RootsWeb Data Loss: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Data 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, 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 ( 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 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.

Review: BillionGraves Plus

Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee takes BillionGraves Plus for a test drive and shares why the upgrade is well worth the price!

Recently, as part of my own Genealogy Do-Over, I have spent more time researching death record information, specifically gravestone images and related data. Normally, I would use the Find-A-Grave site since I have been using it, well since forever. I also decided to start using BillionGraves and after setting up a free login and using its basic functions, I wanted to know more about the premium version, BillionGraves Plus.

The folks at BillionGraves have given me a behind-the-scenes look at BillionGraves Plus and after putting it through several tests with my own search criteria, I can say that going premium is definitely worth the price! (Note: see my special offer at the end of this review to get a HUGE discount on BillionGraves Plus!)

BillionGraves Plus Features

So what do you get when you sign up for BillionGraves Plus? Here is an overview:

  • Family Plots: 70% of all people are buried in Family Plots. This feature shows you where they are!
  • Nearby Graves: Family members that do not share the same family name are most likely found near other family graves. This feature allows you to see those headstones, sorted by distance from the one you selected. An example might be a headstone that is labeled only as “Infant”, “Mother” or “Father”.
  • Global Family: See everyone that shares the same family name on a map sorted by city, county, state, country or even the whole world. You can then zoom in and see the specifics.
  • Family Notifications: You will be notified immediately ANYTIME a NEW RECORD comes in that matches the name and location you have selected. You don’t have to search. We search for you.
  • Ad Free: No Ads. No distractions. Faster search results, bigger photos, and larger maps.
  • Priority Support: Click on the support link in the footer of any page and submit your question. Your question will be moved to the top of the support queue.

Overall Impression of BillionGraves – It’s the Community!

Being an accomplished user of Find-A-Grave, I figured I had all the features I needed for locating gravestone images with their site. Boy was I wrong. Not only does BillionGraves provide you with accurate GPS location information, but also the sense of community is much different from other sites.

I have had many issues with several contributors at Find-A-Grave in terms of “ownership” of memorials and images. The frustration level has been so much that many times I don’t think it is worth it to use the site. Genealogy should be enjoyable and not stress you out, right?

Well at BillionGraves, there is a better sense of community and “stewardship” for the content contributed. Every member is working towards the same goal: to document every gravesite in the world with accurate information that is easy to access and share.

Family Plots

I have several family members buried at the Grahamsville Rural Cemetery in Grahamsville, New York. So using BillionGraves Plus I was able to see plots grouped by families:

I have several family members buried at the Grahamsville Rural Cemetery in Grahamsville, New York. So using BillionGraves Plus I was able to see plots grouped by families

Nearby Graves

The Nearby Graves feature is different from Family Plots in that it includes those family members who have married or do not share the same family name. This is excellent for locating those headstones that say “Mother” or “Father” or “infant.”

The Nearby Graves feature is different from Family Plots in that it includes those family members who have married or do not share the same family name. This is excellent for locating those headstones that say “Mother” or “Father” or “infant.”

Family Notifications

As genealogists, we continue to have increasing access to large amounts of data, to the point where we can feel overwhelmed. So the Notifications feature in BillionGraves is a valuable way to manage genealogy data – just enter your search criteria and when other users add new data, you receive an email notification.

billion graves notifications

Here is how the Family Notifications feature works:

  • No more searching day after day looking for a particular ancestor! Let us do the work for you!
  • Set up an on-going search that notifies you the second your results are available! No need to keep searching again and again.
  • We’ll email you a photo and a link to the headstone details as soon as it is available.


After using BillionGraves Plus, I don’t think I could possibly use the BillionGraves site without these features. I can’t tell you the number of hours that features like Nearby Graves has saved me in terms of research. In addition, Family Notifications is worth the price alone since I can receive updates for my family names via email. The BillionGraves Plus feature enhances the experience of using the BillionGraves site and makes it easier to find the information I need for my family history research.

Special Offer from BillionGraves

Right now, BillionGraves is offering one of the lowest prices EVER for their BillionGraves Plus upgrade! This is an exclusive offer for readers of GeneaBloggers and instead of the normal $59.95 a year price, you pay just $39.97! You must use this link to take advantage of this offer, which expires on Monday, March 14th at 5pm MDT!

Power up your genealogy research using BillionGraves Plus and see how much progress you can make with headstone and death record research!

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

MyHeritage Launches Record Detective II

MyHeritage announces the release of Record Detective™ II, a powerful technology that advances your family history research further than ever before!

MyHeritage has just released Record Detective™ II, a powerful new technology that significantly builds on the original Record Detective™, adding over 2.2 billion new matches to historical records.

With the Record Detective™, records found in MyHeritage SuperSearch™ automatically point to additional records and family tree profiles relating to the same person. For example, if you’re viewing a birth certificate you found in SuperSearch™, Record Detective™ may point you to a census record containing information about the child’s grandmother, a marriage license for their parents, a family tree profile of a connected ancestor, and so on, giving you new leads for your research. However, the Record Detective™ was only able to find information when there was at least one family tree profile on MyHeritage matching the record.

The new Record Detective™ II adds direct record-to-record matches, even for records that have no matching family tree profiles on MyHeritage, and has yielded a staggering 2.2 billion additional highly-accurate matching documents.

Record Detective™ II provides new information and clues to take your family history research to newer heights.

For more information and examples, please read today’s blog post Introducing Record Detective II at the MyHeritage blog.

©2016, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.