The large online genealogy database/family tree websites regularly advertise that they have new records for their users to search. What does this really mean? Let me give a few examples.
FamilySearch.org regularly sends out a list of "New" records. Here is the latest announcement.
If you follow the link, you will see that the word "New" refers to newly indexed records and not records added to the website. Some time ago, FamilySearch stopped listing the newly added records and listed only newly indexed records. Are they still adding records to the website? It is really hard to tell but it appears from the dates on some of the records that really new records are being frequently added. Over time, the number of records on the FamilySearch.org website seems to go up. See FamilySearch.org Facts.
What about Ancestry.com? Ancestry announces new records from time to time. The new records are all listed in the Ancestry Card Catalog. Here is a screenshot of the latest list of "New" records.
Interestingly, the total number of collections on the Ancestry.com website in the above screenshot is 32,813. This screenshot was taken the day this post was uploaded, 17 August 2020. Here is a screenshot of the same Ancestry.com Card Catalog taken on 24 June 2016.
So, more than four years ago, there were 32,638 collections in the Card Catalog. So the increase of new collections is only about 175 new collections over four years or about 43 a year. I decided to look further back in my old posts and found that in a post from 12 May 2012, Ancestry.com had 30,671 collections of records so from 2012 to 2016, the number of collections on the website went down. So, there is a really good question about the definition of "new" records. Back in 2012, Ancestry claimed a total of over 10 billion records. Ancestry.com currently claims 27 billion records. See Ancestry Corporate, The many ways our family has grown.
What about MyHeritage.com? Their growth numbers are straightforward and simple to understand. Here is the current total of records.
The number of collections and records continues to increase and the new records actually appear on the website Collection Catalog. New records are marked "New" and updated records are marked "Updated." I can go back just a few years and see the difference. Back in 2014, I did a presentation about MyHeritage and the number of records at that time was about 4 billion. That averages to over a billion new records added every year.
The idea here is that when it comes to claims about the total number of records on any one website, the real issue is whether or not they have the records you need to find your family. Each of the big websites has unique records and in each case, those records might be exactly what you need but it is also possible that the records you need are somewhere else.