Tuesday’s Tips: The Zen of Dropbox – Obey the Sync!

Tech guy Thomas MacEntee confesses to playing Stupid Data Backup Tricks and loses data when he doesn’t go with the Dropbox flow.

I’m here with a confession and some advice to NOT do what I did this past weekend. Many of you may find it hard to believe that a tech guy like me, Thomas MacEntee, someone who is a frequent advocate for backing up data, could fall into this trap.

But I did. And so could you. I blame it on the lure of Dropbox and its easy-going, easy-to-use style that can lull you into complacency. Well it is all my fault, I guess. Here’s what happened:

When I boot up my desktop computer each morning (it is, or I should say was, a four year old Inspiron desktop), it takes a while for programs to load and prepare for another day of abuse from yours truly. The longest wait is for DropBox to synchronize files which I can understand given I have some 6GB of data. Also, it is not unusual for me to update 200 to 300 files a day in my Dropbox account.

Patience is virtue that I don’t have time for

Usually I can fix a pot of coffee, empty the dishwasher and putter around with stuff in the kitchen until the computer is ready for me to use. Couldn’t I just work while Dropbox is doing its magic? Of course, but it can be slow, Google Chrome doesn’t open correctly, etc. My trusted machine and I had a routine and after four years we knew each other’s habits. Or so I thought.

I am not a patient person. Never was. Came out of the womb a week early. Could read and spell complex words by age 3. I’m the kind of person who stands in front of a microwave and yells, “Hurry up!”

So, I have a bad habit – and I mean B-A-D – of disabling Dropbox for the day. I always tell myself, “Oh I’ll let it synch later on tonite or tomorrow morning.” And usually that’s what happens. Except for this past Sunday night.

Do as I say, not as I do

I worked all weekend on many writing projects including FGS 2015 syllabus materials, a new lecture, preparing publicity materials for the ISGS 2015 Webinar series. You name it, I did it. And all while Dropbox was disabled. I hadn’t done a full synch since Friday evening.

After writing all day Sunday, I decide to go watch The Good Wife (one of my few television indulgences) and I come back to my office during a commercial and there it was: the blue screen of death. A glowing, ghoulish beam in a darkened room. And it was speaking in tongues. Well, there were lines of text that were just gibberish. Even the Tech Guy couldn’t figure it out.

So, I do what I always do: hold down the start button to do a soft boot. More like watching my computer kick the bucket. I spent an hour trying to work with the F12 Boot Options and F2 Setup Options to no avail. The basic issue: the machine could not find a boot device, likely because the hard drive failed.

What about a Boot Disk?

Yeah, what about a Boot Disk? If I had created one like I should have four years ago, then I might have a chance. But I’m a Tech Guy! I know what I’m doing. Making a boot disk is like reading the directions before putting something together. What’s the fun in that?

So now I’m on my way to the computer store down the block to try to salvage my data. Besides the Dropbox files that never got copied up to the Dropbox cloud, I have files for my business, ten years of taxes, and lots of other files. These were all files I deemed too important or personal to place in the cloud since they dealt with finances and health issues.

On the Next Episode of Stupid Data Backup Tricks . . .

Seriously, with Data Backup Day upon is this Saturday, I think I need to do a post on the worst ways you can mess with your data. But in the meantime, PROMISE ME you’ll do the following:

  • Always let the cloud program synchronize until it is done. Go for a walk. Have another cup of tea. Maybe even talk to your spouse. Just don’t interrupt what a cloud data program does best: secure your data files.
  • Create a boot disk. Now. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not delay. Just do it.
  • Have another method of backup and AUTOMATE IT. I had been using the free AOMEI Backupper program I found on CNET to backup those personal files. But I should have set it up for auto backup on a weekly basis. My last good backup was this past August.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair – October 28-30, 2014

Join the National Archives for the 2014 Virtual Genealogy Fair on October 28, 29, & 30, starting daily at 10 a.m. eastern time.

Set your alarms and get ready to LEARN – long distance and virtually, that is. Once again the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is hosting a FREE online Virtual Genealogy Fair starting tomorrow, 28 October through Thursday, 30 October.

Starting at 10:00 am Eastern (9:00 am Central), you can visit YouTube via this link to watch the live streaming or return here to GeneaBloggers and watch the screen above.

Not sure which session to attend? Click here to access the entire schedule for the three-day fair and the FREE handouts.

For those of you on social media, the Twitter hashtag for this event is #genfair2014 and you should follow the National Archives on Twitter at @USNatArchives.

In the meantime, visit the Virtual Genealogy Fair page here for more information.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Ancestry.com Adds Additional Pennsylvania Death Records

Ancestry.com announced the expansion of its Pennsylvania Death Records database to include death certificates and indexes through 1963.

Just after midnight today, Ancestry.com released additional records as part of its Pennsylvania Death Records collection. The database – Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1963, had previously contained records only through 1944.

About the Pennsylvania Death Certificates Database

With provided by Ancestry.com, here is additional information about this record set:

  • The collection consists of ALL publicly available death records from the Pennsylvania State Archives.
  • The collection was launched in three parts starting April 4, 2014:
    First – 2,477,238
    Second – 2,374,698
    Third – 2,199,145
    Total: 7,051,081
    Year Range: 1906-1963
  • Previously a closed record state, recent Pennsylvania legislation has opened death records for those occurring after 50 years with a birth after 105 years.
  • Collection has received 12 million page views since first part went live on April 4, 2014.

Additional Pennsylvania Records

Ancestry.com currently has 3,099,615 records from the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg – these do not include the death records described above. In addition, since marriage records are held at the county level, they are not included with the Pennsylvania State Archive records.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.