I tested my "task management" applications (my best ones being MylifeOrganised, GTasks and LifeBalance).But Nozbe is clearly my favourite :
No tool can replace bad habits and lack of motivationI would not change for any other software now
It feels really solid and looks tidy. The main GTD-related advantage over competitors is that you can easily convert a task into a project any time.
Nozbe is a to-do list/task manager. It aims primarily at organizations rather than individuals. It has some features others in this space don't, but it falls short on multiple levels. And, despite how this review might seem in the end, I started out really wanting to like Nozbe. But I can't like it because its flaws are too serious.
There are big negatives. I start with the most egregious:
1. Negligence over security/privacy information
Before March 2017, Nozbe's website claimed:
We take pride in our server infrastructure which we designed with customer data safety in mind. Our main data servers are located outside of the USA (NSA-safe!) - in the European Union.
Absolute bullsh*t. The NSA (National Security Agency) is an extremely powerful intelligence organization that has orchestrated some of the most sophisticated cyber attacks in history, including on non-US targets such as the data of EU politicians and companies.
I specifically contacted Nozbe about this. Here is what their customer support said (12th January 2017):
[W]e must recognize and apologize for the information that was published on our Help Page about Nozbe being NSA-proof. As I was informed, measures were taken to remove that information from our website.
When I pointed out the next day that no measures seem to have been taken:
Regarding the NSA claim, I'm sorry, it was my mistake - of course, we'll remove the information from our main page, as well as from our help page. I've already contacted our site administrator, they'll do this as soon as possible.
It took for them until the end of February (7 weeks) to sort this out. It didn't bother them sufficiently to get it right as a matter of priority. Their customer support guy also told me they have servers in Germany, Ireland, Australia and Japan. How are Australia and Japan in the EU?
By the way: Nozbe rent Amazon S3 server space, they encrypt user data at rest, and they say that if you delete your account, they will wipe all your data within 2 weeks, saving only the email account you signed up with. It's beyond me why they don't offer this information up front on their website in clear text so that customers know more about where they can expect their data to be stored.
UPDATE (2017-03-08): Nozbe's CEO has blogged about Nozbe's privacy (see "Your data privacy explained"). The idea is to impress upon (potential) customers just how seriously they take it all. However, the post is essentially useless because it simply repeats what is already published on their site. The key points are: 1) They're crazy about backup; 2) They store data in Germany, Ireland, Japan and Australia on servers belonging to Amazon; 3) They use Comodo's services to ensure they are compliant to PCI banking security standards; 4) Nozby's CEO and CTO are the only people with full access to data stored by Nozbe; all other employees have some access, depending on needs, but cannot see full details of what you're storing.
There are problems with this, including:
2. Important functionality is missing or immature
3. Their weirdness about Linux
As I wrote above, Nozbe support Linux. Great! Better than Wunderlist, Todoist and Asana.But their devs decided to offer a script that downloads the binary, instead of the binary directly. It's an extra pointless step. Here are the link to the binaries.
4. The unsubtle self-promotion of their CEO
It's par for the course that productivity software would come included with advice, tips, newsletters and other guff advising users on how to use their time well. To that end, Nozbe's CEO, Michael Sliwinski offers a series of YouTube videos. These reveal his willingness to promote himself far more than any useful tricks for getting anything done. Also:
Sliwinski seems to think customers would be more interested in what he does than on what Nozbe can do for you. He's also happy for you to see his fingers more than to learn anything useful. It seems to me he likes himself just a little too much. In all, the YouTube videos are all a bit of a waste of time. Which is ironic, really.
Other efforts to promote Nozbe include Sliwinski leaning on the reputation of Michael Hyatt, an even better known productivity guru. (What?! Even better?) It's a veritable symbiotic diMichaelopoly, if you will. (No, I didn't think you would.)
Hyatt writes Nozbe-promoting material on his own site, including:
The founder of Nozbe, Michael Silwinski, is a personal friend of mine.
But not close enough that you'd spell his name right. How convincing.
