7 Best Notion Alternatives (Open-Source and Secure)

Why would anyone look for Notion alternatives?

It’s a great app, right?

Suppose, let’s say, you need to access information in Notion but there is no internet connection. And now, Notion can’t operate with its top Chrome extensions.

Or maybe you don’t want to put any confidential data or media in the Notion as it’s not end-to-end encrypted, which sucks!

Perhaps, you need some advanced project management features like time tracking, recurring tasks, milestones, graphs, that Notion doesn’t offer.

Well, there might be many reasons for which you may have to look for Notion alternatives, which is okay.

I will cover some Notion alternatives in this post. I will let you know all the things you need to know so that you can decide which tool is right for you.

7 Best Notion alternatives that are open-source and secure

1. Coda: All-in-One Doc for Teams

Coda for teams

Coda.io is a new tool compared to Notion. But it is the closest that you can get.

In fact, Coda has the same modular layout. But unlike Notion, Coda is, what they claim, fully encrypted.

Coda is like your typical Doc tool but loaded with high-end customization. It allows you to easily create new pages, checklists, tasks, tables, boards, and other important elements.

And, just like Notion, you can use Coda for documentation, increasing productivity, and most importantly for team collaboration.

Now let’s look at some of the Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Coda offers a beautiful user experience.
  • It’s flexible. You can build both simple and complex systems here.
  • Coda offers a wide range of third-party integration that you can use to save time and effort.
  • It has all the necessary components (tables, boards, lists, etc.) that you can expect from a no-code modular tool
  • Most importantly, it’s secure. All your data in Coda is encrypted and no one can access that.

Cons:

  • I find it a little slower than Notion
  • Like Notion, you can’t replace Coda with your traditional spreadsheet apps
  • It requires a bit of a steep learning curve
  • It doesn’t work fully offline
  • Coda hosts all your information on Google Drive and is only accessible on Google Chrome enforcing Google monopoly

For whom it’s best for: Despite having some drawbacks, I believe Coda is a great Notion alternative. Particularly for people who are concerned with their privacy and security. So, if security and flexibility are some things you opt for, Coda will be your best friend.

2. Anytype: When Notion Meets Security

Anytype

Here you go! Another Notion alternative for you. It feels and works just like Notion.

But Anytype offers some features that so many users are expecting from Notion: offline access and privacy.

Anytype is also a block-based tool but unlike Notion, it stores information locally and doesn’t have access to your data.

So, for Linux users who are more privacy-focused, this is the app you want to go for.

And, you can access them even without an internet connection.

Now, let’s find out if it’s the right tool for you:

Pros:

  • Beautiful user interface
  • It’s fully modular like Notion.
  • You can create checkboxes, kanban boards, tables, upload documents and images, etc.
  • It stores all the data locally on your device. So, it’s private and secured.
  • It’s free regardless of the size of your company.

Cons:

  • It’s not officially launched yet. But you can have early access to it.
  • According to me, it has slim chances of matching Notion’s capabilities.
  • You might experience bugs as the app is quite new compared to other tools

For whom it’s best for: So, is it the perfect Notion Alternative? I don’t think it’s there yet. But it definitely has the potential to be one. But if you care about the offline access and security of your data, there is no doubt Anytype will beat most of the Notion alternatives.

3. Obsidian: Build Your Second Brain

Obsidian

Well, this one is pretty interesting. Obsidian is not like any other productivity tool.

It’s a no-brainer if you desire to build a strong knowledge base and enjoy taking notes.

Basically, Obsidian is a note-taking tool.

But in reality, it’s much more than that. You can connect notes and create an interlinked network of all the notes similar to our mental schema.

Let me explain. What I generally do is that I take notes from different sources. It can be books, articles, videos, or so on.

But these ideas are often related to one another. Most note-taking apps fail to create a connection between these ideas or notes. That’s exactly what Obsidian can do.

You can connect notes with each other and together they will form an interlinked network of ideas or brain map. Or, what the Obsidian team calls ‘A Second Brain’.

Now let’s look deeper into this app:

Pros:

  • You can view a graphical representation of all your notes and connections
  • Access your notes offline as it stores data locally
  • It’s lightweight and customizable
  • Multiple plugins available to improve the workflow
  • A Free version is available

Cons:

  • It’s very limiting when you compare it with Notion.
  • No native table editing (only with plugin)
  • You’ve to pay for the syncing & publishing features
  • It requires a little bit of a learning curve.

For whom it’s best for: So, is Obsidian a better alternative to Notion? It can be if you take learning, note-taking, and personal knowledge management seriously. Students, authors, and other types of knowledge workers can benefit most from Obsidian. This will be a great option if you are familiar with the power graphical representations of notes and ideas have to promote creativity, comprehension, and retention.

4. Focalboard: The Self-Hosted Kanban App

Focalboard

Focalboard is also a relatively new tool and offers early access.

It’s basically a project management tool that utilizes the Kanban board view. If you’re familiar with Trello, you’ll use this tool quite easily.

But unlike Trello and other project management tools, it’s an open-source and self-hosted platform. So, you can access them even when you’re offline.

If you’ve been a Notion user, you will find Focalboard similar to its board view. You can add properties like status, members, priority, and even change the view to your liking.

