December 24, 2008, 11:00 AM — Evernote is one of the many online services that let you store digital information in an organized way and access it through your browser. All the buzzwords apply, such as Web 2.0, Software as a Service, and â€œfreemium,â€ which means they offer a free and premium version. They also just added file synchronization with live update, which puts them toward the front of the pack among similar services. But you do have to step up to the premium version, which is understandable.
At first glance, file synchronization doesn't look like a major step forward. When you upload a file to one of your notes, you can access it from any browser. Evernote makes a big deal of supporting Windows and Apple's OS X with their desktop client, because many systems only use a browser. With competing services, you put a file in the service, access the file from the service, make changes, and put the file back in the service. It stays synchronized if you do it manually.
Evernote goes one step further by adding file synchronization tied to their desktop client software available for Windows and Apple systems. They also offer mobile versions, so you can take a photo with your smart phone and upload it automatically to your Evernote page, and have it replicated to your home and work computers.
These client applications handle file synchronization automatically when you change a file on your computer that has been uploaded and tagged by the system as a sync file. Change it on your PC at work, and when you open it with your Apple at home, the changes are replicated to your file copy there. This is the â€œlive updateâ€ feature that makes the file synchronization work.
You can send files from your smart phone, such as the example they provide in their press release about forwarding a PowerPoint presentation to a coworker with your phone while out of the office. Personally, another replicated PowerPoint doesn't thrill me, but I'm not in middle management.
I've been playing with the free version of Evernote, and it's nice but doesn't fit quite well enough to the way I work to pay for the premium version. That means I haven't tested this synchronization feature yet, because it appears you need the premium version to initiate files into the synchronization process, even if you may be able to share them with free versions in some way.
While cool, I always have to warn users that file synchronization is not backup. It helps to have your files in more than one place so you have a copy elsewhere when you mess up or delete the copy you have, but it's not backup. That said, coordinating file versions between home, work, and mobile computers is a giant pain, and Evernote just made that job much easier.