Also, if he's Sliwinski's friend, Hyatt's opinion about Nozbe is hardly likely to be objective, is it? So, in the end... that's worth a whole bunch of absolutely nothing. (Hyatt's list of Nozbe's benefits include that it syncs (which is true), that it allows you to share projects with others (so does Asana), and that it integrates with other apps. (Almost every app in this market does that.)
There's nothing professional, informative or confidence-inspiring about Sliwinski's thinly veiled screen-hogging, self-promoting 'tutorials'. Nor about persuading, by whatever means, a more famous man to sing his praises in meaningless, orthographically inaccurate ways. I can't help feeling Sliwinski would better spend his time on learning why "privacy", "security" and "backup" are different, and then implementing proper calendar support and completed task searches in his software.
####The Bottom LineNozbe is (slighly) less convenient to use and (a lot) more expensive than ToDoIst for individuals. For teams it is less functional than Asana and much more expensive if you're fewer than 15 people.
By the way, you don't have to give your private information to any company. If you're an individual looking for a decent to-do list that's private and open source, try SimpleTask Cloudless. It's an incredibly functional and convenient Android app based on a formatting system for to-do lists called todo.txt (see here for more info). If Android isn't your thing, there are lots of other apps that are based on the same system. You can use the syncing service of your own choice to sync between devices, including desktop apps. It will be perhaps less shiny than some paid-for solution, but it will be free and privacy-respecting and every bit as useful once you get used to it.
[Edited by JohnFastman, March 12]
Your reviews are my favorites in the whole of AlternativeTo. Not only that, but they have been very useful to me.
Thanks for the in-depth thoughts, solid review and talking about what matters rather than about some app's minimalistic design. It's really refreshing. Above of all, thanks for taking the additional step: contacting support about your insecurities and questions rather than just speculating about a company's policies.
Security should always come first, and it baffles me how many people judge it wiser to put anything else above that both when reviewing and when using a product.
You're reviews are fantastic, and you are a splendid person for going ahead and getting them done.
Reply written about 4 years ago
Mr. Fastman makes some good points, but I think he gets pretty hung up smaller issues, because I have looked and used more task management apps than I care to list, and Nozbe consistently comes out ahead. Nozbe's NSA-related claim is stupid, but does it mean the company does not secure its data? No. Nozbe uses industry standard security. Moreover, the fact that a small company uses its founder as its spokesperson is completely understandable. Maybe it is an ego trip for the founder, but it usually is just a function of how a small company operates. (The videos are excellent, by the way, and my new employees have found them to be extremely useful.) Similarly, the reviewer denigrates Michael Hyatt 's endorsement because Hyatt's copy mentions that Nozbe's founder is a "friend." That is a lame critique. The endorsement is legit. Any reader/reviewer who thinks that as careful a consultant as Michael Hyatt would endorse anything that he does not feel 100% confident is a solid product has not followed Hyatt very much.Nozbe is not perfect, but it is a fantastic task management product. It offers a consistent interface across multiple platforms, with delegation and tracking and communication options that are better than every other program I have tried. I disagree with the review that tasks are hard to enter. On my laptop or my handheld, I just click the "plus" button and start typing or dictating and hit enter. The task is created and in my inbox. I can come back later and add contexts or associate it with a project or tags or do whatever I want. (Creating tasks from emails is similarly super easy.) One great feature is the ability to add an estimated length of time for a task. If I assign a task, that parameter is a wonderful took at prevently the person handling the task from going off the deep end by trying to complete the task in a crazy way. Instead, they know that the task should only take, e.g., 30 minutes. If it takes longer than that, they know to come see me. I can then give them more guidance on how to do the task -- or I can realize that the task is much more involved than I first thought. In addition, the ability to see tasks on the calendar and by team member makes the critical weekly review much easier. Nozbe is far from perfect. For example, one shortcoming not noted in this review is Nozbe's inability to sequence tasks in a project so that, when you complete a task, the next one in the project that must be completed automatically becomes the "next action" for that project. Asana has a wonderful implementation of this feature and Nozbe is supposedly working on adding it."The bottom line" for me is that these programs are a lot about your personal tastes and the specifics of your situation. I am a GTD adherent, if one who largely lives in sin. In that realm, there are many good alternatives, such as Asana and Zendone (the latter being very interested, but dramatically undercapitalized), or Omnifocus is you are a Mac-only environment and by yourself (so that you need no delegation ability, which is lacking in Omnifocus). For any team or individual, however, I do not hesitate to recommend Nozbe. As with
Thank you in turn to Mr Stubbs for relating his own experience and use case of Nozbe. I think, however, the relevance of some of my own points were missed. So to clarify:
> Nozbe's NSA-related claim is stupid, but does it mean the company does not secure its data? No. Nozbe uses industry standard security.
