About Pricing aka why does Obsidian Service X cost so much or any money at all

Why does it cost $8/month just to sync notes, while Joplin and Standard Notes can do that for free? Genuinely interested.


To cover the cost of the servers and to make a living for Obsidian’s developer/owners.

I am not familiar with the business model of other companies so I am not gonna comment on those.


I think the question should be, why does Obsidian cost nothing?

The owners here have put in far more effort in making an amazing product – for free – than I’d guess any member of this forum would be willing to do. So, I don’t begrudge them for monetizing some services.


Usually when you are not paying for a service, then that company is selling other things like your data.


Obsidian is a Freemium app, its the norm, you get the basics for free, and if you want, you pay for the premium features.

Solution for those without money… don’t pay or find another app. No one is forcing you to use it. No one owes you anything.


You can set it up for free pretty easily using Dropbox. That’s part of the beauty of Obsidian: you own your notes.

Just discovered Obsidian and I’m loving the software, the design, and the community. Thank you!! My only complaint is the pricing of the sync option.

There is a bit of a meme that all subscription services should be priced at $10 but not all services are the same. For $10/month I can get full access to the whole Netflix library or 2TB of data and all premium services from Google. These things offer me vastly more value than syncing a maybe a couple of hundred markdown files (and they also cost those companies far more to provide) so I really can’t justify purchasing Obsidian sync and am left rolling my own sync solution.

I (and I suspect very many others) would be very willing to pay a smaller fee (maybe $2-4/month) for the simplicity of a sync service that worked well and let us chip in to support the community. It would be fine if that came with constraints to cap your resource costs such a limits on the total file size (maybe 100MB-1GB) and number of concurrent devices (maybe 5-10).

Have you done the market research on this? I suspect you may be able to bring in more money with a larger audience at a lower price.

Use case or problem

Synchronizing between devices at a price point that will be sustainable for me to use this tool for the next 5-20 years.

Proposed solution

Lower priced sync tier.

Current workaround (optional)

Roll my own sync solution based on free cloud sync services.


Yes, because google doesn’t make money by storing your data, it makes money by selling it to advertisers.

I am skeptical about this. People have been begging Dropbox to lower their prices for ages and they never did. Dropbox does have the money to conduct a market research. So I really don’t know if lowering the price would increase the total revenue.

The truth is that pricing is hard and ultimately is based on value. Optimal value capture is very hard.

Does it bring me enough value to pay X? Only you can answer the question. Perhaps you would feel you got a better deal if you paid $6 for the app and $2 for sync (or whatever), but even this is a business strategy.


For me personally, I prefer paying monthly for extra features than paying for a sync feature…
I just started to use Obsidian and find it really really helpful and when I thinking of paying monthly I just can’t do it paying for only sync feature. It’s not too expensive or something, its just I’m still a student in grad school and for me the sync feature is useless. I can just simply upload the .md file to Github and review on my phone.

I am skeptical about this. People have been begging Dropbox to lower their prices for ages and they never did

Dropbox is providing different value to their users. Their value proposition is to store and share data that’s too large to conveniently send by other means so their average hosting cost per user is way higher than storing primarily text files. Better to compare to other note taking apps like Evernote ($8/mo) or Remember The Milk ($3/mo). All of those have also been struggling to make a viable business with the prices they were charging once they got past the initial buzz, RTM is way cheaper than it used to be.

Dropbox does have the money to conduct a market research. So I really don’t know if lowering the price would increase the total revenue.

I think you can get the information you need without spending money:

  • Fraction of users paying for sync - Can get a rough estimate based on number of downloads, number of discord users, etc. Want to look at the trend in this fraction over time.
  • Activation and deactivations for paid sync by account age - Want to look for signs of a cliff after say 6-18 months when people get past the initial excitement and decide the ongoing value isn’t worth the ongoing cost to them.
  • Utilization for paid sync accounts - Can run a map reduce to get the histograms of file count and/or total storage size per account.
  • Utilization for all users - Can run surveys in the discord to gauge how heavily people are using Obsidian and how many devices they use (yes there will be bias but its a first approximation). Comparing this to the paid sync utilization gives a feel for the untapped value in light and medium users who aren’t willing to pay for sync at the current price.

