26 September 2017

4 Ways to Protect Your Genealogy Research from Disaster

The epic hurricane season and earthquakes of 2017 have everyone thinking about natural disasters. Our hearts break for those who've lost loved ones and all their possessions. It's all unimaginable.

We hope it'll never happen to us, but we know it can. Disasters don't give much warning. The time to plan ahead and protect your prized genealogy research is now.

Don't wait! You must protect your family tree research.
Don't wait! You must protect your family tree research.

Here are 4 types of safe storage. A combination of these suggestions can give your family tree research the best possible chance to survive a disaster.

1. Online Storage

Take advantage of free online storage services available to you. These include:
  • Dropbox—create a free account and use up to 2 GB of storage. Paid plans can give you more storage.
  • Google Drive—create a free account (if you don't have a Google account) and use up to 15 GB of storage. You can pay to increase your storage amount.
  • iCloud—if you have an iPhone or iPad, you probably have 5 GB of storage available. You can pay to increase your storage amount.
  • OneDrive—create a free account (if you don't have a Microsoft account) to use up to 5 GB of storage. You can pay to increase your storage amount. If you subscribe to Office 365 as I do, you get a free terabyte of storage!
  • Your Internet provider—find out if your Internet provider gives you access to free storage space.

2. Digital Storage

Of course you will keep your files on your computer hard drive, but we all know computers can go bad. To protect your digital files, you should also make a copy of the files on other media, including:
  • CD-ROMS or DVDs
  • external hard drives
  • another computer, ideally at another location, such as a relative's house
  • paid online backup services such as Carbonite
  • Upload your family tree, complete with all digital files, to the family tree website of your choice. These include Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, etc.

3. Physical Storage

Your paper files need special protection. First, scan your documents and store these files with your other digital files. You can also make paper copies so they can exist in two different places.

To protect your most important original paper documents from fire and flood, consider buying a fireproof safe. These safes are like a small heavy suitcase and can withstand a fire. They are reported to remain intact after a disaster. They're available to buy online or at stores like Walmart. Brand names include:
  • Sentry Safe
  • Mesa Safe
  • First Alert

4. Offsite Storage

If the unthinkable happens to your home, having two destroyed copies of your files will do you no good. You can protect against this by arranging to store one copy at another location.
  • If you are storing your digital files in the cloud, that is your second location.
  • If you are storing your files on an external hard drive, CDs or DVDs, see if a friend or relative will keep them at their house.

We know we need to protect our work. Can you imagine losing your hard work?

Make the time now—this weekend at the very latest!—and protect your genealogy and family tree research for the future.


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2 comments:

  1. I would rethink item #3. These safes are designed to withstand fire up to so many degrees and for a short period of time. While they are better than nothing, I would not count on these to protect my documents for a long period of time. The other alternatives are much better choices.

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  2. The safes mentioned might protect during a regular house fire but are no match for the extreme temperatures of a wildfire. My friend's safe looked like it survived on the outside but the contents were charcoal after she lost her home in a wildfire.

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