Cloud backup service for your computer is a must-have, but not every service is the same. Learn 8 essential features yours should have–and the company I love that offers every one of them for just $5 a month.
These days, we create SO many files we couldn’t bear to lose. Genealogy data files. Photos. Videos. Emails (and all those attachments). Unfortunately, computer crashes, thefts and other physical damage are not rare occurrences. And even though external hard drive backups are better than nothing, they are vulnerable to the same loss.
The video below offers a quick introduction to cloud-based computer backup service for your computer. I’ll tell you:
WHY I use cloud-based backup for all my own business and personal files,
WHAT kind of features I recommend in a backup service and
WHO I use to back up my own computers.
And check out the offer in the video for a great cloud backup service PLUS a free video class!
Here’s a quick recap of the questions to ask when considering a cloud backup system:
1. Does it automatically back up ALL your data (including videos)?
2. Does it back up any external drives attached to my computer by USB?
3. Does it have an unlimited file size limit?
4. Has it got an unthrottled or optimized backup speed?
5. Are there flexible backup options?
6. Does it restore files, folders and all data?
7. Does it offer a feature to locate my computer if it’s lost or stolen?
8. Does it allow me to add additional layers of security, such as a pass-phrase?
I use and recommend Backblaze because I can answer YES to all of the above. In addition to all these features, Backblaze has a rock-solid reputation in the industry for being secure and reliable. And it’s SO affordable–only $5 per month–less than the cost of a single fast-food lunch for unbeatable security and peace of mind for ALL your data.
I encourage everyone to do the research themselves and choose the right cloud backup service for themselves. But I hope you’ll click here to check out Backblaze as a serious option.
Cloud backup services are “one of the smartest things we can do” for our computer says PC World/MacWorld. Here’s why they just gave Backblaze a shout-out.
This past week, PC World/Mac World ran an article on Backblaze‘s cloud-based computer backup service, which I use and love here at Genealogy Gems. Senior Editor Brad Chacos reminded readers that “when it comes to backing up your precious data, investing in an online backup service is one of the smartest things you can do.”
Cloud-based backup services run 24/7 through your internet connection, constantly saving changes you make to every file. That means if your computer is lost, stolen, destroyed or hit with deadly viruses, you’ll always have copies of your files available to you.
One challenge of cloud-based backup is that we’ve all got more digital stuff these days.
“As more and more of our lives goes digital, from movies to photos to game libraries, hard drives are filled more than ever before,” says Chacos. It’s not so easy to download that much material online if you ever need to restore your data.
The solution is to ship an entire hard drive to a customer, but that can come at a pretty pricey additional charge ($100 or more). Not fun for a customer who’s already stressed about losing their data.
“The Restore Return Refund program is for customers who do not need to keep a USB drive after they’ve recovered their lost data,” the site says. “Backblaze offers refunds for returned drives ($99 for USB flash drives, $189 for USB hard drives – see website for current pricing) within 30 days of receiving the drive, effectively making the process of restoring free! This is a great option if a customer needs to restore a large amount of data, potentially on multiple drives, but does not need to own the USB drives after the recovery.”
The Restore Return Refund Program earns a thumbs-up from Chacos. “Giving customers access to physical backups for the cost of shipping alone removes a huge potential burden from the shoulders of Backblaze subscribers.” He points out that other leading cloud-based computer backup services either won’t ship hard drives at all or continue to charge large fees for it. The Next Web and Verge also gave Backblaze‘s new program (and Backblaze itself) high marks this week.
This new program is just one more reason I’m glad I choose Backblaze to take care of the ENORMOUS amounts of video, audio and other data I create here at Genealogy Gems. It just makes sense. At just $6 a month, Backblaze is so affordable–and the service it provides is so crucial–that I can’t see backing up my computers any other way. They’re a sponsor of my free Genealogy Gems podcast because I’ve checked them out thoroughly and–just as thoroughly–I recommend them.
I think this is a long post, but this is an extremely important topic. I hope you will invest the time to read it through to the end.
