Archive for ‘Backup’

March 8, 2016

RootsWeb Still Dead … But Signs Of Life ? #Genealogy #Cloud

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Rootsweb Returns March 15th, 2016RoostWeb estimates it will return March 15th. That is good news.

However, it being down hurt my blog website because I had links to my genealogy research that I had in RootsWeb and much of that research is over a decade ago. Now I had backups of  almost everything. That is my blog for today.

 

First off, it points out how important it is to have backups of your research. I had used RootsWeb as my cloud backup for SO LONG. So long that I had forgotten what I had up there and where it was sourced from. As it turned out, I was missing one spreadsheet. It was important in the sense that it was good data and I had even built my blog using the data from that spreadsheet as a menu item. So my recommendation here is that you have backups of everything and that you know where each copy is.

This may seem trivial, but let me point out that at this juncture, many genealogists use their CD ROM/DVD, their USB (aka thumb) drive, and even the cloud (iCloud, Dropbox, Box, EverNote, oneDrive and GoogleDrive) to backup their data from their hard drive. But what happens when your hardware is obsolete? Remember floppy drives??? Most of us are old enough to remember those removable media (in various sizes). They are gone now. What happens to your backup? It is not backed up if you cannot ACCESS the data.

So it is also true for the Cloud. This jester has a trademarked magazine, “Cloud Is Falling™“, that I started when I realized that we do not own the cloud, we only access it (perhaps for free or for a fee). So what happens if the Cloud Goes Down or a portion of the cloud no longer exists (the cloud company goes bankrupt or changes terms such that you can no longer access it)? You cannot access your research data. It is the same as hardware obsolescence. Perhaps you have heard of “Murphy’s Law” (i.e. anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) and the corollary extension: (at the worst possible time). @AmyJohnsonCrow (twitter) was using the RootsWeb outage to illustrate the need to have backup plans (as well as backed up data). 2016 had illustrated that a few times. We need only recall Ancestry.com eliminating FTM family tree software at the end of 2015. Fortunately, MacKiev has taken over developing and publishing FTM and now (as of March 4th) we have FTM and soon(??) RootsMagic that will have the TreeSynch capabilities to synch with Ancestry.com via their newly published API.

Ok, RootsWeb was out and still is down, so I rebuilt much of my Reference Data from the Menus of my blog to use another portion of the cloud instead of RootsWeb. This will give me redundancy by having the same data on two distinct clouds. I now have all my data on the hard drive now too! How did I do that while RootsWeb was still down?

That is an interesting tale. I used The Internet Archive and in particular, I used their WayBack Machine to access my RootsWeb page. Fortunately, they had made a snapshot of that page whose data I was missing and I was able to cut & paste the data back to my hard drive in a new spreadsheet! Pretty nifty huh? I hope you will enjoy my new spreadsheet which I have enhanced and even improved (i.e. corrected data). The new page: 1811_BiechowChurchRecord_births.htm  can be reached from the Menu of my blog’s home page.

June 21, 2014

Is RootsWeb Dead? — #Genealogy, #Cloud

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

MyCloudStanczyk is wondering … “Is Rootsweb dead”? Please give me date and place of death if that is the case. Earlier in the week Ancestry.com had a multi-day outage due to a DDoS.  That is  a distributed denial of service, whereby a ‘botnet  make an overwhelming number of requests from a website until it crashes or ceases to be able to respond to requests.

So since Ancestry, hosts Rootsweb, I was thinking perhaps that DDoS took out Rootsweb too. I tweeted  @Ancestry and asked if anyone was working on Rootsweb being down and did not receive any response — so I am blogging in hopes that Ancestry.com will respond. Now I know parts of Ancestry came back a little at a time. Searching, then trees, the blog, finally message boards (connected to Rootsweb n’est c’est pas?). How many days now has Rootsweb been down and when will Ancestry get around to fixing the problem. Mundia is also down and perhaps Ancestry will never bring Mundia back, since they had already announced  (June 12th, 2014) that it  was going away. Likewise for MyCanvas and also Genealogy.com are dead too and they were scheduled for termination too.

This is a Cloud problem. When you live upon someone else’s cloud and it crashes you are down too and you do not come back until their cloud is reconstituted. I guess in this case maybe longer. Maybe you remember the news when in 2012 Amazon’s cloud crashed and that cloud crash took out Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, and even GitHub (a nod to my Developers guild) or the when Amazon’s  cloud crashed in 2011 taking out FourSquare and Reddit.

