(UPDATED May 22, 2020.) Is your head swirling with questions such as Evernote vs. OneNote? Or are you wondering about free vs. paid accounts? These are common questions and I have some uncommon, but very effective, solutions for you! Here’s an email I received recently from a Genealogy Gems Premium member on just these questions and the solutions I dished up to answer them.
Sherri’s Dilemma and Questions
Sherri wrote in with a question I frequently receive:
“I have been a very satisfied Genealogy Gems Premium member for a few years now. Given the recent limitations on the free version of Evernote only to be used on two devices, how does OneNote compare to Evernote?
I use Evernote on my desktop PC, my laptop, my iPad, and my iPhone. Now, I have to choose which two devices to use it on (to stay with the free version.)
Sometimes I use my laptop and sometimes I use my iPad when I am out. Other times, I might be somewhere unexpectedly and only have my iPhone with me. And of course, most of my computing is done at home on my desktop PC so I must have it loaded there. What a dilemma!
Since I am on a limited fixed income, I can’t afford to pay to add devices for my notes. Luckily for me, I have only begun to get “addicted” to using Evernote and only have 224 notes so far. If I need to transfer to another application, it would be much easier to do it now rather than later.”
A short while later I received this follow up email from Sherri:
“Hi, Lisa. Me again.
I do listen to you, but sometimes I panic and scream for help before calming down and remembering your advice. LOL
I took your advice and searched YouTube for “Onenote vs Evernote.” I found a couple of very good videos by dottotech. His comparison videos are “Evernote vs OneNote – 5 Key Differences” and “Evernote vs OneNote Follow Up Q&A – ADT 28.” I was hoping he would compare the free version of Evernote with the free version of OneNote. He made a big deal out of the searching capabilities of Evernote over OneNote, but the new basic Evernote doesn’t search text in PDFs or in Office docs (per Evernote’s feature comparison). Also, you really have to rely on having really good tags [to find what you are looking for.]
The new Basic plan only OCRs text in images. That being the case, it seems the searching on text capabilities are better in OneNote, but the tag feature in Evernote makes it more robust. Too bad OnNote doesn’t have tags or keywords or something to categorize the notes. It does, however, have the ability for more notebooks and sub-notebooks than Evernote does and lets you organize like you would paper. That would be an attractive feature for many.
He did give me a good idea in his video. He suggested we keep the Evernote app on our mobile devices and use Evernote in the browser on our PCs and laptops. That just might work for me, but I don’t like Evernote’s user interface on the browser. I don’t know if I can work with it that way.
My biggest concern with OneNote, however, is that it uses OneDrive for the cloud syncing part. I received an email from Microsoft that on August 10 , my free OneDrive storage will be reduced from 30 GB to 5 GB!
I spent a lot of time reducing my used storage to 4.4 GB. The biggest thing I use it for is to store the media files that my RootsMagic file links to so that I will have them available from my laptop or iPad. I also keep my RootsMagic family file in Dropbox so that the RM app will always have the most current data, rather than having to remember to copy it to Dropbox after each use.”
Evernote vs. OneNote
I totally feel your pain and understand your dilemma. In the last decade of tech in particular, the “freemium” model has been used by many online services (websites and apps). The intent is to get folks to try their service, and hopefully love it, so they will want to pay for richer features. After several years, the pressure is on to pay back investors and sometimes just simply stay afloat. It is then that the right to change the terms gets invoked. You cited two great examples: Evernote and OneDrive.
As a small business owner myself, I can appreciate the need to stay afloat so that you can continue to provide quality services to people who need them. That’s why, with my top favorites in tech, I take the plunge and pay for the upgrade in service if I possibly can. I figure that I’m helping them to keep doing what they are doing and I will reap the benefits. But, we all have our economic limits and sometimes we have to get more creative in order to continue using the services.
