Showing posts with label preservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label preservation. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

4 Ways to Protect Your Genealogy Research from Disaster

Don't wait! You must protect your family tree research.
The epic hurricane season and earthquakes of 2017 have everyone thinking about natural disasters. Our hearts truly break for those who've lost loved ones and all their possessions.

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

Here are 4 types of 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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Friday, August 25, 2017

How to Make Your Family Tree Fireproof!

My family didn't pass down any paperwork. There were no birth certificates. No marriage certificates. No citizenship papers.

digitize your paper family tree documents
If it isn't digitized, it isn't safe.
That's why I'm amazed at the photos other genealogists post of their slumped-over piles of color-coded folders. Their stacks of plastic bins filled with documents. Their rows of acid-free archive-quality storage boxes.

I have one fat folder of paper documents related to my family tree. It rests comfortably in my two-drawer file cabinet along with every other piece of paperwork associated with my life.

So, wag your finger at me if you must, but I'm here to urge you to digitize your family history!

Our goal as family historians is to preserve and share every fact and document of our ancestors' lives.

That requires making their birth certificates, death certificates, and precious photographs:
  • fireproof
  • accessible
  • safe from obsolescence
This seems like an overwhelming task to many family tree researchers. But isn't every aspect of building a family tree overwhelming? For goodness sake, you have 64 great great great great grandparents alone!

Like any other genealogical task, you have to set your goals, divide, and conquer. Choose a branch and dive in with these tasks:
  • Scanning: A good scanner is not expensive. But if your budget is tight, consider borrowing one for a few days. Or get a free scanner app for your phone.
  • Saving: Your family tree software should have the option of exporting your work as a GEDCOM file. A GEDCOM is a highly compatible format that any family tree software can open and use. Save your work as a GEDCOM regularly.
  • Storing: Remember 3½-inch floppy disks? Computers can't read them anymore. A CD drive isn't even standard equipment on many new laptop computers. So practice redundancy:
    • Burn your digital files to a CD or DVD.
    • Copy them to an external hard drive.
    • Store them on one of the many clouds available to you: GoogleDocs, Dropbox, OneDrive.
    • Use FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, or another genealogy website to hold your family tree and its document files.
As genealogists, we love living in the past. We treasure each scrap of evidence of our ancestors' lives.

But we've got to plan for the future and the longevity of our hard work.

When it comes to one specific ancestor, like your maternal grandmother, you only want one. But when it comes to preserving her documents and photographs, redundancy, redundancy, redundancy!