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Ongoing note conflicts — and problems with Evernote support


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I've been an Evernote user since 2011. (I've been an Evernote Premium user for all or most of that time.)

I use Evernote on three devices: a Mac, an iPad, an iPhone. I never use them at the same time; I use them sequentially, going from my laptop to my iPad or iPhone and then back again.

Lately — I think I mean "for months", but I'm not really sure when this started — I've been getting note conflicts pretty consistently. I don't really understand that. While some of my older notes have images and PDFs, everything I do these days is text, or lightly formatted text. I don't understand how text files can take long to sync. I don't understand why Evernote can't sync when I open the app and before I start modifying a note. I don't understand why Evernote can't sync a particular note just as I begin editing. (I'm always, always connected to the Internet.)

On Saturday I hit a conflict again. I was frustrated enough to submit a support ticket. Indeed, I was frustrated enough to start researching Evernote replacements after I submitted that ticket.

Dealing with support has increased my frustration.

I sent an Activity Log with my ticket. I was told that, from the log, they could tell that I was using an older version of Evernote, and that I should submit another ticket if the problem happened again after updating.

In fact, I wasn't using an older version. Support mis-read the log. The log started on 2 Jun. On 6 Jun I updated to the latest version. On 12 Jun I hit yet another conflict and submitted the ticket.

Why do I have to explain to support how to read their logs?

I pointed out the error. Their reply didn't acknowledge the error. Instead their reply just felt like (another) canned response. It started by explaining what a conflict was — yes, I know that — and said, among other things:

Quote

 

To reduce the conflicting changes issue on your devices, manually sync before you start working on a note and sync again when you finish. Do this whenever you change devices to keep the notes updated on our servers and ready to be synced to the other device.

I know that it would be more convenient if users can edit notes on different devices at the same time...

 

No, I don't want to be able to edit a note on different devices at the "same time." Sequentially. I was very, very clear about that.

The only reason I use Evernote is to have notes that I can edit from multiple devices. Lots of apps seem to be able to handle that without user intervention (or, at least, without frequent user intervention). Indeed, *Evernote* used to be able to handle that without user intervention. At least, it did for me.

But if manual syncing is the solution: Why is it buried in iOS? (Hamburger menu -> Gear icon -> Sync menu item -> Sync button) ***And why the hell was the sync button removed from the Mac app?***

Why is support, the people who should know the product better than I do, telling me to manually sync when that isn't even an option?

Lately Evernote has been pushing "Tasks". And I'm sitting here thinking: why are you pushing new features when there are problems with the core functionality of the existing app? (I've read many, many other reports of people with frustrating sync issues. Some have reported conflicts after editing a note on a single device? Crazy if true.)

I used to use WebClipper. I stopped because I frequently discovered it chewing up 100% CPU. That was on two different computers. The problem seemed to happen when the machines came out of sleep. I reported the problem but never got a response. So I just stopped using the feature.

Grrr.

I'm venting, I know. But I'm curious: is what I'm experiencing unusual? Or is it common?

I'm trying to figure out whether or not, after 10 years, it's time to give up. To my mind there's no point sticking with a note taking app that can't sync notes pretty reliably. The responses I'm getting from support — no real effort to understand what's *actually* happening, if there's a fixable cause — makes me feel like "pretty reliably" isn't in the cards.

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I give up.

I was already frustrated. Dealing with support has made that frustration boil over. They send me an email overnight. I reply in the morning. They send me an email overnight. Each individual interaction is taking a full day.

And I get the sense that the one and only goal of each interaction is to close the ticket. I don't mean: close the ticket by solving the problem. I just mean: close the ticket. (I don't think there's even been an effort to *understand* the problem. They have the activity log from the device that created the conflict. Is there no useful info in that massive log? At all? And if not: why the hell not?)

I do almost all of my editing on my Mac. But occasionally I use my iPad or iPhone. If I can't do that I have literally no reason to use Evernote. If it seemed like this was an issue they were aware of, one that they were working to solve, I'd wait it out. But it doesn't seem like they are. So: no reason to wait.

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My mixed setup Mac Legacy & v10, iPad, iPhone and occasionally Win 10 serves me well.

Sync on iOS: Pull the notes list down a little, let it go. It syncs, no need for menu action … unfortunately not that easy on the Mac, sync button is requested by many users.

Checked your internet connection yet ? Longer ping time, jitter and packet loss above 0% can signal problems there. Same with WiFi, especially the 2.4 GHz band is often very crowded. It can be fine during the day, and ***** in the evening, only by more users, on neighboring networks as well. Even if you have no access, they all share bandwidth, and when overloaded loose packages.

