Categories: WikiTree Help

If you spend much time on WikiTree you may start to worry about the possibility of losing what you've entered.

What if our servers failed? What if WikiTree disappeared someday? Or what if you just want to copy your family tree to another website?

Server Failures

WikiTree is hosted on a "cloud" provider with multiple physical locations (Amazon Web Services). A server crash or hardware problem is not catastrophic.

Furthermore, there are daily back-ups so it's unlikely that we would ever lose data that was entered more than 24 hours ago.

We say "unlikely" in the above because it is possible for software bugs to sneak into the system and go unnoticed for more than 24 hours. If this bug somehow corrupts data, our daily back-up could include the bug and the corrupted data.

However, we have thousands of members using the site every day so it's unlikely that large bugs that affect many members' data would go unnoticed for long. In case they do, we have monthly back-ups.

Our back-ups are not all stored in one location.

Organizational Failure

WikiTree's software is not fully open source and member's information is not all in the public domain. See the WikiTree FAQ for an explanation of why.

This means that if WikiTree suddenly disappeared it would not be easy for someone else to simply restart it using the same software and all our members' data.

Most of the public tree data would not be lost. A number of other individuals and organizations take advantage of our monthly Database Dumps. The data most at risk is the private information and family photos that are not public. Even if members have kept their own copies of things and done GEDCOM downloads from WikiTree it would be very hard to reconstruct everyone's private family data onto one shared tree.

To be clear, if the team knew that the current organization could not continue hosting WikiTree it would be a top priority to find a successor organization. We are all WikiTree users who have our family information here too.

The WikiTree Pledge means that a successor organization could not be planning to put WikiTree behind a pay wall. It must stay free.

But what if the inability to continue hosting WikiTree was completely unexpected?

One protection here is that WikiTree does not have a central office. Our team members are in multiple US states, Canada, and Australia.

Still, our team is not large. Nobody is unnecessary or redundant. Losing anyone suddenly could cause a disruption. The hardest person to replace would most likely be Chris Whitten, the founder and president. But there is a written disaster plan in place for what the other team members should do if Chris disappears. WikiTree would not disappear with him.

Even if the entire team were lost it would be fairly easy to maintain WikiTree in its current state and keep the website available — at the very least, in a read-only state. WikiTree's fixed hosting costs are easily covered by the advertisements that appear on public pages. Our disaster plan specifies that GEDCOM downloads should be kept available even if everything else has to be disabled.

Local Back-Ups — Download a GEDCOM

If you have not done so recently download a GEDCOM from WikiTree now. You can download more than just your tree. You can download a GEDCOM of ancestors or descendants starting from any public person, or any private person if you're on the Trusted List.

The GEDCOM or GEDCOMs may not be useful to you now, but would be if the protections above somehow failed. Literally hundreds of websites and software systems can import a GEDCOM and reconstruct a tree.

A GEDCOM is just a text file. One advantage of this is that even if the system you're importing into cannot import everything you can recover information using a common text editor. One disadvantage of this is that GEDCOMs cannot include photos or other non-text files. A WikiTree-exported GEDCOM will only contain links to photos.

It is highly recommended that you keep local copies of any images or PDF files on WikiTree that are important to you.

This page was last modified 15:06, 23 May 2017. This page has been accessed 20 times.