Why Do I Need a Backup of my RootMagic Database?


One of the biggest heartaches we have in tech support is when we receive an email or phone call from a user whose computer has crashed, and they are without a backup copy of their database. Think about how much time you have invested in your database, and how long it would take to re-create that database from scratch. Having a backup copy of your database protects you if your computer crashes, or you accidentally delete your file, or your database somehow gets corrupted.

A backup is a compressed copy of your RootsMagic database and has a .rmgb extension. It is less likely to become corrupted when emailed or transferred to another computer than a database file (.rmgc) is. A backup is better than a GEDCOM file because it will save all your RootsMagic specific settings, and ensure you have the same record numbers assigned each person.

By default each RootsMagic backup has the date assigned to the file name (YYYY-MM-DD). Having the date for each backup is important. This will allow you to have multiple backups going back in time, and will show you which backup is the most recent. There may be times you need to return to an earlier file in your database, i.e. file corruption, incorrect merging, deleting of individuals or facts unintentionally, etc. You can keep as many backups on your computer as your hard drive space will allow. We have some users with backups going back several years.

It is best to get into the habit of creating a backup each time you exit the program after changes have been made. When you have been working in RootsMagic for several hours at a time, stop and make a backup at whatever point you would hate to recreate your work if you computer suddenly failed. Simply add a letter after the date in the backup to denote your work throughout the day.

Once you have made a backup it is good practice to store that backup somewhere other than your computer. Backups can be stored on external hard drives, flash drives, and CDs. Saving to the “cloud” will give you access to your backup away from home. Check into services such as Mozy, Carbonite, Backblaze and Dropbox. Don’t let the cloud fool you into a false sense of security if it is only saving a copy of your database file (.rmgc). There will be times you need to restore from a backup and it won’t be there when you need it. Have your database (.rmgc) and backup (.rmgb) file both saved to your computer hard drive and then use a cloud service to protect yourself.

Web based email services, such as GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc can also act as a cloud service. Simply email your backup (.rmgb) to yourself and access it later from anywhere.

If you haven’t made a backup of your RootsMagic database, stop and do it now!

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Reader Comments

Even if its on a thumb drive, flash drive, stick what ever you call it back that up too. Those can die. I know from experiance. And its hard to sit and retype what you have already done.

At my family history center we have said put one online, put one on a CD, and back it up on your computer too. Even if you are in the middle of the day entering stop and back it up after 50 or 100 names.

Don’t forget to back up the photos and media as well with it.

Making backups has been a glaring omission of mine in the past. I’ve never had an HDD crash in my computer but other things have happened in both my computer and my wife’s which have caused no end of grief.

When Dick Eastman described DropBox some time ago it sounded good but I didn’t jump on it. Last fall I did start a DropBox account (2GB free) for valuable data and RootsMagic’s “Backup”, “Data”, “Multimedia” and “Report” folders were immediately included. A “GEDCOM” folder was added a little later. Last month I added a 1TB “ClickFree” external HDD ($150) which made it easy for my wife to backup her computer) which has many Gigabytes of pictures) and mine. I have several other external drives I’ve tried to use for backup, but haven’t not found simple, “easy to remember how to use” software which would do backups for me.

I could use DropBox for her pictures, but the volume is just way too high (10′s of GB) for us since we travel 8 months of the year and depend on cell tower data broadband for Internet connectivity in our coach. It has a limit of 5GB/mo total traffic for the both of us, therefore the external “ClickFree” fills that void. However, you have to attach it and do the synchronizing backup for it to be effective. I’ll be copying the “ClickFree” onto other external drives each time we return to our home base to have a data vault separately located from the one that travels with us.

All of this is a habit we have to learn just like locking the coach or house when we leave. It’s one of those “just do it” things.

I’ve used the RM backup facility since I started with your application. It is quick and easy to save it to my external hard drive and I don’t have to remember to do it. I wish more apps did it your way!

I always back up. Normally, I only throw out a backup when the choice is offerred to overwrite it.
However, the reminder to back it up to the external drive or flashdrive is a good reminder. I have a flashdrive in my pocket on my keys normally. It is easy to do it. I forget to. Thanks for more good advice!

A bit disappointed that no mention was made of backing up your linked media files.

I am a new RM user. I have always saved up my material on my hard drive and external media; however, I didn’t use the “backup” feature as well. I didn’t realize compressed backups were less likely to get corrupted. Also, until today I didn’t know what a “cloud” service was. I will look into that feature. Thanks for the info.

I’m here to tell you that backups are not always going to save your life. I was recently dismayed to learn that my RM3 database somehow became corrupted. I do not know how, or when. Because RM does no error-checking at the time a backup is made, it seems that I had gleefully made backups of corrupted data for at least the past YEAR, without knowing that the backups would be worthless. Sure – I found a backup old enough that it pre-dates the corruption. Problem now is that I have no sure method of determining everything I had entered since the time of that good backup, and no way of determining what has been lost.

So …. what to do? Restore a year-old backup and start over?

I have been a RM user for the past 10 years. I have gone thru 3 computers which the hard drive crashed. Back up, yeah, but lost those too, as I didn’t use external sources. My lost databases, could not be used as they were always added back on my new computerss in read only mode. Very frustrating. I like the suggestion to use HD back up, external source as a email to oneself and or to a “Cloud” source. If anyone has new “EASY” Suggestions, please pass them on.

How about a web-based version that we can get to from anywhere we can connect to the web. That would allow even iMac and iPad users to access their research wherever they can connect to the web. It would require RootsMagic to store and backup the databases continuously/regularly but I would be willing to pay a small monthly/annual fee for this service so I could access my data from anywhere including my mother’s computer when she needs assistance rather than carrying my personal laptop to her home.