Clean Sweep
Wipe out computer clutter! These six steps show you how to effectively organize your electronic genealogy files — and keep family data within a few clicks.

Genealogists are notorious for accumulating piles of “stuff.” Some researchers' dining-room tables are so thick with pedigree charts, old family pictures and photocopied Bible records that their spouses abandoned the idea of actually eating there a long rime ago. Others stash mountains of genealogical documents on their desks — or to be precise, where the desks used to be; no one's seen them in years.

Fortunately for our families (and for our trees), we no longer gather so much paper. But we haven't abandoned our pack-rat ways. Now we collect computer files — census images, scanned pictures, digitized books, GEDCOM files and e-mail messages. Just as our paper files threaten to bury us, our computer files clutter our hard drives. A word processing document lost in the morass of bits and bytes could just as well be a letter hiding in one of those towering stacks of paper.