Organizing Your Research – Computer Files

You had a few days to ease your way into downloading the software you are going to use and to do some searching. Now you need to do something with all those online documents, pictures or whatever else you managed to find.

Let us start with the files and folders on your computer. I put all my documents into a program called Dropbox. This keeps my documents not only on my computer, but in the cloud. I can access all my documents from any device that has Internet access and keep everything syncing on my multiple devices* – iPad, iMac and Macbook Air. Dropbox will give you 500 MB free space by clicking on this link, and you can earn more by referring your friends and family.

The first folder I created was Genealogy and then I have subfolders; Blank Forms, Certification, Classes, Clients, Families with subfolders with actual names – e.g. von Hassel, Davies (more on this in a bit), General, Research, Reading, Receipts, and Workshops.

Certification is for documents I come across on genealogy society pages that offer certifications courses.

Classes & Workshops – if I see an interesting classes or workshop I not only put them here but I right away put the registration deadline in my calendar two weeks ahead of time. Then I set a reminder to remind me two more weeks ahead, this gives me plenty of time to decide if I want to attend or not.

Clients – This has a few sub-folders, all pretty much understandable – Family name, I might have Jones, and then in Jones, Research with the same sub-folders found in my Families folder - Documents, Videos, Audio, Important Info, Census, Ship Manifesto, War, Marriage, Death, Pictures, and Miscellaneous. Another folder called FTM where I keep my backups, Receipts, Billing which has hours, mileage logs and expense documents.

Families – I use Ancestry.com for some of my searches and they give me the option to attach my citations to family members. It also allows me to download the documents, these go into their family folder and appropriate sub-folder. If I have videos or tape recordings they go in their respective folders under that family. Within the family sub-folders I also do a daily backup of my Family Tree Maker file I worked on that day, so I have a folder FTM. I also have folders named Documents, Videos, Audio, Important Info, Census, Ship Manifesto, War, Marriage, Death, Pictures, and Miscellaneous. I think these all speak for themselves.

Blank Forms, pretty self explanatory - any form that I can use for genealogy.

Reading – for online magazines or any PDF file that I find interesting and want to read later. (I also use Pocket but I will do another post on software and apps)

Receipts – for anything I buy for genealogy; books, software, documentation fees. If I see I am getting a lot of receipts for one particular subject I make another sub-folder.

General – anything I am not sure where to file.

I hope I did not cause confusion. Any questions do not hesitate to email me or comment and I will get back to you right away.

*VERY IMPORTANT: if you format your old hard drive remember to unlink that computer/device from your Dropbox account. If you don’t and just delete the information off your hard drive you also will be deleting it off the cloud.

About Cathy von Hassel-Davies

I am a German born Yankee living under Carolina blue and loving it.
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8 Responses to Organizing Your Research – Computer Files

  1. Grant Davis says:

    Thank you for reminding me I need to organize my computer files. Now I just need to do it. Welcome to GeneaBloggers. I’ve been here for two months. It is a great community of bloggers.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you for the kind welcome. I know I must always remind myself to do it. If I don’t by the weeks end I have a royal mess to go through.

  2. Jim says:

    Welcome to Geneabloggers.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  3. Colleen says:

    Dropbox is very helpful. If your computer dies you will not lose your data. I do wonder about the privacy. If I save to a separate hard drive I know no one else can access the information.

    • Cathy says:

      I agree about the privacy. I worry about that also. I don’t have any private information up there, only things that are open to the public. Thanks for visiting :-)

  4. Jill says:

    I saw where you are considering getting your certification. I have a blog on my process of self-education to go “on the clock”. You might want to check it out.

    I liked your story of the man who died because of his involvement with Hitler’s assassination. Good luck with finding documentation. That’s a challenge many of us do not have. :-) .

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