My advice is from the Rolling Stones in 1965:  http://youtu.be/pq3YdpB6N9M [enjoy]. Mick Jagger was way ahead of his time.

 

 

July 26, 2012

BigData means Backup … Security … Disaster Recovery … #RootsTech, #Backup

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

OK you have a laptop and / or a smartphone and / or a tablet and you also have data, perhaps a LOT of data. It creeps up on this hoarding of data / space. You need to be proactive to keep from losing your data. Primarily we speak of genealogy (or family / history) research and of course family photos and scans of documents, but perhaps you are a knowledge worker and use your computer equipment to produce works in your professional career too. I’ll speak of genealogical research / data and you can extend it to any other valuable data / files you may have.

Today’s blog came about from a cousin (alright second cousin, once removed), Robin. She was frustrated by losing files. So her family and friends had a nice debate over what she needs to do. Of course it is a very complex issue and needs to be customized to each person.

Let me state that designing a backup strategy that is free or low cost is almost impossible — unless you only have a small number of files (# and/or sizes) and can get by with the free: DropBox, GoogleDrive, Apple iCloud, etc.

You could conceivably cobble together a solution with enough “Cloud Services” and one account each for Robin and her husband on each service in order to build up a free usable amount of storage for backup on the Internet. OK, lets say that gets you “enough” space to do your backups. First off, you better hope the number/size of files do NOT increase — but industry studies says otherwise, that data more than doubles each and every year. You will therefore run out of “free” space. Also, you will now have to invent a bookkeeping system to keep track of which files are backed up on which service in which account. Is it getting complicated yet?

How much data do you have to backup? This is the first question you need to answer. If you have an Internet service that limits data transfers or subjects you to overcharge fees then you really need to think about using the cloud. Keep in mind that you need to backup and at some point  to recover a lost file(s) — now that recovery will double those overage fees. Most people can quickly generate 30-60GB of “data” from their music, videos, books, apps, and their pictures and when you throw in their work products (which actually are the smallest part of the critical space) 30-6oGB goes quickly. My wife’s tablet is almost full and we do not use much music or video.

How do you lose files? Inadvertent deletes/drops? Hardware failures? Accidental overwrites with something else? How about malware/viruses etc. ? All of the above probably. Then you need a backup solution to cover all of those eventualities. How about if you live in Florida (Hurricanes), New Orleans (Hurricanes/Floods), Oklahoma/Nebraska/Kansas (Twisters), California (Earthquakes/Mudslides), etc. or in an area where terrorism can cause catastrophic failures (NYC, DC, Seattle’s Space Needle)?

But Stanczyk, what about my sensitive or private data (financials, non-disclosure documents, personal identity, etc.)? Where do you back that up to? Is the cloud safe? Do they lose data in the cloud? Can the cloud data be stolen/hacked? What happens when the cloud crashes and is unavailable? More worries.

By now I hope you get an idea that backup is:

  1. Complex
  2. Involves Some Costs
  3. Requires Planning
  4. Custom to Each Individual / Company
  5. Recovery Needs to be Accounted for
  6. You Need Access to Backups
  7. Disaster Recovery (offsite)
  8. Need Security

You could be tempted to just rationalize that December 2012 is coming up and either the Mayan Calendar and /or the World will end and why tax your brain to do backups anyway.

Solutions

Ideally, we want the following features in a solution:

  1. 3 or 4 copies (counting the original copy)
  2. 1 remote copy for disaster recovery (fire, hurricane, flood, theft/loss etc.)
  3. Easy / Fast  recovery from the first backup (ergo 1st backup copy must be local)
  4. Backups allow you to recover from accidental delete (assuming delete happens after the first backup)
  5. If we backup data with privacy concerns then we WILL use encrypt / decrypt software before or as we make a copy
  6. The Cloud can be used as the remote copy

Complexity. Just keep it simple, remember the acronym  KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Trying to do backups without spending money will add complexity. So complexity / time / money are your trade-offs. In my career, we used to say, “Good | Fast | Cheap;  Pick 2”. If you want a fast and cheap backup solution it will not be any good. If you want good and fast then it will not be cheap.

Lets say you have as your work product, family trees (gedcoms), scans of documents / pictures and notes / timelines (spreadsheets) / plans – lists. This is over and above your Apps, Pics, Music, Video, etc. How much space do these files all add up to? Is it 7ooMB, 1,400MB, 2,100MB then you can probably get away with burning CDs (or DVDs). CDs hold about 702MB. Make two (or better yet three copies). You need at least three copies (original plus 2 more).

