Many genealogists follow the 3-2-1 plan when it comes to keeping their genealogy research safe. 3 copies on 2 different media (DVD/external/cloud) with 1 copy off-site. Since cloud storage can help us check off a section in all 3 parts, it’s a great idea to start there.
I don’t want to spend a ton of time talking about which Cloud service to use. I’ll just list basic information for what I think of as the top 3 services:
- Dropbox – 2GB of free storage with the ability to earn up to 16GB by completing various tasks.
- Google Drive – 15GB of free storage
- OneDrive – 5 GB of free storage
I actually have all 3 of these on my PC. All 3 have apps that I have on my iPad so I can access my files on the go.
I have 2 Dropbox accounts – one for my business and one for my genealogy. My laptop is synced with my business account, so I don’t usually use that for genealogy, but that was my very first toe dip into saving to the cloud. It was the way that I could access my genealogy files from school during my lunch break.
Long ago, I began using SkyDrive, which later became OneDrive.
When I came up with my current digital folder system, I began using Google Drive because it had more free storage than any other system – and because I could get an additional 15GB just by using a different gmail address. I have one gmail address for all of my husband’s family research and a different gmail address for my family.
I would move files one-by-one from my OneDrive folders to my new folders in Google Drive and I would rename each file using my updated naming system for every record as it was being added. After a file was moved, it was deleted from OneDrive so that I could keep track of where I was. As I got close to the “end” of these files, I opened another folder that only had a date on it and discovered…duplicates of everything I had just moved! So now I think of that as the backup to my backup. I know it’s silly, but I just can’t bring myself to delete them all again – just in case.
My cloud accounts shows up in my computer Explorer just like any other file folder. I don’t even have to have internet connection to access the files. But you do have to have connection to sync your files in the cloud. Whenever I work on my research, I always work directly from these folders so that everything is automatically updated.
Now let’s think about the 3…2…1 plan.
3 copies – You hate to think about it, but in the event of a fire/flood/tornado, how much of your research would you lose? Perhaps a good plan would be to have a paper copy, a cloud copy and a copy on an external drive.
2 different devices – if your computer fails/crashes, where else would you look? You should have a backup on a different device like an external drive or a cloud account. But what’s the difference between using an external drive and a cloud account? The difference is that you usually have to initiate a backup to an external drive – perhaps on the first of every month. A good cloud account will update every record as soon as you save it.
1 copy off-site. I think this really used to be more of an issue for me with paper copies. Now, I tend to think of my photographs. When my children were little, I always got double prints when I’d get my film developed. My mom always got one set. If you have your research in the cloud, you can consider that to be “off-site”.
If you don’t already have a cloud account that you keep your research in, this might be a good time to consider which service would work best for you!