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Ancestry vs MyHeritage vs Findmypast What's the Difference and Which One is Best? Girl Workers in Delaware 1910.

Ancestry vs MyHeritage vs Findmypast: What’s the Difference and Which One is Best?

Although we love free genealogy sites here at Family History Daily, and have spent a large amount of time curating collections of no-cost resources for you, we also love and use paid genealogy subscription sites every day. These sites often offer unique collections of records, powerful tools, and a lot of convenience.

Ancestry, MyHeritage and Findmypast are the leaders in providing subscription-based genealogy records, but a lot of people are confused about the differences between them. Which of these genealogy sites is the best? Which one has more records? Do they all offer family trees? Should I try all three or stick with one? What is the cost?

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The following guide is designed to provide a comparison of these three companies so that you can more easily answer these questions and make the most of the records they hold.

Before we begin, it is important that you know that we work with all three of these companies to share information, updates and promotions with you. Because we work with and use all of these sites you can trust that the information in this article is balanced and fair. We may also earn a fee to support our work if you choose to take advantage of subscriptions or free trials linked to from this page. 

What’s the difference between Ancestry, MyHeritage and Findmypast?

And which is the best genealogy site for you?

In the following comparison we have looked at 12 key elements of the “big three” genealogy subscription sites to help you understand what they have in common and what makes each one unique.

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One of elements we have looked at is the number of records provided by each company. It is important to note that each genealogy company uses slightly different methods for determining the number of records they offer – but, generally, a record refers to a specific piece of information of genealogical or historical use in a source, such as the name of an individual and associated information. For this reason, one certificate, document or newspaper/book page can contain numerous “records.”

Findmypast does a good job of defining the process of record counting here.

For our indexed collections, record counts are defined as the information listed for each specific person included. For example, each line on a census is counted as one record as it contains information about one specific person.

Un-indexed collections such as newspapers, periodicals and electoral registers are trickier as there is no underlying structure to determine the number of individual entries.  In these casespages are sampled in their entirety and an average is then applied to determine an estimated number of names.

Another thing to note is that many collections, or similar collections, can be found through more than one of these services. This list of the 20 largest genealogy collections online clearly demonstrates this overlap.

In this comparison we have focused on the U.S. version of a site, where more than one exists. Availability of records and pricing varies from location to location.

This information is accurate as of August 29th, 2018.

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Ancestry.com


Pricing: Ancestry offers monthly and 6 month memberships. Monthly memberships include U.S only record access for $19.99, access to all records (U.S. and global) for $34.99 and access to all records plus Fold3 and Newspapers.com Basic for $44.99 (per month). 6 month memberships range from $99 to $199 for the same selections. This makes the most inexpensive membership option $16.50 per month for U.S. only records when you buy a 6 month membership. If you need access to all records (Canada, UK, Europe, Mexico etc) you will need the larger subscription, which can be had for just under $25 per month if you choose the 6 month option.
What Makes This Site Unique: Ancestry has long been a leader in online genealogy research and offers more records than anyone else, as well a great diversity of record types and locations covered. Many family historians consider Ancestry a must-have subscription.
Number of Genealogy Records: Ancestry currently reports having 19 billion records. See the explanation above for how record numbers are calculated. We offer various articles on using Ancestry’s site here.
U.S. vs Global Records: Ancestry offers a nice mix of records for locations across the world. This includes Canada, many locations in Europe (including the UK and Ireland), Australia and New Zealand, Mexico and locations in Asia and Africa. You can view, search and sort all of their record collections in their online catalog here.
Searching Without a Subscription: You can search all of Ancestry without a subscription but cannot view most records unless you have a subscription. Ancestry does offer a good selection of free records as well that do not require a paid membership and you can read about that here.
Online Family Tree: They offer a very popular and completely free online family tree that integrates with their records and hints. You can read more about it here. We also cover it extensively in our Unofficial Ancestry Crash Course.
Downloadable Family Tree: Ancestry does not offer a downloadable family tree program. Family Tree Maker, which used to be owned by Ancestry, is now owned by Software MacKiev and is offered at a cost of around $79. It does still sync with Ancestry’s online tree. RootsMagic, which is available at a lower cost ($29), also syncs with Ancestry’s tree. You can learn more about both of these programs in our Family Tree Guide.
Family Tree Privacy, Sharing and Discovery: Ancestry trees can be kept private or made public. Both private and public trees are easy to share with family and fellow researchers, and public trees are included in Ancestry’s search. Private trees can also be included but the information is inaccessible to others unless they request your permission. Only paid members can access other people’s family trees.
Hints: Ancestry is famous for its hints, which show up on names in your tree and tell you that there are record suggestions, or possible matches in another person’s tree. These hints can be a wonderful way to build on your research if used carefully. Always be very cautious with hints from trees, however, as they can be riddled with errors and undocumented information. We cover Ancestry hints extensively, including dos and don’ts, in our courses.
Backing Up Your Tree: You can easily back up the text portion of your tree as a GEDCOM. Find out how here. To back up actual records you will need to download them manually and keep them together with your GEDCOM, use a tree that syncs with Ancestry (such as RootsMagic) or use a separate back up and organization system like this one.
Additional User Tools: Ancestry offers the ability to create charts and books from your research through a third-party paid service, but does not offer extensive additional research tools outside of their tree.
Mobile Friendliness: Ancestry offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices that sync with a tree kept on their site, and their regular site is also mobile accessible for tree usage and searches.
DNA Testing or Tools: Ancestry offers a DNA test and tools that integrate the information from your family tree with your genetic matches (they have the largest database of individuals to match against). They do not, however, allow free uploads of your raw DNA if you have already tested elsewhere – you must test with AncestryDNA. To view the difference between the ethnicity reports provided by Ancestry and other companies, see this article. To read more about choosing a DNA test for you, see our comparison guide.

