Thursday, September 15, 2022

Rabbit Holes With Randy - Genealogy File Maintenance

 One of the rabbit holes I've spent time on this past week is file maintenance of computer folders and files.  

1)  When I download a family document or image, it goes to my computer Downloads folder.  Then I have to do something with it, like putting it where it belongs in a family documents or photographs file. My genealogy record files (documents, reports, images) are organized by ancestral family, which are in surname file folders, which are in family group files (paternal lines, maternal lines, other lines such as sons-in-laws).  I try to make the file naming system consistent.  See My Genealogy Digital File Folder Organization for more details on the filing system, which I started back in 2012 and have used ever since.  Here is the top of my Surname file folder list:

And here is the top of my Seaver Surname Family file folder:

Like Topsy, these files have grown over the years - I now have over 80 gb in the "Genealogy" file folders, including genealogy documents and images, conference and webinar syllabi, digitized magazines, my genealogy presentations, locality information, DNA test results and analysis, software data files and reports/charts, funnies, etc.  I use iDrive to automatically back up my file system daily, and there are almost 200,000 files now.  Updating them to my Google Drive account makes them accessible anywhere I am with computer access.

I save many documents and images to a yearly Downloads folder (e.g. "Downloads 2022") - these are usually used on Genea-Musings blog posts (e.g., like the above images). Sometimes documents and records for specific families are saved there, so I have to find the right file folder home for them.  I am not as efficient or organized when I'm in a hurry!

2)  I spent time this past week gathering files for the Chula Vista Genealogical Society so we can add them to the society's new Google Drive account.  The files include monthly Newsletters, monthly Research Group notes, monthly DNA Group notes, Annual reports, Program syllabi, Board minutes, Library notes, Cemetery information, Zoom recordings, Photograph collections, etc. There are tens of thousands files in the system. The challenge is to name them consistently, and to find missing information.  For example, we had a PDF of the Society book collection at Chula Vista Public Library as of January 2020, but we didn't have a word processor file that the current Librarian could edit as we add or lose entries to the collection.  Our former Librarian (from three years ago) had that editable file on her computer, and will share it with the Board members.

We lost our Webmaster, Gary, in July, and he created the CVGS Wild Apricot website in about 2014, and was saving many files on his own Microsoft OneDrive account (some in protected file folders) and linking them to the webpage.  His laptop had many more "working" files.  Gary's son has the laptop, and we need to capture the files before the OneDrive account and the laptop are repurposed.  We need to get all of the CVGS files loaded on to the society's new Google Drive account so that we can find them when needed and to control access to them.  We need to relink the webpage links to the Google Drive account as required (many files are also in the Wild Apricot Files system).  There is a lesson here - don't keep a society's files on a personal computer or personal cloud system; they need to be on a society's cloud system.

3)  All of this takes time and effort to keep the files up-to-date.  If I do the file cleanup every week or so - get the downloaded consistently renamed and saved in the right file folder - the task is manageable in an hour or two.  

4)  That's my rabbit hole for the week.  I'm always amazed by seeing many of the files I've saved over the past twenty years.  The challenge now is to find someone to keep the genealogy research ball rolling after I'm gone.  At almost 79, I feel very mortal these days. 

Time for a carrot snack!!


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1 comment:

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Randy, we use very similar filing system. I try to work through the Download folder once a week, filing what can be filed immediately, and throwing files of things to process into my RootsMagic file into a Genealogy folder. That folder has become unwieldy. Too much stuff there, and some of it I've forgotten why I saved it. But it is important to keep on the maintenance.