It began as I read with delight Dick Eastman’s description of BackUpMyTree. In brief, it is a free online service that will back up all your family tree files. I immediately went to the BackUpMyTree website, registered for a free account, and downloaded the software. Quickly I was in business. Upon installation, BackUpMyTree searched my computer and found 35 GEDCOM files, 20 RootsMagic4 files, 7 Legacy files, and 3 PersonalAncestralFiles. Now I have access to these backed up files via my account at BackUpMyTree.
I knew immediately that I now had the opportunity to organize these 55 files. Some of them were duplicates; some, sample files; and others I downloaded as part of online searches. I then realized that I did not have my two external hard drives connected when BackUpMyTree did its scan and upload. A query to BackUpMyTree support brought back the response that I needed to hook up my external drives and wait for about an hour for a new scan of my computer. Because I sent my support query on Friday evening, I knew that I would not likely receive a response before Monday. So, I decided to use Windows Explorer and search my external drives for files by extension. This search not only located files on my external drives, it was also the early warning system of past and present KKG. The two distinct problems I encountered were: 1) I wanted a printed list of files to work with and 2) the number of files is far in excess of what I had expected.
There seems to be no inherent way to print Windows Explorer search results to a text file. Fortunately, a quick Google search located SysExporter, a free program that will export the results of a Windows Explorer search to a text file. So far, so good… but problem #2 unmasked my organizational skills as clearly demonstrating KKG – a revival of the behaviors of Sennett’s Keystone Kops. My 1 terabyte iomega drive and 160 gigabyte FreeAgent drive showed what a file packrat I really am: I did not have 55 files to organize; instead I have in excess of 1200 separate family tree files (GEDCOMs, RootsMagic 4 files and backups, Legacy 7 files, PAF files, and FamilyTree Maker files) — some quite small, others large; many of them duplicates; some (downloaded after internet searches) contain some great leads for new research directions; others chronicle the development (they are time stamped) of our BrennerFamilyTree website. The most important ones represent a division of our primary database into 8 discrete databases (one for each of my children’s great-grandparent lineage. These last files are my current attempt to rebuild our databases with adequate source citation for as much as possible.
I had my work cut out for me. Before doing any more research and before continuing to provide source citations for my newly built databases, I needed to cull through these tree files and a) determine what need to be saved, b) determine how to save them in a manner that we know what we have and where we have it (for access in the future), c) discard the duplicate and unneeded files, and d) ensure that the saved files all named in an appropriately descriptive way, and e) re-vise my BackUpMyTree listing so that the saved files are all backed up regularly and the others are removed.
Actually, the culling process seemed to be going rather smoothly. Once I had completed the Windows Explorer searches by extension (.ged, .rmg*. .ftw, .paf, .fdb) I realized that I didn’t really need to print the results because I was able directly from Windows explores to sort the file list alphabetically; move the files-to-be-saved to new folders; and then delete the extraneous files. I have to admit that I did engage in KKG pointless activity and waste a fair bit of time by trying to organize the files on the paper printouts from SysExporter. But that was nothing! I have spent the past 24 hours looking to the new folder into which I copied all the files-to-be-saved. I did searches on two computers and on my two external hard drives. Talk about high levels of frenetic activity, seemingly uncoordinated and without any evidence of success… that was me in my KKG mode.
Having access to so much storage space on huge external drives and on internet storage makes it easy to collect and collect and collect! Unfortunately, without some thought to organizing the collections for reasonable access at a later time, collecting can be its own reward (read that “headache”). Sloppy organization is an indicator of sloppy research… and is exacerbated by lack of a good tracking system (read that “research log”) Keystone Kop Genealogy… mea culpa! mea culpa! mea culpa!
- begin to organize before you start collecting data
- 5 or more back-ups on the same computer will probably not be helpful (sometimes less is better)
- back-up your files, but don’t back-up files ‘willy-nilly;’ have a plan
- a little humor helps keep perspective (especially when mistakes compound themselves exponentially)