Genealogy Wise

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Ok, I admit, it was my fault, I hadn't backed up my tree for TWO whole months, and then kabang - computer dies, loose all my photo's documents (read certificates), well, just everything. Panic, what to do, I got a computer guy out who couldn't retrieve much either. It was just gone. I was devestated, and the reason this guy told me mine had gone is that Windows 7 has a tendency to do that - well why the heck wasn't I told. Too late.

So, the very next day I ran out and bought a portable external hard drive. That is one that doesn't have to be plugged into the power, but just the usb port. And I began the pain staking search for my "stuff", Luckily I HAD backed up my stuff 2 months ago, photo's, certificates, most important stuff, so I was "saved" I just lot what ever I'd been doing in the past 2 months. So back on it went, then the back up went straight on to the external hard drive. I've learned my lesson - haven't I?

A friend came over the other night, and he said, but wait, external hard drives die too you know - eek! What then I thought. OH CD he said, just back it up on CD and give it to someone who lives away from the house, then if your house burns down you have your stuff. Now, I have to tell you straight up, this guy is SO not into family trees, he's not a genieaholic, he has no idea how millions of us peck and surf day after day for the elusive gold nugget of our family information, so he had no idea why I was aghast at the thought of burning and giving out a back up of my tree - can you imagine?

Every week you'd have to burn your "stuff" onto disc, then go see who ever it is you're entrusting your work with, then make sure the old one's - what formatted - deleted? Chucked out? I'd rather back up on the external hard drive, but gee - is it safe? Really? And someone told me CD's can corrupt too, and yes, I even had that happen to me, so, if I back up on external hard drive, and I back up on CD and they both don't work at the same time, what in the heck do I do then.

The answer, be brave, be sure, at least back it up onto SOMETHING, and hope like heck that'll work when the time comes - right?

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Comment by Margot Cahalane Hayes on January 31, 2010 at 9:34pm
I sure feel your pain, too Jo, & a wipe out almost happened to me. Several years ago I bought a new genealogy program & was transferring my databases. The first went fine. The 2nd didn't. & my 2 backups failed. Because it was 1 am? All appeared to be lost.... But...
For years I had uploaded my genealogy information frequently to rootsweb's World Connect ( I went to my account & was able to download the database at 10 the next morning. Even the living who are not displayed on the internet made it through the download.
Now I back up my databases to my hard drive everytime I make a change. And back them up to World Connect. & back up my hard drive to a flash drive every month.

Sure glad you saved most of your stuff. Margot
Comment by Naumo on January 31, 2010 at 1:12am
I truly feel your pain. Been there, done that.

I now put ALL new items in one folder -- for instance what I had found at the library or online. Sometimes that means 50 or more new items at a time, from either photographing the microfilm records and/or scanning the paper copies, or if I'd taken a trip to a cemetery or two or taken a research trip, the number of new items could be pretty outrageous. I then tend to get a little nervous, and the next thing I grab is a CD to back up that folder.

At some point, I name all the new items and move them to their proper folders. Right now I have older items along with the new, but I'd rather be copying them twice on a cd than possibly lose the new ones in a crash. CDs are very cheap and a great way to keep your peace of mind.

My family history folder at the present is about 8 gigabytes, so it fits nicely on two DVDs which I try to burn at least every two weeks, as safekeeping, before the next portable hard drive back-up -- which I do at least once a month. I rename the folder on my computer with the current date of backup (e.g. 1FamilyHistory 1.31.10) and send it to the portable hard drive. I then erase the older one on that drive. As a precaution, before I attach the portable media, I disable the wireless and disconnect from the internet.

A lesson learned the hard way, is quite often the best. I no longer live in fear of the blue screen of death.

I haven't yet, but I do plan to make DVDs of all these files (and paper copies of other important documents -- house/car deed, birth cert, etc) which should fit in one legal sized envelope, and give to my sister to keep with their papers...just in case. It would be smart to reburn those DVDs or transfer to newer media on a timely basis and replace to keep it all up to date.

I have two portable hard drives, with the oldest about four years old. I do expect it to fail soon. I guess I just don't have a lot of faith it will hold up for twenty years. Whereas, I bought my first CD around 1990 and MOST of them are still playable. Yes, CDs and DVDs can also fail, but oxidation and scratches happen over time. Keep new burns and transferring your stuff and you should be okay.


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