Monday, March 28, 2016

WHY we shouldn't trust our genealogy to a single location

Genealogists cannot plan to safely keep their compiled genealogy in one place, say in genealogy website or in your blog, or even a single back-up service, because websites can mess up and lose your data more easily than you think.Today's email from the RootsWeb team at Ancestry sadly illustrates this point.

Ol' Myrt here is frankly surprised RootsWeb's parent company,, didn't have a redundancy system in place to ensure a swift recovery when one component of their datacenter fails. That's WHEN not IF hardware fails. Providing for that eventuality is standard operating procedure if the datacenter values it's content. Maybe RootsWeb content isn't valued by

As you may know, the RootsWeb site was recently unavailable as the result of a hardware failure in our datacenter. Our development and web operations teams worked diligently and carefully to address the issues, and as a result, the site is now available again.

Regretfully, despite their best efforts, our teams were not able to retrieve all of the data associated with the site. Specifically, we were unable to retrieve content from FreePages added after the summer of 2015. We understand these pages are important to you and are very sorry that we are not able to recover the data that was lost as a result of the hardware failure. Going forward, we are adding additional technical resources to support the site and ensure such an issue does not occur again.

If you have a backup of your own please upload it to the site so that you have the most current version of your pages.

If you have any concerns, please contact our Member Services through our support form.
The RootsWeb Team

Unfortunately, the link provided within the email to the RootsWeb "support form" was to this survey form at, another of Ancestry's purchases. Ooops!
This site simply would not open.

So I searched the RootsWeb section of to find the following workable link:
RootsWeb "Submit a Question to Our Support Team"

  1. Develop your own database using mainstream genealogy software.
  2. Place the data folder(s) (text, images, notes, citations, etc.) in a cloud service like DropBox where you install a small program on your computer, then place items in the C:\Dropbox\... folder and permit this to be synced to Dropbox website.
  3. Routinely back up your computer to the cloud using a service like BackBlaze. Both BlackBlaze and Dropbox provide off-site copies of your data should something happen to compromise your computer.
  4. Look to Thomas MacEntee's post " RootsWeb Data Loss" in the GeneaBloggers Blog for additional thoughts about future-proofing your genealogy data. He includes specific advice if your data is among the lost pages at RootsWeb.
Do whatever is necessary to make sure your compiled genealogy won't be lost by a single website, nor will it be lost if your own computer decides to give up the ghost.

Hangouts: Pay what you want. So it's simple. If you value the work Ol' Myrt, +Cousin Russ and our beloved panelists do week in and week out on your behalf, please:

Check the DearMYRTLE Hangouts Calendar for upcoming study groups and hangouts. There you'll find links to the GeneaConference (in-person) and the GeneaWebinars Calendar with over over 200 hours of online genealogy classes, webinars, live streams and tweetchats from other hosts and presenters over the next 12 months.

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