I travel the world presenting sessions on a wide range of genealogy topics. One of the presentations that is most near and dear to my heart is called Future Technology and Genealogy – 5 Strategies You Need. In it I not only outline 5 strategies that genealogists can use to cope and thrive in an ever-changing technological world, but I share 3 major areas that I believe genealogists should be aware of as we move into the future. One of those is the desktop moving to the Cloud.
Certainly Adobe and Microsoft have already moved that direction by discontinuing physical software sales and moving to a Cloud based subscription service. But the desktop moving to the Cloud has been a more subtle transition in the genealogy space. Today, however, our industry was hit between the eyes with this new reality.
Ancestry has announced the “retirement” of one of the cornerstone products in genealogy, the Family Tree Maker desktop software.
I couldn’t help but think that Ancestry was striving to paint a picture of Family Tree Maker as Charles Coburn (in black and white of course) in his classic double-breasted suit, gold watch in hand, walking off into the sunset in a Jean Arthur movie. Perhaps it would be more accurate to visualize him being pushed out. Let’s start with the announcment that Ancestry released on their blog late Tuesday December 8, 2015, and then we’ll probe deeper:
“Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software
By Kendall Hulet
Ancestry is proud to have made a significant investment this year to bring valuable new content and records to the Ancestry site. In 2015, we’ve made 220 million searchable historical records from Mexico available, more than 170 million pages from the largest collection of U.S. will and probate records, among others. We’ve also introduced new features such as Ancestry Academy and major advancements for AncestryDNA.
We remain dedicated to helping people gain new levels of understanding about their lives, and who and what led to them, harnessing the information found in family trees, historical records and genetics. As a company, we’re also continually evaluating ways to focus our efforts to provide the most impact and best product experience for our users through our core offerings.
True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.
Our subscription business and website, on the other hand, continue to grow and we are doubling down our efforts to make that experience even better for our Ancestry community.
Ancestry will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™, will continue to work, and Member Services will be available to assist with user questions. We will also address major software bugs that may occur, as well as compatibility updates.
These changes are never easy, but by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on continuing to build great products for our loyal Ancestry community.
If you have inquiries regarding Family Tree Maker, please reach out to our Member Services team. We’ll also provide updates on our blog as needed leading up to January 1, 2017.”
What this Means for Genealogists
In reality, I would wager to guess that this move is a cold, calculated business strategy, not a warm and sentimental retirement. And that’s OK. Business is good. If Ancestry didn’t do well in business, we wouldn’t have such easy and convenient access to all those records.
Discontinuing Family Tree Maker is a strategic move. The goal is it to get everyone from family history “dabblers” to seasoned genealogists to enter their family tree data directly onto a family tree housed on the Ancestry website. This puts them in the drivers seat.
It is keenly important to understand what is really happening so that you can make the wisest decisions possible for the life of your genealogical research. Our family trees are not Ancestry’s responsibility, or anyone elses for that matter. They are our responsibilities, and we need to be as calculated and ruthless in protecting them as any savvy CEO.
We must understand that it is more profitable for Ancestry to quit producing software CDs, and all that packaging to put the CDs in. It’s more profitable to stop employing and paying employees to ship all those CDs. Digital content is more profitable and easier for a company to control. But is that the whole story?
Absolutely not. Information is King, and it is valuable. Your genealogical information is financially valuableto genealogy companies. (Read Ancestry’s Terms of Service to refresh yourself on what they can do with your information.) Think AncestryDNA is only about your ancestry? You must understand that it is not. Aggregated data is sold in the marketplace to other companies. (Read this article at Wired.com about one partnership Ancestry has with the Google-owned biotech company Calico.)
Not to say it is not a worthwhile effort on your part to get your DNA tested – it certainly may be. But that DNA data has dollar signs written all over it. It is valuable. But today isn’t about DNA, so let’s get back to Family Tree Maker and your tree. How do you, the genealogist, retain control in this environment? Take on a “genealogist-protected approach” to your data.
Step 1:Purchase a new genealogy software database program and load iton your computer. I recommend and use RootstMagic software. RootsMagic is excellent, reliable and extremely well supported. Click here to read how they are ready to help you in our transition.
