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Ancestry.com RootsWeb Data Loss: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Data

Ancestry.com just announced that it has lost data from the RootsWeb free pages - here is what you can do to future proof your genealogy data!

In case you haven’t heard, with the recent RootsWeb website outage a few weeks ago, Ancestry.com has just communicated to its RootsWeb users the following email about possible data loss:

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.

What You Can Do Right Now

So, if you maintain a RootsWeb “free page” here is what you should do right now:

  • First, check and see if you have any data loss since the middle of 2015.
  • Second, if you do, see if you have any backup copy saved on your computer and then update your RootsWeb page.
  • Third, if you do not have a backup, consider using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/web/) to view archived pages. Note: not all RootsWeb pages will be archived on the Wayback Machine.
  • Fourth, also consider using the Google Cache view of your page and copy and paste data from that version of your RootsWeb page.

How You Can Prevent Future Data Loss

Backing up your data is your responsibility and you should NEVER count on a website or vendor to always backup any data you upload to their site. In fact, this is likely spelled out in the Terms of Service at Ancestry.com and other sites.

I ALWAYS compose my content in an electronic document on my own computer (Microsoft Word, etc.) BEFORE I upload it as a blog post, or a web page.  This is a good habit to get into. And also, remember to create backup copies of the data on your computer.

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

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