Monday, August 11, 2008


For the time being I have more or less run out of topics to post in Henthorn Website News. Last week I got interested in Facebook and spent many hours learning about how that service works.

Today I thought I'd write something about backing up your genealogy files. What I'm going to say applies to what I should be doing myself. One thing I learned about personal computers over the years, they will fail. When they do it is never at a convenient time and it is never easy to fix the problem.

What would you do if your computer failed and you had to purchase a new one? Would your genealogy files be backed up? Would your old genealogy program work on your new computer operating system?

There are several ways you can backup your genealogy files. You can make an exact copy of the genealogy files with the Copy command. Or you can use the backup system of your genealogy program. And, finally, you can create a GEDCOM file. All three methods have advantages and disadvantages.

Making an exact copy of your genealogy file assumes that you will have a working copy of your genealogy program available after you recover from your computer failure. Making a backup copy with your genealogy program assumes that you will be able to install a copy of your old genealogy program on your new computer, if you have to buy one.

A GEDCOM file is a "text" file that can be read by all good genealogy programs. Having a backup file in this format makes it possible to load your backed up file into any genealogy program you chose, including perhaps a new version of your old genealogy program or some other genealogy program you might decide to purchase.

By the way, you might want to consider sharing a backup copy of your genealogy file(s) with someone else. I heard a story one time about a couple who had their genealogy on a laptop in their RV. The RV caught on fire with the laptop still inside the vehicle. Any backups were also in the RV. A disaster!

I urge you to give thought now, when things are going well, to how you would deal with a computer malfunction that impacts your genealogy. It will be time well spent.

Mr. Dickie

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