Why are we using Obsidian over Notion?

I was thinking about this question and i didn’t find an answer cause we can remove the internet access from both and update them using an external app like WingetUI for Windows for example, So at this point we should compare between the benefits of each one, The pros and cons only, Am i right or am i missing something?

Why are we using Obsidian over Notion?

Who is the ‘we’ you are referring to here? I don’t think Notion or Obsidian are officially recommend by PG (or meet the current minimum criteria – neither are open source afaik).

I haven’t really encountered many people in the privacy or the FOSS communities recommending Notion or Obsidian (though Obsidian does seem fairly popular among the self-hosting crowd and maybe the broader developer crowd). In my experience, the people who really like and promote Obsidian, are typically most excited about the workflow, features, and in some cases the self-hostable aspect, and are less focused on privacy/security/foss. Though if it can be locally hosted, and offline, it seems like it could be sufficiently secure and private for most people, as long as being proprietary isn’t a dealbreaker.

I know even less about notion than I know about Obsidian so I won’t comment on that.

So at this point we should compare between the benefits of each one, The pros and cons only, Am i right or am i missing something?

If you assess the privacy + security to be relatively comparable between the two, and you assess that it is adequate for you, then I think you are right, your decision comes down to whichever one you personally like better/are more comfortable, and/or whichever company you trust more.

edit: there have been a few posts on the topic you may want to review if you haven’t already


First I want to thank you for this edit, Second when i was saying “we” i was talking in the name of the people who listened to Henry from Techlore in the video that was published on the official Techlore channel putting Obsidian as number 1 app for notetaking, That’s why i thought everyone is using it, Finally i think you are right and i agree with your opinion.

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What about Appflowy??

That surprises me, I thought Henry was personally all in on Cryptee at the moment.

In any case, I know that the people who love Obsidian really love Obsidian and see it as much more than just a notes app. So I’m sure it has some strong selling points. Have you used it personally? I’m not a very heavy user of notes, for me, a notes app is basically just digital scratch paper, so I’ve never had a need to look at Obsidian or any of the more featureful options like that. But my interest is now piqued so I may check it out.

I’ve only learned of ‘Appflowy’ today, when I was double checking whether Obsidian was proprietary. So I don’t have anything useful to say about it, beyond that it came up as an ‘open source alternative to Obsidian’.

IIRC, PG’s recommendations are currently Cryptee, Notesnook, Standard Notes, and possibly Joplin.

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Obsidian uses Markdown format which is standard and can be used over any number of note taking or Knowledge management apps.

Most of the new apps have it and existing ones does too. I think the markdown was mostly standardised and made into general people by Obsidian, Joplin and Standard notes.

For notion, It is inherently secure and as henry said use it only if the information is going to be public anyway. And Notion have poor export options when I used it.

I don’t know if I am right, But offline mode in notion is you can use it when internet is disconnected during workflow not from when you start the app.

And if you wanna use something similar to Notion but secure and E2E Encrypted, Offline, maybe you could try anytype.io. It has the idea of notion but with .md and encryption. Only thing I hate is not being able to disable their Sync server.

Anytype is Open Source or Source Available. It has a different licensing scheme which I am not sure about. So, It’s either or.

This may feel like a shill opinons may differ. But actually Obsidian is the best PKM solution that is best out there with a standard file format. Nothing is that much good.

I am using an E2E cloud provider. So, I sync my Obsidian notes over there to devices. No need to manually encrypt too. I could even edit it and view on the fly in Web drive itself. So, a Win-Win in general.

Disclaimer : Personal Opinions ahead.

There is Zim Wiki, Simple but not cross-platform. Notesnook is kind of weird. Cryptee is really good for cross platform stuff like Grocery list as such and notes that you would use often by their generous 100MB if incase it is only text. I could buy Cryptee but the free plan just suits me.

And there is Vim Wiki and stuff I don’t even understand how are people even using using it. Cuz it is like undermining productivity.

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Based on context, I think this is a typo, and you possibly meant to say insecure?

Ah, Yeah, You are right. I meant insecure in case of Confidential data and things that are meant to be private.

Word are in mind, But I don’t know what heck I do type. I just edit it after posting generally. You pointed it out sooner.

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I use Obsidian because it’s the app that I’ve tried that best enables my workflow (an pseudo-zettlekasten), and is the nicest WYSIWYG markdown editing experience (besides Typora, but that’s a paid Markdown editor, not a note taking app). It’s local-first, so you can sync it as any other folder with whatever private or self-hosted cloud you choose. If you wanted to use Obsidian Sync, AFAIK, it’s E2EE, so if you trust the proprietary implementation, it should be OK.

Since it’s local-first, if you don’t use Obsidian Sync you can block Obsidian’s internet access with something like Little Snitch and it will still work completely fine.

Something I don’t do is use the non-built-in extensions. I have that feature disabled. Last time I checked, there wasn’t any kind of permission system for the extensions, so any extension you install can read your files and access the internet. I don’t want to add more parties I have to trust, and more projects susceptible to supply chain attacks.

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I agree with your comment on third-party extensions, however I also think they are what make Obsidian so powerful for various workflows. Extensions allow me to draw, write math equations, draw chemical structures, render graphs, and more, all within the app.

Of course, increasing attack surface is unavoidable, and there is always some risk involved, owever the current landscape of Obsidian extensions are reasonably secure in my opinion. All extensions available from the community browser in the app are approved by Obsidian, and I’d say 90% or more extensions are open-source or source-available. It’s up to everyone and their threat model, but personally I wouldn’t choose to leave Obsidian’s latent potential through plugins untouched in my workflow.

Also a note on Obsidian Sync: yes, it’s a closed-source implementation, however they did undergo an audit from Cure53 somewhat recently. Personally though, I keep my entire vault on a USB for portability, and have used Syncthing in the past for it, and both are excellent solutions to using Obsidian on multiple devices for free.

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