Showing posts with label Ancestry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ancestry. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Family History Month: So Many Hints, So Little Time

After reading Amy Johnson Crow's thoughtful post, "Should You Take Ancestry's Suggestions?" I thought about my own approach to the hints on my trees. As of this morning, my husband's tree has an incredible 7,406 total hints! So many hints, so little time.

My triage plan goes like this:
  • Sort by people, not by when the hint was generated. That way, I can choose who I want to research, rather than reviewing hints based on when the system presents them to me ("within last 7 days" etc.).
  • Look at relationships to avoid wasting a lot of time on people who are really remote on the tree. Say, for instance, Jane McKibbin, whose hint is shown here--she's a sister-in-law of my husband's 1st cousin 4x. Not someone I need to research with any particular urgency, unless I have a specific goal in mind.
  • Review photos quickly, because often they are ship images or flags or something else rather than an ancestor's image. I usually click to ignore 95% of photos, reviewing only actual faces or family groups.
  • Review stories to see whether there's anything personal or historical. Sometimes these turn out to be interesting! A letter that my mother-in-law wrote to a genealogist in the 1970s turned up as a story hint on the Wood tree not long ago.
  • Review records for ancestors I'm actively researching. Depending on my focus, I might look at all record hints for one particular ancestor or a family or a surname, in search of new avenues to explore.
  • Review member trees as a low priority unless I'm trying to connect with a cousin or someone else who is researching an ancestor of particular interest. Why? Because way too many member trees have no sources attached or have inaccurate details. But if I'm looking for a cousin, I make it a point to look at these trees and contact individual members with a note explaining who I am and asking about any possible relationship--always offering to exchange genealogy info.
Very likely I'll never get around to reviewing every hint on this tree. At the same time, I regularly click on ancestors of interest, noting that new hints tend to show up after I explore these people individually. Then the triage continues.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Family History Month: It's Backup Day

Happy Family History Month! A great time to think about backups. The first day of every month is backup day--in reality, every day is my backup day. To avoid losing any tiny bit of my precious genealogy research, I use a "suspenders and belt" system.

Let me suggest not just suspenders, not just a belt, but both and more to keep those pants up! Multiple backup methods can do a good job of protecting your valuable files: (1) back up your genealogy software, (2) backup your hard drive daily, (3) do intraday backups of your hard drive if possible, and (4) backup your backups once a month.

One of the things I like about RootsMagic 7 (shown above) is that I can open it, open Ancestry, synch all of my trees, and then back up all my RM7 trees with a couple of clicks. So not only is Ancestry always up to date, my RM7 trees are up to date and safe in multiple places. No matter what software you use, please check on how to back up your trees.

For extra safety, I back up my entire hard drive into the cloud once every day, automatically, using Mozy.

Not to mention my hourly Time Machine backups, as a Mac user, also automatic so I just set it and forget it. If something goes wrong during the day, I can return to the version of my file an hour earlier and go from there.

Being super-duper cautious, I have an extra hard drive for once-monthly backup of my backups. Today is that day. I have nearly 20 years' worth of details on my trees. Keeping all those details safe is a high priority.

Are your files safe? Are your backups safe? For peace of mind, consider suspenders and belt backups.



Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sorting Saturday: Happily Testing RootsMagic

During the IAJGS Conference last week, I had the opportunity to learn more about gen software that actually, for real, synchs with Ancestry, including downloading media (such as photos and documents attached to individuals).

Yes, I do have an existing gen program, but it's got every bell and whistle on the planet except synching, which wasn't available four years ago when I bought that old software.

Meanwhile, during my Genealogy Go-Over, I've been building my Ancestry trees and "sharing trees" with close cousins, so I have access to their names/photos/documents. I like the convenience of adding somebody else's photo of great uncle Moe to my Ancestry tree with one click. I'm accustomed to the Ancestry interface and navigating the site in search of more clues.

Now I wanted to be able to download all of that to my Mac with no rigamarole. So I plunked down cash to buy RootsMagic 7 at the conference special price last week.

Success! Granted, the interface doesn't look at all fancy (see an excerpt, above). Still, it gets the job done, has useful features that help me manage my people and trees, and it's fairly user-friendly.

Best of all, my attachments were easily downloaded along with every tree (see the purple oval marking the "media" tab). I can browse them, open, do whatever I want. Yay!

By the way, trees that were "shared" with me by other Ancestry users could also be downloaded by RootsMagic. That was a bonus I didn't expect.

I'm still testing all the features, and I'm very happy so far with the experience. Simply being able to vacuum up all my Ancestry trees to have on my home Mac forever was worth the money, no matter what else I use the software for.

Going forward, I'll continue to build my trees using Ancestry, and then synch using RootsMagic. It's just easier for me, it allows cousins to immediately see the latest info I've gathered, and I gain peace of mind that my Ancestry data will be duplicated on my own Mac.

Of course, I've also backed up the RootsMagic trees on an external hard drive for extra security. Can't have too many backups!

Update: After nearly 3 weeks of use, I'm still delighted at the ability to quickly and conveniently synch with Ancestry trees. After each synch I can view all changes to each tree in RootsMagic if I choose, a handy feature. Still need to test reporting mechanisms. More on that soon.