MyHeritageDNA Reviews 2021 — Is This a Reliable DNA Test?
MyHeritage is one of the main contenders in the DNA testing space, especially when it comes to genealogy. Its key advantage is that you can use its huge database to build an extensive family tree, but is that advantage enough to beat out other DNA kits? I decided to explore a bit further.
The ancestry test from MyHeritage promises to reveal the ethnic groups and geographic regions you come from by analyzing your DNA from a simple cheek swab.
By drawing from reference populations from 42 ethnicities and 2,114 genetic groups, the ancestry test should be a good choice for you if you want an accurate and detailed breakdown of where you came from.
To find out if MyHeritage could back up its claims, one of our researchers took the ancestry DNA test themselves. We explored and evaluated the results reports, as well as looked at pricing, support, and more.
Overall, it’s a great ancestry test. It gives you a detailed breakdown of your ethnicity as well as delving a little deeper by identifying your genetic groups.
Plus, you’ll get DNA matches and excellent family tree software, which you can try out for free.
MyHeritage is good, but it’s not perfect. We were disappointed that you can’t use this test to trace your maternal and paternal family lines. If that’s what you’re looking for, you may want to try AncestryDNA or 23andMe instead.
So, you know how at-home DNA testing with MyHeritage works and what to expect, I ordered the kit myself and it arrived in just a few days.
The DNA collection kit contains what you would expect: two cheek swabs, two vials (test tube) containers, a ziplock bag with a cotton pad to store your samples, and an unpaid return envelope, plus a set of instructions for registering your kit and for collecting your samples.
Before you take the test, you’re prompted to register your kit, which requires you to create an account and enter your test kit’s unique code. Don’t skip this step, it allows the lab to determine who the test belongs to. Plus, by creating an account, you can track the status of your kit, from the lab receiving your sample to completion.
I was also invited to enter the names and birth and death dates of my parents and grandparents if I knew them. This gives you a bit of a head start on your genealogy journey if you plan on building a family tree once you get your ancestry results.
An instruction pamphlet is included in the DNA kit, which thankfully, I found easy-to-follow. You’re warned not to eat or drink 30 minutes before taking the test, so take note of that and avoid potential contamination.
Providing the sample was easy. A simple 30-60 second swab of each cheek is all that’s required. Once I’d snapped off my swabs into the vials provided, I was ready to send them back to the lab.
I did have to pay the postage cost to mail my samples to the MyHeritage lab – which is an extra cost that you won’t pay for 23andMe or AncestryDNA – but it was less than the price of a coffee for express shipping.
5 Standout Features of MyHeritage DNA – Learn Where You Come From and Make New Connections
Your MyHeritage ancestry DNA results include an Ethnicity Estimate, which is a percentage breakdown of your ancestral origins from 42 ethnicities, including Irish, British, Jewish, Italian, Japanese, and more.
MyHeritage’s unique reference populations have come from people who have lived in the same region for many generations and were selected on the basis that their backgrounds were genetically representative of their region.
My Ethnicity Estimate shows that I’m 100% European, but it also includes a percentage breakdown of the countries from which my DNA originates. As you can see, the majority of my heritage is Scandinavian and Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.
Click on any of the regions highlighted on the interactive map to learn more about your heritage and how the genetic marker of an ethnicity may have found its way into your DNA. You’ll also see some of your DNA matches that share this ethnicity.
Although you do get to learn the origins of your DNA, it would have been nice to have some information on my maternal haplogroups, which is determined by analyzing mtDNA. This would show the migrational patterns of my maternal line going back thousands of years. However, you do get some information on the global movements of your ancestors with Genetic Groups.
Going one step further than the Ethnicity Estimate. Genetic Groups indicate the specific geographic regions from which your ancestors originated, from 2,114 genetic groups. They differ from Ethnicity Estimates, in that a particular group can be composed of more than one ethnicity.
The founder populations are groups of people who lived in the same area for centuries, only marrying within that group or migrating as a group. Over time this forms unique genetic signatures that can be detected by the MyHeritage DNA test. There are no percentages with Genetic Groups – you are either in a group or you aren’t.
My results showed that I’m part of four genetic groups and by clicking on them on the interactive map, I could learn more information about each one. This includes the top places the genetic group resided in throughout recent history, common surnames and given names, common ethnicities, and related groups.
Your Genetic Group can also give you an idea of how your family migrated from one location to another, over time. The interactive map features hotspots and a timeline, which you can play to see how a Genetic Group is believed to have moved around the globe, going back hundreds of years.
Each Genetic Group is assigned a confidence level – low, medium, and high – and even being a member of a group with low confidence is interesting, as it shows more distant ancestry.
