Notion vs. Joplin | Which is the Better App?

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Which is the better note-taking app?  Notion or Joplin? That is today’s discussion.

INTRODUCTION

Hi, I’m Nancy and welcome to my channel.  To decide which app is the best for you we need to look at the following:

[CHAPTERS]

  • Ease of Use
  • Features
  • Security; and
  • Backup Capabilities

Be sure to stay till the end of the video as you may be surprised at the backup capabilities available for both apps.  After all, most people do not think about the recovery process when deciding which app to use.  Now let us look at the Ease of use.

EASE OF USE

NOTION

After signing up with Notion and telling Notion how you plan to use the app you end up at “Getting Started Page” inside your new workspace. To get you started Notion has already installed some of the most popular templates for you to use.

You can jump right into the templates or search for one that fits your needs.  It takes less than 10 minutes to catch on to Notion.  However, it can be a little intimidating starting a page by scratch.  The biggest thing that helped me to create a new page was to design out my thoughts on paper then start creating the page.   

Use Notion’s Help Center

Don’t be afraid to spend some time in Notion’s Help center.  This center has a ton of information available to help you create the page of your dreams.  It also discusses advance features of Notion and how to use them.

Before you dive into Notion spend a few minutes learning about Notion blocks.  You will build your page based upon blocks, so it is best to learn how they function.   So, when building a page, it will consist of multiple blocks of information. 

I found it easy to use and was off running very quickly.  With Notion you can create anything that you can think of.  Now let’s look at Joplin’s ease of use. 

JOPLIN

I personally found Joplin easier to use Notion just by looking at Joplin’s landing page.   Also, I liked the fact that I can organize my notes into notebooks.  I can even breakout any notebook into sub-notebooks.  Which allows me to further categorize my notes.  However, if you want to be able to collaborate with team members then you will need use Joplin’s server which is not free. Which will cost you around $60 a year.

Joplin was created as a replacement for Evernote and is basically just a notetaking and to-do list app.  Whereas Notion has more flexibility as you can create databases and much more.

You can get more advance features in Joplin by installing plugins.  One of the plugins I added was “Simple Backup”.  Once configured it will automatically or manually backup your data.  I love this!  

Since Joplin is open source, you must rely upon the community members for any updates and enhancements.  However, the community is active and has made many changes to the app since it was first released.  For instance, Joplin’s Cloud service is a relatively new feature that was nonexistent when Joplin was first released.  Now let’s move on to features.

FEATURES

Notion

Notion is packed with features such as:

  • Notion’s text editor is easy to use and customize.
    • Has Database capabilities
    • Create public pages
    • Task prioritization and scheduler
    • Shared team calendar
    • Collaboration features like file sharing and communication
    • Documentation features like document storage

Joplin

Even though Joplin is an open-source app it does not lack a lot of features.  For example, Joplin has the following features:

  • Create a to-do list
    • Notes can be tagged and searched
    • You can use if offline without an Internet connection
    • Supports Markdown
    • Easily attach files
    • Web Clipper for Firefox and Chrome
    • End to end encryption
    • Gets note history
    • Can be synchronized with cloud services
    • Easily import files from Evernote
    • Export JEX files and raw files
    • Supports notes, to-dos, tags and notebooks
    • Go to Anything feature
    • Support notifications on mobile and desktop
    • Geo-location support
    • Multiple language support
    • Open your notes in your favorite external editor in one click.

I love the fact that with Joplin I am not tied down to using the app.  I can open any text editor and change or update a note.  This is a nice feature as you are not dependent on the app.  Now let’s look at the security features of both apps.

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SECURITY

No one in today’s day and age should adopt an app without understanding how secure that app is. Now, I must admit that I am not a security expert, nor do I claim to be one.  However, as a consultant, I do have to think about security especially if I am going to put inside an application any of my client’s or my own business data.    That is why I have included security as part of my review.

