Walt Mossberg

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Premium Buys Encryption for Evernote

Your review of the Evernote notes-storage service last week made it sound tempting. But do they encrypt my notes on their servers so a hacker can’t steal them? And what happens to my notes if they go out of business?

A: Evernote isn’t a purely cloud-based (Internet-based) system. It does store your notes on its servers, for Web access, but it also exists as a synchronized local application on Windows, Mac and every major smart phone. So your notes are stored locally on the hard disks of your various computers. Local storage is available on the iPhone app, and the company says it plans to add local storage to Android phones soon. Thus, even if the company went out of business, the notes on your Mac or PC or iPhone would be safe.

Evernote says it doesn’t encrypt data on its servers because it indexes all your notes for quick searching, and performs image recognition on photo notes, and it claims encryption would prevent that. Your user name and password, however, are always encrypted in transit, according to the company, and passwords aren’t stored on its servers—even if you have a free account. For premium users ($5 a month or $45 a year) all of the data, not just user names and passwords, are encrypted.

Also, the service allows users to encrypt all, or any part, of any note, and the company says it doesn’t receive the key to decrypt this material. The only part of a wholly encrypted note that the company would hold on its server would be its title and tags, if any.

I’m looking for a lightweight laptop, ideally under five pounds and with long-lasting battery life. I’m confused by all the models. Can you help me to narrow it down to a handful?

A: Unless you are looking for a tiny netbook, I suggest you consider a couple of options. One is a new category of Windows laptops variously called things like “ultrathin” and “thin and light.” All are well under five pounds in weight and many have good battery life. I reviewed three of these laptops—models from Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Lenovo—back in November, and you can read the column at http://bit.ly/m3JQn.

The second option worth considering is a Mac, which I believe has superior software and security, albeit at a higher price. Apple’s (AAPL) MacBook and 13″ MacBook Pro, while heavier than this new batch of Windows machines, weigh slightly under five pounds and have strong battery life. My review of the latest MacBook, from October, is available at http://bit.ly/7brVJk.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, for free at the All Things Digital site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.


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