Ancestry vs FamilySearch vs MyHeritage vs FindMyPast
With so many different genealogy sites available to research your family history, it's important to know what the differences are between them, and which one is best for you. In this article, we'll compare "the big four" of the most popular genealogy sites, so you can decide which one is best for you.
Genealogy websites are becoming increasingly more prominent by people who have the desire to track down their family heritage. With the advancement of technology, more and more of these websites are showing up on the market with various options.
Whether you are just starting with your genealogical search or are looking for a new way to find information, finding the right website for you is essential. Read on below to learn more about the top websites for searching for your family history.
Top Genealogy Websites
There are many genealogy websites on the internet that will help you search for your family history if that is what you want. Some of these websites are free and offer very limited capabilities, but others are more extensive and provide a lot more information.
The following websites are the four that are most commonly used amongst those who are searching for their heritage. Take a look at some basic information about each one before you decide which one you want to use.
Ancestry.com is one of the most well-known websites for tracking genealogy information with millions of users worldwide. With Ancestry, users can search through documents, build family trees, and use DNA testing to connect everything.
FamilySearch is an online database with an extensive amount of records and various documents that help people locate their family history. This website is operated by the LDS church and does not offer DNA services or a way to create a unique family tree. They do allow you to add your information to their website-wide family tree.
MyHeritage is very much like Ancestry in that they provide quite a few features such as building a family tree, searching and linking specific documents, and using DNA to find more connections. MyHeritage offers additional services that allow users to upload and connect DNA that has been taken elsewhere to their account.
FindMyPast is a genealogy website that is popular in the UK and is known for its extensive historical records that date back many centuries. While the website does not offer DNA services or the opportunity to create a family tree, they do offer users the ability to connect with others through their massive amounts of records.
Top Features to Look For in Genealogy Websites
When it comes to deciding which genealogy service to invest in, you should consider the various features each one offers. Since there are so many differences on the market, it is essential to learn as much as you can about the choices.
It is important to keep in mind that while most of these services are offered for a fee, others exist that are for free. Even though this is the case, then many of the free services have similar features to those that cost.
Check out these various features that the most common genealogy websites offer.
Collection of Documents
Each of the top four genealogy websites may have different offerings to help users find their family heritage. One of the features that most of these services have in common is that they have extensive documentation.
When you consider that between these four sites, there are more than 5 billion different records that are available, most users can most likely be successful in finding what they need. If you are looking for a service that offers plenty of documentation, you cannot fail with any of these choices.
A Searchable Library of Records and Digital Books
The collection of documents that were mentioned above is typically found in a database that is searchable by users. With billions of records, this creates quite an opportunity for people to successfully find what they are looking for.
Services such as FamilySearch do not currently have a database of these records. This means that many of the documents have not been indexed to the point that users can access them through an electronic database. They can however find them in digital books that are available for anyone.
Customizable Family Trees
Another important feature for a genealogy website is that you can build your family tree and use the data from records and other sources to continue to build it. The other part of this feature is that it be searchable to others.
Ancestry and MyHeritage offer the ability to not only create individual family trees but these trees are made available to others who are interested in connecting with family members. FamilySearch has only one family tree that is used by every user and so individuals would need to find where they belong.
While FindMyPast offers to users the ability to create a family tree, they do not have the option to make it public. This means that if you use this service, your distant family members cannot find you through this website.
Access to Relevant Contributed Content
If you are searching for genealogy information about your family then it is obvious that you do not have the documentation or other records that you need to learn about your heritage. This is one of the main reasons people subscribe to one of these websites.
Many websites that offer family history services have the ability for people to upload records that they may have inherited from others in their family. This means that if they contribute this documentation, for many services it can be shared with others that may be in the family.
Websites like the top four listed above offer this service for many reasons. The main reason this is a prominent feature is that the more documentation that exists the better chance someone has to find out things about their family heritage.
When searching for the genealogy website that is just right for you, it is important to consider the locations that the various services cover. This is because before you spend your time and money, you need to ensure that the service will help in your geographical location.
The top four on this list have a wide range of coverage areas, but it is still essential to check for sure. For example, Ancestry and FamilySearch have great coverage in the United States and many other countries including many in Europe.