One of the first things to consider when choosing between Evernote and OneNote is each company’s focus. Evernote is in the business of cloud note-taking. It’s all they do, and all of their resources are invested in the Evernote product. By comparison, OneNote is just one small program under the massive Microsoft umbrella. Cloud note-taking is not their core business. So on the score of company focus, Evernote comes out ahead.
The next thing to consider is whether or not your are a very heavy user of Microsoft products such as Word, Excel, and other programs. If you use these heavily in your research and work, then you might want to go with OneNote since it is built to coordinate with those products. If not, then again Evernote would be my choice, particularly if I already had my notes in Evernote. The good news is that in everyday use, you typically can’t go wrong with either.
You touched on something that differentiates Evernote from OneNote. Evernote limits how much you can upload each month (free=60MB, Premium=10GB), but there is unlimited storage. OneNote is connected to OneDrive with a free limit of 5GB total storage. Currently, you can get 50GB for around $2/month. (Of course plans can change, so check their websites for the most current pricing and limits.) I believe it may also be possible to connect OneNote to another storage service if you so desire. So, the way that you create notes could help you with the decision. A heavy note-taker would probably be better off with Evernote Premium with tons of monthly uploads and no storage limits. However, a lighter note-taker would probably save money with OneNote and the free storage of OneDrive. Check the current storage offering by Microsoft and OneNote here.
Free vs. Paid
If after careful consideration you decide to throw all your notes into the Evernote basket, then there is a decision to make: free vs. paid, and if paid, which plan? I bit the bullet and bought the Premium service which falls price-wise between free and Business. I want Evernote to stay around and considering how important my genealogy research notes and all the other notes in my life are, $7.99 a month seems like a bargain. With the Premium service, you get unlimited devices and your monthly upload soars from 60 MB to 10 GB. You just bought yourself a lot less stress and a lot more freedom to research genealogy.
If you feel it’s in your best interest to stay with the free version of Evernote, then I’ve got some creative solutions for you:
Creative Solution #1:
I suggest in my lectures that you can use your two allowed devices for those you use most often. For me, that would be my desktop computer and my phone. For you, it may be your phone and your laptop.
Remember, you can always use the website app at www.evernote.com in any web browser, both on a computer or mobile device, to access your notes. It does not count toward your device allowance. Like you, I prefer the desktop software and app over the website version, but it does do the job.
We’ve got you covered on Evernote for Genealogy
Creative Solution #2:
If you have a tablet and a phone you may be tempted to make them your two free devices and then use the web version of Evernote on your home computer. However, while you may carry your tablet with you much of the time, you probably always carry your phone with you. With a two device limit, having both of your mobile devices be the primary devices using the app is pretty redundant and unnecessary. Instead, consider having your phone (which you always carry,) and your home computer or laptop (which you likely use a lot) be your primary devices.
Click the Get Started button and follow the instructions.
Leave your computer one and connected to the internet. It’s OK if your computer goes to sleep when you’re not using it. When you remotely access it, it will “wake up.”
After setting it up on your computer, download the Chrome Remote Desktop app on your tablet or phone from the app store.
Connect the app to your home computer following the Chrome Remote Desktop instructions. (Your tablet will need to be connected to the internet for it to work.)
Now when you want to use the Evernote software on your home computer, you can gain remote access to it on your tablet using Chrome Remote Desktop. You’ll be able to do everything you want to do on the Evernote software from your tablet. You will also be able to access all of those notes later on your phone or through your tablet’s browser with evernote.com.
This handy solution is going to solve your challenge with the size of RootsMagic genealogy database files. Since you can now access your computer remotely with your tablet, there’s no reason to keep the file on OneDrive! (But please do be sure that your computer is backed up! I recommend and use Backblaze. Click here for more info on that.) You can now work directly on your RootsMagic software even from your tablet or smartphone. Isn’t technology fabulous?
I hope these ideas help you make the decision that is right for you and right for your family history. My personal goal, and our goal here at Genealogy Gems, is to help you succeed in the pursuit of your family history!
