Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's all about the Journal

JournalingIt's all about the journal.

I've been looking at lots of journaling software, on and off the net. Some people like to journal offline on their personal computers.  But others prefer to journal "online."   Using a standard browser they key their daily thoughts into a website.

Which is better? Which is safer? Which do you prefer? Why?

If you've never thought about this or have vacillated which way to go, I've compiled a few things that you might consider.  Whichever way you decide, don't procrastinate.  Start journaling today.  You'll be glad you did.

Here are some of the pros/cons of both:

Offline journaling:
  • You can journal anytime, even when away from the Internet. In fact, this may be best. You'll never be distracted by email or Skype notifications of incoming calls or mail.  Nor will you be distracted by other online sites.  That is, provided you have disconnected from the Net.
  • You know your words are private. When you journal offline you know that your entries are for your eyes only. Most journaling software programs have password protection that discourage snoopers. The better journaling software packages include "encryption at rest" which means that even if someone steals your computer, they can't access the content of your journal. (MacJournal works this way.)
  • You'll have lots of choices of journaling software for both Windows machines and Macs. There are specialized programs for daily journaling, dream journaling, gratitude journaling, and more. Some journaling software programs also allow you to "tag" the type of journal entry. Then you can keep all types of journals in one spot.
  • If your computer crashes (and it will someday) you'll lose everything. Some avoid this by emailing themselves the content of their daily journals. If you do that, you'll lose the encryption built into the software. And mailing yourself everyday is a maintenance headache. Where do you put it? Is it secure from curious people?
Online journaling:
  • You'll never lose your entries. Large servers on reputable sites keep backups and redundancy. What that means for you is you can journal on any computer (including Internet cafes). Or if you lose your machine, you'll still have all your journal entries.
  • Beter sites have encryption. What this means is that your entries are always safe. Not even the people that work for the online journaling companies can access your private data. This is a good thing.
  • More advanced features require yearly payment. Sometimes insignificant but in these economic times, annoying.
  • Your entries may not be safe from curious people. Some of the "free" online journaling sites don't offer complete encryption. They all have password protection but if someone finds your computer, they can simply hack your password, or worse, login without your password if you've clicked the button "keep me logged in."
  • Often need an Internet connection. Some sites allow you to recored your day's journal entry offline and the connect and upload later. But most only allow you to enter your entries while connected to the Internet. If you keep a travel journal, this may not always be possible. Often in remote parts of the country the Internet is not available. Often hotels charge for Internet access. Also, if you are not careful and use the WIFI in coffee shops or hotels, you could be opening your entries up to snoopers.
Personally I've been using MacJournal offline and Penzu online. Penzu's Pro account is only $20 a year and includes ultimate high-grade military encryption (no one can ever read your entries), cutomization, picture uploads, tagging, and more. They also have a mobile app for the iPhone that'll let you record your thoughts offline and upload them later when you have access to the Internet.

Penzu is very serious about your personal entries. If you go "Pro" you'll have the best of both online and offline journaling. You can record your thoughts offline if you don't have an Internet connection, then sync up when you do. They provide "encryption in transit" which simply means that no one can intercept your entries while you are using WIFI at a coffee shop. And they use "encryption at rest" which means that after your data is saved on their servers, no one can read it except you. If you forget your password, there is no going back. They will not be able to help you retrieve your data.

So get started. What are you waiting for? Get journaling. Record your memories and keep them forever.

When my journal appears, many statues must come down. - Arthur Wellesley