I wandered lonely….! The Cloud for Family Historians

August 25, 20207:08 amLeave a Comment

Cartoon of a computer screen in the cloudsWhat does the word ‘Cloud’ mean to you?  Fluffy white Simpsonesque vapour trails or perhaps online storage?  It is no surprise that nowadays we tend to think of Cloud as a method of storage but there are still plenty of people who don’t know what it is or how it works.  This is a shame because it can be the family historian’s best friend.

So what exactly is The Cloud?  In its simplest terms it’s a huge data storage area.  Just like the hard drive on our computer and the memory stick or flash drive you can upload and store images, text, in fact anything digital.  There are Cloud Farms dotted around the globe where this information is stored and managed by a host.  Hosts are responsible for managing the storage and access to the stored information – basically the people who keep the machinery switched on and functioning.

Most people can have access to Cloud Storage and quite a lot of times it is free.  Companies such as Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, etc, offer free storage up to a certain capacity.  After that you need to rent space – in effect paying for storage.

So why is this the family historian’s best friend?  Well, as family historians we do tend to amass quite a bit of ‘stuff’ and I have talked about some of the ways to sort and store the physical documents and papers we collect and how to keep track of them.

Picture of memory sticks

Memory sticks

However, more and more of the ‘stuff’ we are amassing is digital material.  We scan documents, download them from websites such as The National Archives, keep personal databases on spreadsheets or use bespoke family tree packages such as Rootsmagic or Family Tree Maker.

Now, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how important it is to back up your work regularly and make copies of digital files.  This is where the cloud comes into its own.  Why not take advantage of the free space offered as a way to make an extra back-up copy of your family history files?  My Rootsmagic package will back up to Dropbox every time I make any changes (if I want it to) and I discovered recently that if you have an Amazon Prime account, you get unlimited photo storage.  I backed up all my photos immediately!  Whenever I go to record offices to do research I often take hundreds of photographs to transcribe at a later date.  I now store all these on the cloud.

I’m a great believer in using any technology that makes my life easier.  Several years ago I had my laptop ‘hacked’ and while I was furious at the time (and luckily I didn’t lose very much work) it reminded me just how important it was to keep up to date back ups of all my work.  Now I’ve saved copies of my digital photographs, documents and family tree on a separate hard drive, a memory stick and the Cloud – I’m a belt and braces woman through and through!

So don’t be scared of The Cloud – embrace this useful and often free technology and make sure your work is safe, secure and saved!

Keep safe and well and Happy Researching!

Jane's signature

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Written by Jane Lewis - Modified by ESP Admin

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