Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RootsMagic Backup Strategy

RootsMagic Backup Strategy

I've been thinking about my genealogy file backup strategy. I'm concerned that I wasn't ready for a computer disaster. I'm writing this article to describe how I decided to improve my backup policy.

I have about forty-five RootsMagic genealogy files. Ten of these files are listed in the RootsMagic "Open Recent" file list. That is to say, RootsMagic remembers the last ten files I opened.

The program always keeps track of the last ten files that were opened. Generally, whenever I update a file I have RootsMagic backup the file when I close the file at the end of the update session. RootsMagic writes the backup files to a folder on my laptop hard drive that I specified during program setup. This means that there are two copies of the file on the laptop. One is the RootsMagic file itself and the other is the RootsMagic backup. These files are in two different file formats. If I backup a particular file more than once a day RootsMagic asks if I want to overwrite the already existing backup file. I always choose "yes." If I back up once each day for a week there will be seven backup files on my hard drive.

This really isn't a very good backup method. If the hard drive fails or the laptop is stolen I will lose both the RootsMagic version of the file and all of the backups.

For more secure backup the backup files must be stored external to the laptop where the RootsMagic program resides and stores the data and backups.

With my new backup methodology I will be storing three copies of my backup files away from my laptop.
  1. external hard drive
  2. thumb drive
  3. Box account cloud storage
I own a Dell 30GB hard drive that I salvaged from a failed laptop. I bought a case to protect the drive and I have a cable that connects the drive to the laptop. On this drive I have created two folders for RootsMagic backup. One folder stores the ten files that I am actively updating, the "Open Recent" files. The second folder stores the other files that are infrequently updated and therefore infrequently backed up.

I have a thumb drive dedicated to RootsMagic. There are two folders for backup on the thumb drive. Again, one folder stores the backup of the ten files that I am actively updating. The other folder stores all of the other RootsMagic file backups.

The third set of RootsMagic file backups is located "in the cloud" on my paid Box account. Again, one folder stores the backup of the ten files that I am actively updating. The other folder stores all of the other RootsMagic file backups. Having an offsite backup adds one more degree of protection to my backup strategy. If, heaven forbid, there was a disaster of some sort with our house and the laptop and thumb drive were destroyed or stolen I would still have a backup copy of all of my genealogy files on the Box computer.

Periodically, I do maintenance on the RootsMagic folder on my laptop hard drive where the backups reside. Remember that if I backup a file once a day for 30 days I will have thirty backup files at the end of the month. The purpose of the maintenance task is to free up space on the hard drive. I usually delete all backups of each file except the last two.

Currently the process of copying the backups to the three backup locations is accomplished via simply using the Windows file manager to copy the files from the laptop hard drive to the external hard drive and to the thumb drive.The Box account file manager is used to upload the files from either the external hard drive or the thumb drive to my Box account.

BTW I think you can still get 5GB of free storage on Box. Therefore, people who don't use a lot of disk space for their genealogy can set up storage "in the cloud" without paying for it. Also if you don't have an external hard drive you can used two thumb drives if you want to have three levels of backup.

Dick Henthorn
8 Mar 2017

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