How to Backup (and Protect) Your Genealogy


Today’s genealogy involves a lot of digital data.

You may have scanned documents, birth records, saved webpages showing your lineage, and perhaps most importantly, photos of your ancestors.

Yet in an instant, it all could be lost.

Hard drives crash. Files get deleted. Computers are stolen.

To protect your files, you want to make sure you’re using a reliable backup strategy. The best way to do this is with a combination of backup software and online (“cloud”) storage services.

The best part? You can do it completely for free.

Dropbox: Backup to the Cloud

Dropbox is an amazing service that offers you 2GB of free cloud storage space. By storing your data in the cloud, it protects your data from fire, theft, and other disasters a traditional backup can’t protect you from.

To use it, you’ll need to sign up for an account and download the Dropbox client. Once installed, this will integrate with your desktop and put a Dropbox folder on your hard drive.

Any files you put into your Dropbox folder will instantly sync to the cloud. Think of it as your own personal cloud drive.

Dropbox also lets you:

  • Access your files from any device
  • Easily share files
  • Rollback changes to files, with a 30 day version history

Version history is one of the most underrated features Dropbox offers. Basically, you can “undo” any deleted or changed files from the past 30 days. You can access it either from the web interface in your Dropbox account, or by right-clicking on any file stored in Dropbox and selecting “Previous Versions.”

Dropbox does everything: backups, sharing, and syncing. It’s one of my favorite and most-used tools; I use it almost every day.

It works on just about any device and operating system, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and even Linux.

Backup to a USB Hard Drive

Keeping backups in multiple locations is always a good idea. That’s why I recommend people backup to an external hard drive in addition to the cloud.

There’s a lot of free backup software out there. Windows even comes with built-in utilities for backing up and restoring your data.

However, one backup program stands head and shoulders above the rest: EaseUS Todo Backup Free.

It can backup your files to just about any media, including:

  • Local drives
  • External hard drives
  • Network drives
  • CD/DVD

Not only can Todo backup individual files, but it can also backup your entire hard drive.

It does this with “full disk imaging” which allows you to restore your computer to the exact state it was in when the backup was made. How awesome is that?

The software supports scheduling, so you’ll never miss a backup again. It can also do incremental backups, which only backs up changes since the last backup (saving you hard drive space).

EaseUS Todo Backup is by far the most versatile, free backup program out there.

Need More Space?

Sometimes, the 2GB offered by Dropbox just isn’t enough.

If you have lots of photos, files, and other data you want to backup, it’s time to upgrade to a dedicated online backup service.

The two services I recommend most are CrashPlan and Backblaze. They both offer unlimited online backups for about $5 per month, per computer.

Online backup services are “set it and forget it” – once the software is configured, any changes to your files will be backed up continuously throughout the day.

It’s also ridiculously easy. There’s no need to connect a USB hard drive. No CDs or DVDs to deal with. As long as your computer is connected to the internet, your files are backed up 24/7.

At about 20 cents per day, it’s a small price to pay for the ultimate peace of mind.

Protect Your Files

Backing up your files is important for any computer user. However, it’s especially important for genealogists because they store so much important, historical data.

Losing any amount of data is a bummer, but losing your family’s genealogical history is a tragedy.

Just as paper documents should be stored in a fireproof safe, your digital data should be be protected, too. So make sure you’re backing it all up.

Your future generations will thank you.

[Editor's Note: Geoff Akerlund of Backup Review provided GeneaBloggers with this guest post - thanks Geoff!]

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M-DISC – A New Product for Data Backup Day

M-DISC The 1,000-year storage solution

Today is Data Backup Day when many genealogists and family historians take time to ensure that they don’t lose access to their research data, scanned photos and more. Check out our Data Backup Resources here at GeneaBloggers and make backing up your genealogy data a regular habit.

How the  M-DISC™ is Different

When was the last time you tried to use some of your older CDs or DVDs which you used to store data?  Did you know that the coating on most data DVDs can degrade over time? Most writable DVDs, including the most expensive “Gold” archival DVDs, burn data into an organic dye layer. Organic dyes start to degrade and fade as soon as they are written. This leads to a condition called “data rot”. This problem is so severe that the National Archives warns that the shelf life of a regular DVD is 2-5 years. The M-DISC™ contains no organic dyes. Instead, the M-DISC™’s data layer is composed of rock-like materials known to last for centuries. The M-DISC READY™ Drive etches the M-DISC™’s rock-like layer creating a permanent physical data record that is immune to data rot.

Writing to and Reading the M-DISC™

Leading computer manufacturers such as LG, Acer, and Dell already offer the M-DISC™ Ready Drive with their newer systems. See Currently Available M-DISC™ Ready Drives to determine if your drive will work with the M-DISC™. You can also shop for portable M-DISC™ Ready Drives at Amazon including this LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Ultra Slim Portable DVD+/-RW External Drive with M-DISC Support.

LG Electronics 8X USB 2.0 Ultra Slim Portable DVD+/-RW External Drive with M-DISC Support, Retail (Black) GP60NB50

And a M-DISC READY™ Drive engraves the M-DISC™ using a compatible data format that can be read by most quality DVD drives.

More Information about M-DISC™

Please visit the FAQ page over at the M-DISC™ website for more information. And consider using the M-DISC™ to backup all the important data such as scanned photos, genealogy data and more.

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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HUGE NEWS – Ancestry Acquires Find-A-Grave

PROVO, Utah, Sept. 30, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — LLC announced today it has acquired Find A Grave, Inc., the leading online cemetery database.

With over 100 million memorials and 75 million photos, Find A Grave has amassed an unparalleled collection of burial information. Over the past 18 years, it has grown to become an invaluable resource for genealogists, history buffs and cemetery preservationists. Find A Grave will become a wholly owned subsidiary of, and will continue to be managed by its founder, Jim Tipton.

“Find A Grave is an amazing phenomenon supported by a passionate and engaged community of volunteers around the world,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of “We at are so excited…honored really…to take on the responsibility of supporting this community. We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth.” plans to bolster the resources dedicated to Find A Grave to launch a new mobile app, improve customer support, introduce an enhanced edit system for submitting updates to memorials, foreign-language support, and other site improvements.

“ has been a long-time supporter of Find A Grave. They have been linking and driving traffic to the site for several years,” said Jim Tipton, founder of Find A Grave. “Burial information is a wonderful source for people researching their family history and I look forward to working with to help continue our growth and accelerate the pace of improvements.”

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About is the world’s largest online family history resource with approximately 2.7 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 12 billion records have been added to the sites and users have created more than 50 million family trees containing more than 5 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site, the Company operates several Ancestry international websites along with a suite of online family history brands, including, and, all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

About Find A Grave

Find A Grave is a free resource for finding the final resting places of famous folks, friends and family members. With millions of names, it’s an invaluable tool for genealogist and history buffs. Find A Grave memorials are rich with content, including dates, photos and biographies. Visitors can leave ‘virtual flowers’ on memorials to complete the online cemetery experience. Find A Grave also contains listings for thousands of celebrity graves, making it the premier, online destination for tombstone visitors.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause the Company’s actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to be materially different from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “appears,” “may,” “designed,” “expect,” “intend,” “focus,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “should,” “continue” or “work” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements are based on information available to the Company as of the date of this press release. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include our ability to acquire and digitize new content, to provide desired content and product features to new and current subscribers and to otherwise satisfy customer expectations regarding the content of the collection, now and in the future. Information concerning additional factors that could cause events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements is contained under the caption “Risk Factors” in Exhibit 99.2 to our Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 10, 2013, and in discussions in other of our Securities and Exchange Commission filings. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date and we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements.

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