MyHeritage MyHeritage
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3.5 5stars

MyHeritage Review

MyHeritage
Rating:
Bottom Line:
Huge database for records; accurate record matches; tons of additional features; free basic plan, yet paid plans require at least one-year commitment

Full Review:
MyHeritage was founded in 2005 and has more than 75 million registered users. It mixes social tools with enormous libraries of historical records and other content. The family tree builder software is detailed yet easy to use and searches billions of records. Its main drawback is that it may offer one too many features; you are required to sign up for an annual subscription with any of the paid plan options, and there is no free trial.


Pricing

MyHeritage offers three different plan options. The Basic plan is free and allows you to add up to 150 people to your tree, contains basic Smart Matching and a 500 MB storage size for adding photos and videos to your tree. The Premium plan costs $6.88/month (billed annually at $82.56), has a family tree size of up to 2,500 people, 1,000 MB of storage, enhanced Smart Matching, Timeline feature and priority customer support.

The Premium Plus plan has unlimited family tree size and unlimited storage for photos, enhanced Smart Matching, Timeline and Timebook features and priority customer support. This plan costs $10.95/month and is billed annually at the rate of $131.40. For the paid plans, you also have the option to change your subscription duration for a discount. For example, expanding your annual plan to a two-year plan will give you an extra 20% off and a five-year plan will give you an extra 30% off.

The Data subscription can be added to any of the previously mentioned plans — Basic, Premium or Premium Plus — and grants you unlimited access to more than 5 billion historical records on MyHeritage. These records include Census, military, immigration and legal records, as well as family trees, maps, newspapers, yearbooks and directories. The cost for this subscription is $9.95/month, and it is also billed annually, like the other paid plans, at the cost of $119.40.


Getting Started

To start using this service, you must first create an account. MyHeritage will ask you to fill in personal information such as your name, email address and date of birth then prompt you to select a plan. Before choosing a plan, you are also given the option to import your family tree if you have a GEDCOM version. After you select a plan type and enter your billing information, a welcome email will be sent to the email address you provided which will include a link to create a password and complete your registration process.



This is also where you can choose to change or upgrade your plan if you so desire, and you will be asked to enter a phone number to verify for security purposes. MyHeritage will call you immediately and an automated system will dictate a confirmation number to you to fill in and finalize your confirmation process. This security aspect will appear any time you make additional purchases with MyHeritage.


Building Your Family Tree

As with most genealogy services, your family tree will begin with yourself, and from there you will add immediate family members. However, one thing that MyHeritage offers that most others do not is extensive details for each family member you add to your tree. In addition to the option to add photos and videos to individuals on your tree (the amount varies by plan type), you can also add a number of other details. These include Contact Information for things like phone numbers and addresses, work and occupation-related information, Favorites, for things like sports, restaurants and quotes and Other Personal Information, which includes religion, nationalities, languages and even height, weight and hair color. When adding details to individuals in your family tree, you can also source citations, whether it be a personal interview, book, website or any other source of information.


Your family tree overview has zoom in/zoom out and grab screen tools that allow you to explore different parts of your tree once it starts expanding. On the left-hand side of your tree, a box displays whichever individual you have last clicked on or are currently editing details for. This quick view box shows the basic information and gives you the option to Add a Person, including siblings, offspring and spouses (husband/wife, ex-husband/ex-wife or partner); you can click on More to go to the page where you add/edit more extensive details. The color scheme of your family tree is pink and blue, for women and men, respectively. You can also create and manage multiple family trees with MyHeritage.


When editing information and events for individual family members in your tree, you can also access the Timeline feature if you have subscribed to the Premium or Premium Plus plans. This feature displays a horizontal box with dates that you can sort by month, year, decade, century or millennium. Once you add a family member to your tree, a timeline will automatically be generated for that person. Any time-based events you add to their details will also automatically be added. You can go under the details or the timeline to edit or add new events at any time. Icons will appear next to each event you add, depending on what type of event it is. For example, a little crib will display next to any births you add and a banded ring will display next to any marriages.


Records and Other Features

MyHeritage hosts a multitude of other features outside of its family tree builder. We found this to be extremely extensive and helpful, but it can be a little bit overwhelming. The record matches were very accurate, even when the dates and information we input were estimates and not exact. When MyHeritage finds a match to an individual in your family tree, a small icon will appear on the right-hand side of that family member's box in your tree. You can review these matches by clicking on that icon or by clicking on Discoveries at the top of your family tree overview. This page will show you which records were found, such as a state birth record or Social Security Death Index, and display a small preview of what that specific record contains.



