(+) How to Reduce the Errors in Your Genealogy Database

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

This article describes a method of killing two birds with one stone.

The first question concerns corruption within your genealogy database. Is your data still good? Or have read errors or write errors managed to corrupt the database? When you make a backup, are you backing up a good database or are you simply making a (corrupted) copy of a corrupted database? Read my earlier article “Always Test Your Backups!” at http://goo.gl/sNRxZe for description of the problem. Pay close attention to comments from newsletter readers that were posted at the end of the article. The problem is real and has happened to quite a few genealogists.

The second question concerns the integrity of your database. Are you confident of the accuracy of your genealogy data? You might be amazed at how many databases I see that include mothers giving birth at the age of eight, marriages at age twelve, or deaths at the age of 135. Sometimes you even find a person with a birth date prior to those of his parents. Download almost any GEDCOM file from the Internet and I suspect you can find similar problems.

Such errors are easy to create. Sometimes selecting the wrong person in original records can cause such errors. Copying someone else’s errors can cause other errors. Mistakes also occur because you had a keystroke error when entering the data; attempting to type 1835 on the keyboard can easily result in 1845 being pressed on the keys.

I found such errors in my own database some time ago when I checked. This was embarrassing at the time, but I am very glad that I found an easy solution to identify many of these errors. Nothing is ever perfect and this method is not guaranteed to catch 100% of the errors. However, it will catch many of them and I will gladly settle for that.

I ran an automated process looking for possible inaccuracies. The process quickly identified records that I needed to reexamine, records that I might not have noticed otherwise. Luckily, it is easy to check your entire database for obvious errors, whether you have 200 people or 200,000 in your files. For me, the entire process required about two minutes to check the records of nearly 4,000 people.

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