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If you’re an Evernote user concerned about privacy, you may want to rethink your use of the app. Recent changes to their privacy policy have many people worried that their notes aren’t as private as they’d hoped. How will these changes affect you? Should you choose another note-taking app? And what else is out there?

Let’s take a look.

Evernote’s Privacy Policy Changes

In an attempt to better automate some of the tasks that users routinely take on, Evernote will be introducing machine learning 4 Machine Learning Algorithms That Shape Your Life 4 Machine Learning Algorithms That Shape Your Life You may not realize it but machine learning is already all around you, and it can exert a surprising degree of influence over your life. Don't believe me? You might be surprised. Read More technology in late January 2017. Evernote’s CEO, Chris O’Neill, cited creating to-do lists and travel itineraries as examples of tasks that would be made easier with machine learning. Seems pretty benign, right?

Where people tend to get upset is when they find out that Evernote employees will occasionally be looking at their notes. Here’s the explanation from a recent Evernote blog post:

If you choose to participate in these experimental features, you’ll enjoy a more personalized experience. Select Evernote employees may see random content to ensure the features are working properly but they won’t know who it belongs to. They’ll only see the snippet they’re checking. Not only that, but if a machine identifies any personal information, it will mask it from the employee.

You might find this reassuring, or you might feel like your privacy is being violated. Either way, many people are pretty nervous about Evernote employees reading their notes. After making the announcement, Evernote quickly backtracked, stating that machine learning would now be an opt-in feature, instead of a necessary one for all users.

How Secure Is Evernote?

Not forcing users to participate in this program is definitely a step in the right direction. The fact that Evernote thought this was a good idea in the first place is worrying, though. Your notes are stored unencrypted on company servers as well, meaning that a governmental request for your information would likely mean that agents would have access to all of your notes.

Just to be clear, notes are indeed encrypted in transit How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? Read More , but they’re decrypted once they hit the company server. And you can encrypt the text in specific notes Maximize Evernote with 5 Powerful Features Maximize Evernote with 5 Powerful Features With over 100 million users, Evernote is arguably the web's favorite productivity and note-saving tool. We are putting the spotlight on 5 under-appreciated Evernote features and detail their value. Read More , but you’ll need to generate passwords for them. Evernote doesn’t store those, so if you forget it, that note is lost forever. These are all considerations you may want to keep in mind.

You probably shouldn’t be storing highly sensitive information 10 Pieces of Information That Are Used to Steal Your Identity 10 Pieces of Information That Are Used to Steal Your Identity According to the US Bureau of Justice, identity theft cost victims over $24 billion in 2012, more than household burglary, motor, and property theft combined. These 10 pieces of information are what thieves are looking... Read More in an app like Evernote anyway. But all of these facts might make you a bit nervous about your privacy.

If it does, read on for a few secure note-taking options.

1. Turtl

The idea behind this app is very simple: provide users with a space to safely store whatever they want. Turtl makes it easy to store text notes, files, images, passwords, and bookmarks in encrypted storage. Everything is encrypted, even on Turtl’s servers. They don’t even store your password, which means if you lose it, you can’t get any of your notes back.

turtl editor

The note editor and organization system in Turtl aren’t as advanced as those in Evernote. But if you’re primarily interested in storing text notes and images, it’s great. The interface is very clean and easy to use, and there are very few settings to mess with. Just start it up and go.

turtl organizer

You can also share notes via Turtl, which is a great feature for an encrypted note-taking app. The app is currently free on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, and will be coming to iOS in the near future. Turtl will also be launching a premium version for users who want to store large amounts of data.