We signed up for the most expensive and extensive plan, so we were disappointed that when we clicked to view a record, we were prompted to sign up for the Data subscription plan, which costs an additional $9.95/month and is billed annually at $119.40. You can see which record matches were found and a small preview without signing up for this feature; however, you cannot review the details or add the record to your family tree unless you sign up for the Data subscription. After we signed up for this additional service, we were able to add, ignore or save the record for later.


The information MyHeritage's record matches found contained a lot more than any other genealogy service we reviewed, and we were able to see the original document as well. The results yielded in the records were both extensive and accurate. It pulled up a list of possible relatives, including step parents, a list of residences complete with full addresses (street name and all), year of residency at these addresses, associated phone numbers and even business associations for possible past and present employers. When reviewing the residence records, you can also access a list of neighbors and view a map overview of the locations.

Smart Matching

In addition to the billions of records that MyHeritage contains, you can also access Smart Matching and Timelines for an entire surname, which is similar to the Timelines under your family tree for each individual family member. Smart Matching is available to all plan types, but you can only use enhanced Smart Matching if you have a Premium or Premium Plus plan; this means you can add confirmation and rejection of matches, process matches quicker and match and collaborate with other tree owners using MyHeritage. The Timeline for a surname will show all family members associated with that name; it's very similar to Timelines for individual family members, but more comprehensive.


Timebook

Another feature that MyHeritage offers — to Premium Plus members only — is Timebook. This feature shows a view of data and photos of an individual, plus their family members, in chronological order. It takes the information from your family tree to start creating this content. First, you select the chart or book type, the style and color scheme and other information you want displayed, such as main person (it can be yourself), title, facts for individuals (such as birth year, death year, etc), generations (show all or limit to a specific number) and printing method. When selecting these options, it will show you a preview of what each looks like. The chart or book type options, for example, include different variations of family trees, such as bowtie, hourglass or fan chart; some are vertical, some are horizontal.



After you have selected all the specifications for your Timebook, MyHeritage will begin generating it. When it's ready, you will receive an email with a link to review everything. This only took a few minutes for us. The email also contains a small preview of your Timebook and gives you the option to view, save or print it. All charts are created in PDF format, so it automatically opens and saves your chart in this format.

If you choose to print your Timebook, you must pay an additional fee. The pricing varies depending on the paper size you wish it to be printed on. A helpful feature offered with this is a digital illustration of what your Timebook poster will look like on a wall; the display changes as you change the paper size selection. After completing your selection, you are taken to the shipping and payment page to complete your order.

DNA Testing

MyHeritage also offers many different types of DNA testing, which range from $99 to $529. There are maternal line tests and combined tests for mtDNA and Family Finder testing. After you order the DNA testing kit, you will receive a return envelope, swabs for saliva samples, how-to instructions and release forms for you to sign.

MyHeritage also has a mobile app for iOS devices with 7.0 or later and Android devices, version varies by device. The app allows you to view and edit your family tree, search records and share photos. You can download the family tree builder app for desktop on both Mac and Windows.


Customer Support

There are many help forums and guides on MyHeritage's website. If you cannot find the answer to your questions or concerns there, its customer support representatives can be reached via email only. We found the response we received to be both helpful and timely, with our Premium Plus plan subscription.


Conclusion

When compared to other genealogy services, MyHeritage offers the most features by far. The tree building is user-friendly and extremely detailed, and we found the record results to be very accurate. If extensive family research with all the bells and whistles is something you're looking for, then this service may be right for you. However, it's important to note that you are required to pay for a full year at the time of sign up. Unless you plan to utilize all of its features, we recommend looking at other genealogy services offering a free trial.

Compare to Other Genealogy Services

If you have a question or concern we haven't answered on our site, please let us know. Your question will be added to the NextAdvisor Forums so that we and other experts in our community can answer it. Due to volume, we aren't able to respond to every question, but we answer as many as we can.



Service Details

Price:Free for Basic;
$6.88/mo for Premium (billed annually);
$10.95/mo for Premium Plus
(billed annually);
$9.95/mo for Data/Record Search (billed annually)
Features:Family tree builder; database search; massive record search; member collaboration; detailed family tree features; timelines; timebooks; DNA testing; Smart Matching technology
Resources:Census records; birth, marriage & death records; military and immigration records; member trees; newspaper articles; yearbooks; legal records; maps; directories
Customer Support:Email

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