Colonial genealogy records are just the tip of the iceberg in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections. If your roots go back to the early days of the American colonies, you will want to get started in these unique colonial genealogy records. Additionally, some fantastic finds for the United Kingdom and Denmark are also available in this week’s gems.
Attention! Special Announcement!
Each week, we bring you the new and updated genealogical collections at Findmypast and many other genealogy websites. This week, we are excited to announce that Findmypast is offering a new and lower annual subscription price! Get this brand new “Starter” local package by clicking here.
Findmypast offers millions of genealogical records including U.S. birth, marriage and death records, U.S. immigration and travel records, U.S. newspapers and a collection of U.K. census records.
United States and Canada – Transatlantic Migration
First things first: where and when did your early American family arrive in the New World? Findmypast has added a new collection titled United States, Transatlantic Migration. This collection offers more than 30,000 records shedding light on the lives of your migrating ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and France from as early as the 1500s to as recent as the 1900s. Some information you may be able to find include: birth countries, date of emigration, ages, occupations, and names of family members. Once you have found where your family settled, head on over to the next record set for founding families.
United States – Colonial Genealogy Records
Findmypast’s colonial genealogy records set titled United States, Early American Families is a one-of-a-kind collection. These records will help you learn even more about your ancestral ties to early founding families in America. Dive into 140 publications containing over 86,000 records. These records provide details regarding the early families and their descendants. You might even learn the birth or death year of your family’s brick wall ancestor!
A sister colonial genealogy records collection titled United States, Early American Vital Records will also be of interest to those searching the colonial American family. This collection is filled with over 14,000 vital records as early as the 1600s! You will be delighted with the many birth, marriage, and death registers, gravestone inscriptions, and wills you can find here.
United States – Connecticut – Town Vitals
The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town records, also from Findmypast, contains over 18,000 vital record volumes pertaining to Connecticut towns. You will need to search these records by surname. If your ancestral surname is located, you will find a PDF image that may list the birth or death dates, names of family members, and other personal details of the Connecticut family.
United States – Colonial Williamsburg
The Colonial Williamsburg Education Resource Library has been made available to everyone with a thirst for learning. What better resource to learn about your colonial American family research than with the library’s more than 100 lesson plans, background texts, and primary source media.
You will need to create an account, but it is free. Even though the account sign-up page seems to be for educators only, it is for everyone! I made my own account and got pretty excited looking through the many videos available. My son, a big history buff, is going to love this! I am always looking for ways to get the kids interested in family history.
United Kingdom – Military
Over 1.1 million War Office records covering officers, nurses, and other ranks have been updated in the British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945 collection this past week. These lists cover the individuals reported as killed in action, wounded, prisoner of war, missing, died of wounds, dangerously ill, and more.
This collection at Findmypast is fully searchable and offers transcripts and digital images of the original documents. Most lists will give the person’s name, rank, service number, regiment, and status. It may also provide the date of death if applicable.
Denmark – Census
FamilySearch.org is where to look for your Danish ancestors! The name index of the Denmark census taken in 1911 is available for free at FamilySearch or with your paid subscription at MyHeritage.
The Denmark census of 1911 was the thirteenth census for the country. Though the census includes the countries of Greenland, Faroe Islands, and the Danish West Indies, what you will find on FamilySearch is only those enumerations for Denmark. The census is divided into three sections: Copenhagen city, other cities, and rural areas.
This census is written in Danish of course, so you might need a little help with some translation. Pop on over to FamilySearch wiki here to find a helpful chart of key words in both Danish and English.
This census asks questions pertaining to names of household members, birth date and year, birth location, religion, occupation, your means of getting to work, and how long it takes to get to your location of work! Isn’t that interesting?!
More Gems on Colonial American Family Research
Looking for even more tips and tricks to researching the colonial American family? Try these Genealogy Gem favorites!
