09 April 2024

4 Reasons to Implement a Genealogy Backup Plan

It's been a while since I had a digital family tree disaster, but they do happen. I'm committed to preventing the loss of any of my genealogy research. And I have to believe you want to avoid losing your work, too.

That's why I have a multi-step backup plan that I follow carefully. See "Quick and Easy Family Tree Backup Routine."

Here are 4 reasons you need to choose and follow a genealogy file backup plan.

Are you committed to preventing the loss of any of your genealogy research?
Are you committed to preventing the loss of any of your genealogy research?

1. Natural Disasters Can Happen

I live in New York and on April 5th I experienced my 2nd east-coast earthquake. It came as a complete surprise to everyone. I thought either a dump truck was rolling up my street or a helicopter was flying right over my house. People mentioned seeing their computer monitors bouncing around.

What if an earthquake, wildfire, tornado, or hurricane destroyed your genealogy files? Are you prepared to pick up where you left off without losing any work? If you're not 100% confident, read:

2. Your Computer Can Die

Sometimes your computer lets you know things are about to go bad. Other times, it's a complete shock. I had this adorable tablet computer that I would bring when traveling. On one trip, I opened it up, intending to help my friend Lucy research her ancestors. But the tablet was dead. Just dead.

You need to have a plan in place so a dying or dead computer won't destroy all you've done. It's easy enough to create and follow this plan. See "Prepare Your Family Tree for Your Computer's Demise" and "Moving Your Family Tree to a New Computer."

3. Websites Can Crash

A big company's website doesn't often have such a disaster that data gets destroyed. But there are bad actors out there, and sites can get hacked. (I may be watching too many "Jack Ryan" episodes.) If you build your family tree online only, download a GEDCOM of your tree every day you make edits to it. And follow these "3 Top Safety Tips for Your Family Tree Data."

4. You Can Get Carried Away

How many times have you made a discovery that led to hours of adding new facts to your family tree? It's such a rush! But in our excitement, we may forget to follow good genealogy protocols. Like, did you add a big family to your tree without including source citations?

The thrill of the hunt can easily carry you away. That's why we need "A Safety Net for Reckless Family Tree Building." Be sure to also read "This 3-Step Backup Routine Protects Your Family Tree."

You don't have to be a control freak to take extraordinary care of your genealogy research. But you know what? It doesn't hurt.


  1. wow, thanks for the tips. I will do the back ups now!

  2. I have everything backed up to a cloud-based backup service. It backs up as I'm working, so that if something happens, I'm backed up to the last thing I was working on. I have to pay an annual fee for it, but for me it's worth the money. (I use IDrive)

    1. Just in case this applies to you, I have to caution you that you mustn't work on your family tree file on desktop software if it's actively being backed up to a cloud. I've suffered that disaster. The tree file must be in a folder that is not automatically backed up to the cloud. You can make frequent backups and store them in a folder that's backed up, but not the open tree file.