Sunday, August 31, 2014

Data Backup Day–Don’t Lose all that Hard Work!

Data Backup DayTomorrow is data backup day for a lot of family historians and I am no different. If you are not backing up your data tomorrow then I hope you have another day set aside at least once a month to do a backup. I thought I would post this the day before to show how I backup my data which may help someone with their backup routine and maybe others can give me some tips on my process.

Before I say anything else, the most important thing about backup is that you are using a backup scheme that works best for you and your situation and one that you will stick to. But, at the very minimum and what I’ve always been told is that it is a good idea to backup your data to at least one other type of media that is physically separated from what you are backing up. For instance, if your are backing up the hard drive on your desktop computer, the media you are backing up to should not be within your desktop tower. It should be to an external hard drive or a flash drive or maybe DVDs. Like I said, that is the minimum, I like to exceed this for extra piece of mind and it doesn’t really take all that much effort.

My backup plan is centered around multiple copies in different locations. Here is what I do:

1. I own a 1 TB Western Digital My Book Live drive that is connected to my home network via our router. I use the software that came with the drive and I have it setup to backup all the files on the two hard drives in my desktop, this includes all of my genealogy data. This software is a continuous backup so I don’t have to remember to push a backup button. However, I do check it at least once a week to make sure it is working properly.

2. In order to have all my genealogy data with me wherever I go, I use Dropbox. I have it installed on my desktop and on my Surface Pro 2, which is my laptop. So, it also serves as another backup of my data. Not only do I have it on my desktop and my Surface Pro 2 but it is also located in the cloud. By the way, I share genealogy data with my sister who is in a completely different state and she has Dropbox on her computer also, so there is another mode of backup.

3. I own two 1 TB WD my passport external drives. One of these drives is for all my genealogy data and the other is for all the other important files that I need to backup. These are my third layer of backup and I keep both hard drives locked up in my desk at work. I bring them home on the 1st of each month, do my backups and take them back to work.

The first two parts of my plan are almost automatic, I don’t really have to think about them too much and my data is being backed up. I had to set them up initially and I do check them quite often to ensure things are working the way I want them to work, but for the most part they work in the background. The third step is the one that really takes any time and effort. I have to physically connect these to my desktop via USB and then copy all the files I want to backup onto the drives. Depending on the mood of my computer, the process can take as little as 30 minutes but it has also taken up to about an 2 hours. However, the extra piece of mind that this step gives me is worth any amount of time it takes.

So, that is how I backup my data each and every month. It is the system that works best for me and gives me piece of mind. There are a lot of different ways to backup your data, Thomas MacEntee, of Geneabloggers has a whole page setup with backup resources here: Resources For Backing Up Your Data.

Do you have any suggestions on making my system better?  How do you backup your data? Write a post on your own blog about your backup plan or share it in the comments here.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.


© 2014 copyright, Christopher Shaw, All Rights Reserved.


  1. I have a subscription to a back-up service, but I keep forgetting to purchase that external hard drive. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. No Problem - I actually had to buy a new one this month also, one went on the fritz!