MyHeritage


Pricing: MyHeritage offers three types of annual subscriptions, those that include access to their advanced online family tree site, one that includes access only to records and one that offers a complete family tree site, all tools and complete record access. Tree-only subscription prices range from $110- $175 per year and include advanced tools and extra storage if you exceed the 250 person limit in their free tree. Their record-only access subscription is $159 per year and their everything plan is $250 per year. This means that access to everything on their site (U.S. and global records, full tree and all research tools) averages at just under $21 per month – several dollars less than Ancestry’s World Explorer plan. And record-only access without the family tree extras is just over $13 per month with this annual plan (U.S. and global records). Every plan includes the free family tree, limited to 250 people.
What Makes This Site Unique: Next to Ancestry, MyHeritage offers more records than any other genealogy subscription provider. They have also experienced dramatic growth in the last couple of years in the number and diversity of records, the availability of user-requested tools and in their DNA platform. They have some unique offerings no one else has and are definitely worth checking out.
Number of Genealogy Records: MyHeritage currently has more than 9 billion records.
U.S. vs Global Records: Both U.S. and global records are offered and are included in all record subscriptions, no special subscription is required for access to world records opposed to U.S. records. As with Ancestry, collections are available for Canada, many locations in Europe (including the UK and Ireland), Australia and New Zealand, Latin America, including Mexico, and areas in Asia and Africa. View all collections in their catalog here. We also offer help for using the MyHeritage site here.
Searching Without a Subscription: MyHeritage’s records can be searched without a subscription, but cannot be accessed without a paid membership.
Online Family Tree: MyHeritage offers a robust family tree which can be used for free until 250 individuals are included. If you exceed this number you will need to gain a family site with a paid membership (see membership breakdown above). You can read more about the MyHeritage family tree in our tree comparison guide.
Downloadable Family Tree: MyHeritage offers a robust, free downloadable family tree program that syncs with their online family tree. You do not need a subscription to use it. Download Family Tree Builder here.
Family Tree Privacy, Sharing and Discovery: Trees on MyHeritage can be kept private or made public and several setting are available to tweak the level of privacy your tree has. Public trees are included in MyHeritage searches and are used as part of Smart Matching (see below).
Hints: MyHeritage offers something called Discoveries when you upload or add a tree to their site. The discoveries system attempts to match the information in your tree with records and includes Smart Matching that also looks for matches in other people’s trees. The Discoveries system is very helpful and we have used it to successfully break down a very stubborn brick wall. Although, as with Ancestry’s hints, we encourage extreme caution with discoveries from other people’s trees as the information contained in them can be inaccurate. Read more about MyHeritage’s Discoveries here.
Backing Up Your Tree: You can back up your MyHeritage family tree as a GEDCOM easily from the site and can sync your tree and its records to the free Family Tree Builder program mentioned above.
Additional User Tools: MyHeritage is the only one of the sites on this list that continually releases new research tools and they offer some unique ones, such as their Pedigree Map that shows your ancestors’ locations geographically, a visual relationship calculator, a powerful error reporting tool that catches inconsistencies in your tree and easy and free ways to create charts and books from your research.
Mobile Friendliness: MyHeritage has a mobile-friendly site as well as apps for Android and iOS. Syncing happens automatically across all devices when using the app.
DNA Testing or Tools: MyHeritage offers DNA testing and an easy to use system for using your results in your research. You’ll find a variety of tools to help you better understand how you connect with your matches, including surname and tree matching and a chromosome browser. Read all about this system here. MyHeritage is also the only company in this comparison guide that offers free uploads of DNA data if you’ve already tested. You can upload your own DNA here.

