Flash Drive Genealogy

July 2008 by Robert 

Flash Drive Genealogy - Store and backup your important genealogy data.

Flash Drive Genealogy: How-to Easily Store and Backup Your Important Genealogy Information

I did a survey and got tons of feedback from readers of my Treasure Maps Genealogy newsletter. My goal being to address and help solve problems and concerns that many online genealogy researchers have.

For example, look at the answer to this question:

QUESTION: What is your biggest problem with your computer skills? What would you like to know how to do better that is holding you back?

ANSWER: “Something stupid and basic! I have a flash drive but I haven’t used it yet. I don’t know how to copy my FTM (Family Tree Maker) stuff onto it, and that’s what I got it for.”

I’ve withheld the name because I don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed, but this kind of problem is very common (and it is not stupid). Today, we will go into depth on this topic and I even have a video for you to see that I created just for this lesson (see below).

NOTE: The video I created on this is coming in from YouTube. Please know that the videos in any of my genealogy courses on CDs are larger and crystal clear. YouTube really lowers the quality of videos that you submit to them.

Flash Drive Genealogy = Storing or
Backing Up Your Important Information

Anything can happen to your valuable data. I’ve been preaching about backing up your genealogy files for years. And I do it personally.

However, a few months ago, my hard drive on my main computer died. Sure, I have my genealogy data safe, but I lost all my email. That email included comments and testimonials for some of my courses that I had already ask permission from my students to use. There were also tips from readers that I was going to use in the newsletter. All gone.

Worst of all, there were pictures and video clips of my kids that I “had not got around to backing up yet” that are also gone forever. Sigh! After that, not only do I back up my pictures the moment that they come off my digital camera, I also got an “external hard drive” (more on these in a minute).

You can use flash drives as portable storage for your genealogy and family tree data.

The flash drive (other names are jump drive, thumb drive, memory stick or flash stick) is a portable STORAGE device. A handy modern-day gizmo that is your “back up buddy.” They are commonly sold with 1 GB (gigabyte), 2 GB, and 4 GB storage space. A few years ago, a 1 GB flash drive cost over $40 US dollars.

I just saw a 2 GB flash drive on sale in an office supply store for under $20. A great deal. You’ll see pictures on the Genealogy Compass site of my flash drives. The smallest one is 2 inches by 1 inch. Very handy.

If all you want to save are documents, pictures, GEDCOM files, etc., then a 2 GB flash drive is all you will need. It holds a LOT of stuff.

You can keep your flash drive on your key chain, around your neck on a lanyard, in your purse, and I even clip one on one of the rings of my day planner.

It Comes Down to Knowing How to
Manage the FILES on Your Computer

Your valuable and important genealogy information can be: GEDCOM files, pictures, documents, and ANYTHING else that is important to you and your genealogy research. They are all files you can store on your computer (and on your flash drive).

You MUST KNOW how to manage the files on your computer!

I have found that this is a stumbling block for many genealogy researchers. If you DO know how to do this - great. You are part of a large minority, though.

“Managing Files” - Not So Scary…

All this means is that you learn how to make “Folders” and move stuff (your files) around.

You can “cut and paste” or “copy and paste” any file (as long is it is not a mega-huge file, like a large video file) from the hard drive on your computer, to your flash drive.

It’s EASY - and I’ll prove it.

I listed these because my closest office supply store is 25 miles away. But, I don’t go by mileage or travel time these days. Since gas prices are so high, I go by dollar amount.

So my closest office supply store is $14 away. My favorite office supply store is $20 away. Shopping online is a good thing .

Here are Flash Drives that Are
on Ebay Now in Live Auctions:

After you look at the flash drives available on live auctions, also do an eBay search for…

USB Hub: These hubs are around $20 or so. You use it by plugging it in to a USB port on your computer. If the USB hub has four ports (slots), your single USB port on your computer is now FOUR USB ports. Very handy.

External Hard Drive and USB Hub

Here is an External Hard Drive and a USB Hub

External Hard Drive: My digital camera also takes video clips. These can get large. If you have a lot of large files like these video clips, you may want to get an external hard drive.

The normal price on these is from $60 to $120 dollars. I got one as a gift from my techno-crazed Step-Dad. The external hard drive he gave me has more storage space the hard drive on either of my computers. It is smaller than a peanut butter sandwich.

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2 Responses to “Flash Drive Genealogy”

  1. Edgar Herrman on July 17th, 2008 7:55 pm

    Robert I have an 120 GB SimpleTech removeable Backup drive that plugs into the back of my computer. I have used it to back up my documents. It has been some time since I have done that and now I would like to back up my current documents. Do I have to remove the original BU before entering the new one?
    I erase the old on the Flash Drive I have before entering new material. Is this necessary?
    Thank you for all you messages.
    I lived in IN —Evansville–Where are you?

  2. Robert on July 18th, 2008 12:23 am


    Your 120 GB SimpleTech External Hard Drive has a ton of storage space, which is great…

    You could delete the older documents on your SimpleTech, but I suggest creating Folders (or even one single Folder) on the SimpleTech and to just move all the older files to the Folder(s).

    It would be important to put a date on the Folder. For example, you could name a Folder: “Backup July 2008.” Then the next time you back stuff up - say next month, you could create another folder named “Backup August 2008.”

    It never hurts to keep these older files in storage. It is like an additional safety step. If you ever got mixed up and deleted the wrong files (I think we have all done this at one time or other) then….shudder.

    My computer wizard Step-Dad gave me some great advice that I have found to be true. He said: “Never delete files late at night.” This also applies to doing anything on your computer that is very important, or something that could mess your computer up.

    Anyway, the bottom line is, you should not have to erase anything for a long, long time. You have plenty of room on your external hard drive (your SimpleTech).

    ;-) Robert

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