Web clipper works for me on most sites, Safari & Firefox. No high CPU on clipping, it just takes a little for some pages, fast for others.

From other threads I believe there still is an issue with high CPU, caused by processes that do not properly terminate. In such a case it is important to really quit the app, not only close it. After restarting it usually is back in a normal range. Not good, but manageable for some time.

Just a bunch of ideas …

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I didn't know that pull-to-refresh in iOS would force a sync. I actually create shortcuts to the notes I'm most actively editing, so that I can get to them from Home without hunting through notebooks. Maybe being able to get to a note more quickly increases the odds of a conflict? Ironic if true.

My home is wired for Ethernet. All of the networking equipment, both wired and wireless, is from Ubiquiti's UniFi series — kind of high-end consumer or low-end professional, depending on how you look at it. The point is that I have very good reporting on everything, and I'm not aware of any issues. (I use an excellent tool, PingPlotter, to diagnose issues outside of my home. It's helped me spot problems with my cable provider multiple times. Highly, highly recommended. And the support was great; they helped me interpret the results I was seeing.)

I reported the WebClipper problem I was seeing in the forums, here. The problem wasn't high CPU during clipping, the problem was high CPU *period* after the computer woke from sleep. I wasn't even using WebClipper when it happened. I had the same problem on two different machines, and it seems like at least one other person had it too. I tried a few versions of WebClipper over a period of time, and then... gave up.

Thanks very much for offering some ideas, and taking the time to help.

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As I said above, I have no duplicating issues. I use shortcuts as well, currently appr. 10 of them. Some notes I access several times a day for reference.

Your network seems solid, especially using Ethernet whenever possible. Ubiquity should do ad well. Do you use 5GHz channels for the WiFi ?

For network analysis I use Fing, among others. I use a Mesh from AVM, a German supplier for routers and IoT devices.

I have not yet seen high CPU usage after a wake up. It is all nice and quiet when my Mac activates. My first action if it would happen would probably be shutting down and restarting once. This often helps when a process has forgotten to terminate itself. Next step uninstalling and reinstalling the extension.

 

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I came here with the exact same sync problem, although this involves different computers on Windows:

  • I save a note at my work computer, shut it down. (EDIT: I had gotten used to CTRL-S to save. Now I'm not sure if I ever just imagined that saving was possible on Evernote, all I know is that I cannot find a way to explicitly save any more)
  • Open the same note on my home computer and edit the note.
  • I turn on my work computer, which starts Evernote.
  • My home computer immediately notifies of different versions of the same file.

The root of the problem seems to be that when I shut down my work computer, the last edits do not get synced. They get synced when I turn it back on, and by then it's way too late as I've already edited the note on my other computer.

This would all be fixed with the Sync button that was present on the previous versions. Why did the button go away?

Is there any way to force a sync? For a product as mature as Evernote, this is a beginner type of bug.

EDIT: Before people ask about internet connection quality, both are gigabit fiber connections.

Edited by G M
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Probably you need to wait a little before shutting down one of your computers.

When the upsync client to Server is done, there will be a message bottom right of the EN desktop window telling all changes have been saved.

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2 minutes ago, PinkElephant said:

Probably you need to wait a little before shutting down one of your computers.

When the upsync client to Server is done, there will be a message bottom right of the EN desktop window telling all changes have been saved.

Thanks for this, I will watch out for the notification at the bottom, and see if that out of sync situation happens again.

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Nice to have a workaround but still a forced sync seems to be a miss.  Strange as forced sync exists in IOS and uniformity of user experience was a target for the rewrite best I can recall.  🤷‍♂️

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Unfortunately the upsync does not always mean the downsync is done as well. I am like others in the user group demanding a return of a sync button, making sure that up- and downsync can be forced at any time.

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Interesting that a half sync issue exists.  I always thought sync was sync.  Go figure.  Well, no horse in this race as I am still on 6.25.1 and know how to brute force IOS V10.  Hoping should I ever move to V10 this remedial stuff is handled.

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It always gets me a better response from support if I can document the exact steps they need to take to consistently reproduce the issue. @mlenaghanit sounds like you are having sync problems often enough and consistently enough that you could do this?

When troubleshooting note conflicts like this, it helps to know that the Web interface accesses the server database "directly", whereas the Mac and iOS clients sync their local data with the server. Therefore, when reproducing the problem, try making the change in a client, doing a sync, and then view the note in the Web interface to prove that your change sync'd. Then do the other steps that result in a conflict when there shouldn't be one.

