Backup Software for the Museum

Backup Software for the Museum

I was recently talking with some folks at the Scarborough Museum regarding disaster contingency planning. With my computer background, I quickly thought about backups and off-site storage of important computer files.

Time Machine logo with space background By FHKE - ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) - via https://www.flickr.com/photos/fhke/240086966I have a Mac, so for my personal use I have Time Machine for my local backups. It is awesome and easy to use. It allows me to go back to the version of a file I had on just about any date.  It was great when I had to replace a disk drive. However, in the event of a major disaster, I know I need a good off-site backup solution.  I use CrashPlan for that and love it. But, I didn’t know if it would be really good for the Museum, they use various Windows based systems. I also wondered about costs for them. 

I thought about their requirements.  They have a multi-terabyte disk drive they use for local backups.  That gives them a good system to restore the occasionally damaged or corrupted file from a backup on site. To accommodate their backups, off-site storage needs to be large, very large. Photos scanned at 600dpi and saved in TIFF format make for large files. A recent scan project that another person was doing resulted in hundreds of files all nearly a gigabyte each. So, off-site storage needs to accommodate that. Because of the local storage, they will seldom, and hopefully never, need files recovered from off-site. If they do, recovery can be slow, so restoration speed isn’t paramount. I can’t imagine the Museum needing to backup Android or IOS devices anytime in the near future so those capabilities are nonexistent. Another important aspect of their requirements is how they use their systems. Generally, they are used for a short time, when the volunteers are there. Real-time backups to the cloud aren’t critical as long as backups to the cloud can occur before another individual uses the computer on another day. Another critical requirement is that the software should be easy to use. It should be set and forget. Finally, the off-site storage should be inexpensive; the museum has a limited technology budget. That said, I know you get what you pay for and free or super inexpensive software typically doesn’t have adequate feature.
After considering basic requirements, I began an internet search.

My first stop was PC Magazine’s site and a review of The Best Online Backup Services for 2015.

They listed three as their “Editor’s Choice” services: iDrive, Crash Plan, and SOS Online Backup.
IDrive has a 1TB storage limit, which disqualified it as an option in my mind. Because I dropped iDrive my contention, I added their next choice, Carbonite to my list for consideration.
Next stop, About.Com’s site and 34 Online Backup Services Reviewed. Their top choice was BackBlaze followed by Crash Plan, Carbonite, and SOS Online Backup.  Back on the PC Magazine site, BackBlaze was number six on their list, so I felt it should be a top contender.
That gave me four off-site backup storage services to consider.

Crash Plan
BackBlaze
Cost
$59.99
$59.99
$59.99
$50.00
Storage
Unlimited
Unlimited
Unlimited
Unlimited
Copies
Unlimited
12
Unlimited
Unlimited
Retention
Unlimited
90 Days
Unlimited
Unlimited
External/USB
Yes
Yes
Yes
Business Cost
CrashPlan Pro for businesses. $9.99/month
Business version $15.99/month 
BackBlaze for Business $50.00/computer/year

Cost: Not enough difference to matter. Although some have free versions, their features are scaled back enough that none of their free versions should be considered.
Storage: All are unlimited.
Copies: Carbonite only keeps 12 versions of a file. This isn’t really an issue for documents and images, however, can be a killer for databases that change daily. The other three services keep unlimited copies of files.
Retention: Carbonite has a retention period of 90 days. If you delete a file, you need to restore it within 90 days. If you don’t, it is gone. I can visualize a situation where a file is deleted and no one notices for months and then the file can’t be restored. Because of that, I thought their retention policy is inadequate for the museum, so I dropped Carbonite from further consideration; however, I believe it is still an excellent choice for personal use.
External/USB Drives: The three remaining products all backup External and/or USB Drives.
Business Costs: Most reviews and pricing notes relate to individual licenses for software. In the case of the museum, a business license(s) would be necessary. I was taken aback by the additional costs for the business use. I contacted the three remaining products via email for cost information for the Museum’s environment.

CrashPlan replied with a form email. We would need CrashPlan Pro for $9.99 per month ($119.88/year). 

