There are a lot of options now for which genealogy site you can base your research from. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing three tips to help you decide.
Please note that this blog post is not sponsored or endorsed by any company nor do I recommend any sites or repositories.
So with that being said, let’s begin!
Security is the most important factor in choosing a site to host and research your family tree. You are literally uploading and compiling your personal family information on there, so it pays to make sure the website is safe and secure. A good trick is checking if the site holds records in collaboration with government or state/country archives; e.g. government run state or county Births, Deaths and Marriages repositories or a national library or archive. If a government organisation like this is endorsing the family history site to host or list their records that’s usually a good sign!
Bonus tip: Do some research to see if the website has a history of data leaks or security infringements and check out their privacy policies.
2. Experiment: pick some genealogy databases and try to get a free trial. I have a blog post all about making the most of free trials here. If a free trial isn’t possible, try purchasing a month’s subscription as it is much cheaper than a full year.
As you use the sites, make a list of your likes and dislikes. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
-What kind of record collections do they hold? Are they relevant to my family?
-What is the search function like? Easy to use? Lots of options?
-How do I like the way ancestor profiles are laid out?
-Is the platform clunky? Am I frustrated while using it?
-How long as the platform been around? Any reviews? What do they say about security?
Once you have finished your free trials, compare your lists and decide what works best for you and your circumstances. For example, I am a professional genealogist, so I need access to a broad range of databases. But say your family history is largely based in Mexico; then you will need a platform that holds a large collection of Mexican records.
But it can be conflicting to choose…for example, I love the ancestor profile options on Ancestry, but I find that the search functions is so much better on Find My Past. Ancestry has more Australian records, but it does not have a Jacobite collection like Find My Past, which is a subject I specialise in. At the end of the day, it’s about weighing up the pros and cons with your budget and considering which site you would use the most.
3. There are many positives in choosing online sites for your research, the main one being in the event that something happened to the device you save your family tree on, you can always log in to the family history website via another device, even at a library computer if need be.
Always make sure that the site you choose has these options, and also make sure that you have the option to download a file (usually called a GEDCOM file) containing your family tree that you can save regularly to your computer or cloud storage as a double backup in the event that something happens to the website as well.
I hope these tips have helped you decide, and as always, happy researching!