I'm guilty as the next person of not backing up my computer files enough. I confess that even though I have lost extremely important documents and images in computer crashes, I still don't backup as much as I need to. There's no doubt that backing up your computer files is vital if you don't want to lose everything the next time your computer malfunctions or in the case of a disaster. While there are many ways to save your data, most experts recommend that you store those backups in more than one place. That way, even if one system fails you will have access to another.
In addition to a flash drive or external drive you may want to consider an online backup. Dropbox allows you to store up to 2 GB of data on the Internet for free. You can earn more free backup space by recommending the service to your friends or you can also purchase additional space. Dropbox is different in that it is not a software program that you download to your computer. Instead, you save files to your own personal dropbox, for access by you from any of your computers or mobile devices. Dropbox is cloud computing in that it doesn't take up valuable space on your hard drive and it's available anywhere you have Internet access. I access Dropbox from my computer as well as from my iPad and smartphone . So no matter where I am I can access my files.
There are many other ways members use Dropbox, and by Googling the words "Dropbox Tips" you can find articles exploring various features. Dropbox can also be used to share files with members and non-members, a handy feature that can help you share genealogy and photos with other family members.
Another of my favorite websites is Evernote. Evernote is a "personal digital assistant" that allows you to store notes, PDFs, websites and photos. Evernote is also in the "cloud," meaning that you can access your items from your computer, mobile device or anywhere where you have Internet access. One way to use Evernote for your genealogy is to create research lists and add scans of documents or screenshots or websites. I use Evernote to save my research to one spot that I can then access wherever I am. The other benefit of using Evernote is I can download the company's app to any number of mobile devices and have those saved "notes" anywhere I go. No more regrets that I didn't bring all my information on a research project.
While Evernote is a free service, you can upgrade to a premium service for $5.00 a month that allows you to store additional file types, increases your monthly upload allowance to 1 GB and provides networking options.
Genealogist Thomas MacEntee conducted a webinar explaining some of Evernote's features that you may want to consider watching. It can be viewed for free on his website High-Definition Genealogy .
Scribd is a website for individuals and organizations to publish their materials on the Internet. Upload your PDF, Word, or PowerPoint files to share with others or search the many documents that have been uploaded. Use Scribd to share your written genealogy as well as to learn more about research, records and repositories.
Uploaded files include family histories, genealogy how-to books and more. One of my favorite sections of Scribd is the page for the National Archives' Prologue Magazine . Click on the Shelf link to see the various magazines and articles uploaded to the National Archives' page. Other organizations that have materials on Scribd include the New York Public Library , the Metro Library and Archive (Los Angeles) includes employee magazines, and Civil Air Patrol History. While many of the documents found on Scribd are free, there are some that must be purchased.
Find writings that would interest genealogists by searching on the keywords "genealogy" or "history." Publications from libraries, societies and archives can be found on Scribd. Also, do a search on the surnames you are researching to find any possible family history narratives uploaded by distant cousins.
Libraries in the United States
For genealogists, it is essential for us to be aware of libraries that have collections detailing the names and lives of our families. One mistake that many genealogists make is not being fully aware of what repositories exist for an area. Genealogists need to make sure they exhaust these repositories before making the assumption that they have hit a brick wall. Libraries genealogists use include state, public, private, government and academic. You name the type of library and the website Libraries in the United States has a link for it.
Organized by state and then type of library, these links will help you find new libraries to research. Need a library outside of the United States? No problem, click on the link for Libraries Outside the US on the left-hand side of the website. A link to National Libraries provides links to national libraries around the world.
You Send It
Do you ever have instances where you have an attachment to email, maybe a very large document or photos and it is too big to send via email?
YouSendIt is a file sharing service that allows you to take large files that you cannot send through your email program and send them easily to anyone. While YouSendIt does have a premium service with pay per use and subscription pricing, you can use YouSendIt for free to send up to 2GB worth of documents. This is the perfect way to send "everything you have" on an ancestral family to another genealogist or just to send photos and other large files to family.
There are some restrictions to using a free account but YouSendIt is a quick easy way to send those large attachments.
Resolve that 2012 is the year that you discover new websites that can help you enhance your genealogical research. Happy New Year!