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.

Given the events of the past month with genealogy web sites laying off employees and cutting back on services, you now need backup copies of everything more than ever. What happens if the company that holds your online data either goes off line or simply deletes the service where your data is held? If you have copies of everything stored either in your own computer or stored in a different company’s online service, such a loss would be inconvenient but not a disaster.

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?


If I did this once a month I would never get any research done. However, I am in the process of backing up my 2TB hard drive right now. I’m on DVD #12 and I am only at “R”.


    Backing up shouldn’t consume any of your personal time. In my case, 2 sets of backups run constantly. One backup copies files to an external hard drive within seconds after any file is created or modified. The second backup is made to an online file storage service in the cloud with all new or modified files copied every 15 minutes. All this takes place automatically whether I am simultaneously using the computer for other purposes: reading and writing email messages, working with a genealogy program, surfing the web, playing games, or if I am sleeping in bed. The backup processes never stop and never slow down the computer visibly when simultaneously using it for a variety of purposes. There are many backup programs that will make constant backups on Macintosh, Windows, Linux, or other operating systems. You might want to investigate similar backup options for your computer(s).


    Great idea — but how much does all this cost? As a senior on pension I cannot afford to pay for online storage and I am not aware of any programs that will simultaneously write to more than one drive at a time. Perhaps you could make that the subject of a future blog. I store all my genealogy on an external 2TB Hard Drive and back up to DVD. I tried backing up one external hard drive to another and the first drive failed during the process. If it wasn’t for my previous back up to DVD I would have lost it all. I’m always willing to learn about new ways of doing things, but they must be affordable for me.


    —> Great idea — but how much does all this cost?

    Prices vary from FREE to hundreds of dollars, depending on many factors. How much disk space do you want to backup? One computer or multiple computers? (I back up multiple computers.) Do you want backups every 5 minutes or once a day or anything in between? Are backups made automatically or does the user have to click on some icon to start a backup? Are the backups encrypted and therefore secure from snoops and hackers?

    One backup I use (Time Machine for Macintosh) is one of the best backup products I have ever seen. The software is FREE but it requires an external hard drive which will cost anywhere from about $40 to $150, depending upon the storage capacity of that drive. is a cloud-based disk storage service that will give you 50 gigabytes of FREE storage but it doesn’t make backups automatically. The user has to click on some icons to start a backup.

    And so on and so on… In other words, “It all depends…”


    Get yourself a second external hard drive. Store the working copy of your data on your PC or laptop. Copy this on 1st of each month to external hard drive 1 and external hard drive 2 in alternate months. Always keep one of these external hard drives offsite, maybe at the home of a relation or friend. Then use DVDs to keep a third back-up of vital and irreplaceable files.
    That is not an ideal back-up methodology, but should be OK unless you are unlucky. And it is more robust than your current set-up at minimal extra cost.


What are good backup programs that I can use to backup my genealogy & also other files but mainly genealogy. Also how would i check the backup to insure that the data is correct. Would I have to load the data to a dummy file, export it’s gedcom & compare the gedcom to the original Family Tree. If so what programs compare gedcoms.

I have a Windows 10 computer.

Thank You, John


    —> What are good backup programs that I can use to backup my genealogy & also other files…

    There are dozens of backup programs to choose from. I haven’t tried all of them and am reluctant to suggest any one. (I have more experience with Macintosh backup programs.) HOWEVER, Jon L. Jacobi appears to have spent significant time and effort comparing all the leading Windows backup programs and has written about his findings in PC World Magazine. I would suggest you look at his article at:

    Of course, that is not the only article available, although I do generally trust the product reviews published in PC World Magazine. You might also perform a search for windows backup programs on most any search engine to find even more recommendations.

    Good luck!


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