Before going into the Evernote vs. Google Drive battle, it’s fair to mention that I have been using both of them quite regularly for the last few years, though for separate purposes. Google Drive mainly for editing, sharing and backing up data, whereas I use Evernote to clip references from the web and sync them with a local machine for offline access.
Because I travel so much, getting a good internet connection everywhere is not possible and being able to carry all my research offline is incredibly helpful. At the same time, Google Drive has become an inevitable part of my work life, since I use it as an editing tool and to store important work documents.
Funnily enough, I never thought of comparing these superbly helpful cloud apps against each other. Deciding who would win over the other was obviously difficult, so I decided to imagine my life without them. And once I did that, the answer seemed pretty clear – Google Drive.
In this post, we will be comparing both their features and discussing why cloud productivity apps are becoming popular these days. We don’t just work strictly with PCs anymore; we have laptops, tablets, and smartphones these days. With so many devices, it becomes essential to have a central database from where we can always access the same copy of our data without any issues or lag.
And just accessing data isn’t enough; we want an app that can help us edit and modify files from wherever we are.
But as traditional apps move over to the cloud, they don’t just give us benefits like lower costs, more agility, and faster deployment, but also better productivity. In fact, the nature of productivity apps change as they move to the cloud. Instead of focusing on personal productivity, they start focusing on team productivity instead.
Why Use Cloud Tools for Task Management?
To Get Rid of Unnecessary Emails
We’ve all had those lengthy chain work emails which never seem to stop. Even though only two people are ‘supposed’ to reply and give their thoughts on the email, ten others are CC’d, and they keep getting notifications every time a new email arrives.
And when you finally try to find an important note from the 50+ emails in the trail, it’s nowhere to be found. Instead, you could use a cloud app like Asana or Trello to assign tasks and track their progress.
By giving all your team members access to the project in Asana, or the board on Trello, you don’t have to torture other members with unnecessary updates. All the information will be present for members to see, divided by each task which they can refer to at anytime.
To Never Lose Your Data
I’ve stopped counting the number of times Microsoft Office has crashed while I’m working on an important file, and Auto-Recover is just too unreliable even to try. Whereas a file would never just crash and simply disappear while working on Google Drive or Evernote, since these apps don’t wait for a click on the save button, they are already saving data in real-time.
In fact, while writing this article in Google Docs, Chrome crashed, and I did not even have that ‘mini heartache’ which Microsoft Word might have given me because I knew all my work was backed up to the cloud.
As I mentioned before, one of the biggest advantages of using a cloud productivity app is real-time collaboration, which makes work smoother and quicker.
With real-time collaboration, it’s easier to share work, get immediate comments and modify things accordingly, as opposed to traditional work, where feedback is only possible after the file is emailed.
Key Criteria for Choosing a Cloud App
Well, the key criteria depend highly on personal requirements:
- Do you want to share, edit, and collaborate on files
- Do you want take down notes, images, and share them
- Do you want to micro-manage work with to-do lists
- Do you want to assign work to team members and track their progress
- Do you want to collaborate with other users
There are a variety of cloud apps available for task management and productivity, and most of them work well together.
You could use a combination of cloud apps for different purposes, but make sure to define the workload of each one distinctly. To combine cloud apps, a tool like Zapier would be perfect because it can connect cloud apps by making a ‘zap’. Each zap consists of a trigger and an action that occurs because of it.
For instance, the creation of a new note on Evernote could be a trigger, and every time it happens; a preset action will be performed on any other cloud app that’s been zapped. For example: Create tasks in Asana for every new note, create Trello cards from new notes and backup Evernotes to Dropbox.
Evernote also recently announced integration with Google Drive, where you can directly share a Google Doc inside a note. Images can also be reviewed from notes, but unfortunately, files can’t, those are only viewable via Google Drive.
Evernote vs Google Drive – The Epic Battle
Before we start our comparison betwixt the twain, here’s a brief overview of each one.
Google Docs became a fully fledged cloud storage service in April 2012 and was renamed Google Drive. With 15GB of free storage provided for every user, Google Drive is widely used for syncing, backups, editing files online, sharing data and collaboration.
As a matter of fact, this article itself was entirely written and edited in Google Docs.
With support for almost every imaginable platform out there, Evernote is a great place to jot down and share ideas. Making its debut in June of 2004, Evernote is mostly used to take notes, clip articles from the web, or store important images.
It doesn’t have collaboration but does provide a chat feature, offline syncing, and a bare bones backup service. Evernote also provides unlimited storage, though there is an upload limit of 25MB for basic accounts.
