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Evernote for Expense Backup


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Hello, I have Googled this topic and looked around various places for specifics on what I am about to ask. Please forgive me if I missed something out there and I am repeating a question / topic BUT I was unable to get the "specific answer" that I am looking for.

Some Quick Background:

I currently use Evernote for many aspects of my business and I am a very happy user. Evernote is SO much better than it was a few years back when I was having many, many issues with syncing between devices, text formatting issues between devices, and the list goes on. Evernote is better today - period (but I still can't wait for the new editor to come out on iOS and the Mac app but that's another topic ;))

I am looking for a tool to store my expense backup and other financial data and Evernote is in the mix. I read Stacey Harmon's "12 Reasons Why Evernote is THE Choice for Tax Management and Financial Organization for the Self-Employed" ( https://www.harmonenterprises.com/blog/evernote-for-tax-financial-management ) and I agree with her all of her analysis BUT she left one item out... what happens if one needs to export this important financial data out of Evernote and into a new tool of choice like - G Suite Drive for instance.

  1. What happens if Evernote starts having issues again and I want out (hopefully not)?
  2. What happens if my business makes a decision to use another tool for this for various reasons?

If I was to use G Suite / Drive for this, the exporting and importing into a new tool would be straight forward. I would download the files and upload them into a new file system. But Evernote seems less straight forward.

With Evernote, I have a choice of exporting as either HTML or XML and I don't know what to do with that??? I tested this by creating a test note, exporting in each format and then seeing what I could then do with it and I am confused.

My Question:

If I have all of my expense data (Evernote Notes with my notes and embedded receipt images or forwarded emails, etc.) where would I be able to put these files if I ever found that I had to leave Evernote? Would I be able to quickly import it into Google Drive or OneDrive OR would I be forced to go into another note application like OneNote ???

Again, I am a very happy Evernote user and I absolutely see the benefits that Stacey talks about in the link above as good reasons why Evernote is a good choice for what I am trying to do here BUT I just want to make sure that I have a noncomplex out (or an out period) IF I find that I need to make a change.

Thanks, in advance, for your help!

Michael

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2 hours ago, mkrobo said:

With Evernote, I have a choice of exporting as either HTML or XML and I don't know what to do with that

I use the HTML export option to backup my Evernote data (daily intermediate, weekly full)     
A separate .html file is created for each note; with attachments in their native format    
The notes are readable by any browser app1094674257_ScreenShot2020-08-17at7_45_15AM.png.f177b34b2320995fcceee88ddcca1018.png

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2 hours ago, mkrobo said:

If I have all of my expense data (Evernote Notes with my notes and embedded receipt images or forwarded emails, etc.) where would I be able to put these files if I ever found that I had to leave Evernote? Would I be able to quickly import it into Google Drive or OneDrive OR would I be forced to go into another note application like OneNote ???

Kind of hard to predict the future as to what software might be available should you opt out of EN.  What you can do with EN is mass export the attachments in the notes and PDF print whatever notes have other content.  That would give you the bare bones needed to import into another application.  Or maybe at that time in the future an app exists with an import option for EN data.  🤷‍♂️

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DTLow -> Thanks! So now I see...

As this would be financial tax backup stuff (receipts, bank statements, etc.), I really wouldn't need to "put it" into a new system / tool at all. But the HTML export would give me access to what I would need and I could just file it away and back it up and then I would have access to the Note in it's entirety (image, PDF, my comments, etc.) should I need to produce it for a tax audit, etc. That would work !

CalS -> I agree with you BUT the Internal Revenue Service needs what they need when they need it and I just want to be sure I'll have it when they do AND that it won't take too much of my time and effort getting it.

Thanks to both of you!

Michael

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1 hour ago, mkrobo said:

I agree with you BUT the Internal Revenue Service needs what they need when they need it and I just want to be sure I'll have it when they do AND that it won't take too much of my time and effort getting it.

You are welcome. FYI, I store all my tax records in a local notebook in EN.  On purpose the notes only contain PDFs.  I tag the notes with something that starts with 1040 and whatever document type it is (1040.Sched.A for example) and a year tag, _2020 for example.  Then a search for tag:_2020 tag:1040* will return all tax documents for that year.  Highlight the list, right click on the list, select Save attachments and I have all I need.  So not much time or effort.  FWIW.

