the last change you made to your data was the one you did online, it will sync your local notebooks sync in a way it matches the cloud ones, which means loosing the local notebooks as well. Thus, either a forced sync of local to online needs to be made, or something manually needs to be done.
    I never tried this with evernote, but with other services, I have had situation that I lost all local data during syncing because I thought that by syncing it would make the local equal to the cloud, when in fact it did the opposite.

  • Dustin W. Stout

    Thanks Michael, this was a concern of mine. I have now thought of a few ideas for going “Paperless” myself!

  • Dshick

    Excellent post.  I’ve nearly paperless using OneNote…but have been tempted by your posts on EverNote.  Now, I will check into it.   BTW,  going paperless is liberating.  Altho’ its frustrating by how much paper I still get from others.    In my former (paper) life, I would have dropped it in the file cabinet.  Now, I find that some of it I don’t need to scan and save.

  • Soumangue Basse

    Thank you for posting this great post on Evernote..

  • Jmhardy97

    Great post. I had always wondered about this and now feel more secure with everyone’s posts.


  • Coolspec


    Every week, I download some sensitive notes to my hard disk as HTML files. Now, with you are saying, I really dont have to do that since Evernote already stores it on my machine. Can anyone confirms that. It could save me tedious work


  • Atle Iversen

    Evernote is a great service for many uses (and I’m saying that as a competitor), but the security is “Safe For Kids” only !

    If you don’t want your kids or friends/family to access your data, Evernote is secure enough (mostly, depending on which device you use).

    However, it is *not* secure for sensitive data (neither is my company’s product, Dropbox and many (if not most) other cloud services) !

    Security and encryption is hard to get right – my advice is to use a TrueCrypt container to *securely* store your data (or KeePass, or something similar).

    Some links with more information for reference:

     – -  – - - -  –


    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this very helpful comment, Atle. I am also a DropBox user.

      I will have to check out TrueCrypt. That looks like a good solution for people who have information that needs to be stored securely. Thanks again.

  • Scott Gould

    Evernote rocks. Relax everyone!

  • Virtual Agents

    for sharing this, Mike. It’s helps to convince others to us Evernote, and
    you’ve point out great things about Evernote which helps much.

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  • Thought Asylum

    In case anyone wants to dig a bit more into securing Evernote, why not take a look at my Securing Evernote post (Aug 2010)?

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  • John Lane

    Do you find that you ever go above the 1gb monthly limit?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Not so far. I haven’t even gotten close.

  • Jeff Randleman

    Thanks for this information.  You’ve answered several questions I had concerning the security of Evernote and my more sensitive information. 

    I’m looking forward to getting meore than a couple thousand documents into Evernote, and seeing how it functions under the weight of all my stuff.  So far, most of my resources filing cabinets have been scanned.  It’s great having everything at my fingertips instead of in a cumbersome metal cabinet.

    Next step, bills and receipts…


  • Fritz

    One questions – If Evernote goes out of business, how can someone retrieve the content from the local database?  Do you need the evernote application to view the content stored in the evernote database?

    • Michael Hyatt

      You would still have your local Evernote client software.

  • John

    I am trying to decide whether to user EVERNOTE or DROPBOX. My only concern with Evernote is I can’t seem to find any information as far as basic security of data on their servers (the cloud). I know I can MANUALLY encrypt / decrypt  with Evernote but Dropbox states their Data Security policy right up front (and I have no affiliation with either company): 

    Dropbox uses modern encryption methods to both transfer and store your data.Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption
    Dropbox website and client software have been hardened against attacks from hackers
    Public files are only viewable by people who have a link to the file(s). Public folders are not browsable or searchableDropbox uses Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) for storage, which has a robust security policy of its own. You can find more information on Amazon’s data security from the S3 site or, read more about how Dropbox and Amazon securely stores data.ANY FEEDBACK REGARDING “DATA STORAGE SECURITY” WOULD BE WELCOME. IT SEEMS THAT DROPBOX IS PROVIDING FEWER STEPS THAT A USER NEEDS TO TAKE TO “SECURE” THEIR DATA. I WANT TO PUT ALL MY PERSONAL AND SENSITIVE INFO INTO THE PROGRAM I CHOOSE AND I HAVEN’T SEEN A POLICY STATED SUCH AS ABOVE FROM EVERNOTE.THANKS,

  • Charles Gambrell

    I created an Evernote account over a year ago when my son told me about it but had not used it for anything.  Since I read your blog entries I have started using it and so far have been pleased.  Thanks for your reports on it and please continue to share your insights and suggestions.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Charles.

  • Brett

    I have been using Evernote since its early days and I’m still a premium user.  However, just a word of caution.  I’ve lost notes and attachments with Evernote in the past.  You need to be very careful about backing your data up to your harddrive or to something like Dropbox (Dropbox is my number one tool now).

