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Save yourself some heartache get Dropbox

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 10:58 AM

There is no cure for a person infected with the genealogy bug. It's been known to lead to baldness (caused by pulling hair from frustration) and blindness (reading microfilm and faded original documents). Some cases lead to insanity - not being able to find an ancestor where he's supposed to be truly can drive a person crazy.

I've even been told it leads to divorce (something about alienation of affection and attention), but having an understanding spouse, I've not personally suffered that.

Infected researchers frequently have nervous breakdowns. I had several recently. Mine commenced when the "Genius" at the Apple Store told me my hard drive was failing. For you non-Mac computer users, I'm not being sarcastic - Apple stores have something called the Genius Bar where customers can make appointments for consultations with (always young) technical whizzes whose computer expertise is nothing short of amazing. But I digress.

I have an automatic backup for my hard drive, but the thought of having the brain removed from my computer gave me a sleepless night. What if that backup hiccupped and pruned the family tree?

I also had a backup to my backup, but I couldn't relax until Alex (that's my computer) was whirring away again at my desk. I should have had more faith in the second backup, Dropbox.

Dropbox is the best thing since grits. If you haven't heard of it, listen up.

Go to www.dropbox.com. Setting up an account and installing the software is quick and easy. The process will create a Dropbox folder on your computer. You simply drag and drop files from your computer into your Dropbox folder. Your file is then stored on your computer and on Dropbox's online server.

By installing Dropbox on a desktop and a laptop you can move seamlessly between the two computers by working out of your Dropbox folder. Whatever changes you make in a document on one computer automatically syncs with the document on your other computer. You'll no longer have to transfer data by e-mailing yourself a document or by saving it to a thumb drive.

In my Dropbox folder I have folders for each of the surnames I'm researching. When I'm at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City I can copy microfilm onto a thumb drive and transfer it immediately onto my laptop (Alex Jr.) into the appropriate surname folder. I can scan a page from a book directly into my laptop - again placing it into the appropriate surname folder.

When I return home, I'll find that Dropbox has synced the files onto my desktop computer.

And here's another perk. You can access the Dropbox server and get to your files from any computer. If you're at a friend's house, just go online to Dropbox from your friend's computer.

I hope all of you also are using one of the genealogy software programs, such as RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, Reunion, or Legacy. Once you've installed one of these programs it stores your data in a folder. If you locate that folder and move it into Dropbox, you can access that folder from any computer on which the same genealogy software is installed. Dropbox will keep the data synced between the two computers.

I'm comforted by knowing that, although I can't be two places at once, my ancestors can be! Subscribers get two gigabytes at no charge. Other options are 50 gigs at $99 a year (or $9.99/month) or 100 gigs at $199 a year ($19.99/month).

There may be no cure for the genealogy bug, but we can minimize the stress of worrying that our ancestors will find a way out of our computers and into the vast lost-data hinterlands.


Sharon Tate Moody is a board-certified genealogist. Send your genealogy questions and event announcements to her in care of Getaway, The Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa, FL 33606 or stmoody0720@mac.com. She regrets that she is unable to assist wi

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