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28 minutes ago, CalS said:

Save attachments and I have all I need. 

I have a problem with the naming standard for my attachments   
I have strong standards for note titles (date type [description] keywords)   
however I've neglected renaming the attachments   
I need the attachments continued link to the note, if only for the title

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2 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I have a problem with the naming standard for my attachments   
I have strong standards for note titles (date, type, [description], keywords)   
however I've neglected renaming the attachments   
I need the attachments continued link to the note, if only for the title

I typically don't rename scanned attachments. 

On the other hand, I do rename downloaded attachments as they tend to be repeats and I have existing notes of the type, statements for example. 

It is easy to search by tags to find the similar note(s), copy the title (I have a hotkey for that), and paste into the Save box, and use an import folder to create the note.  So attachment and note then have the same name.  The newly created note will assume the tags in the search and I can then make any adjustments, year for example if it is a tax document.  Might not work for all but I get by with it.

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On 8/17/2020 at 12:56 PM, CalS said:

FYI, I store all my tax records in a local notebook in EN.  On purpose the notes only contain PDFs.

Thanks for the reminder that I have the option to store locally. This will allow me to keep everything together in EN while keeping the more sensitive stuff off the cloud. I’m guessing these locally stored EN Notes will be included in the backups as well?

Also, can you elaborate on why you purposely only have PDFs in the locally stored Notebooks?

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1 hour ago, mkrobo said:

Thanks for the reminder that I have the option to store locally. This will allow me to keep everything together in EN while keeping the more sensitive stuff off the cloud. I’m guessing these locally stored EN Notes will be included in the backups as well?

Also, can you elaborate on why you purposely only have PDFs in the locally stored Notebooks?

You have to backup the local notebooks yourself.  I use an app called Backupery (Windows).  Each morning at 1 am it backs up all my notebooks.  It would help if I accidentally delete a note in a synced notebook.

Only PDFs makes the save attachments option an easy solution.  Do the search, highlight the notes, save the attachments, and the tax guy has all he needs to do the taxes.  Don’t have to worry about any notes with text in them. If I get an email as a tax document I will print it to PDF for just this reason. 

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Basically there are two approaches to backup:

  • Use a standard backup solution (in my case it is Acronis True Image, saving to a NAS). This saves the whole EN data base on your desktop, including online and offline notebooks. It is one sweep, very efficient, but you need a working EN client to read it.
  • You can export as a ENEX file. This is readable by other note apps as well, can be for example used to import EN content into other notebook applications if you want to switch. But is is more work (or needs an automation), because EN does not export the "note belongs to notebook" information. So it is best practice to export based on notebooks, each into an individual export file.
  • Remember that the notes (apart of offline notebooks) are always synced to the server. This is close to a permanent backup, at least for paying users, because there is note history to go back in time if something was deleted. It just does not work if a note was deleted, and then emptied from the trash. Then gone is gone.

For the tax stuff: If you want to share EN content with your accountant, you need to use an online notebook. No sharing of offline notebooks, because there is no server copy. 

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4 minutes ago, PinkElephant said:

If you want to share EN content with your accountant, you need to use an online notebook.

Or send an encrypted PDF via email based on the contents of local notebooks, my preferred method.  Or use the accountants portal.

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4 hours ago, mkrobo said:

I’m guessing these locally stored EN Notes will be included in the backups as well?

Yes, the export feature executes on selected notes with no distinction between Local and Online notebooks

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Thanks for all the good ideas and insights above... it’s very helpful and appreciated.

DTLow:

I’m curious why you chose an HTML backup over the Evernote format. I know the Evernote method has its drawbacks - no notebook, structure, no selective choosing on what to import, etc., but what does the HTML method offer as options should you need to use it to recover your EN data into EN or into another system? Or did you choose it for another reason that I’m not aware of?

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2 hours ago, mkrobo said:

I’m curious why you chose an HTML backup over the Evernote format.

