Lost Genealogy: Don’t be a Victim of the Digital Dark Ages

Lost Genealogy: Don’t be a Victim of the Digital Dark Ages

[Editor’s note: Click here to download your FREE copy of my Backing Up Your Genealogy Data syllabus. Then read below about how you can avoid being caught up in the Digital Dark Ages.]

It happened again last week. Over on Facebook, I read the story of a genealogist who lost 20 years of work. Yet this time, the circumstances were a bit different. There was no house fire. There was no flood or landslide. All it took was a tap of the Delete key.

Which is Safer – Hard Copy or Digital Data?

As we learn to work more and more online as genealogists in the era of Big Data, we’re busy bees gathering images, records, notes etc. We save them to programs like Evernote for safekeeping. We download images, add source citations to the metadata, but never print them out. We scan documents, track them in our research log, and then move on to the next piece of evidence.

We feel safe and secure knowing that we’re zooming along in the Digital Age. We have new skills when it comes to preserving items. It is all a bit heady and we even get a bit cocky thinking, “What could go wrong? I’m working in the cloud. I’m backing up my data . . .” But there’s more to it than that, and many of us aren’t gathering and backing up everything we should nor do we have a solid backup plan.

Are You Gathering and Backing Up Everything for Genealogy?

If I were to ask you about your current process of gathering data for backup, would it include these items?

  • Emails from family members and other researchers, some with clues, some with family stories.
  • Photos on your iPhone of last year’s family reunion.
  • Digital recordings of interviews with older relatives, waiting to be transcribed.
  • Images of scanned documents not yet added to your genealogy database.
  • Bookmarks of websites used for your genealogy research.

The truth is, that most of us only backup items from our main home computer. We don’t think about laptops, tablets and smart devices like iPhone. Maybe we figure the data will always be there. Maybe we feel confident because we’ve copied the data to “the Cloud.” Don’t be fooled . . .

3-2-1 Data Backup Plan from GeneaBloggers

The Cloud Is Not Enough – Use the 3-2-1 Backup Plan

Me, the “tech guy,” got burned by the Cloud last year. It was my own fault and I accepted full responsibility for just being plain lazy. While I’ve been using Dropbox, a cloud-based storage program, since its inception, I turned off the syncing feature on my desktop because of “the need for speed” when it came to working. Each day I kept telling myself that I would turn it back on and do watch television or do something while the program caught up and copied my local data up to the Cloud.

And then the hard drive failed on my desktop computer. I lost two weeks’ worth of writing and research. Poof! Gone!

So now I use what I call the 3-2-1 Backup Plan and I stick to it religiously. I don’t get greedy for speed or lazy and put it off to tomorrow. Here’s how the plan works:

  • At least 3 different backups. One is not enough. For me, I use The Cloud, a local external hard drive, and a 128GB flash drive.
  • Use 2 different media for backup. I chose three actually, but never have all your backups in the Cloud or on just flash drives.
  • At least 1 backup must be offsite, and away from the original source computer. For me, the Cloud qualifies as well as the flash drive since I store it in a fire safe away from my computer.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?  Well, I have a new device that makes it easier to not just gather ALL my data, even from mobile devices, but helps me fulfill the terms of the 3-2-1 plan . . .

iDrive – How Do iLove Thee? Let Me Count the Ways . . .

iDrive – How Do iLove Thee? Let Me Count the Ways . . .

I love the iDrive Universal Backup service because it lets you back up EVERYTHING — all of your PCs, Macs, mobile devices and even social media content. It’s super-easy and secure. But cloud backup has one drawback. It can take a long time to transfer all your data to the cloud, or retrieve it when needed. That’s why you need a local backup, too.

Introducing the iDrive Wi-Fi Drive

Introducing the iDrive Wi-Fi Drive

And that’s exactly why I’m excited about iDrive Wi-Fi … a storage device that combines the security of cloud backup and the convenience of local connectivity. Conveniently backup ALL of your computers to the iDrive Wi-Fi device via iDrive’s desktop application. The wireless connectivity of the iDrive Wi-Fi device enables you to backup multiple devices (up to 5) at once.

Here’s the part I love best … it eliminates the need to tote your external hard drive around, manually connecting it to each computer when it’s time to do backups. Because it connects via WiFi, all your backups (desktop or laptop, PC or Mac) can run automatically. And in my opinion, automatic backups are the ONLY reliable way to get it done.

An Exclusive 5-Day iDrive Offer from GeneaBloggers ...

An Exclusive 5-Day iDrive Offer from GeneaBloggers …

Normally the 1-Terabyte iDrive Wi-Fi device costs $99.99. But as one of my fans and followers, for FIVE DAYS ONLY (26-31 July 2015) you can get it for just $59.50 USD. That includes one year of iDrive online backup. AND it is PC and MAC compatible. Similar external hard drives with Wi-Fi connectivity cost about $150 (check one out here and it doesn’t include any online backup!) so this really is an amazing deal.

Order your IDRIVE WI-FI now…

iDrive W-iFi: A Mobile, Secure and Unique Solution

Got a smartphone or tablet? You can directly backup your mobile devices to iDrive Wi-Fi, using the iDrive mobile app. iDrive Wi-Fi lets you securely store your photos, videos, music and more from various devices, without the fear of losing it.

All data stored on the iDrive Wi-Fi is guarded with military grade security. Your data is protected with 256-bit encryption, using an encryption password known only to you. So the only person who can access your data is you, even if your data falls into the wrong hands.

idrive wifi drive

I don’t know of ANY other backup solution that combines local and cloud storage like this. Nor is there one that allows you to backup UNLIMITED devices like iDrive does. Carbonite and Mozy charge extra if you have more than one computer.