FindMyPast is more limited in that their coverage areas are mostly focused on the United Kingdom. While records may exist for those who originated in the UK but immigrated to other places over time, they are a great choice if you are from the British Isles.
MyHeritage is widely known in Germany, Scandinavia, and some records are offered for those in the United Kingdom. Keep in mind that this is not to say that this will not change in the future, however, this is the current state of the coverage areas.
Languages Available on the Website
Most of the top genealogy websites offer their services in a variety of languages so they can accommodate people from various locations. Since the world is so diverse with people from all over the world living in various places other than their home countries, websites like these need to be able to attract customers from all walks of life.
Currently, Ancestry offers its services in six different languages while FindMyPast only operates in English. While FamilySearch offers eleven languages, MyHeritage takes the prize by offering its services in 42 different languages.
As technology advances, and the desire to find out more about family heritages grow, more and more demand will come about for more language offers. Since many of these top four websites already offer diverse languages, others will most likely follow suit.
Additional Options Available
Additional options you may want to consider when you are looking for the best genealogy service to fit your needs include many of the offerings from these top four sites. Some of these features include access to the service on a mobile device, suggested hints, and DNA testing.
With society on the go these days it has become increasingly important to offer more and more services through mobile devices. Since the rise of smartphones and other devices, most people tend to access services such as genealogy while on the go. Having an app solves this problem.
It is easy to get lost down the rabbit hole when you join one of these services since there are so many options available. Having the website automatically suggest hints of people that might be related to you and other options can save you a lot of time.
Additionally, while searching through documents, records, and databases can give you quite a bit of information, DNA testing can prove to be much more sophisticated. This is because you can determine whether someone is related to you by blood or not.
How They Measure Up (Ranked)
Finally, now that you have quite a bit of information about the top four genealogy websites and common features to look for, you should just about be ready to choose the one that is right for you. Keep in mind that choosing one of these services is a personal choice based on what is important to you.
Check out some final information below about how these sites rank and how they measure up against the other services.
When it comes to the service that has the most following and features, Ancestry is the clear winner hands down. This is because they have more records than any other service that is out on the market today.
With being one of the early adopters of DNA testing, they have quickly adapted this feature into various other parts of their services. Currently, you can link your DNA results to your family tree and the website creates connections to others who may be in your family line.
Overall, Ancestry.com has something for everyone and is one of the most commonly used websites in the family heritage industry.
MyHeritage.com, while they are limited in who has access to their services, they are a close second to Ancestry. This is because they fall in as having the second most records of other sites on the internet today.
With the perk of being able to create a website that can be used by the entire family, you can share your family tree for others to make additions. They also offer DNA testing with the ability to link it to your profile, however, they also allow you to link DNA testing from other services to your MyHeritage account.
All in all, MyHeritage.com is great for those living in Germany or Scandinavia, since this is where they are solely focused at this time.
If you live in the United Kingdom and are looking for a great website for your genealogical search, then look no further than FindMyPast. Some of the limiting features hold them back in the number three position of the top four.
Although they have extensive records, if you live outside of the UK, you may not find the website that you are looking for. However, if you are from the area, then this may be the perfect site for you since they have many historical documents dating back to even the 1500s.
At the end of the day, FindMyPast, while limiting, is the number one choice of individuals living in the United Kingdom.
While one of the top four ranked websites for genealogical findings, FamilySearch falls in at number four. This is because, even though they have a phenomenal amount of records, they are not indexed yet which makes looking for information difficult.
This website is free for anyone to use, however, the services are limiting and can be somewhat time-consuming. Most of the records are stored on digital books that can be accessed, but may not be easy to find.
FamilySearch also does not offer DNA testing at this time, however, information can be accessed via a mobile device.
When it comes to the comparison of these four different websites that offer genealogy services, you must do your research before choosing the one that is suitable for you. This is mostly because you are likely paying for a subscription, so you want to ensure that you can use it for the purposes you need.
Searching through your family history can be exciting and eye-opening if you know where to look for information. Using websites such as the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation can help you to even see if you have ancestors that were on passenger manifests from many years ago.
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