In fact, it looks a lot like a Notion board-view.

So, is it the Notion alternative you’re looking for?

Let’s find out.

Pros:

  • Built for complete project management purpose
  • Two versions available: personal desktop (standalone desktop app) and Personal server (Self-hosted server).
  • It has a familiar interface like Notion, Asana, Trello, and other Kanban apps
  • It’s self-hosted. So, it’s secured and has offline access
  • It’s free and open-source.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for note-taking purposes. Of course, you can do that. But not as convenient as Notion or Obsidian.
  • You’ll need some technical knowledge to set up the Personal Server version.
  • Not available as an Android or iOS version.

For whom it’s best for: So, you might be wondering, if you should go for this one as a Notion alternative. I will say, it’s up to you. If you only need the project management stuff, Focalboard can be your ally. But if your work is focused more on notes or knowledge management, you should aim for Coda, Anytype, or Obsidian.

5. ClickUp: The Master of Project Management

ClickUp

If you own a business, and your aim is to be super productive, nothing can beat ClickUp.

ClickUp is a powerful project management tool with so many advanced features that Notion and other tools don’t offer.

Notion has many project management features. But not as many as ClickUp does.

ClickUp has features like task dependencies, recurring tasks, mind maps, milestones, Scrum Points, bulk rescheduling that can’t be done natively in Notion.

It is really an amazing tool. Project Management is where it really shines.

But what if you have to take notes just like you do in Notion? You can definitely do that.

But this isn’t meant to be used solely for notes or other forms of less formal task management. That’s why it’s not an all-in-one workspace app.

Now let’s find out if ClickUp is the tool you are looking for as a Notion alternative:

Pros:

  • It has so many advanced project management features. If you have a business or team, it’s more than perfect.
  • It has native integration with Slack, GitHub, Google Drive, Google assistance, OneDrive, Outlook, Figma, Zoom, and so many other popular apps.
  • A free version is enough for personal project/task management.
  • Fully secured and encrypted.
  • Available on Android or iOS platforms too.

Cons:

  • Too many features and options for customization. This can be overwhelming for some users.
  • It can be confusing at first. And, it also needs some learning curve.
  • Not at all suitable for note-taking and other forms of casual tasks or list management.

For whom it’s best for: In our opinion, you should only go for ClickUp if you’re serious about team and project management. Other than that, ClickUp might be an overkill for your needs.

6. Airtable: Spreadsheets on Steroids

Airtable

Another tool I want to talk about is Airtable.

In one word, it’s a spreadsheet app on steroids.

You can make a table, database, assign images, make a Gantt chart, etc. You can even use their prebuilt apps to take your workflow to the next level.

But, what about other areas like note-taking, productivity, collaboration, and security?

Let’s find out:

Pros:

  • Airtable is really good at creating databases and tables
  • It is the best alternative if you have to deal with loads of data
  • Its powerful API allows you to integrate it with over 1000 popular apps like Asana, Basecamp, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.
  • Automated workflows can save time and effort
  • It’s secured and encrypted. So, you don’t have to worry about privacy

Cons:

  • Airtable is not suitable for note-taking, let alone knowledge management
  • It involves a steeper learning curve
  • It can be daunting for some users for its long list of features.

Whom it’s best for: Airtable is best if you’re more of a data person. But if you need to take a lot of notes or highlights, then you should opt for other alternatives like Obsidian, Coda, or Anytype.

7. Roam Research: Your Knowledge Bank

Roam Research

Want to take your knowledge management to the next level?

Roam Research is the tool you’re looking for.

It is best for note-taking and knowledge management.

It’s similar to Obsidian in features except it’s cloud-based. So, you can access it from anywhere.

Like Obsidian, you can connect notes and see the graph overview. But Roam Research also comes with the ability to create bi-directional links.

But do these features make Roam Research a better alternative to Notion?

Let’s look at some of the Pros and Cons first:

Pros:

  • Features like bi-directional linking and graph overview make Roam the best choice for note-taking and knowledge management
  • Roam can help users be more creative as they can see how the ideas link with each other
  • It’s more advanced than Notion when it comes to its linking capabilities.
  • It’s easier to learn than other similar alternatives.

Cons:

  • Roam is quite pricey at $15/month and no free version is available
  • It’s not suitable for task management or project management
  • Not yet available as an iOS or Android app. A big con
  • Creating tables or databases is not yet as functional as Notion or other alternatives
  • Security and privacy are not great.

Whom it’s best for: I will only recommend Roam Research if the primary purpose is to take notes and link thoughts and ideas. But it’s not at all functional for tasks like project management, creating databases, team collaboration, etc. If this is something you need, go for tools like Coda, Anytype, or ClickUp.

Conclusion

As you saw in this post, it’s hard to find a perfect alternative to Notion. For most of the security paranoids out there, Anytype (once it’s launched) is the closest one, or else you can go with Coda (Google Chrome-based).

Looking for powerful knowledge management? Go for Obsidian or Roam Research.

Would you like all the power of a database loaded with automation and not just your spreadsheet? Airtable!

If you are looking for a good project management-centric alternative to Notion, then ClickUp is the best in the game, but not for anything more than that.