I agree that first level support will likely not be helpful. Most of what they do is scripted. But if you give them a reproducible bug, it increases the chances that the case will get the attention of someone who can investigate for real. In extreme cases, you can even make a video of yourself reproducing the error. Of course, that's a lot of work for no guarantee that your bug will be addressed.

Again, this might be more than you're willing to do at this point! But if you decide to dive back in to this problem, hopefully these tips will help.

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Very helpful tips, I agree.

Taking a video of the screen is very easy, at least on a Mac or iOS devices. They have the ability build into the OS. Just remember to activate the microphone before starting - it is off by default for privacy reasons.

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No shock as to what causes sync issues.  Marker here is what is the reliable process to ensure sync on exit and sync on entry when working with V10 apps.  A little problematic with no sync button on desktops.  

I think this new version was intended to manage sync better at least with sequential usage of platforms.  Not there yet. 

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@PinkElephantI've used Fing. PingPlotter is a different kind of tool. It can precisely answer the question you were asking earlier: Is there any packet loss *to Evernote* over, say, the last 24 hours? If there is, it can tell you exactly where it's happening — i.e., which hop is losing packets. That will tell you definitively if the problem is inside your network (e.g., WiFi) or somewhere outside (e.g., cable provider).

The last time I used Fing it had ping and traceroute but it didn't provide the same "over time" analysis. For my cable provider issues I needed the "over time" part because the problems were highly intermittent. PingPlotter helped me narrow the cause to the box at the top of the telephone pole behind my house.

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@John in Michigan USAThanks for the suggestion(s).

I would do those things if I thought Evernote was working toward a solution and needed some help and some time. But the impression I get is that they don't acknowledge there's a problem.

Two days ago I asked support to escalate. Yesterday they asked for additional info in order to do so. I replied as best as I could. Today's response suggested that I delete and re-install the app. No mention of escalation.

I've asked them once again to escalate. But as I said, each individual interaction takes a full day; I won't hear back until tomorrow.

At this point I have no reason to believe that things will get better.

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In case anyone is interested...

I've just about finished moving everything out of Evernote.

I use Evernote for two things. First, for editing and syncing work notes across devices, so that I have access to them from anywhere. (I'll call those "docs" from here on, since I want to use "note" in Evernote's more generic sense.) Second, for capturing a lot of web content so that I can search for things of interest later.

For docs, after some research, I looked at three possibilities: Apple's Notes, Shiny Frog's Bear, Microsoft's OneNote. (I have to say: I've never been a OneNote fan. Lots of people love it, but I've always found its user interface to be rather clunky. YMMV)

All three tools have direct support for importing Evernote .enex files. (OneNote does it through a separate app that's in preview.) All three imports were pretty good, though all three had at least one quirk. For example, Bear didn't preserve strikethrough (I have one doc with a *lot* of strikethrough), while OneNote seemed to insert an additional blank line between paragraphs. Apple Notes, very surprisingly, did the best job. At least, for my content.

OneNote was out of the running (for docs, that is) once I saw how well the other two did. Choosing between Bear and Notes was a tougher call. In the end, I went with Bear. First, its content is plain text and easily exported; people have come up with work arounds for exporting from Notes (some of them quite good), but, you know, they're workarounds. Unsupported. And I didn't want to trap my content. Second, for Apple, Notes is just one more little app; for Shiny Frog, Bear is everything. I trust Shiny Frog's motivation to make things right more than I do Apple's.

For web content, after some research, I looked at OneNote, Pocket and Raindrop.io.

I imported all of my web content into OneNote. For whatever reason, OneNote had a lot more trouble maintaining the fidelity of *those* notes. The import tool also created separate sections for every 500 notes or so. (I don't remember the actual count.) That didn't really work for me.

I toyed with Pocket for a bit — I used to use it before I started using Evernote for web content — but, for reasons, I made a more serious effort with Raindrop. Starting from this code I wrote some Python to extract web content from my .enex file. I used that to create a .csv file which I then imported into Raindrop.io.

It took some effort to figure out how to extract what I wanted, etc., but I've been very, very happy with the result. But before I explain...

I was able to do all of this poking around with all of these tools because they all have substantial free tiers. I think OneNote might even be completely free at this point? Not sure. Bear lets you do everything except sync for free. Raindrop.io lets you do a lot — including importing many, many thousands of links — for free too. So: I was able to feel reasonably confident that I could do what I wanted to do before I put any money on the table. Once I was reasonably confident, I paid.

