How can I separate work and personal notes on OneNote?
February 4, 2016 8:19 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to be able to access both my work and personal OneNote notes while in the office, but I'd also like to keep the personal notes secured so that they can't be accessed by someone else. The personal notes also need to be synced between my home and the office.

I've recently switched from Evernote to OneNote for a few reasons, mainly that Evernote's note formatting is dreadful, and it's very difficult to organize notes in a hierarchy properly. When my personal notes were on Evernote, I used to store them in a TrueCrypt encrypted container, then just unlock that each morning before starting Evernote.

I started using OneDrive to sync my personal notes between home and the office, and it seems to be a bit of a security nightmare, in that there is no easy way to sign out of onedrive. So once I log into windows at the office, my onedrive files will be unlocked and I haven't found anyway around that. I could store the notebooks in a TrueCrypt container, but then I would need to sort out some other way to sync them.

OneNote allows you to password protect sections within notebooks, but infuriatingly, it doesn't allow you to password protect whole notebooks. Locking and unlocking hundreds of individual sections each day is not something I can do.

I'd be really grateful if anyone could recommend a good solution for this.

As a bonus question, if there is some great alternative to Evernote and OneNote that I haven't heard of, please let me know!
posted by theyexpectresults to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have an office365 account for my work email and a hotmail account for my home email, and have a notebook on each account. I can then log into onenote with both accounts and have all the notebooks available, and sign out of one account at a time. I don't know if you need a special office365 setup but I would look into a second account somehow.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:57 PM on February 4, 2016

One thought is to use the web version of OneNote at the office; that way you can stay logged-into your work account with the desktop app at work and just open the personal one in your web browser via OneDrive's web interface as needed. This is admittedly not a perfect solution as you do give up some functionality on the web, but not all that much IME.
posted by Aleyn at 11:41 PM on February 4, 2016

When you say access are you talking about shared file access for colleagues or are you talking about personal file on work computer (which would generally only be accessible to people who can use your computer/account) or are you talking about safe even from system admin access/forced backup involuntary datastorage 'access'?

I share my work notebooks with my colleagues by sharing them via the work network and placing them in a shared folder on the server. I can access the version on my laptop offline but I won't see any unsyched changes and my changes won't be synch until I'm back on the network.

I maintain one work notebook that I do not share for work stuff that I don't want to have visible to the team for whatever reason.

Finally, I maintain a personal notebook on my work device. This is shared via the web and my windows email address, i.e. it is accessible from my personal devices via the email account.

The latter, to my non technical mind, is comparable to a personal file on your work computer. Unless you actively share your account with others they shouldn't be able to access it. Even system admins should not be able to access the files on your machine unless they have your permission or at least that's what a decent IT policy would require.

My personal view is that the personal information on my work devices should be of a nature that is personal but not highly sensitive or disasterous if it is shared unintentionally. If I do stick to that then my login is plenty of access restriction for that information.

If you want access to more sensitive personal information I'd recommend you do not link it to a work device in any way. Maintain the personal notebook on a personal device only and make it accessible from work by app via a portable equally personal devcice like your mobile phone or tablet.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:27 AM on February 5, 2016

Response by poster: Hi, thanks for the suggestions so far. Regarding using the online interface, I find it a bit slow to use so I'd really prefer to use the desktop one if I can. I haven't seen an option for using a second account with the desktop app, but I'll have a look.

IT admins at work can definitely access the files on my computer, and the personal files don't have anything very sensitive in them, but I'd still prefer not to leave them lying around.
posted by theyexpectresults at 5:09 AM on February 5, 2016

Response by poster: And sorry, I forgot to add that I don't need to actually share the notebooks with other people. Just have them available to me in multiple places.
posted by theyexpectresults at 4:44 PM on February 5, 2016

IT admins at work can definitely access the files on my computer, and the personal files don't have anything very sensitive in them, but I'd still prefer not to leave them lying around.

I believe that desktop OneNote leaves files lying around even if you sign out of your personal account and into your work account after you're done, so I wouldn't rely on that at all. If you're worried enough for this to be an issue, then you'll have to either use a separate personal device or the web version, or, as you mentioned before, password protect every single section.

However, I'm a little bit confused as to why you can't use the same TrueCrypt container-based solution you used with Evernote? While the OneDrive integration makes syncing much easier, you can still save OneNote notebooks anywhere you want, including to a TrueCrypt container. Syncing that container would be as much an issue with Evernote as OneNote, I'd think.

As for alternatives, Evernote and OneNote are definitely the major players in this space, but there might be other options you could look at.
posted by Aleyn at 10:10 PM on February 5, 2016

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