Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive – The Fractured Way I Store Stuff Online

I’ve had this nagging desire to write about Evernote and the mess that is my online storage life for the last few weeks. I use the product every single day to take notes, scan business cards, and clip interesting things from the web that I want to keep for future reference. I have also paid for the Premium version for quite some time as the product delivers a lot of value and I feel good supporting them.

The nagging feeling I wanted to write about is where Evernote is headed as a product given the evolving landscape of where people create and store their content. There is a growing list of companies fighting for my time and attention in their desire to be the place that I store all of my stuff. I’m trying to wrap my head around what all of this competition means for them and how they will respond.

Evernote is where I store text that I want to be able to retrieve or reference in the future. In many ways, I think the elephant logo is a perfect one – Evernote is where I put things that I don’t want to forget or lose.

The things i’ve been thinking about is the fractured nature of how I store my content online. I have things all over the place. In some cases it’s driven by functionality and features, and in some cases its driven by habit. Here’s a quick rundown as to how I store and manage things. Curious to hear how others manage things:

  • Dropbox – Dropbox is probably my primary document repository. It works on all of my devices. And when the Camera Uploader came out, I jumped on that as a good, easy way to backup all of the photos I take on my phone. I don’t really create content in Dropbox, but it’s the place where I store things that I create in other systems.
  • Google Drive – I store a lot of things in Google Drive as well. The main difference for me, though, is that the vast majority of things I store in Google Drive are documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that I actually created using Google Docs. I also pay to get access to more storage as I have a lot of email in Gmail. My guess is that 90% of the things I have in Google Drive come from Google products (Gmail, Docs, Spreadsheets, etc). Even though Google has a good photo backup solution using Google+, I haven’t seen any need to switch from Dropbox.
  • Evernote – I use Evernote primarily for note taking and note storage. I also like the card scanner, which is a good additional app. Last, I do use Evernote to store recipes, important news articles, confirmations, and other things I want to keep for a long time. I use Pocket to capture news articles that I want to read but don’t need to save for future reference. My use cases for Evernote today are very similar to what they were when I first started using the product a few years ago.

    The other thing I will say that stands out for me about Evernote with regards to the other products and services that I mentioned above is that Evernote is primarily a single player experience for me. I regularly share things that I have stored in Google Drive with others. The same is true of Dropbox content. For me, though, Evernote is a place that I keep things that are important to me. Many of these items will not be shared with anyone else.

    I wonder whether Evernote can continue to be an important product in my life if they are only the place where I store notes and web content that I find personally important. They don’t seem to be pushing aggressively into storing my photos, videos, or other documents, so I assume they are going to continue to pursue the status quo.

    The other trend that plays into this is that many major technology companies now offer me large amounts of free storage to park my stuff with them. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and others all allow me to store anywhere from a few gigabytes to unlimited amounts of storage for free. I expect the world to get more competitive and crowded with more people offering to store my stuff online.

    For me, storage is a commodity. But the experience of interacting with the things I’ve stored is not a commodity, so offering more free storage (unless I am already at capacity) is not a compelling reason to switch. I find the Dropbox experience to be the most intuitive way to browse and search for many of the documents I’ve saved across multiple devices. I often wonder when Dropbox is going to make a bigger play in the content creation realm. If they had something like Quip as a native experience, that could be really powerful. And I really like the integrated experience of creating things in Google Docs and being able to easily send them out via Gmail – living in the all-Google world is a pretty good integrated experience.

    It feels like things are shifting in this world and I can’t quite figure out how it’s all going to play out. As always, comments are open. You can also share your thoughts with me on Twitter @chudson.

    • Jason Hable

      I really wish Apple would solve this. It’s the input/access device for all of this media for me and if they could provide a seamless experience I would be locked into their hardware for life. iCloud should be easy to use and free for average consumers.

    • Fahad

      I use DropBox and Google Drive in a very similar manner. I’m with Jason, I wish Apple would just solve this for those that have invested in their hardware

    • http://www.semilshah.com/ Semil Shah

      This is a proxy for all of these companies compete against each other. What about iCloud for your photos, phone backup? It seems we will have to live with this fragmentation for a long time.

    • Michelle Fishberg

      “The experience of interacting with the things I’ve stored is not a commodity”…couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been consulting for a large NAS storage company. Part of the work has been helping them to develop a strategy for the future that evolves them past their commoditized offerings. It’s about enabling users to leverage their data and providing more compelling reasons to engage with their products. Ironically, to the NAS guys, these Cloud players are considered at the forefront of innovating here. To your point Charles, there’s still quite a lot of room for an evolution and consolidation of experience. Right now it’s in photos, video, media, productivity…but down the road, as IoT devices and wearables proliferate, the opportunities will be even more considerable.

    • http://www.charleshudson.net chudson

      I have zero confidence in Apple’s ability to solve core software issues in my life. I trust them 100% with hardware, though.

    • http://www.charleshudson.net chudson

      I have just given up on iCloud. If it were meant to be my solution, it would have worked by now.

    • Alex Miller

      Hi. Great article. My iphone is out of space, mostly due to too many full-sized photos. What do you do about your photos and music? I’m looking for a way to store all my photos on Drive, and have a reduced-size copy replace the ones on my phone.

    • http://www.charleshudson.net chudson

      I got rid of the native music on my phone and just use Spotify. And I always buy the largest storage version of phone possible to deal with that very issue.

    • Alex Miller

      Thanks Charles

    • Michael Fanous

      Great article! I too live a fragmented way of life to some degree. About 3 years ago (when online storage prices were not competitive) I ended up getting a Synology DiskStation. Today, prices are convenient, and many of these options (Dropbox, Drive, etc) can sync up to my DiskStation. I then backup the DiskStation back to the Cloud. The only benefit to Evernote Premium (I do love of them) they are a single mentality product only. But I don’t know of any service, that lets me organize my notes the way Evernote does, let’s me tag them, let’s me search within the notes (and PDFs, etc) and let’s me search by tags. If anyone has seen better suggestions, please let me know…..I have thought about splitting my note-writing workflow in 2 parts. Considering Drafts for note-writing, quick notes, etc and then porting them to Evernote for storage and finalization…Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.