Findmypast


Pricing: Findmypast offers both monthly and yearly memberships at two different levels. Their Essential British and Irish package – which is $14.95 monthly and $129 yearly – and their Ultimate British and Irish package – which is $19.95 monthly and $179 yearly. The second package provides access to more records and educational materials.
What Makes This Site Unique: Findmypast specializes in providing records for the UK and Ireland. While you will find a very good number of records from other locations, such as the US and Canada, you will benefit most from using this site if some of your ancestors come from England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. You can see all of their record collections here.
Number of Genealogy Records: Findmypast offers more than 2 billion records. This is the lowest amount in this comparison, but since they offer a unique collection of UK records they are definitely worth using if you have ancestors from that area – or simply want to explore their collections. New sites and collections very often lead to new discoveries.
U.S. vs Global Records: As explained above, Findmypast specializes in UK and Irish records, but does offer many collections from other locations. Find their catalog of collections here.
Searching Without a Subscription: You can search the Findmypast collections without a subscription but will not be able to access the records without a paid membership. Some records are provided free of charge and those can be found here.
Online Family Tree: Findmypast offers a free family tree which can be used with or without a membership. There is no limit to the number of individuals that you can enter.
Downloadable Family Tree: Findmypast does not offer a downloadable family tree or sync with any other downloadable trees.
Family Tree Privacy, Sharing and Discovery: Trees can be kept private on Findmypast or made public to other Findmypast registered members. However, unlike with MyHeritage and Ancestry, they do not include tree data in their searches. Instead, they are developing a separate global family tree project. As part of this project those who choose can connect their tree and others can find and collaborate with the data.
Hints: Hints are built into the Findmypast tree as with Ancestry and MyHeritage. Read more about their hints system here.
Backing Up Your Tree: Findmypast makes it easy to back up your tree as a GEDCOM but there is no way to easily back up your records in a downloadable family tree, as with MyHeritage and Ancestry. Instead, we suggest you download records manually and store them in a folder with your GEDCOM, or use a system like this to store records externally and link to them from your tree.
Additional User Tools:  Findmypast integrates with Family Chartmasters, a paid service for creating charts based on your family tree, and offers many educational materials, but does not offer other tools such as error reporting.
Mobile Friendliness: Findmypast does not offer mobile apps, but their site is mobile-friendly.
DNA Testing or Tools: Although Findmypast does not offer DNA testing themselves, they have teamed up with LivingDNA to offers tests to their users. LivingDNA, while not as robust as some of the other testing services, does offer specially focused results for those with UK ancestry and includes a mtDNA haplogroup. Currently, however, you cannot integrate your LivingDNA results with your Findmypast tree and research.

So, which one of these genealogy subscription companies should you choose? Which genealogy site is the best one?

The truth is, there is no right genealogy subscription service for everyone and not one of these site qualifies as the “best.” Each one of these sites offers different records and tools so they are all worth exploring individually. You will need to review all of the differences and decide which ones are worth your money.

Utilizing many search sites and databases in your searches is vital to discovering everything you can about your ancestors. To save money, focus and organize your research around specific questions and then subscribe to and use a single site at a time if it offers records you need – or fit as much research as you can into the two free weeks you can get with each site (find links above) and then determine if an ongoing subscription is valuable.

We also encourage you to check out the many free records found online by reviewing our free genealogy lists here and here.

By Melanie Mayo, Family History Daily Editor

Image: A group of girl workers in Greenabaum’s Canneries, Seaford, Del. 1910. Wikimedia Commons.

