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Backup of your genealogy data

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How should I backup my genealogy material? What happens if my PC breaks down, and all material is gone? Will I remember to backup my data as often as I should? Is my material secure? What happens with my material after I'm gone?

These are questions may of us have all the time. Some of us try to use USB sticks, burn CDs and DVDs. Some send material more or less regurarly to a friend or a relative.

Most of us do none of these... at least on a regular basis.

Contents

A good method

Many have tried to back up their material to a web site or a free-of-charge service in the net. This is clearly a possibility, but most of these lack two necessary features.

  1. automatic backup after modification of the material
  2. a method to handle the material - after the owner is gone

Additionally it should be easy to set up, easy to maintain and support PCs, Macs and Linux boxes as well as different mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones. We[1] are constantly looking for a solution that could satisfy these needs and criteria. The solution described here is the best currently in our opinion.

Other methods available

These tradtional methods will not be addressed here since our idea is to present a solution that will work in the best possible way. Most of the methods described in these links use USB drives, CD/DVD storage or on-line duplicates - all which may prove weak since everything is so local. - Local machine, all information in the same appartment, easily mislaid USB thumbnail drives or CD disks.

The proposed solution

The current "best solution" that can be offered to us normal people is today the DropBox -service. This service is free of charge if the material size is less than 2GB, ie. quite enough for a normal genealogist. The service can be used both over the browser and using a dedicated DropBox -application - the application is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Best of all, both definied "needed" features are in place.

It can backup your folder automatically and also has the option to share the material with a trusted person, relative or organization.

How does it work?

The installed application is synchronizing a folder on your workstation with the DropBox filestore on the net. Thus after storing a new version of a document or an entirely new document the document will be transferred to the filestore on the net almost instantly - providing the computer is on-line long enough for the transfer (and has the correct firewall settings).

In case of breakdown of your workstation

Since the material is copied to the filestore online you can fetch the material after getting your workstation up-and-running.

In case of death...

Many of us fear that our old faithful workstation will be trashed when we are not around anymore, which often means bye-bye to most of our hard collected information. How can we protect our valuable material from being destroyed?

This "in case of death" -scenario, the second criteria of mine for a "good enough solution" can be managed by giving access right to a second person. This person can be a family member or for example a historical society as an example.

Normally your material would be 100% in your personal control, as a backup of your material in case of hardware problem in your computer. In a genealogical testament you can define what to do with your material after you're gone. Who should have the possibility to obtain a copy of it? When it must be taken off-line because of inactivity - who or what organization has the right to download a copy for off-line storage.

Instructions

Setting up the account can be done as a service, please contact - or you can do it yourself:

  • register your new file store here
  • download and install the DropBox software from here. Watch the video on the page - it describes the functionality in an easy undestandable way.
  • follow the instructions, if you need help drop a line to me

Now you can either move copies of your valuable documents to the Dropbox -folder or define a more suitable folder to syncronize in the preferences of DropBox. If you are a genealogist you should perhaps copy the following documents into the selected folder

  • your genealogy file, ie. a copy of your research
  • at the same time generate a gedcom file of all your material and save this to the Dropbox -folder

Of course if you have pictures and other documents that should be saved - copy these also to the folder In a way a good alternative would be if you created a single folder on your computer that contains all your valuable genealogy data and your FamilyTree -file and define this folder as the active Dropbox -folder. This would mean that the automatic backup'ing would work without much (or any) manual work. This would also be easier if you fear you otherwise might forget updating the material to the Dropbox.

Share the material with your trusted person or organisation

The Dropbox solution gives the possibility to share the content of the whole folder or a subfolder with another email address owner. This way you could give a relative access to your material on-line or give access to an organization, type SFHS.

In case you're interested - contact . In addition my company, Oy MasterPage Ab can provide a solution for you where the online material can be stored off-line against a moderate fee/year. --Hasse N. 07:27, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

My genealogical testament

In order to be able to pass information about where the backup of one's genealogy files are located this can be registered here [2]:

Using the form you stipulate who should be able to gain access to you material after you're gone, where your material is and how it is allowed to be used, how accessed, stored away off-line by whom/what organization etc.

Current testaments listed at the end of this page. Contacts ->

Current Testaments

Listing of current genealogy testaments submitted


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  1. I, Hasse Nygård and my company
  2. we are now testing the functionality and asking genealogists what they need etc.
  3. SFHS and the webmaster do not have responsibility for the functionality of the backup software used. The backup is entirely the responsibility of the end user. The webmaster may however assist in the setup of the backup and assist to validate the backup routine's functionality when initiating the backup.
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