Though I like Evernote’s green-over-white color scheme, compared to Google Drive’s dreary gray, it’s not about the colors here. Evernote’s concept and interface can be confusing for a newbie. In fact, it was confusing for me when I signed up for the first time because of the note/notebook concept.
Every note is like a page in a notebook. Several notes create a notebook, and several notebooks create a stack–get it?
So, the hierarchy goes: Note –> Notebook –> Stack
On the other hand, Google Drive works exactly like a standard drive system, with folders, sub-folders, and files, and each one can be right-clicked for different contextual functions. I also want to mention here; in Evernote’s case, right-clicking only works on the desktop app and not the web app.
Also, Google Drive’s features are more easily accessible and streamlined, whereas Evernote goes for the scattershot approach when it comes to settings placement. There’s no doubt that Evernote is a robust service, but I wish its features were better defined, you can use Evernote for more than a year and still not know all its features.
- Winner – Google Drive
In my daily workflow, Google Drive and Evernote fulfill two separate purposes. For the sake of this comparison, however, I’ve decided to compare their features against each other.
The most important differences lie in their text editors. Evernote’s editor is, of course, very simple and uses plain text, with no different heading options, line spacing, indentation, or header and footer options. Whereas, Google Drive’s editor can easily compete with Microsoft Word.
Despite the bare bones editor, I love how easy it is to attach a file, image or audio recording in Evernote.
Evernote can encrypt selected texts in a note, through a user-defined security key, which is a beautiful feature indeed.
The encryption features are usefull for storing important passwords, and in return, users only have to remember one key. Though be careful while using it, Evernote cannot recover the encryption key if it’s lost or forgotten.
Google Drive, of course, cannot encrypt anything. Another great feature in Evernote is its advanced search operators. Although I feel the automatic search is good enough, advanced search operators can be used when you’re unable to find particular notes.
Coming to the reason I use Evernote most often for–checklists and reminders. There is a direct option to add a checkbox to texts, and a clock for reminders.
While Evernote has a basic editor which supports plain text, it does have a ‘limited’ option to create tables and presentations.
For tables, only the number of columns and rows can be defined, and for presentations, Evernote just converts notes into a presentation format. Evernote likes to call its presentation feature ‘simple,’ I see it as limited. Also, note that the display mode is a premium feature.
With Google Drive, you can edit documents, email them or share their links. The service also has very sophisticated support for tables and presentations, via Google Sheets, Slides, Forms and Drawing.
Yes, Google Drive lacks checklists or reminders, but that’s what Google Calendar is for, right? Another feature where Evernote and Google Drive almost go head-to-head is OCR, which is the technology behind extracting text from images.
Both Evernote and Google Drive initiate OCR exceptionally well. I especially like how good Evernote is at scanning documents.
Google Drive claims to have a better image search feature, where it can identify objects in pictures. For instance, you could search for pizza, or cake and Google will return photos which have a pizza or cake in them.
The feature worked well with cakes, though it did count cupcakes as cakes, I am going to give it a pass nonetheless.
Then I searched for ‘dog’. Google Drive displayed all the pictures of a dog in my drive, including a cartoon one, but along with that, it also showed Sarah Jessica Parker’s picture and a hospital. Personally, I think Sarah Jessica looks more like a horse, but hey, who can argue with Google?
Sharing in both Evernote and Google Drive works in a similar fashion. You can invite other users via their email addresses, share links directly and change the privacy settings of a document/note — so they’re viewable without a login.
There is a share button available on the top right side, and all sharing settings are available there, on both services.
The only difference is — Evernote allows you directly to post links to Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, and Google Drive doesn’t.
- Tie (Evernote has a slight edge due to social media link sharing, but it isn’t a very useful feature)
Evernote does have a Work Chat feature now, which allows you to chat with other users, but still, nothing can beat Google Doc’s real-time collaboration.
With Google, you can put down comments, chat right on the Google docs page and work together on the same file.
Since we’re discussing collaboration, it’s apt that we also talk about issues which can occur while working together, and how both of these apps handle them.
If a folder is shared among five people on Google Drive, and then it’s deleted by one of them, it will still exist for the other four, provided the user who deleted it was not the owner. So, if a user wants to remove a folder for whatever reason, all they have to do is change the owner and delete it.
Folder collaboration gets trickier with Evernote. If anyone deletes a shared notebook, it gets removed from everyone’s account, even the owner’s. Strangely enough, only the owner can restore a deleted notebook, because it will land in his trash only, no matter who removed it.
- Winner – Google Drive
While Google Drive’s desktop app is rather limited, with only the basic features available, its web app is where the party is happening.
