Working in the cloud

Vicki’s note – this is a Posting from Professional genealogist Michele Simmons Lewis on how to share genealogy work between (your several) computers with Cloud storage on-line. Dropbox could also be used by 2 different people to share/edit the same family tree.

I use both Dropbox and Legacy (started with a free version).  Legacy is a software organizer for international genealogy which helped me make sense of the immense amount of information that one quickly gets doing research on family histories. Legacy has an affiliation with The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) so their main focus seems to be facilitating searching family history (part 0f their beliefs) vs. pure profit.  Turns out that on-going support (and “free”,  frugal me)  was a good reason for me to choose Legacy as my software.  (Ancestry.com discontinued support/farmed out their family tree making software last year.) I have long since upgraded to the (low cost) paid version that was on 1/2 price sale, with free updates since.

Legacy has immense capability for even the most intense genealogists, and can be complex but more exact and encompassing than Ancestry.com family trees.   The sourcing is more thorough, and that’s a good thing if you are serious about doing good research.  Even the basic free version has lots of bells and whistles.  Version 9 will becoming out soon, if you want to wait.

Michele is one of several main support commentators on the Legacy User Group on Facebook that reply with instant, precise, helpful answers to many Legacy software use questions and general genealogy practices. “The Legacy User Group Facebook Group is a place for all of our Legacy users to share ideas and to help each other.”  It quickly got more than 11,000 followers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Working in the cloud

Several people have asked for information about how they can share their data file between two computers using cloud storage.  We see this question come through technical support all the time.  I am specifically talking about Legacy but this should work for any genealogical database program that you use.  As a matter of fact, Evidentia is specifically configured to save to Dropbox. Evidentia isn’t a database program per se but it is still a very popular genealogy program.

I will use Dropbox as an example since most people are familiar with this one but this will work for any of the cloud storage servers.  I personally use OneDrive.  The way Dropbox  works is there is a file folder on your hard drive that sync’s to the Dropbox server.  If you have more than one computer then Dropbox will keep the files on both computers sync’d.  All three locations will have exactly the same files.  For example, I have a desktop and I have a laptop.  Both are sync’d to Dropbox.  If I add a file to the Dropbox folder on my desktop, Dropbox will automatically upload that file to the Dropbox cloud server and in turn automatically download it to the Dropbox folder that is on my laptop so that all three places have the identical information.

In Legacy 8, your data file is normally saved to the Documents\Legacy Family Tree\Data folder (in previous versions this will be C:\Legacy\Data).  Instead of saving your data file there you will save it to the Dropbox folder.  Simply move your family files there.  Your family files will have .fdb extensions.  You will also want to move your Media files there as well.  If you have Legacy 8 this is easy because you can use the Gather Media tool and you will not lose your media links.  I would have them in a single folder named Media.  You will also want to change the file paths in the Options menu so that Legacy knows where you want to put things. Go to Options > Customize > 6. Locations.  I would also send my backup files to Dropbox.  To do that all you need to do is go to File > Backup File and change the file path on that screen.  If you use Dropbox for other things you might want to be a little more organized and label your folders like this

Legacy Data Files
Legacy Media Files

or however it makes sense to you.  For those Legacy users that know what the user files are, do NOT put your user files up on Dropbox because Legacy is programmed to look for those in the Legacy folders on your hard drive.  If you put the user files in the Dropbox folder Legacy will not “see” them.  Both your desktop and laptop will work off of the user files on that specific computer.  If you don’t know what user files are then you don’t need to worry about this at all.  If you want both computers to have the exact same settings then you can copy the user files from one computer to the other.  Personally, I would never bother doing this.  I would just set each computer up.  It isn’t a big deal.

Now that you have it set up you are ready to go.  There is one VERY important thing you must remember.  You cannot have the file open on both computers at the same time.  Why?  Because if the two versions are different, and both computers sync to Dropbox, then you risk corrupting your file.  The proper way to do it is to have Legacy open on only one computer.  When you are finished on that computer close Legacy.  You will now need to wait until the file has completely sync’d which means it is has been uploaded to the Dropbox server and it has been downloaded to the second computer.  This can take minutes or it can take hours depending on several factors; the size of your file, the speed of your ISP and the speed of the Dropbox servers at that moment.  Dropbox will tell you when everything has been sync’d.  There will be a Dropbox icon in your tray at the bottom of the screen.  If you hover over it you will get a message that says, “Up to Date.”

Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

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