I actually have a raw database backup via Mac Time Machine backups.   
This is the only way to properly restore Local Notebooks   

I also rely on Evernote's Note History backup to restore lost content from individual notes   
Also Evernote's cloud sync means I'm not at risk from a device failure; my data can be accessed on the web and other devices 

>>I know the Evernote method has its drawbacks - no notebook, structure, no selective choosing on what to import, etc

On the plus side, the Evernote export/import feature retains metadata (except for Notebook and Note-ID)   
I can import notes from my HTML backup but I have to manually set the metadata

Selective access and import is a  big issue.     
My recovery needs are for content from individual notes    
I can't access a single note in a .enex backup file - I have to import the entire set of notes just to get access to the note I need   
With my HTML backup, I have direct access to individual notes   
  
Finally, have you tried importing a .enex backup file?    
My testing failed various times; including my Mac choking on large .enex files

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2 hours ago, DTLow said:

I actually have a raw database backup via Mac Time Machine backups.   

I do Time Machine backs as well so I’m assuming I have this too? I utilize BackBlaze continuous backups so I’m hoping that EN database file is backed up there as well just in case Time Machine has issues.

And the question begs to be asked:

If we have this raw database backup, why not just rewrite the file so it’s all fixed to a more desired time and place? I’m pretty sure I’m missing something here.

2 hours ago, DTLow said:

This is the only way to properly restore Local Notebooks

Properly? I was thinking I would have to do what I would have to do with any other notebook - import the .enex data and sort through to replace what I need under a newly created notebook.

I never had an issue importing an .enex backup file BUT I only tested it on a single note so thanks for the new concern ;)

So maybe the best thing to do regarding Evernote backups is to do it all:

1. Raw database file (seems to be automatic)

2. .enex export (manual daily)

3. HTML export (manual daily)

... and then I’d have some options should something happen.

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I know many people who are under-backupped, you may be the first case I would regard as over-backupped ...

There is a general rule for Backing up, which is called 3-2-1:

  • 3 copies of all relevant data
  • 2 different backup media 
  • 1 Backup at a remote location

All Backups must be thought of from a possible restore event. In your case you would have to decide between TimeMachine and Backblaze. Because both are running on schedule, probably both are pretty much up to date.

There is an additional method with EN (excluding local notebooks): Uninstall the app, using AppCleaner to really get rid of everything, reinstall, log in and have the full data base restored from the EN server.

All this will recreate the full EN data base, except for nothing local when using the server data. As long as you do not exclude any of the EN data from your regular backups, I really don’t see a necessity to run even more backups beside TM and BB.

If you want to restore an individual note, an export file may help you. You have to decide for yourself how likely this may be. I run a strategy of rarely emptying my trash, so most notes I have deleted are still there, recoverable. And with note history I can go back in time without using a tool like TM & BB to recover content missing from a still existing note.

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1 hour ago, mkrobo said:

Properly? I was thinking I would have to do what I would have to do with any other notebook - import the .enex data and sort through to replace what I need under a newly created notebook.

For local notebooks, we only have to restore the raw database and we're done    
For online notebooks, the first sync will bring the notebooks up-to-date   
- there's no "newly created notebooks"   
- notes are actually restored; not imported as new notes

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3 hours ago, DTLow said:

For local notebooks, we only have to restore the raw database and we're done

Do you lose any updates in that restore?

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46 minutes ago, CalS said:

Do you lose any updates in that restore?

We are rolling back the database so updates since the backup are lost   
Fortunately, the Mac Time Machine intermediate backups are frequent (hourly)

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2 hours ago, DTLow said:

We are rolling back the database so updates since the backup are lost   
Fortunately, the Mac Time Machine intermediate backups are frequent (hourly)

Nice.  I guess I might still prefer to use ENEX files for recovering a deleted note so as to not lose any updates.  Horses for courses. 

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13 hours ago, PinkElephant said:

you would have to decide between TimeMachine and Backblaze.

Thanks PinkElephant.

Are you referring to the EN database file found here on a Mac?

Help > Troubleshooting > Open Database Folder

In other words, your advise is to forgo the .enex export / import altogether because I already have what I need there?

12 hours ago, DTLow said:

For local notebooks, we only have to restore the raw database and we're done

I’m still confused about how one would restore a local Notebook. How would one go about it exactly? What is the process?

