Author Topic: Back Up Your Research!  (Read 6165 times)

Online andrewalston

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Back Up Your Research!
« on: Sunday 28 February 16 10:16 GMT (UK) »
You have spent many hours on your research. You have probably spent a fortune as well.

But do you have all your research results in one place? All those eggs in one basket?

How many times have you read a post saying that someone has had computer problems and lost something important?

DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!

I work in the IT industry. I know that most people think that disasters only happen to others. You only become paranoid about backups when you actually lose something important. It's now 30 years since that happened to me.

Computer hardware is not infallible. Disks do actually wear out, even solid-state ones. Your computer might even get stolen. There will come a time when you won't be able to access all those hard-won zeros and ones. So PLEASE make backups.

You need to sort out what needs backing up. I suggest the following as a start.
  • Installation media for your genealogy software and any key needed to unlock it
  • The contents of the folders where your genealogy software puts your data. Some software makes this difficult to find
  • All those image files for certificates, photos and other documents
  • The software you use to do the backup
  • Usernames and Passwords for the sites you visit (including RootsChat!)

You may be one of the people who trust their research results to the likes of Ancestry, and hope that they will take care of backups for you. You think you can get away with just the last item in the above list. Fair enough, but what if you fell on hard times or could no longer afford an increase in the subscription? What if they stopped providing the service because it was no longer profitable? Can you download everything and keep it locally? Why not try it out now?

So once you have your hands on your data, you need to make a copy.

You could burn CDs or DVDs, but that takes time. The scheme most likely to be used is the one which takes as little time as possible.

What works for me is a memory stick which is kept on my key ring. If you are doing something similar, work out the total size of the stuff you intend to back up, and buy a stick at least four times that size. My 64GB stick has a metal case so it survives attacks from my keys, and cost 24 quid from Tesco. It gets used for a lot of other stuff too, but I know that I always have my data with me. You will probably get away with something much cheaper.

Data is copied to that stick using FREE software. We all like that price! Because I'm a Windows user, I use SyncToy, downloaded from Microsoft. To use it, you specify a folder you will back up from (on hour hard disk), a folder for the backup (on your memory stick), and a simple rule. "Echo" gives a straight copy of the source. You can set up several folder pairs if needed.

The first time it runs, everything is copied, so that might take a while.

On subsequent occasions, SyncToy checks the date and time on each file, and copies only the ones which have changed.

What I end up with on my stick is a copy of each file from my research. It's not hidden away inside a big archive file but is ready to use if needed.

Mac and Linux users no doubt have similar software available, and at a similar price.

I don't care what software you use. I don't care what software you use to back up. I DO want you to be able to carry on this wonderful hobby of ours after your computer goes in the recycling bin.

So BACK IT ALL UP TODAY!
Looking at ALSTON in south Ribble area, ALSTEAD and DONBAVAND/DUNBABIN etc. everywhere, HOWCROFT and MARSH in Bolton and Westhoughton, PICKERING in the Whitehaven area.

Census information is Crown Copyright. See www.nationalarchives.gov.uk for details.

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Offline 3sillydogs

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 28 February 16 11:30 GMT (UK) »

I used to make hard copies of all my research and have files of this and my handwritten notes, then when our computer crashed I still had all my research. 

My techie son introduced me to a flash drive (he is also about backup) and I had all my research etc on there, until recently when it started to do strange things when opening it.  It was rather old and son said it had reached the end of it's life, so he showed me how to back all my info into the "cloud". I have uploaded my family tree, all my files etc.  I love this as I can access all my stuff from any computer. Now when I have downloaded new documents etc, I upload and then sort into the folders that I have created. I even have a folder for all the sites I visit and the password and username for them.  (he has also given me a space on one of the servers that his company has for clients off site backups ;)

I also have a website for my family tree which is free and available on one of the big genealogy sites.

I would really hate to loose all the years of research because it wasn't saved.......

(Plus this "cloud" thing makes this old dog feel very up to date and smart ;D)
Paylet, Pallatt, Morris (Russia, UK) Burke, Hillery, Page, Rumsey, Stevens, Tyne/Thynne(UK)  Landman, van Rooyen, Tyne, Stevens, Rumsey, Visagie, Nell (South Africa)

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Offline DavidG02

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 28 February 16 13:19 GMT (UK) »
Good advice and I think some FT programs make theirs applicable to DL to USB.

ie the family tree program ( RootsMagic) I use has this capability.
Genealogy-Its a family thing

Paternal: Gibbins,McNamara, Jenkins, Schumann,  Inwood, Sheehan, Quinlan, Tierney, Cole

Maternal: Munn, Simpson , Brighton, Clayfield, Westmacott, Corbell, Hatherell, Blacksell/Blackstone, Boothey , Muirhead

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Offline 3sillydogs

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 28 February 16 13:47 GMT (UK) »
Good advice and I think some FT programs make theirs applicable to DL to USB.

ie the family tree program ( RootsMagic) I use has this capability.
That's a good idea, I have Rootsmagic already on the pc, so I'll ask son to get me one of those flash drives with a few gigs on it and keep it just for my tree..... :D
Paylet, Pallatt, Morris (Russia, UK) Burke, Hillery, Page, Rumsey, Stevens, Tyne/Thynne(UK)  Landman, van Rooyen, Tyne, Stevens, Rumsey, Visagie, Nell (South Africa)

Offline Guy Etchells

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 28 February 16 16:45 GMT (UK) »
Sorry to put a spanner in the works but please do not rely on usb sticks, flash drives pen drives or whatever you want to call them as a back up for important files.
They are good for transferring files between computers and short term storage but should never be relied upon as a back up.
They are susceptible to heat, cold, magnetic fields and liquids, unplugging one before writing to it has finished may corrupt the file and even the entire memory stick so always leave at least 20 seconds between writing a file and removing the stick, for large drives be prepared to wait even longer.