If you haven’t been enjoying The Genealogy Gems (free!) Podcast, try it out today! A podcast is like listening to a favorite radio show from your computer or mobile device. Get up-to-date with everything new and exciting in the world of genealogy, learn a new tech tip, and find inspiration in these wonderful podcast programs!
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!
When you’re working on our genealogy, you’ve got data and records coming from all directions: websites, interviews, archives, downloadable documents, and more. Some of it you’re actively working on, some of it you need to save for later, and the rest has already been analyzed and is ready for archiving. This variety of data requires a variety of storage locations.
In this audio podcast episode I’m going to share with you my genealogy data workflow. We’ll talk about how it all fits together to ensure an uncluttered desk and the ability to instantly put my hands on what I need when I need it.
Lessons in life often translate to lessons in genealogy. Here’s an example of how digging deeper can have you singing a happier research tune.
The Music of My Childhood
When I was a kid I had a million interests (and I still do.)
I loved art of all kinds – painting, drawing, and paper mache. I enjoyed baking and particularly candy-making. I had a teal blue easy bake oven I used constantly, and a cotton candy making machine that spun sugar into treats – Yum!
Making cotton candy with my Dad, Christmas 1970.
At the age of eight I learned to water-ski. It came surprisingly easy, so much so that my Dad got me a pair of short trick skis on which I learned to do a full 360 degree turn.
And like most kids I took piano lessons starting in the first grade. My mom bought an old upright piano for $75, and painted it bright red (you can see where I got my artistic flair from!)
My first piano teacher was a lovely lady who happened to be a paraplegic. This meant that she sat across the room from me and the piano and never actually touched the piano. I learned a love of music from her for which I’ll always be grateful. She was a patient teacher with her rambunctious student. But years later after we moved and I started up with a new piano teacher, I discovered I was clueless about fingering which was why many songs seemed unreasonably difficult to me.
It’s eye-opening to realize you didn’t know what you didn’t know.
Something else that slowed me down was not really learning music theory. Oh I had learned the basics, and became a laser-focused sight-reader of music. But my while my second teacher taught me scales, I don’t recall her ever saying why we were doing them. Needless to say, I didn’t practice them because I didn’t know why we were bothering with these notes that weren’t songs. Therefore, I never learned them or their significance to music.
One of my all time favorite songs was and still is One Less Bell to Answer by the Fifth Dimension. I first heard it on the TV series It Takes a Thief starring Robert Wagner which ran from 1968 to 1970. The song was featured in the third season episode called Sing a Song of Murder.
5th Dimension on Sing a Song of Murder
The 5th Dimension were the guest stars that week, and Marilyn McCoo sang that torch song like no one else could. I drove my mom crazy as I belted it out from the top of my lungs and begged her for 5th Dimension albums for my birthday. I still have my original 5th Dimension Live double album and the 5th Dimension Greatest Hits on Earth, both of which feature the song.
Harder than the Average Song
The other day I was falling down a rabbit hole on Instagram where I saw that Marilyn McCoo and her husband Bill David, Jr. had started an Instagram account (you can follow them here). I started following them, enjoying reading about how they are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and seeing old TV clips and new video of their performances.
I got to thinking about that To Catch a Thief episode and soon the rabbit hole led me to YouTube where I watched it. From there I found a tunnel to MusicNotes.com where I bought the sheet music for One Less Bell to Answer.
I sat down, excited to play it, and was stopped in my tracks. This Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic was as hard to play as any of Liszt’s classics!
Although I have continued to play piano all these years, I slogged and fumbled and scratched my way through to the end. My weakness in fingering skills and music theory was painfully apparent. I decided there and then that I wanted this one badly enough that I was willing to go back to the basics, learn what I didn’t know about music, and practice daily.
