How to backup and restore a family file in Legacy 7.0

It is very important that you make regular backup copies of your family files as you work on them. All computers eventually fail in one way or another. Sometimes the hard drives fail, sometimes the memory goes bad, sometimes the motherboard goes out. When one of these things happens, you will be very happy if you have a current backup of your important files (or you will feel terrible if you don't). This goes for all of the information that you keep on your computer, not just your family files. Make regular backup copies of anything that you don't want to lose.

Backup Basics

If not already done, we recommend that you set your Legacy options to automatically prompt for backups each time you exit the program. Here’s how:

1. Click Options on the menu bar and select Customize from the options menu.

2. At the Customize screen, click on the Other tab.

3. Next click the Turn on or off Optional Reminder Messages button, then select the Prompts/Reminders tab and check mark the box to Automatically Prompt for Backup.  Close the screen and click the Save button.

Now each time you quit the Legacy program, you will see a message asking if you want to backup the family file(s) you had open. Just click the Backup button and the process will start.

To backup an existing Legacy Family File:

1. Choose Backup Family File... from the File menu or choose to backup up when prompted as you exit Legacy. The Backup Family File dialog appears. What does this screen look like?

There are several files that are used to record what you are doing in Legacy. The primary file is your family file. This is the file with the .fdb extension. There is one of these for every family file you have created. Other files that are created when needed are:

Research Guidance result files - These are created when you ask Legacy to show you where to search next for more information.

IGI search results files - These keep track of matches found in the International Genealogical Index when you use the IGI Search feature.

Clipboard files - These are to-do, event, and source entries that you have copied to their respective clipboards.

Focus Group settings - These are groups that you have created for reports, searches, and exports.

Multimedia files - These are the picture files, sound files, video files, and other documents that you have linked to the people, events, sources, and locations in your family file.

2. Select the file types that you would like to include in your backup by putting a check (or removing the check) in the box to the left.

The data-type files are backed up in one file and the multimedia files are backed up in a second file. These files have a .zip extension.

3. Click the Select Name and Location for Data Backup button and choose where you would like to create the backup file and what you would like to name it. We recommend that you indicate in the name of the file that it contains the Data from your family file, as opposed to the multimedia. Including the date of the backup is also helpful. For example, "Anderson Family Legacy Data, 12 Dec 2009". What does the Backup Data Files screen look like?

The backup file can be put on your hard drive, an external USB hard drive, a flash drive (memory stick)* or even a rewritable CD disk. (If you create a copy on your hard drive, you should copy it to a CD or transfer a copy to a different computer or upload it to an Internet backup service, or in some other way get a copy off of your computer. Sending a copy to a family member or close friend is also a good way to make sure that you will have access to it if your computer goes down.) * Memory sticks are good short-term uses like transferring files from one computer to another but are not recommended for long-term storage.

When done, click Save. The screen will close and you will be returned to the Backup Family File Screen. You can see at a glance the currently set path (location) and the Data backup file name in this screen.

4. If you are also backing up your multimedia files (these are only the files that are linked to someone or something in your family file) click on the Select Name and Location for Multimedia Backup button and indicate where you want the backup to be created. Again, indicate in the file name that this is a backup of your multimedia files. For example, "Anderson Family Multimedia Files, 12 Dec 2009". What does the Backup Multimedia Files screen look like?

When done, click Save. The screen will close and you will be returned to the Backup Family File Screen. You can see at a glance the currently set path (location) and Multimedia backup file name in this screen.

5. To start the backup creation, click the  button at the bottom the Backup Family File screen. Legacy collects all the needed files and compresses them into a ZIP file in the location(s) specified.

To restore a Legacy family file from a backup copy:

1. Click on File on the menu bar and select Restore Family File. If you get a message that says "All Family Files must be closed before doing a Restore. Would you like to close all Family Files now?" click Yes. The Select a Family File or Multimedia Backup to Restore screen will then open.

2. In the Select a Family File or Multimedia Backup to Restore screen, select the drive, for example a CD or memory stick, where the backup file is located. Next, highlight the family data backup file and click the Open button. The Enter a Name to Restore the Family File as screen will then open.

3. From the Enter a Name to Restore the Family File as screen, specify the drive and folder where you want the restored family file files placed (at the top of the screen), next specify the File name (bottom at the bottom of the screen. This should be automatically filled in) and then click Save.

