Evernote Sync Is Now Four Times Faster

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Evernote Sync Is Now Four Times Faster

Posted by Phil Libin on 28 Jan 2014

Posted by Phil Libin on 28 Jan 2014

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Keeping all of your notes synchronized across the phones and computers you use has been a core promise of Evernote since we launched in the summer of 2008. For us, making sure that sync runs smoothly is a massive operation. For you, it should be invisible; the highest praise you can give it is to say, “it just works.” Well, as of today it just works faster.

The complexity of sync depends on five variables:

  • The number of notes in your account
  • The average size of resources (images, PDFs, files)
  • The number of users simultaneously syncing on the same server
  • The number of devices you use
  • The amount of collaboration with your notes and notebooks

Each of these variables has grown dramatically in recent years.

When we originally designed the architecture, we only had to support a few thousand, mostly single-device users, taking text notes for themselves. Now, we have tens of millions of users, most using multiple devices, storing and sharing notes, photos and documents.

Our infrastructure has grown from a dozen servers to more than 700 in multiple data centers. Our original sync architecture has held up reasonably well throughout all this growth, but we knew it wouldn’t last forever.

About a year ago, we started a fundamental redesign of our server-side sync engines to make sure sync will be great for decades to come. We set four important requirements for how we could achieve this goal:

  1. There should be no significant disruptions to the service and that all data would be preserved.
  2. The transition should be completely transparent to our users, so all Evernote and third-party apps would be able to use the new sync engines without requiring any upgrades.
  3. There should be significant improvements to performance when the new system goes live.
  4. We would set ourselves up for fast and reliable service for years to come, factoring in the rapid increases in mobile usage, wearable devices, larger images, video and collaboration that we expect in Evernote.

First, our Service team completely re-engineered the way that Evernote synchronizes your notes. After that, we migrated every single note, resource and bit of metadata onto the new sync platform. We also upgraded the hardware on some of our older servers. Then we tested. And tested. And tested some more.

Finally, we flipped the switch.

Well, not all at once. Some of our servers have been running the new sync engines for weeks, and others have gone back and forth between old and new to make sure both systems performed client-facing operations correctly and identically.

As of now, all Evernote servers are running the new sync engine. There is much rejoicing.

The Results

Synchronization is now about 4X faster than ever before. This applies to any version of Evernote that you use. Sync now often takes a couple of seconds to complete, and when you get a new phone or computer, downloading your notes will take much less time. If you have a small account, you might not notice that much of a difference. On the other hand, if your account is large, or you’ve been using Evernote for many years, or you share notebooks with other users, or your entire company uses Evernote Business, you’ll see massive improvements. All four of these things happen to be true for many early Evernote employees, so the performance gains we’re seeing at the office are amazing. That explains the rejoicing.

Just the Beginning

This is just the first phase of our sync work. All of the improvements so far have been the result of server-side changes that don’t require any modifications to Evernote apps. Next, we’ll be upgrading all of our apps to take advantage of additional capabilities of the new sync architecture. This will make sync even faster. We’ll also be updating our APIs and developer guidelines so our partners can turbo-charge sync, as well.

As we’ve written earlier, the theme of 2014 is to make the core Evernote experience as great as possible. We couldn’t be more excited to roll out our new sync infrastructure. It was a tremendous undertaking by our team to do all of this without any downtime. Not only does this make Evernote more responsive than ever, but it also sets us up for important capabilities that you’ll see later this year. Enjoy your faster, better Evernote experience.

A detailed overview of what we did is now on our Tech Blog.

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28 Comments RSS

  • Jim Saul

    Thanks for continuing to improve Evernote. It has become the single critical application for many of us, so much so that I often joke that centuries from now the lost years of misty history will be known not as B.C. but as Before Evernote.

    So it’s heartening to see it continue to improve.

    Please also continue to improve exports and backups, so those of us who are Evernote-dependent can manage our own redundant and platform-agnostic archives.

  • Stefan

    It’s nice to see Evernote improving, however it’s a shame that notes before January 2013 have vanished/are inaccessible.

    If less people use your product because of failures in the core functions, superfluous addons like speed increases are moot.