    The whole online security issue of my  documents in Evernote has never been a concern of mine.  My issue has been with losing important documents and this has happened to me a number of times.  There are some reports out there of this happening to others as well.  I can understand why Evernote won’t acknowledge this happening because it goes to the core of that they do, but it is an issue and don’t be surprised if your documents go missing from time to time. 

    Sorry for the dampener on what really is a great concept and execution of useful software, but it now scares the hell out me to attach an important document or note in Evernote.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Interesting. This has never happened to me. What kind of hardware and OS are you using?

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  • Mpena518

    Michael i have a question? 
    I inspect about 30 restaurants for a franchise and i was thinking of using evernotes to store the information of these inspections (including pictures) can this information be seen by others? is it really secure? 

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t have anything to offer that I didn’t already say in the post.

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  • Tami

    Do you pay for evernote or use the free version?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I use the Premium (i.e., paid) version. Mainly so I can save more file types to it.

      • Rockguy29

        me too iam premium. I like that get all the features and plus I use it a lot. I have about 2300 notes I have been using it for a little over a year and have 2370 notes and a tshirt too

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  • John Mayson

    I met some of the Evernote crew here in Austin a couple of weeks ago.  Nice guys.  Everything you said is true.  I have been moving a lot of data about trying to find what data fits best where.  I’ve never had a problem getting my data back out of Evernote.

    From time to time I try out other note taking solutions.  I’ve yet to find anything as versitile as Evernote.

  • Craig Daters

    In your article above you mention that you don’t have a PC (does that mean you’re on a Mac?) TrueCrypt is available on the Mac platform as well and works just as it does on the PC.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I am on a Mac. I have been using TrueCrypt for a while now. It works great.

  • Jimmy H

    Great information thank you.  I like the idea of being 100% paperless and backed up.  Still my only aversion has been storing personal sensitive information.  Will look into TrueCrypt in addition to the peace of mind you have shared. Thanks !

  • Lars

    Thanks for the great article. One thing stays open for me. Is the Mac client syncing with the Evernote-servers via a secure connection or simply via port 80?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I am not sure. You might try posting this question on the Evernote User Forum.

  • Patrick Pete

    I agree with your assertions about Evernote’s business model as a basis for it’s security.  I am a IT security professional and by default I tend to be skeptical with respect to cloud related privacy, just because of the inherent nature of humans to err, whether it is intentional or not.  But in the same way Google’s business lives and dies on the basis of users belief that Google provides the best possible search results, Evernote depends on users to have confidence that when they use Evernote’s cloud functionality their data is safe from inquiring eyes.  Without it, their business would be finished.

    Nothing is guaranteed, but when you do a cost-benefit analysis, the benefit that Evernote gives you far outweighs the probability that your privacy or data will be usurped. 

  • NoTrusty

    When trying to upgrade to the latest version, Windows squawks about the Evernote installer download being from an unknown publisher.

    Seriously?  Has my computer been hacked so that someone intercepted my download and substituted it with their own, or is Evernote so cheap as to not opt for a secure installation file?

    • Michael Hyatt

      You might try posting in the Evernote User Forum for Windows. I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with that version.

  • No One Knows

    You can see the author is not a security professional as database encryption issue is not mentioned. Evernote does not encrypt user databases in the server-side, so if server security is ever breached, it’s all in the clear. Just setting the record straight. 

  • essentiae

    Be sure to backup important attachments outside of Evernote as well… I’ve lost very important attachments when they became corrupt (without any changes to the notes, other than perhaps renaming the folder they were in). Evernote support has been no help in recovering them and b/c the notes were never changed after they were uploaded, there is no “previous version” to restore… Buyer beware.

  • Jaye

    Read this article which states the only security is user name a and password – nothing special.

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  • Beverly McGregor Monical

    This is very interesting Angus. I will check it out. Thanks for sharing with me.

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  • Nico

    Right clicking on a word or number you want to encrypt does not work on the free version (unless I’m doing something wrong).

  • Jeff H

    Hi Michael,
    Wanted to make you aware that the most recent update to the Mac Evernote application (version 3.3.0) has changed the location of the EN database mentioned in the guide that you shared. 

    Instead of the using the folder  ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote, it is now located at ~/Library/CoreData/com.evernote.Evernote. 

    The steps remain the same except to use this new com.evernote.Evernote location instead.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for letting me know, Jeff.

  • Michael

    Recent update bugs have wiped out notebooks. I don’t care how safe and successful Evernote may be, it only takes a bug to loose everything and lately Evernote’s been very lazy in the QA department.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Interesting. I haven’t had any issues. Are you sure it’s Evernote?

    • Sally Jo Eberhart

      With the latest update to Evernote, I lost the ability to scan. By reinstalling an older version, and then updating via Evernote and not the App store, I was able to restore the scanning function. I did however “lose” my local notebooks. I keep hearing about backing up your Evernote files locally but am not sure where I am looking exactly. I did have most of them on my old computer and have PDF copies of all so it is mostly an annoyance but want to prevent such from happening again. I do love Evernote but want to make sure I am backing up my local only files.