Step 2: Back up your entire computerwith a Cloud-based backup service. This is critical to protecting and retaining control of your data. I recommend and use Backblaze. (Here’s an article I wrote that will give you a compelling reason not to skip this step.)
Full disclosure: RootsMagic and Backblaze are sponsors of the freeGenealogy Gems Podcast. This is primarily because I use the products myself and have been impressed and satisfied with their products. Regardless of which products you choose, just be sure you put the Genealogist-Protected Approach into action.
I have stated numerous times in presentations, on the podcast, and here on the blog that I view family trees on Ancestry and other websites as “cousin bait” not primary family tree storage. Rather than upload my entire tree, I upload that for which I want to generate “genealogical leads.” My master tree and master database file is on my computer in RootsMagic, backed up by Backblaze.
You might be one of the many genealogists who has thoroughly enjoyed having your entire tree on Ancestry, and wonder now how you can get a software program that fully synchronizes with Ancestry. To address this issue, first go back and read the section above under “What this means for genealogists.” Remember, data is BIG business. The truth is that it is not financially beneficial to Ancestry to allow that to happen. They want to be where you house your master family tree. I don’t blame them. But, in my opinion, that’s not in my family tree’s best interest. Therefore, I follow the steps outlined above, and upload a gedcom of what I want circulating publicly in order to generate “leads”: hints and cousin connections.
I believe it is generally going to get harder and harder to retain control over our privacy and our data. We don’t know what the future holds for computer software. But no matter what happens, we as genealogists will still be 100% responsible for what happens to our family trees and our data. There’s no whining in genealogy. And last I heard they still produce paper and pencils.
A Genealogy Gems listener was robbed of both her computer AND external hard drive. “Thank goodness we had a web-based backup, so we did not lose our precious research or photographs.” Here’s what web-based backup is–and how you can save a whopping 50% on Backblaze backup service THIS coming Monday only).
Recently Kathy from Carmel Valley, California wrote in with a sobering message.
“Lisa, I thought you might share a reminder with your listeners. My husband and I were out of town last week and were robbed. The robbers took only electronics (thank goodness) and did not mess up the house….another thing to be thankful for. But your listeners can not rely on external hard drives as backup. If the external hard drive is by the computer….the robbers will take that as well.
“Thank goodness we had a web-based backup. So we did not lose our precious research or photographs. It could have been so much worse. This is just another reason why your listeners should look at BackBlaze or another company that provides the same service. I am grateful that I did. Yes, we have to purchase new computer equipment….BUT we have our research and our photos. Gratitude, gratitude.”
Web-based computer backup–also referred to as cloud backup–can certainly minimize our losses if we experience a disaster or robbery. My cloud backup service is Backblaze. Backblaze works behind-the-scenes 24/7 to save a copy of every file on my computer to its secure cloud storage. If I ever need it, I can log in to Backblaze and there it will be, waiting for me.
THIS coming Cyber Monday–November 30, 2015–you can purchase Backblaze cloud backup service for 50% off ONLY through Genealogy Gems.Sign up for my email newsletter nowand I’ll send you a coupon code and special instructions for redeeming it on Sunday evening. This fantastic Cyber Monday offer is only valid on Monday, November 30, 2015 and only with the coupon code and instructions you’ll get via my email!
On Cyber Monday 2015 get 50% offBackblaze cloud backup service through Genealogy Gems. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive the coupon code and special instructions for this deal, which will only be valid on Monday, November 30, 2015.
I protect all of my genealogy data by backing up my computers with Backblaze, and Cyber Monday is your chance to do the same. Start off 2016 with peace of mind!
Here’s what I love about Backblaze:
Continual Backup: Backblaze operates behind-the-scenes through your internet connection to continuously back up all your computer files (or just those you select). This includes music, photos, data, documents, etc.
Unlimited: Backblaze will store an unlimited amount of data for you, even for multiple computers.
Easy Restoration: In the event you lose data, you can sign in to Backblaze and download from any computer.
Protection: The off-site storage secures your data in a separate physical location. That protects you against a natural disaster that could easily wipe out any backup storage devices or drives along with your computer.