    • Expalmi

      Stefan, why do think older are gone? Mine are still accessible

    • maique

      how so ? i’ve got a ton of tones from way before that date, and they’re still there. maybe you should contact evernote support and have them sort this one out…

  • Darren Schrock

    The hard work is paying off! I’ve noticed a change in recent weeks and have been very pleased with the sync speed between my devices. I recommend Evernote to my friends and colleagues all the time.

  • Martin

    Love the continuous improvements.
    I’ve been a premium user for a few years now and couldn’t live without it. Keep up the good work.

  • Jones

    I love Evernote!!! just tried the sync …remarkable!!!

  • J. David FIG

    Thanx @evernote…a much needed improvement. I think y’all are awesome!!

  • Jeff Cole

    Don’t know how the sync has improved for others, and I can’t seem to get a sync to properly complete today. Slower. Inconsistent. Unreliable. Seems it worked much better when I first became dependent upon it. Now, I don’t know why I put up with it sometimes.

    • Andrew Sinkov

      Jeff, please contact our support team. They may be able to help identify the issue: http://evernote.com/support

      • uri

        i have a similar problem. i just got a new macbook air and 26+ hours later evernote has not fully synced on my new machine. i have been getting “internal error” messages and crashes and its forced me to babysit evernote to make sure that the sync is not stalled. when it is working, many times it appears to be very slow.

        i filed a support ticket a few minutes ago.

        who knew it would take so long to get evernote working on a new machine! i do have a large account, i started using evernote in 2008, but it seems to me this should be unacceptable. especially the fact that it kept crashing over and over.

        oh what delicious irony that as i was trying to set up evernote on a new machine and failing at it, a blog post was going up talking about how good the syncing is now.

  • Victor

    Great!
    Now, we only need a decent tables editor to have the perfect tool.

  • Darin

    Evernote has become my digital brain for the last couple of years and I couldn’t imagine what I would do without it. Thanks for continuing to improve upon an already great product.

  • saikhamXAYAVONGSA

    thanx@evernote.com

  • MnM

    Will we get the new Sync also on MacOSX 10.6?

    • Andrew Sinkov

      The sync improvements apply to OS X 10.6

  • Marcos

    Thanks for improving Evernote.

  • AD

    The python sdk is super slow as compared to the other sdks. Is that a fault of python, evernote sdk for python ,thrift or your servers ?

    • Dave Engberg

      I checked with the API team, and they hadn’t heard about this other than one thread on our API developer forum (http://discussion.evernote.com/forum/61-evernote-for-developers/). I’m guessing that thread came from you. Keep working with our API team there, or contact them directly at http://dev.evernote.com/support/ to help narrow down what part of your environment is slowing things down.

      • AD

        Sure. I’ll try to narrow down things from my part in the sdk.
        If I find something interesting I’ll post it on the thread.

  • Keri

    Congratulations, that is a rather significant improvement, thanks for your ongoing commitment to make all our lives more organised :)

    Slightly off topic, when you said you went live in 2008 I had to check my emails to see how long i’ve been using Evernote and the oldest email i have is about my beta account dated 17th May 2008 – doesn’t feel that long I must admit – here’s to another 6 years of organisation !

  • @machristensson

    The New sync is really much faster! Love the New interfaces i OsX and iPad

  • Ali

    Thanks, but we are expecting much more, because we believe in Evernote, that’s why we relay our business on this software, SO don’t disappoint us, as we wish you will not.

  • Andreas

    That’s really a good development!

    I would like to see automatic sync: If you change a note on one device, Evernote automatically syncs all other devices that are connected at the moment.

    I hope that you mean this by “important capabilities that you’ll see later this year”!

    • Ty Snouffer

      I’m seeing automatic syncing in at last some cases with the new apps. Just added a photo from a web page via the Evernote Clipper for Chrome. A few seconds later, it popped up on my EN for iPad which I had open with no action from me. I’m continuously amazed and glad at how the EN ecosystem is made better and better. Cheers to the EN team!

  • KL

    what happened to the “Done” button that appeared when you added or deleted info from a Note? Also, why do I get a message about conflicting resolutions with a date/time on it? Leads to multiple versions of one Note. Thanks. Obviously I’m a newer user!

  • Jerry

    Very, very quick. Thank you!

  • jeff

    Not for me, it 20X slower. I have only plain text notes and after a few updates it takes 2 minutes to sync very little data.