Archive for the ‘Buyer Beware’ Category

Caution SignARCALIFE: Websites Can Disappear

I first became aware of ArcaLife when I was looking for a reliable online site that would save a person’s memories and family stories. I thought I had found just the site when I read the first chapter of Matthew and April Helm’s AARP Genealogy Online.  Their entire first chapter consisted of instructions on how to use ArcaLife to save memories online.  When I went to use it, I couldn’t find it. It had completely vanished.

I did some more research. ArcaLife was originally set up to help individuals and families save their memories, photographs, stories… It purpose was not only to create an online site to store this information, but also to make it possible to create personal archives that could be passed down to future generations.  This was an ambitious goal.  When I checked Internet Archives Wayback Machine, which takes snapshots of websites on random days, I found there were 55 saves between 3 October 2008 and 3 September 2012.  Part of the site was free and part required a subscription.  So far I have been unable to find out what happened to ArcaLife; what happened to Digital Estate Corporation, the company that owned it; and most importantly, what happened to all the stories, photos, and archives that were housed there.  The moral of this story is to always have a backup whenever you trust your family archives to anything online.  Write your stories, collect your photos, scan your papers onto your computer, save them on a flash/usb drive, print them out.  If something very bad happens to one, you will have backup.


Kerry Scott at ClueWagon recently did a post entitled “Want a Full Refund on Your NewspaperArchive.com Subscription?  Just Ask About Their Charity.” It has me very concerned.  She discovered that NewspaperArchive.com was automatically renewing subscriptions and they were doing it for only six months at the same price they had previously used for a full year.  She decided not to renew her subscription. She had told them not to automatically renew her when she first subscribed. She had used a credit card that expired during the summer so she wasn’t worried about them accidentally automatically renewing her subscription.  She also emailed them in a timely manner telling them she would not be renewing.  Sounds like due diligence to me.  Not to the company though.

This gets very involved. To explain everything that happened next would take as much space as her original posting. Since this happened to her,  I would strongly suggest that you read her original post in its entirety.  Just click on the title linked above.  She discovered some surprising information on what it is legal for companies to do with automatic renewals and to expired or temporary credit cards.

What you need to know and to do:

1. Keep track of your subscriptions:  How much they cost (to the penny) and when they run out.

2. Read the fine print when you sign up for any online subscription: What is their policy relating to automatic renewals, expired credit cards, temporary credit cards, and anything else that involves what come out of your wallet.

3. Look carefully at your signup pages. Make absolutely certain nothing else is checked off, including extraneous charities. (If that doesn’t get you to read Scott’s posting, nothing will.

4. If you subscribe to NewpaperArchive.com (not to be confused with other websites like Archive.com), and are having trouble unsubscribing or are having your deadline coming up, you must read this blog.

When you are dealing with subscription sites, be careful out there.

vea/8 May 2014
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy




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