How to backup your Evernote notes regularly

So you've saved a lot of notes into Evernote and you're wondering how to back them up in case something goes horribly wrong. Some might call you paranoid, but a glitch in a client update could wipe out your notes (and because Evernote syncs to the cloud it would wipe out all your notes in the cloud too).

Even if you're not worried about Evernote causing you a headache (and they certainly have a good record for data reliability), you should worry about yourself. There is no system in place powerful enough to protect you from accidentally or misguidedly deleting your own stuff. Once you drop the hammer on your own data, Evernote (like any other automated synchronization tool) isn't going to judge you, it's just going to carry out your orders and wipe your data.

So how can you backup your data?

Firstly, you will need to install the Evernote for Windows client onto your machine (not the Windows 8 app, but the full client).

Now with that done, the easiest way is to create an export of all your notes in Evernote's ENEX format, which will allow you to pick and choose which notes you want to recover when the time comes. This can be done from within the Evernote client, but we want to automate this so that it happens regularly and without human intervention.

This is where the Windows scheduler comes in. Simply schedule a task to run at whatever frequency you wish, and have it run the following command (you may need to adjust the path to your ENscript.exe file, depending on where Evernote is installed on your system):

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Evernote\Evernote\ENScript.exe" exportNotes /q any: /f c:\users\Robert\dropbox\my_evernote_backup.enex

So bring up the Task Scheduler, and add a new task similar to the one below (click each screenshot to see full size):

General Settings
General Settings
Triggers
Triggers
Actions
Actions

In my case, I write the export file to my Dropbox folder so that the file gets automatically backed up to the cloud (providing yet another backup of this important data).

Keeping multiple backups

I have created a batch file  (to be called from the scheduler) which not only performs the export but which also maintains a specified number of backups (deleting old ones). Using this script you could, for example, schedule a weekly backup and keep 4 weeks  worth of backups available in Dropbox with older backups being deleted automatically.


Download
Evernote Backup.bat and open it with a text editor (such as Notepad) to update the location of the Evernote installation (line 14), destination directory for backups (line 17) and the number of backups to keep (line 23) as appropriate for your installation.

Change the scheduler configuration you added earlier to run the bat file rather than the ENscript executable. As an example:

"C:\users\Robert\dropbox\Export_evernote.bat"

As an aside, running a bat file from the Windows Scheduler has the annoying effect that a DOS window suddenly appears in the middle of the screen for the duration of the backup. If you want to avoid this, see my related post Starting a Batch (DOS) file minimized .

 

  • Rod Oliver

    I would be very interested in a batch file that you referred to. Did you get around to creating it?

    • rztaylor

      Rod – I’ve quickly thrown a script together and updated the article. Let me know if it does the trick!

      • Rod Oliver

        Thanks Robert, I downloaded the script. It throws back errors when run as a task (after I made the path corrections for ENdir and expdir). When I run the batch script from the cmd I get the output below. I don’t know if this is the right way of troubleshooting it.

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>Export_evernote_dropbox_fred.bat

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>set ENdir=C:Program FilesEvernoteEvernote

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>set expdir=C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteF

        red

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>set enexname=evernote_backup

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>set /a keep=4

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>for /F “tokens=2,3,4 delims=/ ” %i in (‘date /

        T’) do set thisdate=%k%j%i

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>set thisdate=20133008

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>for /F “tokens=1,2 delims=: ” %i in (‘time /T’

        ) do set thistime=%i%j

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>set thistime=0507

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>set prefix=20133008_0507

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernote>cd C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>ΓÇ£C:Program FilesEvernoteEvernoteENS

        cript.exeΓÇ¥ exportNotes /q any: /f C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred20133

        008_0507_evernote_backup.enex

        The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect.

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>type NUL 1>explist.dat

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>for /F “tokens=1,2 delims=[] ” %i in (‘di

        r /B *evernote_backup.enex | find /N “evernote_backup.enex”‘) do echo %i = %j 1

        >>explist.dat

        File Not Found

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>for /F “tokens=1 delims=” %i in (‘type ex

        plist.dat | find /C “.enex”‘) do set filecnt=%i

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>set filecnt=0

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>set /a todelete=0 – ( 4 )

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>type NUL 1>dellist.dat

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>for /L %i in (1 1 -4) do find ” %i = ” ex

        plist.dat 1>>dellist.dat

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>for /F “tokens=3 delims= ” %i in (‘find ”

        .enex” dellist.dat’) do del /Q %i

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>del /Q explist.dat

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>del /Q dellist.dat

        C:UsersroliverDropboxEvernoteFred>

        • When the script was added to the article the quotes on line 36 have been turned into “smart quotes” – which broke the script (in your output you can see “ΓÇ£” and “ΓÇ¥”).

          I’ve updated the script above, so it should work now. Just double check when you copy the script into a bat file that line 36 has quotes around %ENdir%ENScript.exe and not any funny characters!

