Monday, January 18, 2010

An Afternoon with

I had computer problems earlier this year. My computer had a lot of memory, but my Family Tree Maker 2006 file was getting very large. My computer crashed several times, and I became a back up fanatic because I was afraid of damaging my file and losing everything. The Family Tree Maker database was taking forever to close down or backup. It wasn’t fun to sit and wait every night to see if it would back up or not. Eventually, I had my computer overhauled, with a new 1.5 terabit hard drive, more memory, etc. and, finally, things seem to be running smoothly.

Last year I was investigating perhaps switching to another type of genealogy software. I had many recommendations, but since I’ve used Family Tree Maker for about twelve years, I admit I was stuck in a rut. So, instead of something totally new, I had ordered the newest version of Family Tree Maker 2009 in the fall. When the storage and memory problems started, I never installed it on the computer. So yesterday, after the big computer overhaul, I decided to give it a try…

I went through the install wizard. The software came up and everything looked OK. The program asked me if I’d like to start a new file or import an old file. I hit import, found my data file, started the process of converting it for the new software and… – a Big Ugly Red X appeared and a message that the data was damaged! Arhhhgg!

I tried a second time, and a third, then I looked on the Ancestry website for help. I had no luck (of course!) trying to find the answer on the website, after frantically searching for an hour. I tried the FAQs, the online help, the bulletin boards…. Finally, I called the 800 number in a panic! Was my file damaged? Where did my family tree go! The operator calmly had me try again so I could read him the error message. He must have had good kharma because suddenly the file began to slowly import. My file is over 550,000 KB, so I sat there (for 58 minutes, ten seconds) until everything imported into the new version of Family Tree Maker. I finally said goodbye to the operator, and he was nice enough to send me several emails with more information on large importing files.

So far, so good, and this version of Family Tree Maker 2009 is a nice improvement. I experimented with resolving some relationship issues (attaching children to new sets of parents, figuring out kinship reports, detaching some children from families, etc.) and I like the new way to record sources. I am still working on figuring out all the features… I should have ordered the 2010 version that recently came out in advertisements.

What was interesting to me was the page that came up at the end of all this (Yes, it did import OK and it looks great!) Hubby is an aero astro engineer from MIT, and he likes numbers, so he’ll be impressed when he sees this! I had never seen these figures before:

FTW Import Report

91,116 individuals* (see note below)

42,215 families (I don’t know what constitutes a family, but this is interesting…)
3,823 sources (Good, I knew there were a lot of sources! I’m patting myself on the back.)

854 multi media records (these are photos, scanned images, etc)

137, 204 records (I’ve no clue what this is…)

0 errors (Thank God!)

Time elapsed was 58:10:668 (to move the old file into the new software)

* This obviously isn’t a family tree anymore, just a huge genealogical database. I have entered many Mayflower families 5 generation reports here, only because they all seem to be inter-related and I find this extremely interesting to play with on the computer. Every time I find a new cousin they seem to go back to one of these families, so my file is big. I also have a huge number of people named Wilkinson, from my surname project linking all the Wilkinsons from northern New England. So far, 90% of the Wilkinsons in the records have fit into my database. Also, everyone in Essex County seems to be related, so I keep entering cousins, siblings, inlaws, outlaws… It always works out because whenever one of my 37 first cousins married, Bingo, I’ve been able to tell most of them how they were already related to their new spouses! I’m not just “collecting names”, I’m recording all the data, sources and stories to show how all these families interrelate. After 30 years, that is a lot of stories! I hope the computer doesn’t have another meltdown!

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Hi Heather,
    Very interesting blog, and I could relate. I do all my entering on FTM 06, then transfer to 09 & 10 and to top it off, also to Roots Magic and my RootsWeb site. I have learned my lesson in the past, so now my stuff is everywhere, incl. off site. I need to run a report, but I do know you have far more names, I have about 36,450 individuals. However, I have stopped with the allied of the allied of the allied lines. As you, I have scads of Essex Co., MA, so we will be cousins again!
    Glad everything worked out. Nice Sunday project.

  2. Yes, I still prefer the FTM 06, and I was going to go cold turkey and not refer back to it again. Is there something you know that I don't? I know I can't backup with the on line service with the FTM 09, and that is a concern.

  3. Heather, right, no backup to online service. But, I never used it in the first place. A few of us still use 06, incl RS.

  4. I am also fascinated by the interrelationships of my New England ancestors and have recorded hundreds of people that I am not related to. I used FTM 05 and 08. Not happy with 08, it takes forever to add a source.