Find My Ancestor Blog

New FamilySearch and Their Cloud Computing

Recently Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog had an interview with David Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer for In the interview Randy and David discussed the New FamilySearch(NFS) website and database. They talked about some of the process that has taken place for the NFS to become available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and how NFS is going to become available to non-members.

For quite a while we have been told that they are working on making NFS available to non-members but we have never been given an exact date. In January when I was in Mesa for the Mesa Family History Expo, Bryce Roper, Product Manager for FamilySearch, said that they were working on it. Then again in February at the St.George Family History Expo I asked him if there was any new information regarding when it would be available. This time he said that they were hoping for sometime this year. I wonder if any new developments will be announced next week at NGS? I will definitely keep you posted if I hear anything new next week.

Later on in the interview they are talking about some differences in their new "rollout" of NFS and David mentioned something that I think many genealogists don't agree with, including me. He states:
The other major difference is that it removes the need to have your own personal desktop data management software. You can manage all of your data now on New FamilySearch. Where I've used Personal Ancestral File for years on my laptop, I don't have to have my own Personal Ancestral File database any more. I can simply go to New FamilySearch and manage all of my content there. So that's a pretty radical departure from the way most genealogists have learned over the years to manage their data.
I noticed there were a couple of comments on this post, one by James Tanner and another by DearMyrtle. They pretty much both said that they don't think genealogists will give up their desktop databases anytime soon. I agree with them. Even though cloud computing is becoming the new way of storing data, I believe that there are a lot of people out there like me who want their own database that they can add media files to that they may not necessarily want shared with everyone on websites like or I know in my personal desktop database I have birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other documents that are "sensitive" information that the individuals would not want shared online and accessible to anyone and everyone. Granted, there are options in these online databases to decide on the privacy levels, but in the end I think it is safe to say that most people would still feel better knowing that the sensitive information isn't out there on the web but rather on their personal computer.

I am very interested in knowing how others out there feel about what David Rencher said in his interview. Do you think cloud computing will take over our desktop genealogy applications? How safe do you feel about putting sensitive information online even though you have set your "privacy filters" on these online databases? In your opinion, what are some of the advantages/disadvantages of storing your genealogy database online versus your personal computer?

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  1. The thing I love about having things online, besides the availability of sharing/searching/learning more, is that it's such a safeguard. My cousins' house burned down and she lost everything. At least I know that whatever's online will still be there (I hope!).

  2. I don't like the idea of "cloud computing" at all. I have used PAF for almost all of the nearly 10 years that I've been doing genealogy, and I wouldn't give it up. Not everyone has immediate access to internet, or even high-speed internet for that matter. What if someone needed to check something in their database and the website was down.. or the person didn't have any internet connection at that time? You wouldn't be able to access your information. Sitting at home doing research (offline), making game-plans and guides on what to do next would be impossible.

    Then there's the case of "sensitive" information, like you said. I personally do not want my information and documents on the internet for people to freely browse and take. If I wanted that, I would publish my information on my website. There's then the case of them taking my information and "baptizing" my ancestors. I don't care too much about the "baptizing" because I don't believe in it, but there's then the case of my information being incorporated into the main website.. which I definitely would never want. Cousins of mine have submitted erroneous information in the past and I don't want that happening if any of my information happens to become mis-proven.

    I couldn't fathom the idea of not storing my family tree database on my computer somewhere. I would feel extremely uneasy knowing my database wasn't with-in a few click's distance and safely stored on my hard drive.

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