Download — Turtl for Windows | Mac | Linux 32-bit | Linux 64-bit | Android

2. Laverna

Unlike some other options, Laverna doesn’t have a central server, so they’ll never have access to your notes — even encrypted ones. Instead, you’ll need to sync it with Dropbox Securing Dropbox: 6 Steps To Take For Safer Cloud Storage Securing Dropbox: 6 Steps To Take For Safer Cloud Storage Dropbox isn’t the most secure cloud storage service out there. But for those of you who wish to stay with Dropbox the tips here will help you maximize your account’s security. Read More or RemoteStorage. You can then access the notes from the web interface or the desktop client, available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. An Android app is coming soon.

laverna

Laverna’s support for Markdown makes it a cinch to format your text, and it provides support for task lists and code highlighting. Beyond that, it’s a bare-bones note-taking app, perfect if you’re looking for something with minimal distractions. Privacy enthusiasts will appreciate the fact that you don’t need to register to get started.

DownloadLaverna for Linux, Mac, and Windows (Free)

3. Protected Text

If you don’t need many organizational features — if you just use your note-taking app to jot a few things down and then move or delete them, for example — Protected Text will meet your needs. It’s about as simple as a note-taking app can be: a few plain-text tabs, and that’s it. No text formatting, no folders, no tags, no search. Just an encrypted space to store your stuff.

protected text

You can access this web app through your browser by going to protectedtext.com/[anything] and if that particular URL is available, you can claim and password-protect it. After that, all you need to do is go back to the same URL and enter the password. That’s all there is to it!

4. Saferoom

Instead of offering a new note-taking app, Saferoom encrypts your Evernote and Onenote notes Evernote vs. OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Right for You? Evernote vs. OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Right for You? Evernote and OneNote are amazing note-taking apps. It's hard to pick between the two. We compared everything from interface to note organization to help you choose. What works best for you? Read More before syncing them to the cloud. It requires more steps than simply using an encrypted note app, but it does let you keep using your chosen note-taking app.

You can choose to encrypt specific notes, giving you some flexibility. This is likely to be the best option for users who are committed to Evernote and can’t imagine moving to something else. It’s currently available on iOS, Android, Chrome, and Windows.

Download — Saferoom for iOS | Android | Chrome | Windows | Linux

What other encrypted note-taking apps are out there? Are you concerned about Evernote’s privacy policy? Will you switch to a new app? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: Turgay Koca via Shutterstock

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  1. austinemaris
    February 10, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Trojan horse is also affiliated with trojan worms

  2. techno
    January 11, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I've started using QOwnNotes which can sync in a variety of ways but it's set up to use Owncloud. I think that for the majority of people the issues lie in how to get information out of Evernote.

    I've tried a majority of these and the problem I run into is images and PDFs. Most of these are fantastic text tools but they can't handle the vast majority of my Evernote notes.

    Sandstorm. Io also has a few note taking apps for someone who wants to give them a try.

    Here's hoping that these tools continue to get better.

    • Dann Albright
      January 13, 2017 at 12:57 am

      I've heard of QOwnNotes, and it sounds like a pretty solid option, but it didn't seem quite as user friendly as some other apps out there. I've never heard of Sandstorm.io, though; I'll have to check that out!

  3. Juan
    January 10, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    I am using Monospace for Android, it allows syncing with GDrive, and the text notes can be encrypted individually with a password.

    • Dann Albright
      January 13, 2017 at 12:56 am

      How often do you encrypt a note? You can singly encrypt notes in Evernote too, but I think whether it's a nice feature depends on largely on how often you use it.

      • John
        July 25, 2017 at 6:57 pm

        In Evernote you can only encrypt from the desktop (Windows or Mac only). Not sure what happens with an encrypted note when you need to open it on your Android, iPhone or Linux system. Are you able to open it? Whether you are able to, or not, you've locked a good portion of your customer base out of a necessary feature by only providing it on the desktop.

        I see a large number of sites promoting Evernote as the solution to finding everything and shortening your work day. Then these sites give examples of things you can store in Evernote which just make me shudder... Medical Documents, Pictures of your Passport Credit Cards, Bank and Investment Statements, Emergency Contact Info, and the list goes on. This is all the kind of information you should only be storing on the cloud in an encrypted form. If someone hacks Evernote, they'll have access to almost everything until Evernote uses encryption when stores everything.