I was around in the 1970s, and even before that, so I consider myself "experienced" in having seen these changes. Back in those “older” days, everyone had their own private records kept in multiple file cabinet drawers. There was no real sharing of information. Do you remember those old thermal paper copy machines? I do. They were so "cool" except for the fact that after a few years the paper became so light that is was unreadable. To obtain vital records certificates, everyone had to write letters to courthouses or other organization, including sending payments with the requests. If you had a “Fort Knox” investment in documents, you probably did not want to share those records. (Just kidding, of course you wanted to share them). You were special if you had a long carriage typewriter for those long Pedigree and Family Group Sheets, and even more special if it was an electric one.
Yes, a lot has changed over the years! I actually don’t really miss those days, and I am just amazed at how much easier “genealogy” has become over time. Our Pedigree and Family Group Sheets look so awesome on screen with cool software. Printing these out look like they were mastered in a print shop. I personally try to "save trees" and print my documents to digital PDF files (Portable Document Format), which are sorted into a very organized folder system, well almost organized anyway. We can now search for those vital documents by using FamilySearch, Ancestry, and other large online databases. Actually, “searching” is probably a misnomer as these companies do much of the searching for you while you are sleeping and then give you “record hints” about possible sources for your ancestor. Okay, not everything comes so easy. There is still a need to actually do research some of the time.
"We Are All Related Somehow"
Those of us involved with family history now realize that all of us are actually family ("cousins") with common relationships, even if we have to go back 173 generations to find those relationships. Because we are "family", we feel more like sharing our information with others. My mother always taught me to share with others and then they will share with me (most of the time). I always feel so kind-hearted and generous when sharing documents or photos that I have in my possession. Sharing makes us more efficient as we don't keep repeating someone else's research. Modern technology has made it so easy to share information with each other. I personally have a LOT of information about my relatives stored on my computer, and trying to send out tons of emails can become burdensome. That’s where “Cloud Drives” come in.
What is a “Cloud Drive”?
Simply put, it is someone else’s BIG computer system with tons of storage memory, that is safely maintained and backed up where I can store my information. Normally there is a small cost each month for this storage. Amazon, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, Backblaze, iDrive, and well, the list goes on, are all big “server farms” with huge storage facilities to store all of our information on.
Why Should I Use a “Cloud Drive”?
One of the most important reasons to do so, is to have your data backed up and stored in an “off-site” location, just in case you have a house fire, flood, hard drive failure, or computer theft. Should one of these things happen to you, you can still easily access all of your files by logging into the server and re-downloading them onto your brand new computer. Nice huh?
Another big reason to use cloud drives is that you can easily SHARE your files with your family relations by using a simple “link” that you send them in an email. That link contains the information they need to access the files that you are sharing with them. Most of the time, your link is for “view only” permissions, which means that they will not be able to edit, move, or delete your files, but only view them and download them. If you would like to know more about how this works, click HERE
I have been asked by more than a few people about the safety of the “cloud drive”. It's amazing how there are even more than a few who have a significant distrust in them, probably because they had their accounts hacked. If you leave your house open while you go shopping, you are not practicing good security practices. If you keep a mediocre password on your account (like 123456, yes...that is a common password for people to use), you will also not be safe from hackers. Complex, difficult to hack passwords ALONG with Two Factor Authentication will make your account “hacker proof”, unless you are tortured for the information of course. Two Factor Authentication is nothing more than making sure you are the person you appear to be when you are logging into your account. The system will send you an email or a text message with a code that you need to additionally provide before being logged into the site with. Simple, right?
If you have any questions about using cloud drives to share information, that the website pages don’t cover, just shoot me an email and I would be glad to help answer them.