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


  1. Michele,
    When I began using Legacy eight years ago I did not store my media files in the Legacy database. They are all stored in My Documents under Genealogy and then under sub folders. I know from reading various posts that it would be best to move all those files to the media or data folder in Legacy. However, I've been very concerned that in doing that it will really mess things up. I know Legacy can find links, but .... I'm still concerned. Do you think it's best to leave well enough alone? I do backup to Dropbox, a cloud service and two external hard drives.
    Thanks 😃

  2. I would leave them right where they are :) If you have a deep file structure AND if Legacy balks at the deep file structure, then I would suggest moving them to a folder directly on the C: Drive.

    I would tell Legacy where your main folder is (Option 6.2). If Legacy knows where your photos are, when you go to add a photo in the Media Gallery Legacy will automatically open to that folder and then you will only need to click on the subfolder instead of having to navigate to the folder from scratch.

    In Legacy 7.5 I did not keep my photos in the default Media folders. I had my own file structure. When I switched to Legacy 8 I decided to move them to the new default folder. I still have my media in subfolders though. I don't like all my stuff all jumbled up in one file.

    If you ever decide to move them, I would move them one file folder at a time and then run the Relinker. Get all those linked up right and then move the next folder. I would be a little nervous about moving everything at once, not because Legacy won't see the files but because I am a chicken in general when it comes to my precious genealogy files :)

    1. Michele - I'm just seeing your response to my comment. Thank you. I am going to leave my files exactly where they are. Legacy doesn't balk and everything works well. I manually backup my Legacy file to Dropbox once a month when I do all my other major backups. I do run a local backup daily. Thanks for all the help you provide for all of us :) :)

  3. Thanks for this article. I was hoping this method was possible.

    One question: Do you know if Legacy balks if the databases are in different logical locations on different computers? For example: If I use OneDrive on a Windows 7 system, it will be C:\Users\username\OneDrive. But if I use it on an XP system, it will be C:\Documents and Settings\username\OneDrive.
    In other words, does the database have any fixed paths embedded in it - and will it get confused if those paths change from use to use?

  4. It should still work but if it doesn't you can move the OneDrive folder to directly on the C: Drive on both computers and then their locations will match. Here are the instructions http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/change-skydrive-default-folder/