Family historians spend a great deal of time and energy tracking down and recording the family stories that were handed down from one generation to the next. They seek out to discover who is in the old photos (and how that person relates to others). It would be absolutely devastating to find out that, out of the blue, all of your family history had been erased from the internet. It can happen to you!
Slate has an article that was written by Jon Christian. He discusses what happened when Ancestry.com shuttered their MyFamily website. Ten years worth of recorded family history was gone – forever.
The MyFamily website didn’t close without warning. Users were instructed that they could download their photos, videos, and correspondence from the website before it closed. Unfortunately, his family discovered (too late) that all they managed to download were the photos. The conversations were gone.
Previous to the Slate article, Ray Hanania wrote an article for Illinois News Network in which he described the difficulty he had when trying to download his data from Ancestry.com. In short, he felt the software that is required in order to download data is faulty. He suggested that Ancestry.com users take the time to make a copy of everything they post to the website (and store it on their own computer).
What about all the family photos you uploaded to Facebook? What happens if one day you decide to take an extended break from Facebook, or leave it altogether (as many do)? All those family photos, and posts about family events, will become inaccessible to you.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent your family history from being erased from the internet. The best way to prevent this problem is to make sure that you have copies of every photo, family story, and conversation that is important to your family history collection. Put them on an external drive, if need be.
That way, if the websites you post your precious family memories on shut down, you will still have everything close at hand. You can repost the photos on a different website, or better yet, onto your personal blog. Take the time to do some research and find a reliable host for your blog. In general, it is much safer to use a blog that you own the domain of than to use something you don’t own (like Tumblr).
It’s been said that nothing is ever truly “gone” from the internet. This is misleading. In reality, websites close – and when they do – everything posted to them can disappear. Your family history could be deleted from the internet. But, it won’t be gone forever if you have saved copies of it on your own computer.
Image by Ervins Strauhmanis on Flickr.
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