AncestryDNA Launches “DNA Circles”

AncestryDNA DNA Circles

Today, AncestryDNA announced improved DNA Matching including a new feature: DNA Circles. From the Ancestry.com website on the DNA tab:

We’ve completely re-written the book on how DNA matches are determined, creating new and improved ways to identify genetic relationships. What this means is that our matching is far more accurate with far fewer low confidence matches.

Here is the full announcement on the Ancestry.com blog: http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/11/19/dna-matching-just-got-better/

Here is a screen shot of the DNA Circles information which is listed as being in BETA:

Description of new AncestryDNA feature, DNA Circles

DNA Circles

In order to access the new DNA Circles as it applies to your own data, you must be an Ancestry.com subscriber and maintain a Public Tree linked to your DNA results. (Note: DNA results that did not require a subscription for before this update, still do not require a subscription – just the new features now require an Ancestry.com subscription.)

Sample of DNA Circles at AncestryDNA

Currently, I am not included in any DNA Circles, but I am certain this will change over time as more relatives are tested and data is compiled.

New DNA Matching Algorithm

Other changes include better DNA matching which will result in the number of matches in your DNA tab. If you feel you’ve “lost” matches – DON’T PANIC! This is not the case! I think Blaine Bettinger at The Genetic Genealogist describes it much better than I can – so check out Goodbye False Positives! AncestryDNA Updates its Matching Algorithm for more information.

Old DNA Matches on AncestryDNA

UPDATE: I just heard from Ancestry.com that the ability to download old DNA matches is now available! 

Finally, my contacts at Ancestry.com have told me that users will be able to download old DNA matches for a limited time.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

FREE Genealogy Data Backup Report – November 2014

Today is November 1st - and the first day of each month is Data Backup Day in the genealogy community. Get your free Genealogy Data Backup Report!

Today, November 1, 2014, is the first of the month which means it is Data Backup Day. Do you know where your genealogy data is?

What Does Thomas Use for Data Backup?

You may have heard about my own personal data disaster this past week (if not, keep reading this post . . .). When I follow my own advice, my system of data backup is a combination of Dropbox which is cloud storage, and an external hard drive. The hard drive I use is the Western Digital My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive shown below. I LOVE IT – it runs through a USB connection so there’s no independent power source needed. It is light and portable so I can take it with me on research trips if needed. PLUS . . . right now the price dropped another $10 over last month – it is just $59 USD! Click below for more information and to purchase yours.

Genealogy Data Backup Report

To mark Data Backup Day, each month GeneaBloggers publishes a FREE PDF report – Genealogy Data Backup Report – filled with tips and advice on making sure that your genealogy data is secure. In the coming months, each report will contain reviews of external hard drives, USB flash drives, and cloud backup services. Also, we’ll provide easy-to-follow instructions on making sure you backup all of your genealogy data, like emails from other researchers, your Internet bookmarks and favorites and more . . .

The November issue of the Genealogy Data Backup Report tells my personal story of data loss over the past few weeks. Also included is a review of online backup services including BackBlaze and Carbonite.

* * *

Backing up all of our data – including our genealogy research data – is a responsibility that can’t be ignored. Because of my own negligence, I’m now spending 30 hours reconstructing data that I’ve lost since mid-August 2014. Imagine the brick walls I might be able to break down if I were to use those 30 hours towards genealogy research instead!

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

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.