I didn’t realize Time Machine and Bacblaze were backing up EN’s database file on my Mac. Now that I know that, I’m just going to do .enex export daily so I have that and then I can always roll back the EN database should I need to / choose to do that as shown in option #3 in this link:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.makeuseof.com/tag/backup-restore-evernote/amp/

I used OneNote before I found Evernote and I had to roll back the database file twice because OneNote was acting up and then syncing the mistakes. That is why I left OneNote in the end. It’s a bit complex BUT it’s also doable and it’s a relief to know I have that option with Evernote should I need it.

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5 hours ago, mkrobo said:

I’m still confused about how one would restore a local Notebook. How would one go about it exactly? What is the process?

Using a raw database backup, we are restoring an entire database
There's no option for a single notebook, or single note

  1. Identify the database folder;
    for me it's /Users/DTLow/Library/Group Containers/Q79WDW8YH9.com.evernote.Evernote/CoreNote/accounts/www.evernote.com/1156250
    This is the folder being backed up/restored
  2. Access your backups, and retrieve the folder as of a specified date
  3. Replace the above folder with the backup folder
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Thanks DTLow, but that seems like A LOT to go through to get local notes / notebooks.

  1. Why can't one just import an .enex file as this is exported with all of the other sync'd notes?
  2. What makes that "improper?"

Also, I have another question if anyone can help me please:

I started creating local notebooks and I also started moving and creating notes into these local notebooks.

For one local notebook, I moved already existing notes from a sync'd notebook AND for the other notebook,  I created a new note inside the local notebook and I uploaded PDFs from my computer.

The notes that I moved from a sync'd notebook DO NOT have a blue "unsync'd" area with a white arrow in the top right portion of the note.

The newly created notes where I uploaded PDF's from my computer DO have a blue "unsync'd" area with a white arrow in the top right portion of the note and they do not go away.

Does this make sense OR am I experiencing an issue that I'll need to get help with?

Thank you!

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26 minutes ago, mkrobo said:
  • Why can't one just import an .enex file as this is exported with all of the other sync'd notes?
  • What makes that "improper?"

Export/Import is a valid backup strategy    
Be aware that the export excludes notebook and note-id   
The import does not restore; it creates new notebooks and new notes

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If you export by notebook you can restore by notebook.  Notes will be imported to a notebook named Imported notes.  You can move the note you are recovering to the notebook of record and then delete the. Imported notes notebook. That’s about it. 

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5 hours ago, DTLow said:
  • Identify the database folder;
    for me it's /Users/DTLow/Library/Group Containers/Q79WDW8YH9.com.evernote.Evernote/CoreNote/accounts/www.evernote.com/1156250
    This is the folder being backed up/restored
  • Access your backups, and retrieve the folder as of a specified date
  • Replace the above folder with the backup folder

I think I get this now... when I replace the database folder With the backup, my whole Evernote instance on my Mac is replaced to the date of the backup. Then, when I resync with Evernote’s servers, the synced notebooks / notes are made current again BUT the local notebooks and notes are untouched and -> restored.

 

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This is how it should work.

If you restore an older version of the database locally, you can stop syncing. Then install the old data base, open, create a duplicate of a note you want to preserve in its old version. When you then sync, the duplicate will be treated as a new note, and will not be overwritten.

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3 hours ago, mkrobo said:

I think I get this now... when I replace the database folder With the backup, my whole Evernote instance on my Mac is replaced to the date of the backup. Then, when I resync with Evernote’s servers, the synced notebooks / notes are made current again BUT the local notebooks and notes are untouched and -> restored.

 

Never tried that.  Not sure if the server sync point and the sync point of the backup are reconciled by EN's sync logic so I would be real careful with backups just in case.  If the sync logic works fine the backup on the server will update the DB on your machine with changes since the backup.  Local notebooks will be reset to the time of the backup since it is a DB overlay so any changes to local notebooks would be lost.  Fringe question would be what happens to a note that got moved from local to synced since the backup?  I guess you end up with two copies? 

Could be different with Windows and Mac.  Sounds a bit hairy to me.  My simple mind can do the the arithmetic with Notebook backups to ENEX.  

