Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Note to the Wise

If you have built your family tree on any website and do not have it on your own computer as well, take heed. If you have had DNA tests done and have not downloaded the raw data and results to your own computer, beware.

A rumor is circulating that Ancestry may be for sale, but this is just one of many potential calamities. Businesses come and go all the time in today's world. Sometimes it's for the better and sometimes for the worse. We have seen SMGF (Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation) shut down, Heritage DNA merge and disappear, the Master Genealogist disappear, Ancestry withdraw from YDNA and mtDNA testing and the loss of its Y and mt databases. None of these events has been an improvement. Instead it has led to much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands.

All of us as genealogists have spent many years and considerable money researching our family's history and compiling photos, records, correspondence and other treasures. We must protect our work. If you do not have copies of everything you have done in your own computer (and backed up to ensure its safety and continuity), now is the time to act. Google to find a genealogy software package that works with your operating system (Mac or Windows) and that includes GEDCOM, a universal program that lets you download your tree from Ancestry or any other online location or genealogy software to your own computer so it will be both places. Test it to make sure your own new computer file is complete . Note that Ancestry's download does not include photos, files, and records you've attached. Also be sure you have copies of your raw data and matches from any testing company on your own computer. Then back it all up to two or three different devices or storage sites. Google offers 15 gigabytes free, for example.

This is not an alarmist view; it is common sense. Read more at this blog.