The Importance of Moving Your Family Records Online

Why you should put your genealogy online

Let me start out by listing a number of very persuasive reasons for preserving valuable family records on an online archive such as FamilySearch Family Tree:

  • Fires
  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Earthquakes
  • Tornadoes
  • Dry Rot and Mold
  • Termites

I guess you get the idea here. But genealogy has a much more insidious enemy: apathy of children and heirs. Many a life's work of records has been disposed of in the nearest dumpster by heirs who didn't want to be bothered by the clutter.

There is another less apparent danger: technological obsolescence. We are still dealing with entire collections on dozens of floppy disks when it is hard to find a 3.5 inch floppy drive that will read the disks. Yes, it is still possible to buy an external 3.5 inch floppy disk drive for under $20. But then we have to worry about the evil twin of technological obsolescence, that is digital obsolescence, that is programs that will no longer function in any of today's operating system environments. Even with the USB floppy drive, if the file format of the genealogy files cannot be read there is no hope that the files can be recovered.

OK, now that we have the idea of what can happen, we need to be aware that these dangers are not speculative. They will happen. How can we prevent catastrophe? We can back up our data to our hearts content but if our backups are in the same house when the house burns down, there goes the backup along with the original.

We can parcel out our data to our children, assuming they aren't the ones who are going to throw it all away. We can backup to commercial online storage, but what happens to your data if your heirs refuse to make any further payments? Look at the storage agreements.

The data usually gets erased.

But today, there is a solution. We can depend on the good guys at Family Search to securely preserve our data and park a copy on Family Tree; that means every document, photo, story and all the sources. If we do this we can sleep at night and not worry about what will happen to our genealogy.

I have now been in the process of moving my data to Family Tree for a couple of years. It takes time and effort. Part of the effort will diminish as the technology improves and the data in Family Tree is finally straightened out. At this point, we will have a secure place to store our data with the assurance that every effort on earth and under heaven will be made to secure that data.

Written by James L. Tanner. Used with permission.

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