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Genealogy Big Data Challenges: Tips for Managing Your Big Data

10/09/2013 11:51 BST | Updated 09/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Genealogy Big Data Challenges: Tips for Managing Yours

Big Data! Genealogy Big Data! I came to the realization that I was awash in my own flood of 'Genealogy Big Data' and that I had better get busy managing it, or it would overtake me just like winter will overtake our last days of Indian Summer.

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While certainly not big data on the scale of Facebook or Google, etc. it's BIG for me! I usually don't keep track of numbers, but I realized that I had over 10,000 family members in our family tree, over 6,500 attached documents and photographs, thousands of stories and notes, over 36,000 emails, contact data for over 220 family members, and almost 400 GB of additional data. These numbers immediately led me to create a plan to manage my 'big genealogy data'. Here is how I do it:

1. Analyzed: The first thing I did was analyze my genealogy condition. This included reviewing my genealogy goals, tallying up my data, identifying my vulnerabilities and needs, and then finding what I felt were the best solutions.

2. Categorized: I realized I had some key areas to address. They were: to secure and maintain my family tree, backup all my data better, secure my old emails, better organize my address book, and better share documents and photos.

3. Due Diligence: Then I began my due diligence to analyze and review multiple programs to address my 'Genealogy Big Data' needs.

After reviewing dozens of programs here is what I settled on Scott's Genealogy Big Data Choices:

Family Tree Builder (FTB) by MyHeritage for my family tree: I chose FTB for several reasons, but the foremost was their superior security, followed by their full-featured tree options (especially their free-hand notes section,) the social network applications of their web-based program, which were especially important for since our family is spread worldwide, and inasmuch as I chose their Premium service, the significant provision of unlimited space.

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Dropbox for my file sharing: As you know, one of the beauties of genealogy is that our community is by-and-large a sharing one. So I had to find a way to share, and share easily, documents, photos, and folders that ranged from one piece to dozens and from tiny to massive. Dropbox was a perfect answer to this for me and at this time their Dropbox Pro package meets all my needs for sharing worldwide.

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Carbonite for my offsite backup: I identified two main backup needs. First, while I have a backup hard drive, I realized that it would be of little help in the case of a fire, flood, or other major catastrophe so I required an offsite option. Second, my data was big and growing bigger daily, so I needed large and flexible. A computer guru I know recommended Carbonite highly, and with their Carbonite Business Plan I am set, especially since they offer you the ability to buy additional storage as needed.

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Gmail for my email: This decision was somewhat preordained. I have been using Gmail for a long time, its free, their mailbox is huge, they have great retention options with their archiving, and between their filters, new inbox tabs and options for setting as many categories within your mail as you want, made me decide to stay with it, even though I am unhappy with their recent admission that we Google users have no implied right to privacy.

Contacts/Address Book: I am a longtime user of Outlook and am very comfortable with their contacts/address book feature. I love their ability to create mailing groups, organize addresses, etc. so that is what I continue to use. This choice could be improved I think .... So I'm seeking input on what you think is the best package on the market for contacts/address book use.

Good luck and I hope my experiences will help you with your Genealogy Big Data challenges!