Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Modifying Dropbox for Genealogists

Beginning Genealogy Lesson #3
(c) 2010

By now you've chosen a genealogy software management program to record the data you collect on each ancestor on your tree, and to attach multi-media files to each ancestor in question. Now Ol' Myrt would like to discuss how to EASILY save the information in two places for security reasons.

You've heard me mention a few times lately. Dick Eastman has written about it, too.
Now I'd like you to officially sign up for Dropbox, and when installing your genealogy software, tell it to keep your genealogy data files in your drop box folder, as I will explain below.

You want Dropbox since it will make a copy of your genealogy data entries, and all multi-media files. If your hard drive crashes, you can easily install Dropbox when the new hard drive is installed, and in a short time connected to the internet, your data will be synced from the online copy of your files. Also:

  • No more worries about backing up and restoring with often purchasing a new computer means a new operating system and incompatible restore options.
  • You may access all files from any computer with internet access, and readily view, edit, save, delete and share these files.
  • You may place files to share in another folder, and designate the email address of your research buddy to send the "share" invitation. (I've done this with the 'forGeneJ" file folder shown below. When she logs in to the internet, the 'forGeneJ" folder will automatically appear in her MyDropbox folder.)

Here's what DearMYRTLE's MyDropbox folder looks like. Normally, when looking for your MyDropbox folder, you'll find Dropbox installs it in your computer's MyDocuments folder.


The actual long-hand location of the Dropbox folder on my hard drive is:


This extended file location information is only important if you plan to use a second computer, such as a laptop, to access these same files on a regular basis.

You must be sure when installing Dropbox on the second computer, that the directory path remains the same, so that documents linked to individuals in your genealogy database program will be properly attached when using the second computer.

This is a screen shot of my "genealogy data" folder within my Dropbox folder. Notice that it contains a folder for each of my major surnames, mostly to organize scanned images. The actual RootsMagic database resides in it's own folder, and I've created a folder to keep track of the .pdf files for LDS Temple work I've created and shared with other family members.

The green check-mark above indicates that all files in each folder have been synced to the folder online.

OK - Here's a little bit of a review about Dropbox...
So get your free space at, set up your MyDocuments folder to include all pertinent genealogy data in it's own folder, with sub folders for major surnames liek Ol' Myrt has done.

Then go into your genealogy management program, and tell it to keep it's files in the MyDropbox folder on your hard drive. In RootsMagic, I clicked Tools>Program Options, then clicked Folders.

You can click the blue square on the right side of each file's field to click and find the appropriate folder on your hard drive. That way, you don't have to remember to type the long-hand version of the file location (I notice RM truncated MyDocuments to Documents -- oh well, it works. That much I know.)

Notice that for multi-media files, I have RootsMagic look first in the "genealogy data" folder, so I can click to the appropriate surname folder, and select the scanned image of a document or an ancestor's portrait.

Let me know how your assignment is coming along.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.