Click here for backup error solutions

Backup Tips and Pointers

  • When backing up to a CD-RW, in some instances you will need to first backup to the hard drive and then use the software that came with the CD-RW drive to burn a copy to the CD. You can tell because you will get a message saying the you do not have permission.
  • Backup your family file regularly. Create a routine and stick with it. Backup every time you make changes to your family file, no matter how small the changes may be.
  • When making backups, never save them to the same drive where your primary family files are kept. If the drive fails, you would lose both your primary and backup family file at the same time.
  • Use a high quality backup media. Although floppy disks are cheap, they have a high failure rate. Seriously consider a different removable media, such as Zip disk, tape drive or CD-RW.
  • Make numerous backups of the same data. Backup your data and then back it up again to a different set of media. Rotate between two or three sets of backups for added safety.
  • Most of us keep our backup disks handy -- in a plastic case right next to our computer. Should your home be destroyed by a fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane or tornado, etc., you stand the risk of loosing everything. Keep your backup in another location like your workplace. (Even though the chance of such disasters is rare, you wouldn't cancel your home owners insurance would you?)
  • Most fire-retardant safes are rated for 1750 degrees for one hour. Paper can withstand heat far longer then magnetic media, which is made of plastic or other materials that warp or melt. Invest in a safe deposit box at your local bank and use it to store your backups.
  • Do periodic restores to ensure that the backups are working properly. Don't wait for an emergency to discover your backup has a fatal flaw.
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it updated (major anti-virus software companies publish updates frequently). Do regular virus scans to keep your system clean. Also scan your backup media. Remember, viruses and worms can copy themselves to backup disks, tapes and etc. and then infect a clean hard disk during the restore process, causing repeat disasters.
  • Although it is a peripheral issue, make certain that you write your Customer ID number in the front of your Legacy manual or on the envelope that holds the program CD.  That way if you have to reinstall your program, you will have the number ready to go and can avoid delays and the expense of a long distance phone call to us. In addition, have an emergency boot disk ready if you need to restore your system. 
  • When naming your backup file consider using the family file name and the date of of back up, for example "" or "" That way you will always know what the back up file contains and the date it was created.
  • Regularly share your files with other family members. If you ever have problems and can’t restore your backup, you can get your information back from your relatives.
  • When naming a backup file it is not necessary to add the .zip extension. The program will add it automatically.
  • Zip drives and zipped files (*.zip) are not to be confused. It is merely a coincidence that they have similar sounding names. You can, of course, save a zipped (backed up) file on a Zip drive just like you would any other drive. 
  • When backing up a family file, don’t remove your diskette from the drive until after you exit the Legacy program. This will avoid fatal “Read past end of file" errors. You must exit Legacy with each file you backup.
  • If Legacy has any difficulty creating or opening a backup file, try WinZip. (Go to
  • Run a Potential Problems Report and correct record problems, then run File Maintenance - Check/Repair on your family file before you backup. File Maintenance will reduce the size of your family file by deleting abandoned information and compacting your family file. The result will be an even smaller backup file devoid of serious information problems.
  • Operations like merging and deleting records and file maintenance will reduce the size of your family file. This is why it may take three diskettes to backup a file one day, but only two diskettes the next. Not deleting existing files on diskettes will also affect the number of diskettes needed to backup.

Error Messages and Backup Problems

  • The most common reason for backup failures is that people forget to change the destination drive (if backing up on a CD, memory stick, etc.). If this change is not made, the backup file will be saved to the hard drive and not to the diskette or other medium.  The result will be that when you look at you backup disk or tape, there will be no backup there.

You can search for a Legacy backup file on your hard drive by clicking the Start button on your computer Desktop and selecting Search / Files or Folders on the start menu. The Search window will open.  Please type *.zip in the Named: box, then change the Look in: box to My Computer and click the Search button.  The computer will search itself for any files ending with .zip and create a list.  Make note of where any backed up Legacy files exist and restore your backed up family file from the indicated location.

  • Backup Error - Out of disk space. Delete the contents of the C:\Windows\Temp folder and try again.
  • CD issues and problems. You should use the software that came with the CD-RW drive to burn the backup from the hard drive.  Click here for more information on issues and problems unique to CDs. 
  • Legacy cannot see the backup file. Check your drive path. Use My Computer or Windows Explorer to see the files on the backup disk or tape. Legacy backup files end with a .zip extension. If no file with the .zip extension can be found, then there is no backup file on that tape or disk.
  • Read past end of file error.  This error may happen when backup disks are removed before Legacy shuts down.  The solution is to make a new backup file and leave the disk in its drive until Legacy shuts down. You must exit Legacy with each file you backup.
  • You do not have permission to open this file. Click here for more information on issues and problems unique to CDs.
  • Other errors. In rare instances the Legacy program may be damaged so that it cannot backup or restore family files. Please run the Legacy installation again, which will repair the program. Also delete the contents of the C:\Windows\Temp folder and delete all files ending with the .usr extension from the Legacy folder on your hard drive. Then restart your computer and try again.