12 December 2017

Prepare Your Family Tree for Your Computer's Demise

The computer graveyard
Two of our dust-collectors we keep to run one program.
Planned obsolescence. That's why your appliances don't last forever. If they made a computer that ran forever, they'd have no repeat customers!

When the day comes that your computer will not start—and that day is coming—what will worry you the most? Is it the loss of your family tree files?

Don't put yourself in that position!

Disaster Strikes

On Saturday I spent a few hours working in Family Tree Maker. I was beginning to add detailed notes to each of the 363 ship manifest images I've collected. I'd already done this for my 637 census sheet images. (See Add Proof and a Breadcrumb to Family Tree Documents.)

On Sunday I turned on my computer to continue to fortify my family tree.

But my computer did not start. Instead, a message said it was repairing my hard drive! I left it alone for hours, but it never got further than 38% through the repair process.

Was this the end of my beloved Toshiba laptop? As recently as two weeks ago I said, "I don't care if this computer is almost four years old. I absolutely love it, and I have no complaints at all." But last week it was refusing to multi-task. Sometimes I had to force it to reboot.

Will You Be Ready?

With the help of the Emergency Recovery Disk I'd created last January, I was able to access my hard drive.

Immediately I began copying files to a 1 terabyte external hard drive. I last updated that backup drive in March (bad girl!), so I had lots of newer files to add.

Now my backup drive has every one of my collected genealogy documents and a few backups of my trees.

Next, I took a look at the tons of programs installed on my computer. I was most concerned with the programs I paid for and that I rely on so heavily for work and play.

I sent an email to the Family Tree Maker people. I asked how to move the program—which I had downloaded rather than buying a CD-ROM—to my future computer. They were very quick to respond with the simple steps.

I continued sifting through my computer files. I copied my most recent collection of bookmarks and passwords. I copied my Microsoft Outlook file. It contains genealogy correspondence going back more than 10 years! I checked out how to move my Office programs, Adobe programs, and QuickBooks onto my new computer. I'm all set.

Better Times Ahead

My new computer arrives tomorrow. Since Sunday I've kept my Toshiba awake (the poor thing) so I can continue using it and accessing my files.

This is a wake-up call we all need to hear. Do you have your disaster plan in place for your family tree?

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