And so I found myself a good video series on music theory basics. I’ve been devoting a half an hour each day to learning the Circle of Fifths, scales and chords. I also put my husband through listening to me do another half an hour a day of practice, with an emphasis on One Less Bell to Answer. My husband says I’m getting better, though I’m still frustrated that it’s not yet quite where I want it to be.
Along the way though, something really interesting has happened.
I have noticed something wonderful after each painful, slow study and practice session. When I go back to my regular music (my sheet music stack includes the likes of Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, Bach, Beethoven, Billy Joel, one of my favorite composers, Mr. Rogers), that music is much easier, and I’m much better at playing it! In fact, it’s more of a joy to play than ever, and I usually end up playing another hour in the evening, giving up time previously wasted on television.
So what does this have to do with family history and genealogy? Well…
Mastering the Music of the Genealogical Brick Wall
One Less Bell to Answer was not only my favorite song, but one of the toughest to master. So let me ask you, what’s your toughest genealogy case right now?
We all have a brick wall or two that has plagued us. I get emails every day from listeners of the Genealogy Gems Podcast outlining the family history challenge that has them stumped. Sometimes I think their hope is that I might have a genealogical silver bullet, or that I might be aware of some low-hanging genealogical fruit that they’ve over looked. I always encourage listeners to write in because many times there is a quick source or strategy that I can offer that they just may have missed. Or I can refer them to one of our articles, videos or podcast episodes that can provide a more in-depth answer. There’s always value in sharing with others the research challenges we face, and soliciting ideas and input.
However, in many cases, the answer is not so simple. Many of the cases described go well beyond a quick search at one of the Genealogy Giants websites. (You can learn more about them here.) These are cases that don’t have an easy answer. There isn’t one source just waiting to be found.
Sing a Song of Genealogy
Genealogical brick wall cases are much like the most glorious torch songs. They will require more education, steady relentless work, and a willingness to end each research session (like a piano practice session) unsatisfied with the current results. But when we stay focused and persist, we can remain optimistic that the end result will be worth it.
This answer to tough genealogical questions isn’t a popular one. That’s due in part to the increased tech tools and vast online databases (which are all fantastic boons for the genealogist by the way), that appear to offer instant gratification. This auto-generated “genealogy” can actually dilute our research edge when we really need it. We can be lulled into believing there should always be a quick fix. We find ourselves not as willing to stop, create a research plan, set up a tracking spreadsheet, and execute a plan to find the answer.
Many a family tree (particularly online) is filled with errors created by an unwillingness to take the time to dig deep. For example, are we really sure we have the right ancestor when there are several men by that name in that county at that time? Did we really prove it?
Genealogy Research Plans
Is creating and using a genealogy research plan new to you? That’s not usual.
These days, many people first come to climbing their family tree through a genealogy app. Several of the popular genealogy apps allow you to instantly start adding what you know already about your family to your family tree on the app. Then the app starts serving up record hints and matches – genealogical records it thinks may match the people you have added. It may also connect you to other users who share branches of your family tree.
While there’s a bit of instant gratification in all this, it doesn’t help us see the bigger picture, or develop our skills as a researcher. In a sense, we are following the app’s research plan (and I use that term very loosely here), rather than developing and conducting our own research plan.
When we finally take up the baton, and start leading our own research, we will gain more satisfaction and end up singing the right song.
If you’re facing an imposing genealogical brick wall, why not set aside all your other searches, and just work on this one? Slog along, fight your way through it! Do it for an hour every day. If your knowledge is lacking, go find the answers. Get up to speed on the areas you don’t know enough about.
It helps to accept that this genealogical answer that you seek, like a really wonderful song, is going to require more learning and practice than the average answer. But when it’s done, you’ll have the satisfaction of having conquered a really tough one, and the confidence that you got it right.
I can promise you this. When you take the time to craft and work a real and true genealogical research plan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that when you go back to your other research, you will find it easier, and more enjoyable.
And yes, I’m still working on mastering my favorite song. Follow me on instagram and when I have it mastered, I’ll play it for you.
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