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11 hours ago, CalS said:

My simple mind can do the the arithmetic with Notebook backups to ENEX.

I'm leaning toward your thinking about this as well CalS.

What is the downside to importing local notebook data via .enex vs. replacing the Evernote database file with a past backup?

  1. Excludes notebook and note-id
  2. Creates new notebooks and new notes (vs. restoring)
  3. One might have to rebuild notebook structure (depending on how they exported)
  4. One would for sure have to rebuild any stack structure (regardless of how they exported)
  5. What else ???

The upside is it's simple, easy, it restores our notes and we're not messing around with Evernote's database files.

BUT it's still nice to know we have the database option should we ever need it ;)

Another point on this... I can't find one official Evernote document describing any other backup method (for Mac anyway) besides the export / import method.

BTW, I decided to use your local notebooks recommendation for my company's financial documentation. I think it's a great "meet in the middle" approach that enables access, security and good organization:

  1. It will be conveniently kept alongside all of my company's other stuff
  2. All of the financial stuff will be kept in one Folder / Stack
  3. It will be off of the cloud and securely backed up on my encrypted and well-secured Mac (picture me knocking on wood)
  4. I will be able to quickly export anything that I will need to on demand (using your right click, save attachments to folder recommendation)
  5. It would be very easy to move it all over to the Evernote's servers should I ever want to do that (who knows)

I'm really glad that I came into the EN Forum to ask for help on this ;)

Thanks to everyone!

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5 hours ago, mkrobo said:

Thanks to everyone!

You are welcome.  A couple of points.

5 hours ago, mkrobo said:
  1. Excludes notebook and note-id
  2. Creates new notebooks and new notes (vs. restoring)

My solution here is to 1. always move the note back to its original notebook, and 2. keep any note link names the same as the title of the note such that should a link get restored I can find it via search should the need arise.

5 hours ago, mkrobo said:

3.  It will be off of the cloud and securely backed up on my encrypted and well-secured Mac (picture me knocking on wood)

I use Backupery for automated daily ENEX backups of all notebooks to a 2 GB SSD external drive (33 GB a day eats some disk).  Weekly I zip/encrypt my local notebooks and save them to a cloud folder (about 3 GB).  Have seven versions of daily and a month of cloud.  Fits my effort/reward profile for protecting my local notebooks from a machine meltdown or whatever.  I rely on the EN server for synced notebooks in the event of a machine meltdown and the seven days of backups for an accidental delete.  Anything past seven days and I am out of luck, but I can live with that.

5 hours ago, mkrobo said:

I'm really glad that I came into the EN Forum to ask for help on this

Yeah, this forum can be a good place to get new ideas and solutions,  That's probably when it works best.  Horses for courses so no right answers per se, but a lot of options presented.

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30 minutes ago, CalS said:

seven days of backups for an accidental delete.  Anything past seven days and I am out of luck

I'm using daily incremental backups - never overwritten.  I can recover data from years ago

>>2 GB SSD external drive

TB???

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3 minutes ago, DTLow said:

I'm using daily incremental backups - never overwritten.  I can recover data from years ago

Well you are brighter than I.  If I delete something and I find out more than seven days after the fact I would be mostly clueless as to when in the past to look.  Backukpery has an incremental option, but I just don't want to slog through it.  Effort/reward/risk.  It's not like I'm keeping launch codes in my EN.  ;)

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

I'm using daily incremental backups - never overwritten.  I can recover data from years ago

>>2 GB SSD external drive

TB???

Yup, thanks.  Will change the original.

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On 8/24/2020 at 11:24 AM, DTLow said:

Export/Import is a valid backup strategy    
Be aware that the export excludes notebook and note-id

What does this mean exactly - not having the notebook and note-id?

I know that the notebook structure isn’t kept with the .enex backup method but what is the note-id and how am I affected by not having this?

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3 hours ago, mkrobo said:

I know that the notebook structure isn’t kept with the .enex backup method but what is the note-id and how am I affected by not having this?

Each note is uniquely identified by a note-id

An important feature in Evernote is note hyperlinks, which is based on note-id     
When importing a .enex file, the note-id is overwritten; any links using the previous note-id become broken

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1 hour ago, mkrobo said:

I see. I get my Notes as they were but pretty much all of the organization and linking has to be rebuilt.