  • Mike

    A very good question has been posed, but not answered.  “Do Evernote employees have access to my data”?  A more technical version of this question is, “Is my data stored in an encrypted state, and if so how are the encryption keys managed”?  I have been trying to find an answer to this question with no success – not even from Evernote.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I can’t answer it either. Have you left a message on the Evernote Support Forum?

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  • MichaelFreidgeim

    Does Evernote uses httpS ( secure http, AKA SSL) protocol to transfer data between servers and clients?
    If not, content potentially can be sniffed by hackers.

  • MichaelFreidgeim
  • Kim

    I realize I’m late to the party on this thread but in reading the entire post and comments I believe there is one topic that has not been addressed that should be for those who come along later (than even I!).

    With the wonderful cloud data storage model we have to also discuss the increasing (quickly becoming universal) mobile access clients. EverNote provides a beautiful client for mobile devices but this creates a security problem for privacy data. The attachments lay open to exploit on the sdcard of the device. I discovered this in the process of moving my personal records to EN.

    So, while we can comfort folks by with the positives EN offers, I think we should also make sure they realize the actual risk of using EN mobile because the odds are they are going to to so on an iPhone or Android device. For those that say privacy documents are at risk in a paper file, this is true. But there is a big difference between someone snagging my sdcard having all the time in the world to go through my documents versus them sitting in my office and rifling filing cabinets for hours or attempting to remove all my documents to an offsite location for review (picture fork lifts and trucks in my driveway).

    The fact is that the same technology that makes EN (and like products) so alluring to us organizers also makes it alluring to identity thieves – it is easy to access and search data on mobile devices. Anyone have encryption options for Android to offer for use in protecting EN notes locally?

    • Kim

      Immediately after posting this I discovered that newer handsets like the Samsung G3 have sdcard encryption as an option. So, this is acceptable way to address the risks of concern to me for mobile device exposure. Dunder Mifflin beware! I’m going paperless! :)

      • Michael Hyatt

        Okay. Cool. Thanks for letting us know.

  • aguy

    what about when evernote decides to upgrade and change its policies to sell on your collected data like facebook has.

    • Michael Hyatt

      If you are really concerned about that, then just store your notes locally and don’t sync to the cloud.

  • jc

    “Do Evernote employees have access to my sensitive data? What if there’s a security breach?” was never answered in this article with respect to the “cloud”.  With such other accolades for Evernote, the answer to this  surely wasn’t something that was accidentally left out.  I get it, you write for a living. Is there an answer to the question, though?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know. (How would I know? I don’t work for Evernote.)

      Does the bank have access to your account files? Do administrative and medical personal have access to your health records? Does the waitress have access to your credit card when she disappears in the back of the restaurant for five or ten minutes?
      If you want to worry about this, there is a lot to worry about! (I wrote a book on this issue in 2001, so I am aware of the problem.)

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  • Daniel Mosley

    Michael, thanks for inspiring the Mosley’s to go paperless. Love being clutter free!

    Here’s a tip for your readers: MacFort is a great tool for securing your Evernote database. Very easy to setup and more efficient than the manual methods. I’m now using it to secure many of my databases (journal, mail, and more).

    Here’s the link (no affiliation):

  • Your Daddy

    Thanks so much!

  • peggyduncan

    I’m using OneNote (Microsoft). I modified the Save and Backup instruction to send the backup file to DropBox. Nothing confidential is in this file, so I’m OK with security.

  • Bob Green

    I love Evernote and I did not know about the “highlight-right click-encrypt” method until this post. What a great way to add an additional layer of security. Thanks for your tips.

  • sony

    very nice…..i have tested and its working superbly……Keep sharing more and more valuble informations, tips , tricks,….. Make Money , Blogging Tips

  • Md Hassan

    i’m also Using Ever note on My Lap , Mac and Iphone..realy i’m satisfied with their services.. bur one thing i stuck on “Access History” while i’m check my history it shows different IP addresses and Different Location.. i’m Using only on these three devices at same location … but it shows different locations and different IP .. can anyone help me out…!!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I would check with Evernote support on that one.

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  • Ken Griffith

    Evernote should be encrypting ALL data stored on the cloud with a user-specific key – so that your data is only accessible by you. However, this would make it more difficult to access from multiple devices – so apparently they are not encrypting all data by default. This means that data synced to Evernote servers is vulnerable to breaches. Lots of big companies have been having data breaches, so I would not rely on the fact that Evernote is a big company.

    Evernote can improve on this by implementing an automatic encryption scheme. “There is only one mode, and it is secure.”

  • T heeDragon

    tried to encrypt a note as suggested – did not work – is there a new way to do it ?// GREAT article / very well written

  • el

    once i use the text encryption of Evernote, means this text is also not readable on the Evernote cloud?

  • el

    do you think this way it’s also secure against eyes of Evernote employes

  • Rich

    You can also use a backup service like Revert. Revert does a daily backup of your Evernote notes giving you version control and the ability to restore notes or notebooks.