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Tuesday's Tip - Backup vs. Save As

Tuesday's Tips provide brief how-to's to help you learn to use the Legacy Family Tree software with new tricks and techniques.

  Tuesday's Tip - Backup vs. Save As

Many people get confused between the options of Saving Legacy, Backing up Legacy and using the Save As command. This overview will clarify the three commands.

Saving Legacy

Legacy saves your file on the fly. When you close your file everything has been saved. When you open Legacy, this file will open on your screen. I highly recommend you tell Legacy to do this by going to OPTIONS > CUSTOMIZE > GENERAL SETTINGS . In Option 1.2 pick the 1st or 3rd option. If you only have one file then pick the 3rd so that there is no question.

Backing Up Legacy

You should also backup your file on a regular basis. You will rarely if ever need to restore a backup. In 11 years I have only had to restore a backup one time and that is when I had a hard drive failure. You should save your backups somewhere other than your hard drive for that very reason.

Save As

There is a SAVE AS command. What this does is it saves an exact copy of your database file. There are reasons that you might do this but the average user will not/should not use this command.

Why am I telling you this? We get emails all the time from people that have been restoring backups every single time they open Legacy. We have people that use the Save As command instead of backing up. These people end up with hundreds of Legacy files on their computer and if they open the wrong one they email us in a panic because they say that all of the data they added yesterday or last week or last month is suddenly gone.

A clue that you have been doing one of the above is that you will see file names with numbers behind them in brackets or parentheses or they word "copy" in parenthesis.

When we tell people to search their entire hard drive for .fdb files (the Windows command is *.fdb) they are sometimes quite surprised by what they find.

Most people should only have two .fdb files on their computer, their working family file and the Sample file that comes with Legacy. There are people that have more than one file though, the One-Name Study people and the One-Place Study people for example. Also those people that are professional genealogists and do client work will have an .fdb file for each client. There are some people that have their side in one file and their spouse's side in another but we really don't recommend that.


Find tech tips every day in the Facebook Legacy User Group. The group is free and is available to anyone with a Facebook account.

For video tech tips checkout the Legacy Quick Tips page.  These short videos will make it easy for you to learn all sort of fun and interesting ways to look at your genealogy research.


Michele Simmons Lewis is part of the technical support team at Millennia, the makers of the Legacy Family Tree software program. With over 20 years of research experience, Michele’s passion is helping new genealogists get started on the right foot through her writings, classes and lectures. She is the former staff genealogist and weekly columnist for the McDuffie Mirror and now authors Ancestoring, a blog geared toward the beginner/intermediate researcher.


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Am I right in my assumption that BACKUP saves everything - family database file and all the linked photos etc, and that the SAVEAS only saves the database file. So that if you are only storing the SAVEAS file you are potentially risking all the other bits of information if you have a hard drive failure.

A FILE > BACKUP FILE will save your data, the "helper" files (clipboards for example), and it will save you media. There are check boxes for these things and you can save one, some or all. If you back up both your data (with or without the helper files) and you media you will end up with two zip files.

If you do a SAVE AS you will only be copying your data file, nothing else. It will also remain in an .fdb format and not zipped (compressed).

If you want to save EVERYTHING to include your data, media and all customization files the way to do that is to right click the \Documents\Legacy Family Tree\_AppData folder (This works IF IF IF you have your data and your media in the default locations). Now select SEND TO > COMPRESSED (ZIPPED) FOLDER. This zip folder has everything.

This works well if for some reason you need to do a clean uninstall/reinstall of the program and you don't want to lose any of your custom settings.

How do you "Save" or "Back-up" ALL your information to a flash drive if you switch from your desktop to your laptop and your laptop to your desktop at least once a week when you travel???

Well. After all these years I realize I had not a clue about this. I was doing a "backup" after every session in which I made changes. No harm done, but I did spend some time today deleting a bunch of unnecessary files-- some of which have traveled from one computer to the next with me three times! Don't know why I didn't get this before, but I'm glad you explained it so I do now. I have a feeling that I have the same situation with another data-based program (non-gen) I use a lot.

There is no problem at all saving a backup every time you are working in your file. That is EXACTLY what I do. When I am done for the day I backup. If I am doing a lot of data entry, doing some cleanup in the Master Lists, or if I am merging, I will be backing up several times in a session. I normally keep my 10 most recent backups and delete anything older than that. I will go in and do a delete every couple of weeks or so.

You said: There are some people that have their side in one file and their spouse's side in another but we really don't recommend that.

Why is this not recommended?

If you don't convince me to not do this, I think it would be a great idea since my wife has almost a thousand relatives in just 4 generations. I would like to see how they are related to her, since Legacy doesn't think they are related to me. Is there a simple way to do the split?

1) It is a pain to switch back and forth between files especially if you are using the same record sets
2) It is a pain to enter Master Sources twice. You can copy Master Sources from file to file but you would end up having to do it every time you enter a source that needed to be in both files which is just as much work as entering the Master Source twice)
3) If you ever find a familial connection between the two lines (you end up as 10th cousins, thrice removed) you are all in one family and thus in one file
4) You will have to double enter your descendants (children, grandchildren and their spouse as well as any lines you decide to follow like your son-in-law's line who happens to have an interesting lineage).

Now to your original problem. All you have to do to see who is related to your wife is set her as the anchor/focus person in the Set Relationships. You can change who the anchor person is whenever you want to.

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