SOS Online Backup impressed me with their response.  They sent an email indicating that someone would call. An individual did call and provided pricing for our environment. He told me that as a non-profit we would receive their best possible pricing. A computer plus an external drive would require two licenses which would run $15.99/month ($191.88/year). To backup all five computers at the museum, the license would run $34.99/month ($419.88). I really appreciated the call. Again, I think it is an excellent choice for personal use, but not the best pricing model for the Museum.

BackBlaze and BackBlaze for Business are the same price and have the same features. $50.00/year ($4.16/month). Clearly the most cost effective choice.
BackBlaze Online Backup Logo

For the Museum, I recommend BackBlaze Online Backup for Business as the archive and backup off-site as their solution. See: BackBlaze Online Backup for Business for more information.

I Switched to Heredis

Frustration strikes again…

My continuing problems with Family Tree Maker (FTM) for Mac 3.0 occurred again. I saw that my synchronization to my on-line tree was broken once again. In addition, I found that several of my sources were corrupted. Therefore, I decided to give up. Interestingly, the same morning I made that decision I received an email from Heredis letting me know that their new 2015 product for the Mac was now available. It is also on sale for 50% off until July 19th. It seemed like a sign, so I purchased it.

Heredis Installation & Import

Heredis give you to option to purchase from their site or purchase through the App Store. I purchased from the App Store. It downloaded and installed automatically. I used Time Machine to restore my FTM to a version before it corrupted. Then opened up FTM and exported my file in GED 5.5 format. 

Next, in Heredis, I opened a GEDCOM file, selected the file I had exported and it imported successfully. Then Heredis asked if I wanted to import my media. I said yes and selected the appropriate Media folder. It pulled in all the media that it knew about. Very easy to do.

Heredis Features

I then began looking at some of the features of Heredis. I was immediately impressed with the way it handles sources. When you open a source, besides the expected basic information that you would expect, a huge note area allows you to format the text you write nicely. I like using the “vertical display” which puts the image on the left and the note text on the right. I found usage to be smooth and easy. For example, I went to Family Search, found a record I was looking for. On Family Search, I selected copy and I downloaded the image. When I went back to Heredis, I just pasted the copied information into the note, and then dragged and dropped the image into Heredis. I added the header information based upon what I had copied — Just a series of copy & pastes.

Title: 1940 Census – Document: [Head of Household’s Name] – Repository: Family Search – Author: NARA – Date: [Today’s date] (‘cause I found it today), Website: I entered the exact familysearch.org URL. I was done. I did add the address of the individual, which the person rented, and a couple other items but it was good to go.

Although the source page does show what events are associated with it there isn’t a way to add an event through that page, however, I went to the Head of the household in my people entry form and input a Census record for 1 Apr 1940 with the key information for the head. A really cool feature is to share that event with other individuals. That feature keeps you from needing to reenter the same information on the records for everyone in the household. In a comment line, it is easy add the information that is different from the head, such as wife, son, daughter, or mother-in-law as appropriate. I like the system.

Heredis default on-line
search locations.

Another very cool feature is the Search. They populate several popular web search engines, Ancestry.Com, FamilySearch.com, Find-a-Grave, etc. You can add more or disable them as you wish. On the next tab over from the Search is “Research Note.” It is a great place to enter notes regarding what you have searched already. I like it.


I found the selection criterion for finding people is flexible. For example, you can select by surname individuals whose parents are unknown.

Another awesome feature is to work on a branch. Select a person then you can select ancestors or descendants of that individual. It is kind of like an automatic filter system. You can also show just the treetops, which can give you a visual look at individuals you may want to spend more time researching. Reports are everything you would expect or want. It is very impressive software.

It is perfect, no. There isn’t a way for an individual to have multiple surnames. In my family, there are several (male) individuals who had multiple surnames and for whom the surname wasn’t related. Using a “nickname” or considering it an alias doesn’t work well. My grandfather was born Clifford Brown, Married and had children as Richard Durand, and went by Richard Brown in his later years. I’ve never encountered a reasonable explanation for the name changes. In addition, of course, he did have the nickname of “Dick,” as do many Richards.

The bottom line is I’m really happy (so far) that I made the switch to Heredis.

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