MyHeritage Review

Executive Summary

MyHeritage offers a full slate of innovative research tools and a treasure trove of historical records that will satisfy those from the beginning family historian to the true genealogical expert

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MyHeritage Highlights

  • More than 8 billion searchable historical records on SuperSearch
  • More than 84 million registered users
  • Innovative matching technologies

Pros

  • Clean, attractive site design
  • Ease of navigation
  • Private family site with unlimited capacity
  • Global and diverse database of historical records
  • 42 languages
  • Free mobile app and downloadable software
  • Automatic matching with historical records and tree profiles

Cons

  • No monthly payment option
  • Not much search detail without paid subscription

Resources/Database Quality and Quantity

MyHeritage has more than 7 billion historical documents, 300 million photographs, 34 million family trees and 2.1 billion names in family trees. This collection, while not the largest in the industry, is nevertheless impressive in its size and global diversity. A typical query using the site’s SuperSearch, their search engine for historical records, brings results from MyHeritage family trees, public photos, census records, birth, marriage and death records, family history books and a lot more. The collection expands by an estimated 1 million records and 2 million family tree profiles each day.

It also includes vital records from 48 countries, military and immigration records, 1790-1940 USA Census, 1841-1911 England & Wales Census, and over 450,000 history-related English books containing over 91 million pages. Global searches of family surnames is made easier by the phonetic capabilities of MyHeritage's SuperSearch, which automatically finds results for people with similar sounding names with various different spellings.


MyHeritage now offers access to the BillionGraves database of death records and gravestone photos. The site includes a healthy collection of international records, such as Irish censuses, Swedish parish records, and Dutch vital records.

Search Results

A site’s search results is where the rubber meets the road. In our test of the MyHeritage search, we found it returned ample actionable results without a proliferation of false positives. Called SuperSearch, the MyHeritage search engine has basic and advanced search options. Using the advanced search allows you to search by names, events, relatives and/or keywords.

We tested the search using one very famous name and one obscure name of a relative. We searched for information on Harry S Truman (1884-1972), the 33rd president of the United States. The query brought back more than 2 million results from 673 records collections. The first results page had the correct Truman listings for the 1920, 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census, but nothing for 1910. There were 4,921 photographs returned. All of the images in the first five pages of results showed old “give ‘em hell, Harry.” More than 1.1 million newspaper references provided a massive array of articles. We also ran the search using the name of a relative who died in 1948. The initial search returned 625,349 results in 448 collections (we ran the search allowing for variations in surname spelling). The first results page had correct listings for the 1940, 1920 and 1910 U.S. Census. Newspaper results showed more than 600 references on newspaper pages. The books search brought back even a couple of obscure references from the Official Register of the United States, showing the relative’s service as a U.S. postal worker. The photo results, however, included no accurate matches among the first five pages. This most likely means no other MyHeritage users had posted photographs of this person.

Interface & Navigation (Ease of Use)

Using the MyHeritage site is like sitting down to dinner at an attractive, well-appointed table. Appetizers are set out, drinks are delivered, and an in-depth, interactive menu is presented. Whatever you point to, there it appears on your table. The clean simplicity and easy navigation are perhaps the main strengths of MyHeritage. Grizzled genealogy pros might be wary of the design, mistakenly thinking the spartan design speaks of light content. Nothing could be further from the truth. A newbie who comes to the site is asked to input just a few fields of information. Within minutes, a family tree is set up and research can begin. Genealogists of any experience level will find the site design a pleasure. The family tree interface is very approachable, allowing you to add photos and edit information for individuals by simply clicking on tabs. Each person’s profile view in the family tree has a section at front and center with possible record matches to explore.

File uploads were a bit slow for us, but we did not experience the kinds of annoying technical glitches common on other sites. We easily imported a GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communication) file from another source and started adding information.

Ethnicity Estimate

We're proud to announce the launch of MyHeritage's new and improved Ethnicity Estimate. The new analysis, developed by the company’s science team, provides MyHeritage DNA customers with a percentage-based estimate of their ethnic origins covering 42 ethnic regions, more than most DNA companies, and many available only on MyHeritage.

In addition, the Ethnicity Estimate will be provided for free to users who have already uploaded their DNA data to MyHeritage from other services, or who will upload it in the coming months. Users who upload their DNA data to MyHeritage, already enjoy free DNA Matching, and now they will benefit from the new ethnicity analysis too.

Our Ethnicity Estimate is delivered to users through a captivating “reveal” experience featuring animation and, as of this week, original music composed by MyHeritage. Each of the 42 ethnicities has a distinctive tune, based on the region’s cultural elements; all tunes seamlessly connect to each other. This makes the report fun to watch and share over social media. See this example here:

Features and Extras

MyHeritage has a strong and growing list of features, including a mobile app for use on smart phones and tablets, free Family Tree Builder software for Windows and Macintosh, free online family tree storage, the ability to import and export GEDCOM files, and much more.


MyHeritage places a premium on developing new technologies to automate family history research. Within a short time of importing a GEDCOM file to augment our family tree, they received a number of Smart Matches, which are matches to profiles in other MyHeritage family trees. Record Matching helps find new records and match them to individuals in users’ family trees. Users receive notices on their family trees of new matches, and can also get email notifications when matches are discovered. The Record Detective feature ensures that each record displays a summary of additional records and individuals in related family trees. Using the MyHeritage mobile app, users can record oral historical interviews and upload them to their family tree. MyHeritage offers users the ability to generate presentation-worthy family tree charts, such as the innovative new Sun Chart™ and family history books, which can be ordered with just a few clicks. 

The site operates in 42 languages, and has technology to translate surnames to increase search results from its global collections. Some of the features, such as Record Detective, are not included in the lowest-priced subscriptions, so it is wise to carefully view the comparison chart on the plan upgrades page.

Through partnerships, MyHeritage offers a range of DNA tests. DNA testing requires kit purchases that are above and beyond the regular MyHeritage subscription fees. Results can then be uploaded to MyHeritage. New DNA Matching provided by MyHeritage can connect users to relatives that they never knew existed.  

Pricing

Annual subscription - $110.00 USD, $175.00, $250.80.

Cost and Subscription Options

This is the one category where MyHeritage falls short. While the cost of their subscriptions are not at all out of line, the site does not allow month-to-month payments. 


Would-be subscribers on a fixed income have no option to pay a month-by-month fee. Although prices on the site are listed in terms of monthly cost, MyHeritage requires the full 12-month payment up front. This potentially closes off MyHeritage to a portion of the market. For those able to pay the annual fee, MyHeritage has several reasonably priced options, including Premium ($110 USD), Premium Plus ($175 USD) and Complete ($250.80 USD). The Premium option, however, is fairly limited in functionality in comparison to the other two plans. The site does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. It is worth watching the site, as MyHeritage runs subscription specials with prices up to half off the list rates. MyHeritage has add-on products and services, such as DNA testing through partner companies that start at $199 USD for a personalized DNA kit.

Conclusion

The internet has a growing cadre of tools for use in conducting family history research. The list of truly full-service genealogy platforms is still fairly short. With its attractive interface, impressive data resources and decent list of extras, MyHeritage has found its place among the elite genealogy sites.

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