Sunday, January 12, 2020

Day 12: Organize Your Computer's Family Trees

Are you familiar with the state tree of Utah? Since 2014, the quaking aspen has replaced the blue spruce. What makes the aspen an unusual tree is that a large forest of aspens may share the same root system, making the entire forest a single living organism. One tree with many trunks!

The family trees we maintain on our desktop or laptop computers may be similar. We may have created one tree, then copied (cloned) it for some reason, and after a while, we have more than one tree and we're unsure which one we should be updating.

Some folks either started their research by keeping their maternal and paternal side separated, or by splitting them later. When it came time to upload a copy of these trees to a DNA website, it caused a problem as to which tree to attach to the DNA test! While it's a common question in genealogy forums as to whether people should have one tree or two trees, I would answer that having a single tree will cause the fewest problems in the long run.

So where does this leave you? With multiple trees, in various states of being updated. Plus some unrelated trees that you might have done for friends long ago. Begin by moving all those unrelated trees into their own folder, leaving you in your main genealogy folder with only various versions of your personal trees.

Now use your genealogy software to compare these trees to each other, eventually merging them all together into one large, reliable tree. In the future, you can always export just the branches you need to send to relatives on one side of the family or another.

If you're nervous about getting rid of any of those older trees, this is where backing up your files comes into it again. If you practice good backup procedures, you can bring back anything that you think you might need again someday.

Oh, and we'll talk about those online trees tomorrow!

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