          • Rod Oliver

            The script successfully runs and create a file in the right place with the right extension. My next step is to figure out a way to see whether it has created a viable backup that I can restore. Thanks!

  • The backup file that is created can be imported into Evernote from the “File” menu. All notes will be placed into a new notebook, making it simple to perform a test import and then delete them. I’ll update the article with some screenshots when I have the time.

    Unfortunately, the drawback of using ENscript to backup your notes is that Evernote doesn’t store the detail of which notebook a note was in. I’m looking at writing a more complex bat file that would export each notebook individually, then zip them all up into a single file – but it’s not a deal breaker for me as I only have about 5 notebooks (I actually use a hierarchy of tags to categorize my notes .. maybe I should blog about it!).

  • I have updated the script to create a folder and then export each notebook to an individual file within that folder. This will make it easier to recover the contents of a single notebook.

    I have also removed the code listing from the article and replaced it with a download link to make life easier.

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  • Shewey

    Nice work Rob, thanks for sharing

  • Ben

    Hi Robert, I just implemented your script. One thing, it does not handle stacked notebooks completely properly, that is, the script generates an error for the “parent” notebook that the “child” notebooks are stacked in. The stacked notebooks are backed up though so that is a plus.

    I’m taking a new approach to task management using Agile Results and this new process direction pushed me over the edge to decided that regular backups were in order. (that and probably more importantly a post yesterday on the Evernote Google+ circle about a user that experienced some data loss. Yikes!)

    Thanks for putting this together!

    -Ben

    • I’d love to find out more about the task management with Agile Results – can you post a link to more information? Personally, I’m using The Secret Weapon (http://www.thesecretweapon.org/) as a GTD solution.

      • Ben

        Hi Robert,

        Here is the link to the starter post on Asian Efficiency:

        http://www.asianefficiency.com/agile-results/

        I’ve been a GTD’r for longer than I can remember and have always experienced a bit of resistance. When I ran across the Agile Results blog the Asian Efficiency folks posted (great productivity blog by the way) I was very interested. So I’m going to make a run at this for the year of 2014. Best thing is that it combines the best productivity bang from GTD of inbox/stuff processing with an agile approach. We’ll see…

        I currently use ToodleDo (http://toodledo.com) as my GTD solution for task tracking and just I implemented a bridging service between Evernote and ToodleDo called Task Clone (taskclone.com) The benefit here is that I can generate tasks in Evernote as I’m making notes and have them replicate (under my control) to ToodleDo just by adding a tag to the note I want to capture the tasks from. Once the appropriate tag is added any line of text that has a check box on it is sent to ToodleDo (or one of many other task management services) with the content of the line along with a hyperlink back to the Evernote note that the task came from. (short YouTube demo of TaskClone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-KOEUyDIwE)

        All of my notes stay in Evernote and now I have tasks tied to them without having to do double entry. Evernote’s task management is much to simple for my needs, Toodledo’s notes system is very weak, so now I’ll have the best of both.

        Thanks for sharing The Secret Weapon, I’ll take a look at that.

        -Ben

        note: I’m just an end user am not affiliated with any of the products or services mentioned here,

      • Ben

        I posted a response, did WordPress just eat it?

        Well, if it did, here’s the short version. Asian Efficiency (great blog on productivity BTW) http://www.asianefficiency.com/agile-results/

  • Sedhadi

    Nice job
    Thanks for sharing

  • abc

    thank you very much. too bad i found this just after i lost all my data :(

  • Daryl Hines

    I am using Backupery for backing up my Evernote on a hard drive, works good so far. I am pretty sure that it makes the same you have described in the article.

  • Alex Bos

    Excellent!! I was just looking for this, and you have it ready!
    Just changed the :

    :: location of Evernote
    set ENdir=C:users%username%appdatalocalappsEvernoteEvernote

    *****

  • duszek00

    Hi. I’m using your script but after update EverNote 5 to EN 6 it create just empty folder. How to fix it?

    • Since upgrading to EN6, I have the same issue. It appears that the scripting command provided by Evernote is broken in the latest version!!

      I’ve raised ticket #1575585 with Evernote support

      • duszek00

        In EverNote 6.0.5 everything works fine.

        I’d like to ask you if it is possible to exclude one notebook (called “Tymczasowy”) from backup?

      • Evernote 6.0.5 is available and the export bug is listed as fixed in the release notes.

    • Jim Finn

      Evernote Windows has just been updated to 6.0.5 which seems to have fixed it.

  • Jim Finn

    I found the same when trying out the beta and mentioned it on the Forum post about the beta but in my experience Evernote responses to tickets or queries about issues is glacial to non-existent.

    I had issues with syncing a couple of years ago and opened a ticket that got no response. The issue was eventually resolved with an update but my ticket is now open 2 years with no official response so I am not hopeful that it will get resolved quickly.

    Hopefully it will get fixed soon though