The point isn't that Nozbe's false NSA claim is stupid or that they don't secure their data in reasonable ways. The point is that 1) they NSA claim is false (not just stupid), b) that Nozbe have admitted it is false and c) that they have not removed it from their website. The implication isn't that the data isn't reasonably secure, it's that they are happy for a misleading claim about their security to continue being displayed uncorrected on their website. That is to say, they are happy to lie. They also don't use two-factor authentication, which - let's face it - in 2017 is basically unforgiveable for a company that hosts others' sensitive data.
> Similarly, the reviewer denigrates Michael Hyatt 's endorsement because Hyatt's copy mentions that Nozbe's founder is a "friend." That is a lame critique... as Michael Hyatt would endorse anything that he does not feel 100% confident is a solid product.
Here again my point was missed. If anything, being someone's friend detracts from one's ability to judge their product objectively. It is not an assett in this context. For similar reasons, scientific papers are reviewed anonymously: authors don't get to choose their friends to do the refereeing. Or, to make the same point a third way, suppose Hyatt told you that his wife is the most beautiful woman on Earth. Would his relationship to her make you more or less confident his opinion was objectively true? Would it then be even relevant to defend that by saying Hyatt is a solid guy? No. It is not an unfair, let alone a "lame" critique, to point out that personal relationships get in the way of objective judgement. And Hyatt claims exactly that: "The founder of Nozbe, Michael Silwinski, is a personal friend of mine." Personal. Friend. There it is. You'll also note that he's not such a good friend as to ensure he's written Sliwinski's name correctly.
To add to my remarks about Nozbe being slower to use than competing apps, especially on mobile:
> I disagree with the review that tasks are hard to enter. On my laptop or my handheld, I just click the "plus" button and start typing or dictating and hit enter. The task is created and in my inbox. I can come back later and add contexts or associate it with a project or tags or do whatever I want.
I never wrote that tasks are "hard to enter". I said they're unnecessarily click-intensive. All apps in this space allow you to return to a task and add labels, for example. Nozbe's interface makes that a less efficient process than is the case for ToDoIst, for example.
That said, I appreciate Nozbe has features which others might find sway the balance in favour of Nozbe's usability, such as the task delegation. Nevertheless, Nozbe remains more expensive and less fully featured than Asana.
It’s a great “all in one app” - & uniquely has near identical interface across platforms.
Great tool for structuring life as an individual or as a light team collaboration tool. Probably best for orgs 2 - 30 people.
I use it individually and sharing of small projects with friends/family/colleagues
Very reliable, and a complete tool.
Does have some usability annoyances; for example: No macOS share extension or browser extension - which can hamper workflow of those who prefer desktop to mobile (their mobile offerings are better integrated). Eg quickly adding an email follow up reminder, from another app (only way atm is to cut and paste or forward) - so some workflow resistance here.
Nozbe 4.0 looks like good improvement potential, with planned fixes for the above, but their supposed removal of the 5 project free version will affect the student/light user demographic who could really benefit from its organisational approach.
Todoist, the logical competitor, which is better integrated into macOS, IFTTT etc, but has inconsistent interface and no built in calendar view.
Probably nearest equivalent on macOS / iOS is Things3 - but which is lighter, far better integrated but without the attachment or team functionality.
Nozbe is great, if you are ok with the caveats and these don’t interfere with your workflow.
Simple, yet powerful; modern, yet reliable. A truly great to-do app.
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