Newest Review: ... year, annual cost is cheaper if you sign up for longer. The following link will give you a 20% discount http://penzu.com/r/81b3652f I h... more
Private Online Journalling made easy!
Member Name: Kipperkid
Date: 04/07/11, updated on 02/02/12 (54 review reads)
Advantages: Everything is private by default; I liked the fact it looked like a sheet of lined paper
Disadvantages: no formatting options in the free version
I wanted somewhere online to write my journal entries, but didn't want all and sundry to be able to read what I had written. I did a search around the internet and decided Penzu.com did what I wanted. There are 2 versions - the basic version is free and Penzu Pro is paid annually. I signed up for the free basic version, which was quite simple and I was able to get started straight away. There is an option to try it out first, before you sign up.
Access to your journal is by username/password. When you login in you are presented with the 'cover' of your journal with the title you specify shown on the front - the free version allows you just one journal for everything. When you click on the journal title, you are presented with what looks like a sheet from a standard pad of A4 blue feint lined paper on which to start writing. The top line is reserved for your title, the rest of your sheet is for you to type whatever you want, the 'page' expands as necessary. I presume there must be some sort of limit as to how much you can fit in one entry, but I haven't hit it yet..... (probably famous last words!!) Penzu autosaves your entry as you type. Penzu will even send you a reminder that it's time to journal, if you want!
There is a little lightbulb top right of the page - if you click on that, it will give you a journal prompt if you are stuck for something to write about. If you have shared the entry by email there will also be a letter icon which will tell you who you shared it with.
You can attach pictures (JPEG, PNG or GIF, up to 5MB) which are held in the margin by a paperclip - you can add a caption if you wish. The PRO version apparently allows you to click on the image and view the large version - you can also choose to place the photo in the body of the entry on Pro.
In the basic version, you cannot choose different fonts, colours or things like bold, italic or highlight - I understand this sort of thing is available in the Pro version but I haven't tried that yet. The thing I really liked was that by default everything you write is totally private - you have to make a conscious decision if you want other people to be able to read one of your entries. There are 2 choices for this, you can email the entry to the person(s) you want to see it or you can make it public if you are happy for anyone to read it. People you have shared the entry with are able to add comments to it online, via the link they are sent. Sharing in this way does mean you have to give Penzu their email address, but no spam mail seems to have resulted from this. You also have an option to unshare an entry if you need to.
At the side of the journal is a tab that looks like a book with a marker ribbon in it - hover over it and it says 'All entries', click on it and you are taken to the index page for your journal. By default, entries are sorted by the date you first created them, with the most recent at the top. If you click on one of the column headers, entries will be sorted by that column, either ascending or descending order as you choose. The date shown beside the entry is by default the creation date, but there is an option in the settings menu to change this to date last edited. One of the columns has various icons to show if there are photos attached, if you have shared that entry with anyone or if this is an entry from someone else's journal which has been shared with you. There is also a search function on this page to help you locate the entry you want.
Currently supported browsers are Firefox 3+, Google Chrome, and Safari 4+. Having said that, I'm using it on IE8 at home and haven't hit any problems so far............
Additional features in Pro version (can't rate these as I haven't tried it!)
* mobile access
* military grade encryption
* Customize your entry backgrounds, pad style, and text formatting
* You can export your entries
* Import posts you have made elsewhere
* Add journal entries by email
* Select a different journal prompt
* Access previous versions of your entries if you hit a problem
* multiple journals
* tag and group your entries
Basic version is FREE - I like freebies! :-))
Pro costs $19 one year, annual cost is cheaper if you sign up for longer. The following link will give you a 20% discount http://penzu.com/r/81b3652f
I have thoroughly enjoyed using the free version, and it is catching - 2 of the friends I have shared entries with have now signed up for free journals themselves as it looked such a good idea!
I am starting to think about upgrading to the Pro version, as Penzu fits the bill for me but I would like additional formatting options and the ability to have multiple journals to organise my stuff better. That said, I may well still be using the free one 6 months down the line, knowing me!!
If you are looking for an online journal, give it a go - between the 'try it out' option and the free version you have nothing to lose.
Update Jan 2012
Well, I managed to WIN myself an upgrade to the pro version of Penzu and I have to say I have definitely enjoyed it.
Which of the Pro options have I used? Well, I have set myself up 3 different journals, a light blue background instead of the default white pad and I change the font/size to make it even easier to read. I have assigned tags to all my entries so it's easier to track down journals on a particular subject. I have also used the ability to export journal entries. As yet, I haven't yet found a need for the import function, although it's there if I need it.
It also gives me mobile access to my journals which I have to say I wished I had when I was on the free version but I haven't actually used it much at all now I've got it........ Go figure! I might try it again now I've got a different phone, though....... On the larger screen of this one it might be more enticing.
All in all, I have enjoyed the upgrade, but the site works well with the basic version and I think that's a good place to start. If you try it and like it, then consider the upgrade if you have the funds available. If you do upgrade make sure you use a 20% discount code (no point in paying more than you need to!)
Summary: The free version is a useful online journalling tool that does what it says in the blurb :-)