Hurricanes and Your Genealogy Data

The recent Hurricane Harvey, the present Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Jose presently in tropical waters that might head northward all bring to mind questions, such as “How do I protect my personal belongings and information?”

I cannot speak to protecting belongings. However, I have written many times about preserving personal genealogy information that perhaps you spent years accumulating. The same procedures will also protect your family documents, insurance policies, photographs, and much more of the paper we all accumulate.

Many of the people who live through hurricanes will lose all paper documentation of their existence. Some cannot even not prove they ever lived. This is where going paperless can help.

My suggestion is to make digital copies of ALL PAPER WORTH SAVING, not just genealogy information, but also deeds or mortgage papers, bank and money information, birth certificates, passports, discharge papers, graduation and school records, medical records (especially if there is a chronic health problem), family pictures, and more. The list goes on and on. Scan each document and save each digital image to multiple locations.

For instance, you might save the copy on a thumb drive and on an external hard drive. That protects data lost from your computer but does not provide safety when your entire house is damaged or destroyed. In the case of flood waters, a burst water pipe, fires, or even the destruction of an entire house, the only protection of data is: multiple copies stored in multiple distant locations.

You can save the data to a thumb drive stored in a desk drawer at work, saved to a hard drive or a thumb drive at a relative’s distant house, or to a secure cloud-based file storage service. The choice is yours to make. However, I strongly suggest you keep multiple copies both at home and in other locations many miles away.


Dick always love your backup reminders, but what are you currently using for a cloud based genealogy program?


    —> but what are you currently using for a cloud based genealogy program?

    MyHeritage at

    MyHeritage is the sponsor of this newsletter so you might think I am biased. If so, you would be right! I certainly am biased. However, as I started investigating the features of the service, I became more and more impressed with it. MyHeritage offers essentially three different services:

    1. A place to store my own data in my own personal online database

    2. Billions of original records online that often include information about my ancestors

    3. a DNA service

    To answer your question, I will focus solely on the place to store your own and my own data. Some of the features I like include:

    My data is fully backed up at all times. I don’t have to do anything; the backups are made automatically. (However, I still manually make my own backups to store in my computer and in a different cloud-based file storage service, “just in case.”)

    My data is available to me at most any time and at most any place, visible from any computer device with an Internet connection. That includes Windows, Macintosh, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, or in a web browser. There are apps for all of those devices or I can simply use a web browser on a borrowed computer.

    My data remains just that: my data. Nobody else can change the data I have collected and stored without my permission.

    My data is private or public or shared only with a few individuals, as I please. The choice is mine to make. (I keep two databases on MyHeritage: one is the public one with data I believe is correct and the other is a private database, visible only to me, that is the data that “I am still working on.”)

    MyHeritage has the best automated search and matching technology I have seen, including Record Detective, Smart Matching, Record Matching, and more. Yet, MyHeritage never automatically adds or changes my data until I verify each and every match and authorize its transfer to my personal database. The service simply finds matches and displays them to me as “strong possibilities,” then I get to make the decision.

    The ability to import and export any or all of my data at any time via a GEDCOM file.

    An excellent method of adding photographs.

    A large collection of genealogy books that have been scanned and placed online. The user can search all the books at once for any words or phrases.

    And more.

    Yes, I am biased. But I haven’t seen any other service that would tempt me to switch. I am also pleased that MyHeritage saw fit to sponsor my newsletter.


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