Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Genealogists Worst Nightmare ...

... would be having all the information you have so carefully, painfully, and lovingly curated over years, and years, and years disappear in a single puff of smoke.  Poof!

Well, that recently happened to some of the folks who use RootsWeb for their online tree and research.  It's technology.  Stuff happens.  Many times it is good stuff like more services, faster services, more databases to explore.  Sometimes it is a crash that sends millions of gigabytes of stored data down the technology toilet.

If you have al your eggs in one basket, I highly recommend you read the following two articles.  The first is by Amy Crow Johnson on her Professional Genealogy Services blog entitled, Why You Should Download Your Files From Ancestry and Every Other Website.  In it, she discusses the LOCKSS principle (Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe) and why it is NEVER a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket.

The other is an article by Amie Bowser Tennant on the RootsBid blog entitled, 7 Steps To Protect Yourself From A Genealogist's Worst Nightmare outlining a very good plan for keeping your stuff safe.

I have mentioned before that I am a fan of multiple, redundant copies.  Yep, it is a pain in the tookus to keep organized but, like any good insurance, any time and money you invest comes back to you when you need to use it.

Come up with a plan that works for you, the type of technology you are using (Mac, Windows, Linux, Chromebook) and what you are comfortable spending for cloud services and/or peripheral drives.

My Plan:  At any given time, I have five copies of all my family trees and everything on my laptop that is never more than thirty days old.

  1. I use Carbonite as my backup service which continually backs up everything on my computer.  
  2. Once a week I do a mirror image backup of my entire laptop onto a peripheral hard drive. This has saved me untold time and money when my hard drive has crashed. (These two Carbonite services cost me $100/year and the 1TB WD hard drive was a one-time expense of $59)
  3. On the first day of every month I make a copy of the GEDCOM for every tree, on every website where I am cultivating a family tree, store the GEDCOM on my desktop and 
  4. store the previous month's copy on my hard drive.  (no cost for making/storing GEDCOMs)
  5. Because I use a Chromebook as my travelling laptop (and it has no internal storage), each Friday I also make a copy of my all the files on my Windows laptop onto a separate, portable, hard drive (about the size of a credit card) that I can take with me in case I need to access that stuff from my Chromebook.  (A 350 GB WD hard drive was a one time cost of $29)

Yes, this takes some time, thought and a bit of cash - but I never have to worry about losing anything because, RootsWeb, or some other online service experiences a tech crisis. I have a ToDo program that alerts me when I need to a download, backup or copy and it has now become a habit I hardly even think about.

You worked hard to build what you have - make sure you keep it safe.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Unlimited, Free Photo Storage

You may have access to free, unlimited storage for your photos and not even know it.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, your annual fee includes free, unlimited storage of photos. recently ran an article on the storing your photos in the Amazon Cloud. If you are a Prime member and are looking for a place to stash all those photos, look no more.

As a Prime member, you also get 5GB of free storage for other stuff - and that is a lot of space! If you want more, the prices are very reasonable - 20GB for $10/year and 50GB for $25/year.

So if you are looking for a cloud-based primary or secondary place to store your photos, I hope you click on the link to the article and get those photos off your phone (where they are taking up valuable real estate) and organized and stored in a place where you can access them anytime you have a wifi connection.

For those of you who are comfortable with storing your photos on your computer's hard drive, a CD or thumb drive, it can't hurt to do a secondary, cloud backup. In genealogy, you can't have enough redundancy!