With iDrive and the iDrive Wi-Fi, all the bases are covered. Your PCs, Macs, mobile gadgets and social media accounts are securely backed up, painlessly and automatically.

* * *

P.S. — I encourage you to order your iDRIVE Wi-Fi now, because this exclusive discount will disappear when the clock strikes midnight on 31 July 2015. After that, the price returns to $99.99.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee.  All rights reserved.

Hacked Photo Centers and Scanning Options for Genealogy

The recent news of Costco and Sam's Club shutting down their photo centers due to hackers means a new set of options for scanning family genealogy photos.

A Recent Hacking Scandal Impacts the Genealogy World

In the past few weeks, several of the big warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club have had to shut down their online photo centers due to the hacking of a third-party provider. It all started when the provider for CVS photo services was hacked; it turns out that many retailers use this same provider for their own customer’s online photo processing needs.

What Do I Do If I’ve Used a Hacked Online Photo Service?

If you have been using the CVS Photo Center online or one of the other online photo centers affected, you should first make sure you are using a reliable credit monitoring service.

If you have been using the CVS Photo Center online or one of the other online photo centers affected, you should first make sure you are using a reliable credit monitoring service.  Usually, when a site has been hacked, to reduce their liability, a vendor will offer their existing customers one or two years of FREE credit monitoring. If so, take advantage of this offer.

What Are My Options for Photo Scanning Now?

The next thing to do is to explore your options for photo scanning and processing.

  • Do-It-Yourself: Many family historians, upon being given a large box of photos, negatives and slides, seek to do their own scanning. This means using existing scanning apparatus (usually a flatbed scanner or an “all in one” printer/scanner combo) or purchasing a new device. Keep in mind that as a DIYer, you are responsible for understanding the technology and the settings. One piece of equipment used by many genealogists is the Jumbl 22MP All-In-1 Film & Slide Scanner w/ Speed-Load Adapters for 35mm Negative & Slides, 110, 126, & Super 8 Films now 50% off at Amazon. But what if you have a HUGE amount to scan or you don’t have the time?

Are you sitting on a collection of old 35mm slides, 8mm or 16mm home movies, or perhaps boxes of photo negatives? I hope you realize that the material breaks down over the years . . . that’s why it is so important to scan and digitize those materials as soon as possible. The Jumbl High-Resolution Scanner handles many media types and does not require a computer or software – you can scan right to its internal memory or memory card! Right now the Jumbl, which has high ratings, is 50% off at Amazon – only $99!

  • Local Vendors: You could use a local vendor, but one main drawback is evaluating the reputation of their work. Not all scanning shops are alike! Carefully check the technical specs and ask questions such as “Are you using a rapid scanner, and if so, what is the final resolution of each photo?” and “What file formats do you scan photos to?” Also, check the store’s privacy policy in terms of storing credit card information. Better yet, pay with cash!
  • Other Online Vendors: Again, it comes down to reputation when selecting any online vendor for photo scanning. Not only should you ask about their privacy policy, but also get references or recommendations from past customers as to the quality of their work.

Larsen Digital – A Trusted Photo Resource for Genealogists

15¢ Photo Scanning to Digital Format - Exclusive Offer for Fans and Friends of GeneaBloggers: Converting photos to digital has never been easier! Just send in your loose photos to Larsen Digital and they will put them on a disc for just 15¢ per photo! Now is the time to stop procrastinating and pull out your boxes of photos and finally get them all converted to digital. All you need to do is get them to Larsen Digital and they will take care of the rest- creating high quality digital images from all your photos.

One online vendor that has a solid reputation and history of working with genealogists (they are based in Salt Lake City, after all), is Larsen Digital. I have personally used their services for photo scanning and retouching; the process is amazingly simple and at every step of the way, I felt that not only were my precious family photos safe, but also my personal information. Larsen Digital is a family-run business with superior customer service and they treated me as a friend and showed that they appreciated my business.  When was the last time you found that in any business, online or in-person?

Click here for a recent review of Larsen Digital and the wide variety of services they offer for not just photos, but also the digitization of audio and video tapes, slides, film negatives, home movies and more!

TWO Special Offers from Larsen Digital

This week I called up Larsen Digital and we discussed the issues involved with the recent photo center hacking. As a result, we came up with two different offers for followers of GeneaBloggers!

10% Off Photo and Slide Scanning – use promo code Thomas2015 and save – via Larsen Digital

  • 15¢ Photo Scanning to Digital Format – Exclusive Offer for Fans and Friends of GeneaBloggers: Converting photos to digital has never been easier! Just send in your loose photos to Larsen Digital and they will put them on a disc for just 15¢ per photo! Now is the time to stop procrastinating and pull out your boxes of photos and finally get them all converted to digital. All you need to do is get them to Larsen Digital and they will take care of the rest- creating high quality digital images from all your photos. Click here for the PDF form with instructions on how to take advantage of this great offer!

FREE return shipping on all orders over $100. Photos will be scanned at 300 DPI Jpeg and saved on a disc. This deal has been extended to August 15th (disregard the expiration date of June 30th on the PDF order form).

Restrictions: To protect the scanner and the photos, this offer is valid on:

– Photos sized 3×5 – 8×10
– Photos must Be Loose
– Photos need to be in good condition
– No Sticky adhesive residue
– Photos can’t be cut into odd shapes
– This special price can’t be combined with other coupons or discounts

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

RootsTech 2015 – Session Live Streaming Schedule Announced

RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.
Rootstech 2015 has just announced the schedule of sessions that will be live streamed over the Internet. Click here for the complete schedule of 14 sessions that can be viewed at http://www.rootstech.org. Also note that all times shown on the schedule are in Mountain Time (GMT -7).

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.