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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughts on MyHeritage





During the past few months, I have been making some very public statements about MyHeritage.  Subsequent to my presentations at the St. George Family History Expo and most recently as a keynote speaker at RootsTech 2013, watch the keynote here, fast forward to minute 31:28 in the video.  I had several questions and comments from attendees. In addition, I was invited by MyHeritage to team up with them in making a special offer to my blog readers.

Because of this, I felt it necessary to clearly state my experience with MyHeritage. There are several reasons why I have decided that they deserve a much higher profile than they have in the past. This blog post is intended to explain my personal opinions regarding the programs.

I have been using MyHeritage for the past three or four years. During the past two years, MyHeritage has dramatically increased both its online family trees and has acquired a large amount of genealogical source content through the purchase of WorldVitalRecords.com. Since that acquisition, MyHeritage has also introduced its Record Match capability. This allows those who upload their family tree to MyHeritage.com to have automatic searches made of the records, also available as a MyHeritage Data plan, and other sources associated with MyHeritage. At the same time, MyHeritage has significantly increased the record content and improved the search capabilities.

Although this type of service has previously been available from Ancestry.com, MyHeritage takes automatic record searching to an entirely new level. For example, I have my family tree on Ancestry.com and presently I have 742 “green leaves” waiting for me to process. My experience is that a significant number of these source suggestions from Ancestry.com are “false positives,” that is, they are for people to whom I am not related: my guess is more than half. On the other hand, I also have my family tree on MyHeritage.com and with the Record Match capability; I presently have 2,400 Record Matches waiting for me to process on MyHeritage. Significantly, nearly all, probably more than 95% of these are actually people in my family tree. I have found these records to be extremely valuable.  For example, MyHeritage’s Record Match has found over 400 matches to FindAGrave.com to people in my family tree. To me, this alone is worth the cost of a subscription.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from using or subscribing to Ancestry.com. I am merely pointing out that there is now a viable and useful alternative. With its constant addition of new records MyHeritage.com will only get more and more useful as time goes on. At Rootstech we learned that the entire US Census Collection will be available through MyHeritage in the coming weeks!  I am very excited to see the record matches in my tree come to life with this new important update.

One of the major factors in my positive experiences with MyHeritage is the responsiveness of the owners and staff. Any questions I have had concerning either program has been promptly and courteously answered and this was the case even before my blog became popular. Because of my comments and suggestions about both programs, which I had been using on my personal computer and through the free access to WorldVitalRecords.com at the Mesa FamilySearch Library, MyHeritage recently offered me complimentary access to both programs. I should also mention that for over a year, I also had complimentary access to Ancestry.com.

MyHeritage is not a replacement for, but a supplement to a subscription to Ancestry.com. They have different records and both are extremely valuable. But because of the high visibility of Ancestry.com and the lower visibility of MyHeritage, I have felt it is important to educate those who read my blog and attend my classes as to the relative merits of the two companies’ programs and the huge strides MyHeritage has made recently.

Since MyHeritage.com started in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, it has a huge user base in those countries compared to other online family tree programs.  It has since spread around the world, not just in English speaking countries. If you look at their map of the MyHeritage users, you will see how valuable this service can be if any of your ancestors came from countries other than those where English is predominant. MyHeritage matches people in your family tree with those in the entire database and suggests relevant records. Expanding this capability to the countries where your ancestors originated is a valuable asset.

In addition, MyHeritage has a free genealogical database program for your personal computer called Family Tree Builder available for Windows operating system, which allows you to create a family tree and optionally upload your information to your online family tree. Ancestry.com also has its own programs for your personal use for both the Apple and Windows operating systems called Family Tree Maker. However, the Ancestry.com programs are not free.

For these reasons, I have strongly encouraged my readers and the attendees at my presentations to consider MyHeritage.com as well as Ancestry.com.

If you have any questions about my relationship with any entities mentioned in this blog, please see my Disclosures and Disclaimers page linked in the heading. 

12 comments:

  1. I think it is unfortunate that bloggers seem to be moving in the direction of promoting commercial products. One of the things that has always appealed to me about the blogging community is that they seem open, unbiased, and perfectly willing to call things as they see them. I'm afraid we are going to lose that if we get to the point where we don't know if a blogger is being candid or acting as a spokesperson for a commercial company. I have no problem with a blogger writing a positive review about a product -- that is very helpful. But, when a blogger is openly promoting a product to the extent of making "special offers" you have to wonder if you can really expect unbiased comments and reviews in the future.

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  2. Curious about their discount. When I go to their site (not from your site but directly ...), I am quoted $119.40/year with no indication of a discount being applied. And, that is for the Premium Plus account.

    So, I don't really know what they are offering to you/us with this. Seems like it is just the normal price?? Or, the discount is there for everyone with no mention of it?? OR, ???

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    Replies
    1. I will have to defer to MyHeritage on that issue. You will have to contact them.

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  3. I already have a subscription to the world-wide World Vital Records. Is thereany reason to get the My Heritage if I'm not interested in the family tree aspect?

    Bob Kirk

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    1. I am afraid I do not understand your lack of interest in the "family tree aspect." One of the benefits of having your "family tree" on MyHeritage is the automated record searching. It is not merely a place to park your family tree.

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  4. I would love to see a post on the following subject: what is the relationship (from the user end) between MyHeritage and Geni? MH purchased Geni, right? So, does a subscription in one cove the other? Or does it look (from the user's point of view) like two separate entities.

    Help! (Thanks!)

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    1. I have already written several blog posts on who owns the genealogy businesses. It sounds like time to go through the process again.

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    2. I *think* I do understand who owns what (and I do recall your posts on that matter) -- but I'm confused about whether a subscription to one gets you to the other (I don't recall if that specific issue was covered in your posts). Yes, MH purchased Geni. What I don't know is: if I purchase an MH subscription, do I get any rights on Geni -- or vice versa?

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    3. I believe they are being operated as separate companies, just like Ancestry.com and Fold3.com and many others.

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  5. I've been a MyHeritage user since 2010 & I have to agree with you 100% that the improvements have been spectacular. Their mobile app alone has come in SO handy when discussing family history with my own family (i.e., "when did Clara die?" etc.).
    And as far as you, a blogger, promoting a commercial product, I say: I rely on you bloggers to let me know what's out there & what's good!

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  6. I think it's worth stating that the benefit of MyHeritage's record matches really does depend where in the world you are. I'm in England and most, if not all of my ancestors are from England. MyHeritage has produced only 20-30 record matches on my tree compared to one or two thousand on Ancestry. So location does have to be taken into account whenever reviewing or recommending resources.

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  7. I like My Heritage, I was able to find cousins in Germany that I did not know existed and we were able to share information and pictures. But, I have yet to find much in their document matches. The Find a Grave have all been the ones that I had entered.

    I guess it will benefit some other cousins I have yet to meet.

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