If you export by notebook after import you have two choices more or less.

  1. If you are recovering a note or notes you import, move the notes and delete the imported notebook.  I have done this a few times recovering an accidentally deleted note or a note in a local notebook (which doesn't have history) where I FUBAR'd the note in some manner and needed to get the original back. 
  2. If you are replacing the entire notebook you delete the original notebook, import the backup, and rename the imported notebook to the original.  The only time I have replaced an entire notebook was some years back when I had to rebuild my data base from the server so I had to import my local notebooks.  Not particularly onerous. 

Linking as an issue is dependent on how and how much you use linking.  I am a low to moderate user of linking and my strategy is to keep the link and the note title the same.  That way should I ever have to import a target note I can recreate any links as I find them.  It just doesn't happen that often to me so my view is it isn't a broken link until I try to access it at which point I fix it.  So the broken links just aren't the big bad wolf at the door for my use case.  Can be different for others.  🤷‍♂️

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1 hour ago, CalS said:

If you export by notebook after import you have two choices more or less.

I use notebooks for structure (not much into tags except when I use Diigo because I have to) so I have too many notebooks to do these one by one - which I guess is the only option for Mac's.

So what I do is go to all notes, I do a select all and then export... this gives me all my notes without notebook structure.

I do this every workday at the end of the day and I keep the last ten exports.

So when I do an import, I will get one notebook (I do a local notebook here) with all of my notes and I'll have to go through them to find what I need. And then I would delete the rest.

I can live with this though - I will have ALL my notes and that will do!

And I'm not too worried about linking either. I do use it here and there but it isn't a dealbreaker, should I lose them. My notes are a whole different story!

1 hour ago, CalS said:

my strategy is to keep the link and the note title the same.

Good idea!

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5 minutes ago, mkrobo said:

I have too many notebooks to do these one by one - which I guess is the only option for Mac's.

For Macs, we can use AppleScript to control the separate export of notebooks

tell application "Evernote"
     
set allNotebooks to every notebook
     
repeat with currentNotebook in allNotebooks
          
set notebookName to (the name of currentNotebook)
          
set theNotes to every note in notebook notebookName
          ... backup code
     end repeat
end tell

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27 minutes ago, mkrobo said:

I use notebooks for structure (not much into tags except when I use Diigo because I have to) so I have too many notebooks to do these one by one

Upside on Windows is the product I mentioned above, Backupery.  Plus I am a tagger by nature and only have 8 notebooks 2 of which are INBOX and Scans which are typically empty, and a small notebook named Quick which is an offline notebook on IOS with typically less than 10 notes in it.  I use Quick for those notes I want to be sure to have access to should I be without Internet.  So a simpler set up in regards to export/import than a bunch of notebooks scenario.

33 minutes ago, mkrobo said:

So what I do is go to all notes, I do a select all and then export.

Are you using stacks on the Mac?  If not you could organize things a bit, at a minimum a synced and a local stack.  Would make it a little easier for export/import.  FWIW.

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1 hour ago, DTLow said:

For Macs, we can use AppleScript to control the separate export of notebooks

Wow - thanks DTLow.

I have to admit though that I am more of a computer user than a developer. I’ll do some reading up on this to see how it works. If you know of a good resource for a beginner please share :)

55 minutes ago, CalS said:

Are you using stacks on the Mac?  If not you could organize things a bit, at a minimum a synced and a local stack.  Would make it a little easier for export/import. 

I do use stacks and my setup is perfect (for me anyway) for how I use Evernote and maybe not so perfect for restoring BUT hopefully I won’t have to think about that.

Also, I already do have my notebooks saved in my raw backup and there is a method to access them and extract them should I ever need to do that. It’s bit complicated but certainly doable.

But I have to admit that AppleScript looks very interesting and I’m going to look into it.

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1 minute ago, mkrobo said:

But I have to admit that AppleScript looks very interesting and I’m going to look into it.

Sounds like you have a plan.  Good luck!

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  • Level 5*
9 hours ago, mkrobo said:

If you know of a good resource for a beginner please share

I wrote some introductory notes at

 

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