Put one CD in your bank safety deposit box (if it fits). Send a second CD to one of your family members (preferably another genealogist who lives at least 90 miles away from you). The remote CDs provide for a disaster recovery in case of something catastrophic happens at your residence. You can always retrieve the CD from the bank or your family member who may be outside the area affected by the disaster. Obviously, the further away your other copies are, the longer it will be before you can gain access to them to begin recovery — but the securer the disaster copy will be. This is fairly cheap. The flaw is … you keep getting more data / files or the files keep growing. Your family tree changes repeatedly (additions and subtractions). Sometimes you can rewrite the CD (if there is still space) and sometimes you cannot rewrite because the CD does not allow for rewriting or the space is insufficient to handle the larger file. Also if you have 30 GB that needs to be backed up or more then CDs are not viable because you need too many CDs. It is also hard to keep track of multiple versions in case you need to recover from a version that is not the last backup version. I do not recommend CDs but it is fairly simple and fairly cheap.

You can also  substitute DVDs, USB drives (also called thumb drives) for CDs which provide greater space.

Monday – Backing-Up via backup software, external drives, and the Internet/Cloud.

October 12, 2011

#Genealogy – Are All of Your Ancestors in the Will?

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Family Chronicle magazine (September/October 2011 issue) has a couple of interesting articles in the current magazine .

Here are some I think you should read …

  • Eastern European Research Made Easier!
    Lisa A. Alzo discusses seven strategies to help you trace your East European ancestors
  • The Case of the Missing Sisters
    Donna J. Pointkouski recounts her research quest to find her great-grandmother’s elusive siblings
  • Writing a Codicil to Protect Your Genealogy Collection
    Patti R. Albaugh, PhD, looks at the simple steps you can take to ensure your family history research lives on

This last one caught this jester’s eye. We spend so much time on this research and perhaps even hire other genealogists to assist us, so there is a very good chance that the information you have collected might not be able to reproduced or it may no longer be cost effective to reproduce. So where are your family tree and source documents going when you have departed?

I think you should do the following (please send me your suggestions — emails can be sent on the right side of this column):

  1. Place a copy in the Family History Library; at least send your gedcom to FamilySearch.org
  2. Many local libraries or archives take Family Histories. For example, the Historical Society of PA (HSP.org) has a room of family histories (you should visit it) and if you have written a self-published book make sure a copy goes to your local library.
  3. You should also make sure that other locales you or your direct line family have lived also have a copy of your genealogy. In my case, I will do at least the State of MI Library , and HSP and probably Toledo Public Library. I may consider Buffalo Public Library (their Grosvenor room)  and perhaps Mt Clemens, Public Library too.
  4. What about the Source Documents (Birth/Death/Marriage/Nat’l  Certificates? Bibles?  Do you have someone in the family that REALLY wants these heirlooms? I hope they are reproduced in your self-published book.
  5. Send gedcoms to other genealogists who are family or interested in your family trees. I do this almost annually as a means of backing up my research to CDs and sending them to these remote family researchers; its a good offsite backup. You can put them in EMAILS, Write a CD (with copies of the source documents — fill up the 680+ MB) with the gedcom, use the Internet (Cloud anyone?) — for example use DropBox or Google’s Cloud and grant READ access to other genealogists and interested family members.

That’s my musing for today. I am truly interested in what you are doing. Drop me an email or leave a comment. I am sure other genealogists are thinking about this or perhaps need to be thinking about this.

Oh, have you documented your life too? I think a lot of genealogists, spend time on everybody else but themselves in the family tree. Do not forget to document your life.

Make sure your Will reflects the donations if you do not accomplish them while you are amongst the living. Give considerable thought to your heirlooms. What happens if the intended person pre-deceases you? Make sure your contingencies are accounted for. I do not know about you, but I think I will read Patti R. Albaugh’s article and do some thinking.

August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene & Genealogy … Protect Your Valuables

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk wanted to wish the East Coast Genealogists good Luck with Hurricane Irene. Be Safe Out There on the Internet –Surfing the Net You May Encounter RipTides!

  • Put your Documents in Sealed Bags (Waterproof)
  • Backup your  Family Tree (GEDCOM) to a thumb drive or the Internet (Cloud/Website)
  • Keep Yourselves Safe – Your Are the Living Family Tree – Remember How Rare It Is That Any of Us Are Here At All

Stanczyk’s prayers go out to all of you.

 

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