Backup Methods

I have been signed up with Carbonite (an online back up service) for several months, and luckily I haven't had any incidents to have to turn to it for backup. I know though there have been several people who had computer issues last year, and heaven only knows how much genealogy information was lost because of those issues. Hopefully they all had backups!

There are several online services available for backing up your research and family information. The two that I am most aware of are Mozy, and Carbonite. From the information that I have read, both seem to be are very good. Dick Eastman has written several articles about Mozy, and I believe that is the program he uses. A few people I know have Carbonite and they all seem happy with their service, me included. You can google either for more information.

I have also used flash drives as backups and copies to CD's. As I have said before, I still haven't needed any of my backups, but you never know when that may change!

My newest back up now is the portable hard drive I received for Christmas. Yes, that was one of my Christmas gifts I asked for. As you all know, I am not a technology geek and learn what I do mostly by trial and error. For once, I received something that was actually easy to use.

I plugged it in to the laptop, and plugged the other end into the socket. Before I knew it I was actually doing a backup of my laptop! There were several things that didn't backup, but from what I can tell from the report, none of it is anything I am worried about, although I don't know why it didn't back up. So far I am very pleased with this new source of backing up my research!

Now I am wondering how long portable hard drives last? And, could this replace having an online service? Maybe I should keep both? If you have any thoughts on this I would love to hear them!

I was hoping a portable hard drive would eliminate paying for an online service, which really doesn't cost much and is well worth the money, but now I wonder, do I need both?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!



  1. Whether you need both or not probably depends on how much genealogy stuff you have. Because you will want a backup in a place that isn't in your house, just incase of a flood or fire or other disaster.
    But, if you have under 2GB of genealogy info, then you can back it up on, then you can use mozy for free. That is what I do, and so far I've been pretty happy with it.

  2. Hi Msteri,
    Good important article. Backing up is so important. I have used Carbonite for quite a few months now and am pleased. Also, I use Clickfree, a portable hard drive to back up. Both are necessary, as one is at home and the other off site. Let's hope we never need to retrieve from them, but if so, at least our data is saved.

  3. I'm not against online backup services but I haven't used one. I'll have to check out the two you mention. I am loving my new external drive. From hard experience I know that you must back up regularly and I recommend weekly rather than monthly. At least monthly I hope you will continue to back up you important files to the flash drives and then store them at work or a relatives home to further protect them. My sister has an almost complete set of my files which has saved me more than once and she enjoys having a copy of all my pictures. I also email myself documents to an account that I set up just for that use.

  4. Msteri, I, too, am curious about the average life span of an external drive, and I suppose it is much like that of an internal drive, with the exception being that it is exposed to handling and therefore the possibility of dropping and damaging.

    Like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to every kind of backup plan and service.

    The advantages of an external drive is that you can backup your laptop and/or your desktop and have the convenience of portability and quick rescue of all your important files and folders. You don't have to pay monthly or annual fees, nor wait (and pay) to receive a backup disc from an online backup service such as Mozy.

    The disadvantages of external hard drives (besides the possibility of breakage) is that it is as vulnerable as your laptop and desktop if it is at home and you are away and something happens to your home (theft, flood, fire, power surge). In this case, you may wish to have two external hard drives, which you alternate each week for backup and store off site, perhaps at a family member's or friend's home or a safe deposit box.

    I have discovered that Carbonite will not back up data directly from anything other than an internal hard drive. So anything I put on my external hard drive does not have a backup unless I make them on CDs or copy to my internal hard drive. That is an error I made when I purchased my external hard drive. I needed more hard drive space and thought this would be a quick fix. It was, but not the best choice for my needs. I should have gotten another internal hard drive; I have the room for it within my CPU. That way, Carbonite could have protected any data I put on it.

    Oh, well; live and learn!

  5. Here are detailed reviews of online backup companies, including Carbonite:

  6. I have double redundancy here: I have 250GB external hard drive to which I backup religiously once a month (and the hard drive is the size of a paperback book so I can remove it in an emergency if I need to evacuate) and I also use Syncplicity which is a free 2GB online backup service (see

    I also have cited Lifehacker's list of free online backup services at thomas 2.0 (

  7. Congratulations! You’ve just been honored with the Proximidade Award by Gtownma's Genealogy.

  8. Hi Elyse,

    I appreciate your comment! I didn't remember that Mozy allows so much space for free, that is a great reminder, thank you! I do hear people being very happy with Mozy. I also wasn't thinking of a disaster at my home when I was thinking of not having the online backup....I think the holidays overwhelmed my brain and I wasn't using it very well! LOL

    Hi Barbara,

    Backing up is very important! I do know backups need to be offsite also, this part of my memory though was just so deeply embedded in my brain that I couldn't find the info. One of the reasons I signed up with Carbonite is because if somehting did happen to my home, my genealogy would be there! Thank you for the comment!

    Hi Apple,

    You have a new external drive also? Nice! I have made and given copies of my work to my sister and daughter. Not sure if they ever looked at what I gave them. I am finding I like the online service better. It just seems easier. I don't have to remember to get the the backups to them. I also believe in backing up more than once a month, especially if any new information is entered! Thank you for commenting!

    Hi Miriam!

    I tend to agree with you about the life span of the hard drives. Where mine is situated, it doesn't get moved, unless of course there was a dsaster and I could grab it and take it with me. I was curious if anyone would bite on the "life span of the hard drive" as I was curious what people thought.

    I was thinking that since I got the external hard drive, I could save the money for the online service (thinking if I retired and wanted to cut costs)and do other backups like I use to with CD's and memory sticks. That just seemed like so much work to me though. I sure like the set up I have now.

    I find it interesting that you bought the external hard drive for more hard drive space. I hadn't thought about doing that, and I probably would have learned the hard way that anything put on that hard drive wasn't backed up, it makes sense though. Sometimes we just have to much on our brains to think straight until it is to late. I appreciate you sharing this experience with us, as I am sure it will save someone from having the same issue you did! Thank you for commenting!

    Hi Janice,

    I haven't looked at the link you sent yet, but I will, just as soon as possible! Thank you for sharing the link with us and commenting!

    Hi Thomas,

    How wonderful that your hard drive is so small! I don't think mine is as small as yours, but I am very happy with the size. I am not surprised that you have posts regarding this, apparently they were ones I missed, or just don't remember (I have that overload on the brain you know!)but then again I am sure I must have missed them as sometimes (most of the time) I can't get to reading all the blogs!(Whew, over 200 at least) I have not heard of Syncplicity before at all, a new one on me! And offers the same free space as Mozy! I also haven't seen Lifehackers list before, so I will be off reading all these new things everyone has shared with me!

    Thank you so much for commenting!

    Everyone ~ I just want to thank you all again for the comments, you know how important comments are to bloggers, these comments were especially wonderful as I appreciate thoughts from other bloggers. Sometimes getting info from Google is just not the same as hearing it from a fellow blogger!


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