At that point, Raindrop's extra features kicked in. First, it creates a snapshot of all of your bookmarked pages, so that you'll still have the content if the site or page disappears. (That's why I only needed the URLs from the .enex file.) Second, it uses those snapshots to create a full text index, so that you can search based on what pages contain, not just their titles. (That's a big part of why I had put web content in Evernote in the first place.) Third, Raindrop let me know which URLs were broken — so I knew exactly what I was in danger of losing. Fourth, Raindrop let me know which URLs were duplicates; I was able to declutter a bit. Fifth, Raindrop does a daily backup to a Dropbox folder; I don't have to worry about losing these thousands and thousands of links if the company disappears.

On the other hand, Raindrop doesn't work disconnected. For me, that's not a problem; I never synced my web content in Evernote either, because it was just way too big.

All told, I expect to lose about ~650 "web content" notes or so in this process. They are almost entirely (~620) things that I captured in Gmail. (At one point WebClipper had special support for capturing content directly from Gmail.) I was able to categorize everything in Python, so I know exactly what I'll lose: almost all of the notes (~590) are from a paid business/technical newsletter that I used to subscribe to. Not really much of a loss; the content is quite dated now — and it's all in email anyway.

So that's the story so far.

I have ~60 web content notes left to look at, and then I'm done. (For whatever reason — I haven't looked at them yet, so I don't know why — they didn't fall into my automated buckets.)

P.S. Once I subscribed to Bear and could sync, my hundreds of docs showed up on my other devices within a few seconds of launching the app. That's why I don't really understand why Evernote is struggling. Some of my older docs have lots of images, but my newer ones are just lightly formatted text. Bear was able to sync everything, old and new, in seconds; my ongoing changes are a tiny fraction of that.

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I was finally passed on to tech support. They said:

Quote

Upon reviewing the issue that you've been facing, please  know that our development team is already aware of this and are working on a fix.

It would have helped so much to have heard that from the start.

===

The final ~60 docs were an odd assortment. There were a few documents with a title but no content, a few with a URL in the title but no other content, etc. But mostly they were PDFs that I had sent directly to Evernote from the web. Raindrop supports directly uploading files, so that's basically what I did.

Before Evernote I used Pocket for web content, and before Pocket I used (though not for too long I think) Pinboard. The process of importing into Raindrop was so easy that I moved everything from those systems into Raindrop too.

That's more than fifteen years' worth of collected links!

Wild.

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Hi! i'd really like to know if we could have a prediction about when evernote will finally fix the "conflict notes errors" and "duplicating notes". I use evernote for GTD, tasks. For me it works very very well. I use evernote for collecting articles, documents, and weak planner.. it's the best! So you imagine i work on tasks from android and windows version at same time. And i check mark tasks as i've finished the tasks all time. So editting the same notes from android and windows versions occurs all day long! And I did that so effectively in another apps as onenote, ticktick, todoist, clickup, bearnotes, applenotes, notion... so far ANY of these never produced "conflict notes". When will you fix this "basic error database" evernote team please??? I love evernote so much but i'm becoming very very frustrated about this sync problems that simply doesn't appear in ANY other apps, just evernote! Please prioritize to correct this error! Don't you see so many technews trying to convince people not to use evernote anymore because of these  "sync problems"??? I (and many of my friends... yes, i'd convinced them!) had started to migrate things from notion, trello,etc to evernote but with this "basic error", it's almost impossible to trust and convince anyone to use or migrate to evernote. Users lost so many time comparing "conflict notes" one another, trying to search and find where are these errors in "duplicated notes", it's so annoying! Please solve this soon! Why the reason do we have android, iphone, windows etc versions from evernote if sync process is innefective and produces so many errors??

 

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EN is not build to allow to work on the same note simultaneously. The note is the building block of EN - every interaction with a note must happen from only one client at any time.

When accessed from several clients, it will be sorted out by conflict notes or duplicates.

AFAIK there is no intention to rebuild EN to solve this sort of problem caused by user interaction.

To avoid it you have to change the way you are working with EN.

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I've been having the same problem for several months.  Most recently, I've made sure that my iOS app and Windows 10 app were never open at the same time. When using the iOS app, I always forced a manual sync and, when using the Windows 10 app, always waited before quitting the app.

For the past week, all of my updates were in the iOS app and I forced a sync before closing.  The updates were always reflected the next time I used the app. However, as soon as I tried to use the Windows app, a duplicate entry was identified - the most current one and one that was one week old.

If Evernote can't be synced consistently, its "one device" limitation should be clearly identified. 

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