Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Old to New

Some days “change” seems like a bad word. It seems to me that things are changing at a faster and faster rate. Don’t get me wrong, I like the changes and the convenience of the newer software programs and the easier to use devices. I’m glad that smart people are figuring out how to make my life easier. The problem is not only learning the new programs (I understand that they are called apps now) and devices but converting all the old files to the new formats. (You may have guessed that I am going to focus on computer file changes for this blog.) Every now and then I need to look at an old file that I used years ago. The information is still valuable and it will save me a bunch of time if I can open the file and modify it instead of retyping the file. For word processing files, most of the time I am able to open the file and convert it to my latest version. For instance, years ago I used WordPerfect for word processing. I have hundreds of files in WordPerfect file format. Today I use Word 2007. If I need to open a file that is in WordPerfect 5.1 format, Word won’t do it. I first have to open the file in WordPerfect 9.0 and save it in that format, then I can open it in Word. My worry is, someday my future computer might not allow my WordPerfect to work with the operating system, so I won’t be able to access the information. The exact same problem could happen with my genealogy program. If I have a data file that is from PAF 2.31, I might not be able to open it in RootsMagic which is what I am using now.

The solution is to migrate the files with you as you move forward. I know that it may seem like a waste of time and you might be thinking that you will never need the file again. If that is the case, then delete it. But if you think that there is a chance of needing it, then set up a routine for changing all 0f the files to your newest version of software. My suggestion is to do this every time you get a new computer or each time you get new software. After you get used to using the new program or computer, then plan a time to methodically go through all of your old files to delete them or convert them. This is an investment in the future. Especially if you have gathered information for years for a family history that you want to eventually publish. If you are like most people who bring in their old program files to us and ask if we can still open them because they can’t, then you will be very happy that you spent the time moving the old to the new.

Chris Stevenson

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