Will RootsWeb be Restored?

RootsWeb, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, suffered a major outage in October of last year when a system crash destroyed many of the pages on the web site. Most of these web pages had been created by RootsWeb users. The folks at Ancestry.com managed to restore a few of the pages but thousands more have not yet been restored. See my past articles about the problem by starting at http://bit.ly/2KYARlO.

Now Ancestry is asking their users to resubmit information about their previously-hosted web pages so the Ancestry technicians can find and restore the pages.

The following is a short copy-and-paste from the new RootsWeb Blog at http://rootsweb.blog/:

“If your hosted site has not been restored yet, you can fill out a form and request it. And about 98% of all the sites have not been restored as of today. This includes homepages, freepages, and gen web sites of all types.”

Here is another short copy-and-paste from the same blog:

“How do I ask for my site to be restored?

“If you want it back, go to: Restore RootsWeb Hosted Website form and fill it out. Make your best guesses if you don’t know all the information.”

There are more details on the same web page. If you want to help get your previous RootsWeb pages restored, read the information at: http://rootsweb.blog.

My thanks to the several newsletter readers who contacted me to tell me about this information.

16 Comments

Ancwstry could etofd most of ootsWEB if thet wanted to. What happended to their backups? Is this what could happen to Ancestry
“`

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    Brenda Fulton Booker July 8, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Glenn, I was just thinking the same thing. Backup system? Safety net for precious records? We are always being warned about crashes of our systems. So what about the larger, more important ones? Do they have a system for backups?

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I used to host a World GenWeb site for the canton of Vaud, Switzerland on RootsWeb. A couple months after RootsWeb was shut down, I restored everything from my source code to my own web site. I suppose I will let Ancestry restore the site, but that will result in 2 copies of the material. The critics are right, there is no satisfactory reason why it has taken so long for the incomplete restoration of RootsWeb, and yes, it does raise the question about how safe the rest of Ancestry’s web real estate is as well. Large web presence requires a large investment in physical and human infrastructure, and, especially, extremely robust procedures, and the commitment to follow them, to deal with the inevitable things that go bump in the night.

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Catherine Crawford July 7, 2018 at 1:06 am

I have been on Ancestry since its inception. RootsWeb was invaluable as one of the first repositories of genealogies. Ancestry blew this to hell. It’s outrageous that they had no back-up. I am reading genealogy pages on Facebook that Ancestry is losing people’s trees, either temporarily or “still looking” Last night I signed on and saw this message: “Your customized home page is temporarily unavailable due to exceedingly high traffic on Ancestry, your customized home page is temporarily unavailable. Your data is still secure and will be available shortly.
Thank you for your patience. Ancestry.”
The site has become too large; investors that are clearly not putting in enough investment; there are either insufficient technicians or they are employed people not ready for prime-time. I have used Family Tree Maker since its inception. Now Ancestry jettisoned that and MacKiev picked it up. The delay in redevelopment went on for more than a year. I use it only for one directional syncing from Ancestry which I do every night. FTM brings over all media. It’s the only product/database that does. It gives me comfort to have that as the media is invaluable to me. There are 44,000 people on my personal tree. I take great care to run down the proof. If I can’t find it, I don’t use it. I don’t copy garbage from other trees.

I’m worried Ancestry will self destruct. But I’m prepared.

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Me thinks they doth protest too much. I predict at some point they will say “OH, it’s just too hard.” And shut it down, just like they’ve done with My Family, etc. I really miss My Family.