Cheers
Guy
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Online andrewalston

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 28 February 16 19:57 GMT (UK) »
Sorry to put a spanner in the works but please do not rely on usb sticks, flash drives pen drives or whatever you want to call them as a back up for important files.
They are good for transferring files between computers and short term storage but should never be relied upon as a back up.
They are susceptible to heat, cold, magnetic fields and liquids, unplugging one before writing to it has finished may corrupt the file and even the entire memory stick so always leave at least 20 seconds between writing a file and removing the stick, for large drives be prepared to wait even longer.

Cheers
Guy
You should be able to use a modern brand-name USB stick pretty heavily for about 3-4 years. The individual cells inside them wear out, but a brand-name device will contain features to even out the wear across the whole of the available cells.

A cell will typically manage 10000 write cycles before it becomes unusable. Some technologies see figures 10 times that. That sounds like a lot, but there are other things going on inside the drive, so you may only see half that number of writes before a cell fails.

Even then not everything is lost, because a device may be "overprovisioned", so there are spare cells ready to be used should this be detected. Sophisticated error correction is used to recover the data and put it somewhere safer.

The better the quality, the better the reliability. An enterprise grade solid state drive may be overprovisioned by 100% and have a 5-year warranty. The consumer-grade SSD in my laptop has a 4-year warranty.

A cheap stick might be made of chips which failed QA, be overprovisioned by 0% and have no wear levelling or error detection, and no warranty worth having.

Whatever you use, at the first hint of unreliability, you should replace the device.

Don't forget that the same technology is used in the memory cards you use in your digital cameras. Don't expect those to work forever either. Older ones may already be failing.

Flash memory is very rugged. The maker of my drive quotes it as being shock resistant to 500G, handling magnetic fields up to 5000 gauss, airport x-rays, being waterproof in 1m of water for 72 hours, and having an operating temperature range of -25C to +85C.

A cheap and nasty drive won't have been through any of that testing, and won't survive a trip through the washing machine, as a couple of my drives have!

Unplugging ANY device before writing is complete is likely to result in corruption. Using one for backup is, however, quite a controlled environment, and using the operating system's "eject" function will ensure that all is well. Formatting the device as NTFS rather than FAT32 gives further insurance against corruption caused this way.

As it happens, my research is backed up additionally to my file server at home (SyncToy again), which is then backed up periodically to tapes. There's also a copy in one of the Cloud services. I did mention "paranoid about backups" didn't I?
Looking at ALSTON in south Ribble area, ALSTEAD and DONBAVAND/DUNBABIN etc. everywhere, HOWCROFT and MARSH in Bolton and Westhoughton, PICKERING in the Whitehaven area.

Census information is Crown Copyright. See www.nationalarchives.gov.uk for details.

Offline farmeroman

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 13 September 16 16:20 BST (UK) »
After working in IT sysadmin for 35 years I have seen enough hard drives fail at work and have had enough friends call in a panic when their drives (or operating system) have failed, taking their documents and photos with them. I could often recover some or all of their data, but not always.

USB sticks? I have had a number fail, and usually only use them for transferring data to friends and family. I also have far too much valuable (to me) data to store on them, currently about 1.5TB of photos, music, documents, etc.

The cloud? I don't trust anyone else to look after my data and not mine it for info, lose it (I'm thinking data centre fire or cyber attack) or suddenly increase fees.

So, my current backup system is:

- A NAS device with two 3TB hard drives in a RAID 1 mirrored configuration (i..e. two identical copies); if one fails, the other carries on regardless.
- Incremental backup software (I'm presently using Bullguard Backup) running every night and copying any new or changed files to the NAS (the unchanged files and any deleted files are them moved into another folder in case any are needed later).
- Finally, none of those are guaranteed to stop a Ransomware attack, theft or fire, so I take a full backup of everything onto a large USB hard drive every few months (especially just before going on holiday) which is then hidden in a safe place elsewhere in the house. When I'm away the NAS drive is hidden away too.
- The only thing that's not covered is if my house burns down, but I'm about to fix that by making another USB drive copy and giving it to one of my kids to look after...

I think that's all bases covered  ;D.

Offline Guy Etchells

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday 14 September 16 12:28 BST (UK) »
I stopped using Raid drives when a controller failed on a 4 disk raid system I had in place failed.
Luckly being parinoid i also had a convention copy on two individual hard drives that gave me access to everything I needed.
Cheers
Guy
http://anguline.co.uk/Framland/index.htm   The site that gives you facts not promises!
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As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

Offline 3sillydogs

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Re: Back Up Your Research!
« Reply #8 on: Wednesday 14 September 16 12:42 BST (UK) »

Since my last post my "techie" has backed my research to the back-up servers he has for his clients.  ;D ;D  He kindly offered when he realised how much work I had put into all this. :D

So now I have it on a large capacity flash drive, in the cloud, hard copy and now in a small corner of a server  ;D ;D

Paylet, Pallatt, Morris (Russia, UK) Burke, Hillery, Page, Rumsey, Stevens, Tyne/Thynne(UK)  Landman, van Rooyen, Tyne, Stevens, Rumsey, Visagie, Nell (South Africa)