Thursday, April 17, 2014

Keeping my genealogy database in tip top shape

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This post is aimed at Legacy users but even if you use a different genealogy program most of this stuff will still make sense.  I am a little OCD about keeping my database file in tip top shape.  Here are the things I do on a regular basis.




1) I backup my files every day that I am working in them and sometimes more than once a day if I am adding a lot of data.  I keep my ten most current backups and I delete the older ones.  I keep my backups on SkyDrive. My files are also automatically saved to Carbonite so I have them in two places.  I have 23 years worth of research in my database file and if I ever lost that I might have to throw myself off of a cliff. 

2) Before I backup my files I do a List Cleanup and a Check/Repair.  I already have Legacy automatically renumbering my RINs and MRINs which compacts my file even further.  Routine Check/Repairs are very important.  It is similar to defragging your hard drive.  As you add data, delete data, merge data the information gets a bit scattered.  A check/repair will compact the file and make it run more efficiently.  It can also fix most of the common database errors that occur over time.

3) Once a week I address every issue that is on my Potential Problems list and either do the research needed to clear the problem or if it isn’t a problem I mark it as such.  I don’t like to let the Potential Problems get out of control because if you wait too long to address them you will feel a bit overwhelmed.  Don’t forget to take the time to go through the Potential Problems options to get them set exactly like you want so that it is only picking up legitimate problems that you need to address.

4) Once a week I look for duplicates in my file.  I either do the research needed to determine whether or not they are actually duplicates or if I know for a fact that they are not, I mark them as such.  I love this feature in Legacy.  When you have a large database you can easily add someone as a spouse not knowing that you already have that same person as a child in another family.  This is especially true when you are working in areas of the country where it is common for people to marry relatives.

5) Once a week I review my To-Do list.  Is there anything I forgot to close out?  Is there anything that I said I needed to do but haven’t done yet?  Have I not heard back from someone in a reasonable amount of time meaning I need to send my request again?  This is another area you want to stay on top of or it can become overwhelming. 

6) I close my file at night.  I don’t leave my database open for extended periods of unsupervised time.  If Windows decides to update and reboot with your file open it could cause trouble.  Before I shut down for the day I do the first two items on this list. 

7) I change my color scheme from time to time.  This has absolutely nothing at all to do with maintaining your database but it does keep me from getting bored Smile 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. You're much more diligent than me Michele. I do backup all the time, but those other things not so much. Thanks for the suggestions and inspiration.

  2. Michele,

    I need to follow your good example with my own Legacy database.

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Michele - at least you are not CDO. That is someone who is so OCD that they want the initials in alphabetical order . 'Howland'

  4. The recommendations in item 1 sound good, but A) How does one use SkyDrive, and B) What is Carbonite and how does one use it?
    Alan Harvey

    1. SkyDrive (now called OneDrive) is cloud storage from Microsoft. It is similar to DropBox or Google Drive. It is a place you can store files up in the "cloud" which means not on your computer. The advantages to having important stuff stored in the cloud is that if your hard drive were to crash it would be safe. Also, you can access your files from any device you have, not just your computer (laptop, tablet, smartphone). Carbonite is a little different. It is a service that backs up your computer so that if you have a computer failure you can retrieve all of your stuff and put it on your new computer without losing anything. SkyDrive (OneDrive), DropBox and Google Drive all have free storage which is enough for the average user. If you need more space they have paid options for that. Carbonite is never free. You have a subscription for that. It has a totally different purpose. I back my genealogy files up to SkyDrive manually but they are also backed up to Carbonite automatically.

  5. Hi Michele:

    First time to webinar, I like your advice but wonder why "in the cloud" when a person can use a exterior hard drive. I am worried about others finding a way to get into the cloud I started gathering genealogy in 1972 with the usual start, stop, change programs, etc that we all do but am finally retired and working hard on my family history. Thanks for the tips...

    1. An external hard drive is just fine. The point is to save your data somewhere other than your main hard drive. I personally want to save it in more than one place just to be doubly safe. You can back up to a flash drive, CD, external hard drive, cloud, doesn't matter. Also, always keep several of your recent backups, not just one. Sometimes backups become corrupted. I wouldn't want to have to rely on a single backup file nor a single backup location. About 10 years ago I had a hard drive crash. I did have my file backed up to a 3 1/2 inch floppy. The first backup I tried was corrupt and wouldn't open. I was able to open an earlier backup (about 1 month earlier) so I lost 1 month's worth of data entry. It could have been a lot worse but even 1 month was bad. Now I backup no less than every day.