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.

BIG NEWS! MyHeritage Announces Major Collaboration with 23andMe

MyHeritage, the leading destination for discovering, sharing and preserving family history, announces a strategic collaboration with DNA testing site 23andme.

New collaboration combines family trees and DNA to empower individuals to discover and document their ancestry

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California & TEL AVIV, Israel – October 21, 2014: 23andMe, the leading personal genetics company, and MyHeritage, the leading destination for discovering, sharing and preserving family history, announced today a strategic collaboration that will provide an enhanced experience for individuals to discover their legacy based on genetic ancestry and documented family history.

23andMe pioneered autosomal DNA ancestry analysis for consumers, and has created the largest DNA ancestry service in the world. With a simple saliva sample 23andMe can reveal the geographic origins of distant ancestors and help people discover unknown relatives. MyHeritage helps millions of families worldwide find and treasure their unique history with easy-to-use family tree tools, a huge library of more than 5.5 billion historical records and innovative matching technologies for automating discoveries. Integrating the market leading solutions in ancestral DNA and family trees will provide an unparalleled experience for customers of both companies.

“We believe this collaboration with MyHeritage will offer our customers a vastly improved opportunity to build their family tree and discover new connections,” said Andy Page, President of 23andMe. “Given MyHeritage’s technology leadership in the ancestry space and vast global reach, we are excited about the value this relationship will bring to our customers around the world.”

“Combining genealogy with DNA-based ancestry is the next evolution in uncovering family history,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “DNA testing can connect you to relatives you never knew existed, who descend from shared ancestors centuries ago, but family trees and historical records are critical to map and fully understand these connections. We have great respect for 23andMe’s technology and values, and its pioneering approach to genetics represents strong potential value for our users in the future.”

23andMe will offer its more than three quarters of a million customers around the globe access to MyHeritage’s family tree tools. This will allow 23andMe’s customers to enjoy automated family history discoveries. Smart Matching™ automatically finds connections between user-contributed family trees and Record Matching automatically locates historical records from the billions of records available on MyHeritage, pertaining to any person in the family tree. MyHeritage will utilize 23andMe’s API to provide the best experience for customers, by allowing any two people with matching DNA to explore their family tree connections. MyHeritage will also offer 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service® to its global community of more than 70 million registered users, in addition to the DNA tests it already offers.

The first phase of integration will be complete by early 2015. 

About 23andMe

23andMe, Inc. is the leading personal genetics company dedicated to helping people access, understand and benefit from the human genome. The company’s Personal Genome Service® enables individuals to gain deeper insights into their genetics and ancestry. The vision for 23andMe is to personalize healthcare by making and supporting meaningful discoveries through genetic research. 23andMe, Inc., was founded in 2006, and the company is advised by a group of renowned experts in the fields of human genetics, bioinformatics and computer science. More information is available at www.23andme.com. 23andMe’s health reports are not cleared by the FDA. US customers may purchase 23andMe’s ancestry-only product.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the leading destination for discovering, sharing and preserving family history. As technology thought leaders and innovators in the space, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Trusted by millions of families, its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and ground-breaking search and matching technologies.

MyHeritage empowers families with an easy way to share their story, past and present, and treasure it for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 40 languages.  www.myheritage.com