21 thoughts on “Ancestry vs MyHeritage vs Findmypast: What’s the Difference and Which One is Best?”

  1. Several years ago, I found Ancestry has a problem with deleting records. If you have an attachment that is NOT found via Ancestry, and if you delete the record it is attached to, you cannot get to the attachment. The result is that Ancestry does NOT delete that profile, it just hides it. The best way to realise this, is to compare the number of records of a tree on “your profile” page, to the number of records as shown when you “List all People”. I had about 1000 ‘ghosts’ in a tree of 7,500 profiles. I told Ancestry about this, and the reply “Yes, we know about this.. we’re fixing it”. As I pointed out at the start, this was several years ago.

  2. If you want accurate dna results, I would avoid MyHeritage. I have dna results from MyHeritage, 23andMe, Ancestry, MyLiving DNA and MyFTDNA. My paternal side is predominantly Germanic Europe….the only dna test that failed to show any Germanic dna was MyHeritage. The others were all in the 33 to 35% range. One third of my dna…not found by MyHeritage. They had other discrepancies as well. If you download your dna file…you can upload it to most if not all of those sites,,,for free…and see the results. You will be very surprised at the variance in results.

    1. Ethnicity is just an estimate, I would take anyone’s results with a pinch of salt. They are only guessing according to the data they have

  3. Some who have posted comments here seem unaware that building a family tree is…WORK. It takes effort, trial and error, and patience. If you lack those, don’t start. It took me months of sitting at my desk for hours every day to build a tree of 3,360 people…and that number is mostly limited to many generations of grandparents and perhaps only 20% including aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. Along the way you run into a lot of incorrect info and spend time correcting it. Records are not always that easy to find, and I have my tree on 4 different sites each with its own available records.
    A little math to indicate how daunting it can be. Just following the parental/grand parental lines you would have this many ancestors through 10 generations. Each generation doubles the number of ancestors in the previous generation. Therefore…2+4+8+16+32+64+128+256+512+1024=2,046 ancestors. If you were including aunts, uncles and cousins for each generation….let’s be conservative and say that would amount to 6 additional people per each ancestor in each generation…then you would add 12+24+48+96+192+384+768+1536+3072+6144=12,276 plus the 2,046 for a total of 14,322. Try fitting that in your tree. Aunts, uncles and cousins for the first 3 or 4 generations is ok, but after that….stick to parents and grandparents….just to keep your sanity.

  4. These are the limitations in Ancestry:
    1) As the tree grows past the second generation, the program will collapse children into little icons beside parents names. The children of those children are completely invisible until you click on their parents’ icons. That means you can’t view the whole tree at one time. You can’t navigate through the tree without opening icons, which then automatically collapse other parts of the tree to display, say, three generations of a family. Is there a genealogy program that allows the entire family tree to be displayed without collapsing parts of it?
    2) Adding information to a new member of the tree can be cumbersome. The default entry screen only provides for the birth date / location and death date / location. Parents, children, and spouses can’t be specified on this form. You have to go back to the tree view (one click plus navigate to the person you’re working on) and click on the person’s name. That will display the profile form for that person, which allows you to enter new family relationships and events. If you’re entering a bunch of names, this is time consuming.
    3) The profile form doesn’t use sticky boxes with the name of the person you’re working on. This can cause problems. For example, if you’ve scrolled down on the profile form to enter a child under a parent name, and then decide to enter the child’s spouse or kids, you may not see whose profile you’re working on and inadvertently enter a name as a sibling instead of a child or spouse. You can fix the mistake by going back up to the tree, selecting the editing tools, and reclassify the relationship, but it’s a hassle that can be avoided if the form used a sticky box that stayed on the screen while you scrolled down.
    4) There is no backup option in Ancestry. If you’re working on a large tree and have more than one editor, it’s possible for one of the editors to delete information by mistake. The date will be lost without a trace.

    1. I have more than 3,000 people in my tree…do you think, for even a moment, that all of those could appear on screen at the same time? It is not even remotely possible.

  5. Thanks. Interesting and informative. Consequently I wonder what the cost is for a subscription to Ancestry UK if you dont live in the UK though the ancestry you are interested in are all English and you are interested in access to copies of the earliest English original documents (i.e. from 1538 onwards, or any before 1538).

