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Archives vs My Heritage

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ARCHIVES

For those who are new to family history research, the sheer volume of available services, records, and family tree sites can be overwhelming. Archives seeks to make it simple and easy to find out more about one's genealogy.

Archives has been involved in the family history market since July 2009, thriving through partnerships with The National Archives Administration of the United States and free service Family Search. In 2012, Archives became part of the Ancestry family of companies, which made it possible for their users to access many of the same services offered by the larger genealogy site - but at a price that is much more accessible for many customers. Access to Archives' services costs a reasonable $9.99 per month; family history seekers can search more than 300 records databases, create their online family tree and connect with the same multi-million member trees available at Ancestry, and benefit from a simplified search function.

Even better, Archives has a free 14-day trial; we suggest that customers trying to decide between Archives and Ancestry take advantage of both service's two-week trial periods, to see whether they need the more robust features and records offered by Ancestry, or if the more streamlined information at Archives would meet their needs just as well.

Overall, Archives is a solid choice for people interested in beginning their family history research, or even for more experienced genealogists who find Ancestry's price to be too much for their budget. Archives earns high marks for its free trial, easy-to-use search features, and affordable access to millions of historical records.

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MY HERITAGE

Based in Israel with additional offices in Utah and California, My Heritage has been making connections between genealogy researchers and their ancestors since 2005. With more than 83 million users and 33 million family trees, My Heritage is clearly committed to helping people connect with one another. In fact, their Smart Match and Record Match system automatically alerts users when any records pop up that might be related to someone entered in their family tree. Those matches come from My Heritage's more than six billion historical records, from census records in the US, UK, and even Nordic nations, to family trees created by users at Family Search, Geni, and My Heritage itself.

Where My Heritage loses us is when it comes to their pricing and membership options. It takes a considerable amount of digging through the website to determine that there are three membership plans: Data, Premium, and Premium Plus. For $119.40 per year, a Data Subscription allows users full access to My Heritage's SuperSearch and Record Match features. The Premium plan includes up to 2500 people in the family tree, Family Tree Builder Premium, priority customer support, and several special features like Timeline and Enhanced Smart Matching. Premium Plus includes all of the benefits of the Premium plan, along with an unlimited number of people within the family tree and the ability to use My Heritage's Instant Discoveries feature, which allows users to add a group of ancestors in one click rather than having to enter each one individually.

What do those upgrades cost? Even after a considerable search of the site itself, the only information My Heritage makes available is "contact our sales representative for more information". Given that the starter plan is already a considerable amount, we would expect much more transparency with their pricing plans, especially with some user reviews stating that the pricing may vary based on how many users one has in his or her family tree.

We also were discouraged to see so many negative user reviews, almost exclusively regarding My Heritage's pricing and difficulty in getting refunds. Many customers complain that they attempted to cancel during a 14-day free trial period but were billed anyway, and getting a refund proved difficult-to-impossible for a significant number of users.

While My Heritage may give users access to an excellent variety of records and have features that make family tree building a simple process, their customer service and pricing information (or lack thereof) give us pause. In order to improve their rating, we'd expect to see more obvious pricing information and improvement in customer reviews, particularly with respect to refunds.

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Genealogy

To help you find the Best Ancestry Services, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Archives and My Heritage.

Genealogy, or the study of family history and lines of descent, is second only to gardening in terms of its popularity in the United States. From TV shows like Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are?, to DNA testing kits that show an individual's unique genetic roots and relatives throughout the world, it's easy to see that learning about one's ancestry has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people.

In the past, researching a family tree was an arduous, often lengthy process. Vital documents had to be requested from local, state, and federal governments, and sometimes required proof of kinship in order to be granted. Many of these requests came with significant fees, sometimes as much as $20 per document.

Also, it was not uncommon for a request to go unfilled because the details provided by the requestor were incorrect - perhaps the individual was actually born in an adjacent county, or in a different year, or had a different name on his or her birth certificate.

Further complicating matters, most people's family trees contain ancestors whose native language was not English, making it even more difficult to locate and request information. Fortunately, today's genealogy buff has access to an unprecedented amount of birth and death certificates, obituaries, census records, and other researchers' results, just to name a few.

Genealogy services can help people find out more about their family history in a matter of minutes, rather than months or even years, through indexed records, broad databases, and even translations of vital documents from many different countries. Modern technology also allows genealogy buffs to take their research to the next level through DNA testing.

Often with just a simple swab of the cheek or a vial of saliva, curious individuals can get scientific evidence of their roots, connect with people who have shared ancestors, even discover family traits that have been passed down for generations.

  • Cost. How much will you need to pay to access the records and other information on the site? Are there monthly options, if you only need to find a few records, or discounts for yearly subscriptions?
  • Variety of information available. What types of records does the site provide? Is it a wide range of governmental data (e.g. census, death certificates, etc.), published information (e.g. obituaries and other newspaper articles), and family trees submitted by other users? Can the information the site provides be found for free on other websites?
  • Family tree features. Does the service allow you to create your own family tree and easily link information you find on the site? Are you able to connect with other researchers interested in the same ancestral line? Can you add photos, stories, and other personal details to your family tree?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Genealogy Services available today. We hope these reviews help you find your ancestors and discover more about your own family tree today!



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