Hopefully you have a separate file on your personal computer with the notes, charts, photos, census information and data you have amassed on your ancestors. You could well have it organized into one of the many family history computer software programs; such as Family Tree Maker, Legacy, The Master Genealogist, RootsMagic, Reunion 9 and Family Historian, to name a few. Organization is essential, but what about a computer disaster?
Lightning could strike your computer and fry all your information on the hard drive. The computer's hard drive could just fail for some unexplained reason. Numerous computer viruses could attack your system making access impossible. Your home computer could even be stolen and if so, there goes all your hours of family history research.
You might not be able to prevent such disasters, but you can have all your hard work stored in another location. This is known as backing up your files. Your genealogical files including the information placed on the family history software programs can be copied and placed on another medium as insurance you will always have the digital family research and photos.
Numerous mediums are available to backup your files. These include flash drive, external hard drive, a DVD, a CD-Rom or zip drive. These types of backup mediums are capable of holding the large size data and images you may have accumulated. Sizes range from 100 MB to 8 GB to 1 TB. Each DVD can hold 4.75 GB, CD-Rom holds 704 MB, portable external hard drives range from 20 GB to 1 TB or more, the portable flash drives go from 128 MB to 8 GB and zip drives run about 100 MB in size. Depending on how much data, including photos you have collected will help determine the size you will need.
However, allow for expansion. Advantages for using the DVD backup is that many copies can be made and then stored in multiple locations. You really never want to keep your backup right alongside the computer. At the very least it should be in another room in the house. At best, DVD copies should be kept in a safe deposit box at the bank, with a relative or at a friend’s house. This way if there is damage to the computer and the house, your precious research is safe in a secure location.
I have found using both flash drives and an external drive invaluable in keeping my up-to-date research backed up all the time. They are quick and easy to backup on a daily basis. The DVD is burned with the data every few months and placed in another location.
Losing all your research just once is one too many times. Never let it happen – back up your information and images now.