Monday, January 31, 2011

Digital Files Reorganized! - Part 1

One of my genealogy goals for 2011 was to reorganize my digital files and move them to Dropbox by the end of January. DONE!!!! 

This chore has been finished since the 21st and, so far, I'm happy with it. My previous file structure was by type of record and then broken down by the four surnames of my grandparents. I can’t explain why that ever seemed like a good idea but it must have years ago when I set it up. I've wanted to change things for a long time but dreaded doing it because everything was already backed up to Mozy and thousands of files were linked to sources or events in my Legacy Family Tree database using that structure.

Most of the time I use my laptop but I also have a desktop and a netbook. Trying to keep everything sync’d between all three has been a huge headache and the result was that only the laptop really had everything. A big reason for this reorg was to solve that problem by moving all of my genealogy files to Dropbox. If you aren't familiar with Dropbox it is a product that backs up your data and syncs it between all of the computers you set up in your account. You can also access your data through their website from any computer and from your smart phone.

I have been using the basic 2 GB Dropbox (which is free) for a year or so but mostly as a clearinghouse to transfer files to the other computers or to share large numbers of files with other researchers. I only kept a few things (like backups of my Legacy database and a spreadsheet of login info for all accounts) there permanently. I have now upgraded to the 50 GB option at a cost of $99/year. I think the convenience is going to be well worth $8.25 a month.  

I’m not going to say much about the new structure because I think how you set up your files is a personal choice. What works for one person won’t work for someone else and everyone needs a system that will work for them.  I now have folders for every direct line couple with subfolders for their children who aren’t my ancestor. I also have folders for categories like Research (subfolders for each surname), Cemetery Photos (subfolders for each Cemetery), Locations (subfolders for specific locations), Forms, Website and Blog just to name a few. So far, I like this much better than my previous set up.

Luckily, most of the actual file names did not have to be changed so re-connecting the records in my Legacy database was not nearly as much trouble as I had envisioned. When you move files that are linked in Legacy, it loses the connection but once you re-link just one file from it’s new location, Legacy will find all the other files in that particular folder. Bottom line, you do not have to relink every single file, just one file in each new folder.

In order not to have thousands of unlinked records to reattach in the end, I did the relinking as I went along. Once I moved everything for a family (or several families if they didn’t have many files), I relinked a file in each new folder and then ran the “Test All Multimedia Paths” report in Legacy (Options > Customize > Locations) to be sure everything was in order. When I had to rename a file, I relinked it immediately while I still remembered it's previous name.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.  


Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Mozy, Legacy Family Tree or Dropbox. However, if you click on the Dropbox link and sign up for an account, I will get some free space (500 MB) added to my Dropbox account but so will you (250 MB).



15 comments:

  1. Congrats on meeting your goal!

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  2. Congrats on finishing the reorg! Hopefully you'll stick with it and always be able to find your files.

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  3. AWESOME accomplishment, Linda! Dropbox will save your life ten times over -- especially if a computer hard drive crashes. Once you load drop box on the new drive, then your Dropbox folder from the internet automatically updates your local drive.

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  4. Clap, clap, clap, congrats! Tenacity plus!

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  5. Wonderful work. I'm especially interested in updating the media links in Legacy. I've not added any because of the issue of maintaining the links. You make think it might be possible once I get the pedigree file completed.

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  6. NR - I love having docs linked to my sources. I'm usually working in Legacy when I need to review something and I can just access it right there. I also link a lot of photos to events because I create my website from Legacy and I like having pictures on a person's page.

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  7. Thanks Kellie, Tina, Myrt and Carol.

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  8. Congratulations! I'm sure your project was a lot of work. I have the free 2GB Dropbox and have been using it like you did when you started out. I've been thinking of moving all of my genealogy files over there (thanks to Dear Myrtle's recommendation). I think you are right-the $8.25 a month would be worth it and it doesn't sound hard to move the files over to Dropbox. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  9. Michelle, If I hadn't been reorganizing my files in addition to moving to Dropbox it would have been very simple - just drag a folder into the Dropbox folder and let it upload.

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  10. Done! I can't believe how EASY that was. Now I can rest a little easier even though I do have an online backup service. Plus I can access my genealogy files from other computers now.
    Thanks!!

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  11. Outstanding - and how wonderful to have some peace of mind about the safety of all your information. I use a very similar file organization for my research and it seems to work.

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  12. Good post, Linda! My Mozy subscription is up in July. I may switch over to the paid v. of Dropbox at that time. I like the idea of having everything backed up on both laptops, plus the cloud.

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  13. I just got an email today that Mozy is changing their pricing structure - no longer an unlimited plan.

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