A while back, I posted a critique of Notion in which I took it to task for not having an easy method of export and usability. At the time, I said I loved what Notion did as a software platform, but I felt it didn’t really give a clear option of how to migrate away if something changed or the platform became unavailable. That is a big deal to me. I don’t want to be bound to any single platform or company, and I felt that using Notion would do that.
My wife, however, disagreed. I am married to a wonderful historian who spends a lot of time working with and using technology both for the work she does and for her day-to-day life and recreation. We are both fascinated by different hardware and software platforms and spend far too much time arguing about their different affordances and constraints. In these discusssions, she is (usually) the enthusiastic adopter, and I am the tech curmudgeon. This was absolutely the case when it came to Notion. She argued that the ease-of-use of the platform, its accessibility and availability, the collaborative features it provided, and the speed at which we could set up and monitor individual, work, and family projects made it downright amazing. She wasn’t willing to let it go. So I dug a bit deeper to see if there was a way to resolve my issue.
Guess what, folks. I was wrong, she was right1, and we are absolutely still using Notion.
I’m not sure if I just missed it in the first review or they improved the backup when I wasn’t looking, but there is a full site-wide backup for Notion. That backup not only produces Markdown documents for the text documents, it also produces CSV files of all databases, and includes all static site uploads as well.
All I have to do is go to my Workspace Settings and click on the
Export Entire Workspace button.
In a few minutes, a backup of my entire site is zipped and made available. I download that file and keep it as a regular backup. I just make this back up a part of my regular process and now I have a full and usable backup of my Notion site.
Quite honestly, this is exactly what I want in a platform. Too often, backups only exist to let you use the same software essentially locking you in to the existing platform. If I am trusting a platform with my project work, I want the flexibility to move off of that platform if something happens. I don’t want to have to recreate everything. Notion is giving us just that. The Markdown files can easily be merged into other platforms and applications. The CSV files allow for easy import into spreadsheets and other databases.
What makes this so impressive is that Notion is opting to not go for lock in. They are not trying to trap their customers. It’s almost like they believe that the quality of the platform they provide will keep their customers coming back. That is certainly the case for us. I think this is telling about the company Notion is trying to be, and I like that.
A very common experience in my life. ↩