Joplin

Let’s start first with Joplin security.  Joplin is one of the few apps available today that uses end-to-end encryption.  End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a system where only the owner of the data          (i.e., notes, notebooks, tags, or resources) can read it. It prevents potential eavesdroppers –        including telecom providers, internet providers, and even the developers of Joplin from being able to access the data.  If you are serious about security, then it is best to store Joplin’s data on a local hard drive and not in the cloud.  I worry that someone may be able to get into this data if it is stored on the Cloud.  Yes, that is me being extremely cautious.  I am sure you all will educate me on your thought process in the comments.

The system is designed to defeat any attempts at surveillance or tampering because no third party can decipher the data being communicated or stored. 

Notion

Whereas Notion encrypts the data found on their servers and the data to and from their servers. However, the encryption is held and controlled by Notion, not you.  The other thing to think about is the fact that Notion employees have access to your data.  They must have the access in case you remove a page and need it restored.  In addition, Notion employees need access for troubleshooting problems that you have with their product.  I am not saying that this is good or bad. However, it could be a security risk as your data is stored on their site.

With Notion, you are not allowed to select where your data is stored.  The only option is to store the data on Notion’s servers.  This is something to think about. 

For me, I only use Notion for storing my YouTube checklists.  So, if someone got the information it would not be a big deal.  I know companies are using Notion to store employee, organization, and customer information.  Personally, I would store this data on my own servers and not Notion’s but to each his own.

BACKUP CAPABILITIES

I have to be honest that I never thought about data recovery util I lost my data.  That is why I am addressing this now with you.  If you are going to pour your heart and soul into developing months or years’ worth of data into an app, then there needs to be a way to recover the data with as little input from you as possible.

So, let’s look at the backup capabilities for both apps.

Notion

Notion does allow you to back up your data.  However, unless you pay for the Enterprise version you are limited on how that data is backed up.  Your data can be exported as Markdown, HTML, and CSV files.  With the Enterprise Plan you can also do PDFs.  My complaint is that if I had to restore this data it may not keep the format as it was when exported.  I don’t want to spend hours fixing pages after pages of data.        

I can tell you that I used to use Notion all the time.  However, I have pretty much stopped using Notion due to a problem that I had with a page that was removed from my account.  Unfortunately, I did not notice that the page was missing until after the 30 days had passed.  And of course, I did not backup my data.  My own fault I know!!! As a result, Notion could not get my data back.    I had over 6 months of data that was lost and I just did not want to recreate the database or deal with this issue.

Notion Backup

I have found a company that specializes in Notions backups called “Notion Backups.com”.  It costs $8 a month and automatically backs up your data.  You get to select where your backups are stored which is a nice touch.  I am not sure how the restore process works.  So, you are on your own there. 

I also am not sure how well the restore function on Notion works.  Especially if you had to restore your data from Markdown, HTML or CSV files.  I personally would spend a little time creating a page then deleting it and try to use one of these methods to restore it.  If you have experience with this, please let me know in the comments below.

Joplin

Joplin lets you choose where to store your data.  You can easy copy the folder to another location to have a backup, but I found a simpler method.  You can add a plugin called “Simple Backup” to automatically backup your data.  This is a nice feature!

However, I have to be honest I have not tried to restore from the backup.  If you have, please leave your findings down below in the comments. 

WRAPOUT

I know that if I was choosing between these two apps there are three things that would influence my decision.  The first is the backup capability and the second is how secure the app is.  The third item is how easy it is to you and how I planned on using it.

Who should use these apps? Well, Notion is an all-in-one application.  It aims to do more than just take notes.  It is great for those that need to be able to collaborate and want one workspace for multiple things like notes, calendars, databases and more. Whereas Joplin is a note-taking and to-do list application.   

Joplin has the best security and backup capabilities out of the two apps. But it all boils down to this.  What you need the app to do.  If you need just a note-taking app or to-do list, then Joplin is for you.  However, if you need more than check out Notion.

CALL TO ACTION

If you found this video helpful, I would appreciate it if you would share this video with family and friends.  Also, consider subscribing to the channel and leave your thoughts below.  Until next time please be safe.

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