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I hope Ancestry will restore the full functionality of Rootsweb World Connect. It was a great way to connect with other researchers. I could export a GEDCOM from my AncestralQuest database and update it as often as I liked simply by overwriting it with a new GEDCOM. Meanwhile, my database stayed safe and sound on my computer and on multiple backups (physical and cloud).
Ancestry, on the other hand, wants me to create and maintain my database on their site. I can create a tree with a GEDCOM export but any changes must be made manually. (No wonder Ancestry is cluttered with multiple versions of the same tree.) Nuts to that! I won’t cede custody of my database to Ancestry by ditching my desktop software, nor do I have the time or inclination to re-key into Ancestry every change I make in my database.
Some years ago I did upload a GEDCOM to Ancestry. It never got indexed. Ancestry’s family tree functionality is one giant mess. Long live Rootsweb!

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Although it’s a long shot, the Wayback Machine, aka the Internet Archive, may have copies of people’s pages. Tracking them down could be a problem unless they have the RootsWeb URL.
https://archive.org/web/

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I don’t think Ancestry is committed to Rootsweb since it is not revenue generating. They are more interested in selling DNA kits to people with very little interest in genealogy. It doesn’t surprise me that Ancestry did not have adequate backups to the data on Rootsweb. Ancestry is have a lot of technical problems which anyone who is on their site daily can attest to. Canada GenWeb’s Cemetery Project was on hosted on Rootsweb. Thankfully they had their own backups and were able to enter into a partnership with the Ontario Genealogical Society so the site is once again functional and no longer depends on Ancestry.

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Dick, Thank you for passing this information along. I have filled out the form and will be hopefully waiting for restoration.

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I was planning on leaving a copy of my data on Rootsweb as a place it could live forever. Now, not so much. What is the solution for a permanent, accessible repository for electronic data? I would like to think the website I have built for family would still be available in 3 or 4 generations (or at least the information therein, if websites become obsolete). Also the underlying data. I don’t trust that any of the for-profit businesses will necessarily survive, and I don’t particularly want anyone to have to pay to access information I put together anyway. So where is the best bet for permanent storage? Who is going to reliably archive the information for future generations? Family Search? One of the big genealogy libraries? Where do I park this stuff when I am done with it?

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Everything I put on any of my websites, I keep a backup of. For me, it’s just like breathing, it’s a natural part of uploading and I have multiple copies of all of my websites on a few backup systems. So for my Freepages account on RootsWeb, I have copies of everything and was contemplating where I could put it alternatively, when they announced the sites will be restored. RootsWeb & Ancestry have been down several times over the past three years, and I would hope that would have been a warning sign to most people that things weren’t stable. I do suggest that everybody, I don’t care how little or how much you know about websites, to keep copies of what you put online because you never know what’s going to happen in the future.

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WikiTree is a collaborative website with restrictions in place so not just anyone can make changes. Their aim is to merge individuals who already have profiles and to have it all on one main tree. In the meanwhile, you enter your family ancestors until you reach one who looks like a match. You contact the manager of that person’s profile and if they are a match they are merged.

WickiTree’s aim, though they are clear that nothing on the web is failsafe, is to keep this always free and available as long as possible. I don’t know if they do backups. It’s run by volunteers. Sources are emphasized. I’ve just started working on my family on WikiTree, after I was impressed with the care they took to question additions with the lack of sources, and often show evidence that a person listed as a wife, for example, is shown to be incorrect according to information found. As with everything, some profiles are better sourced than others.

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It was obvious from the very beginning that Ancestry purchased Rootsweb just to stifle a competitor, milk it and direct traffic to its paid site. They have invested nothing in Rootsweb and are maintaining its functionality at the barest minimum level. So bare they do not even bother with backups.

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James Remington Sr July 14, 2018 at 4:28 am

I wrote to Rootsweb years and years ago saying I considered them to be just a genealogy data harvesting machine, that one day they’d swipe the lot and close it down.
They sent back quibbling about saying how upset they all were, saying it was an outrageous accusation. No back up, yea right!. I was correct all along. It stinks. No benefit of the doubt here.
Sheer incompetence & complacency at the very very least.
All that effort by contributors, million and millions of hours of hard effort and this is how they’re treated. This is one root that is rotten to the core, it goes all the way, in this case, to the top.

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