RootsWeb, the free genealogy site purchased and currently operated by Ancestry.com, crashed in 2017 and Ancestry has been trying to get the site up and running ever since.
The good news is there are portions of RootsWeb that are back online.
The bad news is many individuals and communities used RootsWeb to host their sites and I’m not aware of any “freepages” that are back online. If you know of any freepages sites that have come online, please add a link in the comments.
So What Works at RootsWeb?
Available as Read-Only at RootsWeb
Family Trees – Family Trees, aka WorldConnect, is a great site that allows people to upload GEDCOM files (family tree databases) and publish them for others to see. This is currently working. There are more than 800 million names in free family trees users have submitted to RootsWeb.
I haven’t been able to download any GEDCOM files for family trees that interest me, but I have been able to query surnames and read all the messages associated with a surname.
Mailing Lists – the RootsWeb mailing lists are up and available as read-only for everyone. Anyone who had used the RootsWeb Mailing lists received an email in March from Ancestry.com. You can read the contents of that email here.
Message Boards – the RootsWeb Message Boards appear to be working as read-only for everyone. You can search by Locale, Surname, Topic, or Keyword. They boast 25 million posts over 198,000 boards so there’s a lot of content. I’ve searched by Surname and found good information from a third cousin posted almost 20 years ago!
Possibly available to Add New Info at RootsWeb
Mailing lists – I was subscribed to some mailing lists in the past but haven’t been able to log in because I don’t remember my password (story of my life) and haven’t been able to change my password to regain access. If you were already subscribed to a mailing list and remember your password, it’s worth a try. I tried subscribing to a mailing list with a new email address/password but the site is not currently accepting new subscribers.
Message boards – There are threads as recent as May 2018, so if you remember your RootsWeb login and password, you may be able to start a new thread, reply to a thread, etc. Some people are clearly participating.
Now that some sites are up and running, a word to the wise. If you see something you like, take a screenshot*, rename the file, keep a record of the source and the date you accessed it, and file it in your own computer. Then backup your files for safekeeping.
*Taking Screenshots on Mac and PC
Screenshot on a Mac (Shift + Command + 4) and use your mouse to draw the area you’d like to copy & then Save As to change the name of the file and location where it is saved OR (Shift + Command + 3) for a screenshot of your entire screen and it will be automatically saved to your desktop where you can open it and rename it and save it somewhere else on your computer.
Screenshot on a PC (Alt + PrintScreen button) for a pic of your active window or file OR just (PrintScreen) for a pic of your entire screen, then open a Word Processing or Graphics program and hit these buttons (Ctrl + V) to paste the screenshot into that program, then Save As anything you want and tell it where to store the file. You can also paste the screenshot (Ctrl + V) directly into the body of an email and mail it to yourself.
Note: It’s best to save your files in actual folders, not on your desktop**. It will slow your computer down to have tons of files stored on your desktop. I take screenshots every single day and have learned the importance of renaming the screenshot something useful, then filing it appropriately into a folder that’s on my hard drive, not my desktop.
** By desktop (see the image below), I mean everything that shows up on my computer screen when I turn on my computer. I regularly have some screenshots saved to my desktop. A few I’ve renamed with ancestors names, etc, but I still need to move them off my desktop to the C drive, D drive, a thumb drive, etc, in an appropriately named folder. Having files stored on the desktop slows down my computer and leaving them named as “Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 8.08.30 AM” is not helpful for future use.
Best in your research!