It is the First Day of the Month: Back Up Your Genealogy Files

BackUpYourGenealogyFilesIt is the first day of the month. It’s time to back up your genealogy files. Then test your backups!

Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files at least on the first day of every month, if not more often.

Of course, you might want to back up more than your genealogy files. Family photographs, your checkbook register, all sorts of word processing documents, email messages, and much more need to be backed up regularly. Why not do that on the first day of each month?

10 Comments

can you backup your family tree on ancestry on a flash drive, along with docutmentation, photos etc.

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A new part of backing up that I had not worried much about before this weekend would be backing up your selections on an app. My RootsTech schedule on my Android app lost almost all the classes a couple days ago and is preventing me from adding more. Even if the app gets fixed I think I’ll make myself a printable spreadsheet file of my RootsTech schedule to take this year. As far as I can tell on twitter this is affecting some, but not all attendees.

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For Windows users, this is to recommend placing user created files on a hard drive partition other than the partition(s) containing the operating system and applications.
When you restore your system from an windows image backup, you replace all the files on your “C” drive with whatever is in the windows image backup. In other words, the documents you create are also restored to whatever they were at the time of the backup.
Using a separate partition for user created documents allows you to keep your up-to-the minute versions of your documents/photos etc, while still restoring your system to an earlier working version.

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How do you test your backup? I am using Windows (not 10) on a Dell PC with WD external hard drive as my backup.

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I am not a computer Geek. I need help in thinking out how to separate all of my FTM (for now), Ancestry.com, Mocavoa Gold, Newspaper.com, Fold3, photos and documents relating to genealogy but not yet linked (only as docs and photos – laptop) without losing sync issues with ancestry.com. Bottom line … move all genealogy onto its own separate laptop. Right now everything is mixed together making non-genealogical home management nearly hopeless. What are my sequential steps to follow to separate and then back-up both systems without each other’s photo and doc files. Any ideas?

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    There are two or more different methods to accomplish what you want:

    1. Get a backup program and a rather large capacity external USB hard drive, then simply backup EVERYTHING. That won’t solve the problem with organizing everything but at least it will make sure you have backups that can be used in case of a disaster.

    2. Create a new subdirectory (some people call them FOLDERs) and call it \Genealogy or some similar name. Then click-and-drag all your genealogy-related items to the new subdirectory. You might want sub-subdirectories for each product, such as: Genealogy\FamilyTreeMaker and \Genealogy\Ancestry and \Genealogy\Fold3 and so on. Then make backups of the \Genealogy subdirectory and everything under it. You probably will want to back up other things as well. This solution will take a while to complete but will leave you with a logical file system.

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Just to tell you my back-up story. The hard drive on my desktop crashed the other day, taking with it about 120 GBytes of files and data! No warning – the system just suddenly said that it could not find the hard drive. After some analysis, we determined that the drive had indeed failed, and nothing was recoverable from the drive.

Fortunately, I have been backing up my files in the cloud using Carbonite, and while it took over 3 days to restore the files, I believe that I have now recovered all my files and data. Dick’s continual message about backing up your files is an important one! I would have been in real trouble without the backup service I had chosen to use!

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Thank you for the 2 notes. I’ve been too intimidated to respond but won’t make progress unless I make another attempt to move forward. I couldn’t agree more about back-ups. There is nothing more terrifying than to think you’ve lost years of work. I use an external hard drive for daily back-ups and day 1 of each month … I have had 2 computer crashes over the past 26 years and thankfully had back-ups. This past year I have had 2 Samsung hard drives that failed without notice – only clue that they weren’t working was the notice “not recognized by my computer” and told they were no longer useful – in other words “I had no back-up” despite having them in my hand. The reason for having multiple forms of back-ups was again placed squarely on the table. What good is the hard drive if it fails without notice and can’t be used for recovery? I don’t feel “secure” that it is doing what it says when it suddenly “fails” without notice, not only once but twice. Where’s the protection? Then … I don’t understand “cloud”. Does everything get sent to OneDrive automatically? Is OneDrive the same thing as “cloud”? Do I have to manually back up to the external hard drive AND manually back up to OneDrive AND back up to a cloud location as separate actions in addition to the automatic “saves” that take place throughout the day according to Dell windows pkg when purchased 2 years ago? Is there a way to have all set up to back-up automatically?
Now regarding the subfolder Genealogy: I save things under Desktop>”This PC” >”Documents” or “Photos”. When I went to make the suggested “Genealogy” subfolder, I hit a problem – trying to understand why there are 5 like-named Documents and Pictures folders listed under Organize in the left panel: There are Documents and Pictures folders under Quick Access, DeskTop One Drive (whatever that is), DeskTop “my computer name”, DeskTop This PC, and DeskTop Libraries. Under which one of these locations do I place the subfolder? Do I have to make a subfolder Genealogy under all 5 locations and click-and-drag everything to 5 locations? That doesn’t seem “logical”. I had none of these “issues” before getting this computer – now I am lost in redundancy. I can’t get a handle on making the system “logical” no matter how hard I try with 5 places for everything. Is there a hidden purpose for having 5 locations? Can someone help me over this hurdle so that I can get on with moving all of my genealogy related items into this Genealogy location and making my back-up?

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    —> Does everything get sent to OneDrive automatically? Is OneDrive the same thing as “cloud”?

    There are thousands of different services in the cloud. OneDrive is one of those services.

    —> Do I have to manually back up to the external hard drive AND manually back up to OneDrive AND back up to a cloud location as separate actions in addition to the automatic “saves” that take place throughout the day according to Dell windows pkg when purchased 2 years ago? Is there a way to have all set up to back-up automatically?

    You can do it manually or you can obtain a backup program that will do it for you automatically. There are numerous options, depending upon which software package(s) you obtain.

    —> Is there a hidden purpose for having 5 locations

    I have no idea how you ended up with 5 different locations. That is not normal.

    —> Can someone help me over this hurdle so that I can get on with moving all of my genealogy related items into this Genealogy location and making my back-up?

    I cannot as I do not use OneDrive. I am hoping someone else can jump in here and offer suggestions.

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