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Protecting documents and photos

 Something that comes up a lot in the vast topic of genealogy is protecting your research (documents and photos) from being lost or destroyed.

The first thing I would strongly suggest is making sure that you are using a family tree software that is stored on your computer, and not just putting your tree/research on a website -- no matter how good and trustworthy that website is. Yes, I have my tree up on Ancestry, but I also have Family Tree Maker on my computer. I love FTM because you can actually upload it to Ancestry and keep the trees synced -- so that when you make a change in either your online tree or your FTM tree, you can update the other with whatever changes you've made. When you only have your tree on a website, then you're kind of at the whim of fate that the website stays up and doesn't have problems. Always "own" your own tree and research, and don't rely on a website.

The second thing, and I can't stress this enough.. BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER FILES! I say this as someone whose computer hard drive died five years ago, and thankfully I didn't lose most of my genealogy documents and photos because I also had my tree uploaded to Ancestry and was able to download them back. But really, if you have any important files on your computer, use a backup service. I use Backblaze... it runs in the background, constantly backing up your files (all files -- documents, photos, music, and even videos). And yes, I've since had to use it more than once to retrieve files. It's $60 a year, but well worth it; I consider that I can't afford to not have it -- and neither can you if you keep vital files of any nature on your computer.

Third, to print or not to print (genealogical records)? I would say that it's a very good idea to have paper copies of important records... not all of them, because that would take up a lot of space, use a lot of ink and paper, and, quite frankly, you're the only one that's going to be interested in most of it. If anything happens to you, your family is likely going to take it out to be picked up by recycling. And I hope this doesn't actually have to be said, but definitely keep original genealogical records. I store my paper records and original photos in binders with PVC-free plastic sleeves, and limit the paper/printed out records to surnames of my father, mother, and grandmothers. I'll explain in another post how I do it and how I have the binders organized. Really important paper documents should be copied and the copies should stored in two different locations, preferably far from each other, in case of a natural disaster. If a hurricane hits and floods my home here in Florida and my documentss are destroyed, my sister in Colorado could have a copy.