On the other hand, Evernote’s desktop app is more sophisticated compared to Google Drive’s.
Evernote’s web app is good, but not good enough. Given an option, I would always download the desktop app for work, because many of the features work only with the desktop app, like selected text encryption, quick notes on Mac OS, Ink notes on Windows and local notebooks for offline access.
- Winner – Google Drive
I want to make this simple – I like Evernote’s mobile app a lot more than Google Drive’s. Why? Because once Evernote is downloaded on a phone, I don’t need additional apps to view or edit notes, whereas even after installing Google Drive, the separate Google Docs app has to be downloaded to edit documents.
Also, with Evernote’s mobile app, everything is way handier, all the main features are present on the home screen, and if any more features are needed, you can add them by customizing the home screen.
To customize, just tap on the Settings button at the top and select ‘Customize Home Screen’. And as I mentioned above, Evernote is great for scanning documents.
Google Drive’s mobile app, on the other hand, is standardized and rigid; there is no way to customize the interface, and I wish I could edit files on its mobile app.
- Winner – Evernote
Both Evernote and Google Drive provide two-step verification to secure an account even further. Also, both of them encrypt data when it’s in transit through SSL, but the data isn’t encrypted on a local PC or the server side. And as I mentioned above, Evernote encrypts any selected information in a note, securing it with a user-defined key.
The company said that email addresses, names and encrypted passwords were accessed by the hackers, and refused to state how many records got compromised. It was also reported last month that Google, along with many other email services, suffered a data breach, but according to the company, 98% of the leaked credentials were bogus.
- Winner – Evernote (because Google is shadier with their security practices)
Google Drive has a not-so-popular ‘Save to Google Drive’ extension for Chrome, and I thought of comparing it against Evernote’s Web Clipper browser extension.
First of all, this is what the Save to Google Drive extension claims to do:
“The directory location and format of saved HTML pages can be controlled with the extension’s options page (Choice of Entire image (default), Visible image, Raw HTML, MHTML, or Google Doc). You can automatically convert Microsoft Office files or comma separated files to Google Docs format.”
Now here’s what it does — when I click on it, the Google Drive symbol rotates 360 degrees and then saves the web page into a PNG picture. It does not give me any option to select a part of the page or the saved file’s format.
And that’s not even the worst part. The PNG file it captures are shrunken, so if I took a snapshot of a blog post, it became incredibly hard to read. On the flipside, Web Clipper by Evernote can clip an entire web page, selected text, or a simplified form of it, which makes the process quicker and you get only text-specific parts of a blog post.
Notebooks and Tags can both be selected through Web Clipper. There is a small setting option at the bottom with a “keyboard shortcuts” feature, which can be used to make custom shortcuts for clipping — without having to open Web Clipper.
I like to clip web pages together, and then on the Evernote’s desktop app, I just hit ‘Sync’ to get all my articles offline for easy access.
- Winner – Evernote
Pricing & Plans
Google Drive and Evernote have very different business plans. While the former provides a full array of features to its users and only charges them for extra storage space, Evernote has a freemium business model. There are three kinds of plans available in Evernote: Basic (Free), Premium and Business.
Premium and Business members get features that basic members don’t, like creating a presentation through notes, annotating PDFs and digitizing business cards. Basic members have a note size limit of 25MB and total upload limit of 60MB.
Notice the word upload limit and not storage space?
Apparently, Evernote provides unlimited storage space, and each user can create up to 100,000 notes per month, but the upload limit is only 25MB. According to Evernote, the upload limit is the total transfers of each month and storage space is the total amount of data an account uses.
Here are the actions that Evernote counts towards the upload limit: editing text inside a note, editing a file that’s attached inside a note and rotating or deleting a picture inside a note. Confused? I am too. The upload limit can be checked by going to account settings, or check out this table by Evernote for a more thorough view.
In summary, Google Drive has easy-to-understand plans, but the free plan is restricted to 15GB. Evernote provides unlimited storage space, but the upload limit thing is just too confusing.
Google Drive and Evernote are both excellent services, and choosing the better one depends entirely upon personal requirements. If your work is more research oriented and requires sharing, but not real-time collaboration, then Evernote is the greater option here.
However, Google Drive is the way to go if your work requires file uploading, syncing, proper editing tools and real-time collaboration. Of course, since the two can be used together, there’s no need to use one or the other exclusively. I will still continue to use both services, but if I were forced to choose only one, then it’s Google Drive over Evernote any day.
So, between Evernote vs. Google Drive, which one do you prefer? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.