I really want to see Obsidian succeed but at the moment I feel you’re at risk of boxing the product in. Its very techie focused (which I love personally but it does limits the market). The overwhelming fraction of the target audience are multi-device so sync is a key feature but you’re losing people at both ends of the market - the super-power users who are going to build their own sync solution and also the light users who can’t justify the cost.

Yes, because google doesn’t make money by storing your data, it makes money by selling it to advertisers.

As someone who worked in privacy at Google I can categorically say Google does not sell drive data, ever.

Also quick favor. If this is the thread to discuss both “Why is sync a paid service?” and also “Why is the cost of the service $8” please you you rename to “Why does the service cost $8?”. Its hard to find the pricing discussion without that.

And just one more quick thing, the utilization analysis is what lets you determine the cannibalization potential. Say you decided to launch a basic tier with a 10MB cap you’d know in advance how many of the current paid users would potentially drop down to the cheaper tier.

I’m a writer. Most of the writers I know are not at all techie. I have encouraged a growing number of them to switch from Scrivener and Ulysses to Obsidian, and they have all found the transition to be easy and beneficial. They aren’t using Obsidian to its full potential, but they are using it as a writing app that syncs seamlessly through Obsidian sync, iCloud, etc with multiple devices and across multiple OS platforms.

Main sentiments I hear is that Obsidian is much easier to work with than Scrivener, much faster when it comes to syncing (small plain-text Markdown files, not deprecated RTF ones), and that the app works more or less identically across all OSes, which Scrivener and Ulysses can’t and don’t.

I’ve also helped non-tech friends and family members to migrate from apps like Day One and Notes to keep their diaries and notes on multiple devices. Obsidian can easily replace a lot of other apps and services. Paying for sync, if needed, represents value for money for the users I know: they get everything, everywhere, all at once. Think the market for non-tech users of Obsidian is vast.

And in the hope it helps, the forum search can find this thread with ‘Why is the cost of the service $8’ without the title needing to be renamed.

Or just try a search engine such as Brave or DDG. All of the ones below currently list this thread as the first or second hit.


This seems like a key assumption here.

Obsidian is not struggling to make a viable business with the current business model. :slightly_smiling_face:


The fact that I’m not required to opt in to a platform-specific sync or publish option in order to work efficiently is the most valuable feature of Obsidian.

It’s why I contribute to its development despite using none of the premium features offered in the pricing plan.



Exactly! I’m happy paying for Publish, and am considering upgrading my ‘insider’ status (i.e. donating more), because Obsidian is very good and I use it all the time.


Everybody I know in the pkm space who knows about links, backlinks, and Luhmann knows that Obsidian is the best product in this space. The value is exceptional. If the meager pricing for the functionality doesn’t work for you, churn away to something else that’s free and shiny; but you’ll be back. I’m a lifer!

Must have been a slow news day for the youtuber who instigated this. I was taken aback by his rant.


Ok. I love Obsidian. I think it is one of the best options for note taking that keeps your notes safely on your computer. But there is one reason it sucks: Sync. Almost every other notetaking app does sync rather seamlessly and for free. I know it is a hard problem and it’s hard to make free, but I don’t care. I know that might sound bratty and entitled, but we need people to speak their minds here because that is how progress is made. Obsidian just won’t ever compare to Notion or Evernote until it can sync for free. Sure it might cost more now, but thinking towards the future, the amount of people it will bring in due to the added value will surely allow for more money to be made in total because more people = more people buy obsidian publish and stuff = more money. BOOM. I promise I don’t have a low IQ I just didn’t put very much effort into this post.

Unless some sort of way to easily sync across IOS and other devices cheaply (free-ly) and easily is implemented. I, and hundreds of thousands of other valuable users will take their business elsewhere, despite the superiority of obsidian.

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If you don’t mind me asking @gigachadfollower, how do you expect the people creating this software to live a decent life and have time to develop improvements for the software if they provide the sync service for free? (especially when it costs real money to provide it!)

Given that obsidian files are markdown text files and folders, why not just sync the files yourself using iCloud drive or Nextcloud?


I recommend lobbying for Universal Basic Income to solve the problem more broadly. :slightly_smiling_face: