Toolbox Tip: Backup options for digital genealogy files

Do you back-up your research frequently? A fellow genealogist had a virus scare recently reminding him to backup more often. But he still feels very intimidated about the process.

There are several options to help you in backing up digital genealogy files. It doesn’t matter which options you choose, just be sure to follow through with this much needed chore and often. How much is often? Setting a habit to backup your files each time you add new material will ensure the data and prevent headaches of loss later. As life can get in the way, weekly backups or at the least monthly can help keep your files in top protection.

This toolbox tip regards some of your backup options.

Printing: Printing hard copies of your digital documents and photographs can be a genealogy research life savor. The downside is paper takes up space and printing everything you have in your database can be expensive.

Flash drives & thumb drives: These handy gadgets are nice for toting information but not as reliable for long term, storage. They very in lifespan in my experience about two years and can suffer damage from daily use and travel. I even had one catch fire! So my recommendation is to use these drives as a temporary storage option.

CD & DVD: Using the burn tool on your computer is a economical option to protecting your digital genealogy files. For longevity, write on the center “spindle” portion not the CD/DVD itself. Writing with CD/DVD safe pens can reduce the bleeding some inks can cause, damaging your backups. Test your backups occasionally to ensure they are still retrievable. Making an extra copy and storing it at your bank deposit box or sharing with other family members is also a good backup system. One brand of pens I’ve relied on is Memorex CD label pens.

Genealogy Software backup tools will assist in saving your data. Just be sure to save it twice: once to your computer and again off your computer to CDs or DVDs or a backup drive.

Backup/External Hard Drives: These are great for backing up and storing additional copies of digital genealogy files for your family tree. Drives come in many style and price ranges and are often on sale. Pay attention to special deals during the school supply season and Black Friday Sales. I would still recommend backing up on CDs or DVDs in addition to using backup drives. To compare backup drives, offers a large selection of many brands.

Online Backup Sites: Using online sites dedicated to backup service can be an option to protect your digital genealogy files. They are easy to use once setup and convenient to access your files while away from the home computer. Several sites offer a minimum of storage space for free and the option to purchase additional storage space. The downside can be a company that shuts down or the ability to download large amounts of data in a hurry. Choose your backup site carefully. One way to understand online backup site services is an upcoming webinar by Legacy Family Tree discussing Dropbox.

While backing up your files may be troublesome, it’s well worth the time to ensure the data you have collected over the course of your researching life.

Good luck leaf’n through your data!

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