  6. I recently signed up for a free trial but can’t afford the subscription fee so I would like to cancel my subscription /account plz thanks
    Alan Richards

  7. I started using Ancestry with a known birth certificate of my grandfather, filling in all the boxes only to find 250,000 matches and the actual certificate not even shown, never did find it through their search engine. I did a similar search with my Welsh grandparents marriage, and the same result, hundreds of thousands to troll through and the original not to be seen. I work in computers so it’s not like I don’t know my way around these programs.
    Today I use ScotlandsPeople and all the Scottish records are online, it’s free to browse and you buy credits, which are very cheap to view the records, unlike the American companies and the one British which I think fleece people and don’t give results, even when you are holding the documents you do a test run on.

  8. My Heritage is a horrible site to use. Very difficult. My searches kept bringing up Family Trees with no verification of the information. No copies of records. Several of my searches referred me to Family Search which is a free site. No need to go thru My Heritage. Found it very clunky as others have stated. Canceled my subscription but they got me for a one year membership. Took me about 10 minutes to find where to cancel. Would not recommend. Money much better spent for Ancestry. Their site is much more user friendly. Only complaint is they are too expensive. Cost more for world wide. Cost more for Newspapers. Cost more for Fold 3. Just goes on and on. But on the bright side I find the automatic hints to be very good. The automatic hints found me information that I would not have other wise found.

  9. Malcolm Dietrich

    I am cancelling my trial membership to MyHeritage as of April 11, 2019. The research was laborous and time consuming. Please send me an email confirmation that my trial subscription is canceled and that I will not be charged for the monthly or yearly cost of $89. Thank you

    1. You realized this wasn’t the site you needed to do this in right? You need to email that company. A comment here will do nothing. I hope someone helped you out.

  10. All three sites plus Genealogist have NOT had (in the last 10+ years) ANY records of my UK ancestor except one who shared a similar name but born one year earlier and died in infancy. So no point in researching any alternative records as he came out to Australia in 1837 (not shown in the 1832 UK Poll or Roll records either). No existing details where he was born in UK or any clues in Australia (incl. marriage which appears to be non-existent, but had 13 children). 10+ year exhaustive research without success. I’ve tried all three, eg. Ancestry, FindMyPast and MYHeritage, and for me, was a waste of money. I also paid The Genealogist fees to search for me without any success either. So I don’t have any complimentary comments. Sorry.

  11. I am so disappointed in this DNA source. I posted my first wife’s nam and all I got was her
    Family history, I got very little on my lineage which is why I chose this program. Next my heretage wanted me to change my password. I use the same password for all my on line business and communications and DO NOT want to change it, The company told me they would send a new one at least 6 times, To expedite this I waited but never received one! I was so disappointed I went to Ancestors.com and have had no such problems. In my opinion “ My Heretage “ stinks and I will let the world know on social media!

    1. Wow! I sure hope you haven’t been hacked. ALL OF YOUR ONLINE PASSWORDS THE SAME??? If they steal one, they steal your entire life, there goes all your money. I hope you decided to use different passwords since 2 years ago. KeePass and other programs can store passwords for you, so you still only have to remember one.

  12. I think these three sites (all of which I have used) should be compared on ease of use. I call it a clean piece of paper. When I started on ancestry, I found it very easy to build my tree and navigate around it. I find both My Heritage and Find My Past very clunky to use. I care about how much information is on my screen and how easy it is to navigate around. I like my My Heritage and Find My Past but not in this regard.

    1. I have to agree with you, Mary. I love how I can tweak family trees in MyHeritage and add notes to my heart’s content. But finding info on their site feels like a circus and I thought it was just me having a hard time. I work on trees in MyHeritage but find all of my documents on Ancestry.com, although I do maintain trees on both sites so it’s easier to pull up a name.

  13. I was disappointed yesterday when I got an email from Find My Past, it said that all the records that I have previously viewed, will no longer be available free to view. I will need a paid subscription to view previously viewed records. They are getting ‘money hungry’ like Ancestry !!!!!! I am not happy !!!!!!

    1. I had read this kind of outcome on subscription sites for last 10-15 years and decided I would use my own software so it can’t be ruined. Copied by photo snipping and the like…. IF ONLY THE “SNITCHERS” would reference our sources we would not be so offended. But we know the integrity of our information is evidenced up to three ways-so at least it’s correct snitching

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