Genetic Groups were introduced in late 2020, but if you took your MyHeritage ancestry DNA test before then, it has been added for free to your ethnicity results. It is also available to anyone who has uploaded DNA data from another provider.
Once your DNA has been analyzed, MyHeritage searches for other users in their database whose DNA matches yours. The DNA Matching technology reveals the percentage of DNA you share with your matches, indicating how closely related you are.
You are not limited to DNA matches just to MyHeritage users, but also those who upload their DNA data from other providers to the MyHeritage database. This widens your matching pool, making it possible to discover even more potential relatives.
My DNA matches showed that there were 9,583 people in the MyHeritage database that I share DNA with. You’ll learn how much DNA you share with each match, the number of shared segments, and the largest section of shared DNA. Using this information, MyHeritage estimates your relationship.
Advanced DNA Tools
MyHeritage has a number of DNA tools that allow you to better understand how you share DNA with your matches and how your ethnicities are spread throughout the world.
Use the chromosome browser to select some of your DNA matches and see a visual representation of where on the chromosomes you share DNA segments. This can help you determine if you have a common ancestor with any of your DNA matches.
If you’re interested in seeing how your ethnicities are distributed around the world, the Ethnicities Map shows you the most common ethnicities in each country and the top countries for each ethnicity.
The final DNA tool is the AutoClusters feature, which automatically organizes your DNA matches into color-coded clusters that are likely to be descended from common ancestors. However, to access this feature, you’ll need a subscription.
Upgrade for Health Insights
Existing MyHeritage customers use their raw DNA data to gain health insights for a reduced price without the need to re-swab. With the health upgrade, you get 48 personalized health reports based on the latest scientific research into genetics and disease risk. As no new DNA sample is required, your results will be ready in just two to three days.
Genetic Risk reports are currently available for 21 conditions. They will tell you whether you have a decreased, average, or increased genetic risk of developing certain conditions by analyzing certain genetic variants in your DNA. By knowing your risk level you can make better decisions about managing your health in the future.
MyHeritage also offers polygenic risk reports, which assess your risk for developing conditions linked to variants on multiple genes. By analyzing thousands of variants, MyHeritage can calculate your polygenic risk score for seven conditions, including breast cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The health upgrade also includes 27 Carrier Status Reports, which will tell you if you’re a carrier for certain congenital conditions that you can pass to your offspring if your partner is also a carrier. If you’re planning a family carrier testing from MyHeritage can tell you your risk of passing on cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anemia, and many more.
Family Tree Software & Historical Records
MyHeritage has excellent family tree software, which allows you to build a family tree of up to 250 members for free.
I tested it out for myself and was pleased to see the information on my parents and grandparents I provided when registering my kit was already formed into a family tree. No software download is required, it’s all done online in your MyHeritage account.
Adding new members to the tree is very simple, and you can add as much detail as you like about each new addition to your tree. Smart Matches to relatives that appear in other users’ trees or in historical records are marked with an icon, which you can investigate further.
However, while you don’t need a subscription to view matching relatives in other family trees, you need to pay for the Complete plan to view matches to historical records.
Pay for a subscription to the genealogy service and you’ll get a bunch of additional benefits, including:
Smart Matches to other family trees and record matches between historical records and individuals in your family tree.
Learn about your ancestors via SuperSearch, a search engine of over 14 billion historical records, 52 million family trees, and more.
Instant Discoveries allows you to add entire branches to your family tree with a single click
Reading Your Results – Report Arrived Quicker than Expected
In the instructions leaflet, it says results can take between 4-6 weeks. In a little under 3 weeks, I received an email notification that my DNA was being extracted. A week later I had my results.
The online dashboard – or ‘Davison Web Site’ – is easy to navigate and makes great use of visuals to help you understand your results at a first glance. Upon signing in, you’re given a summary of your ethnicity estimate and DNA matches.
You can click on the ‘View’ tabs on the right of the screen to see your full ethnicity estimate or all your DNA matches. For example, clicking on ‘View full estimate’, takes me to the dedicated Ethnicity Estimate page, where I can see the percentage breakdown of my heritage, along with the Genetic Groups my DNA fits into.
Clicking on one of the ethnicities takes me to a page with more information on that ethnicity. However, I found this information to be quite basic. When I selected my Greek and South Italian ethnicity all I was provided with was a bit about the culture and origins of the Ancient Greeks.
It would have been nice to have some deeper information, such as the genetic predispositions or traits associated with my ethnicities.
Overall, I was happy with the ancestry results. It was fascinating to know that the majority of my DNA is Scandinavian, knowing that my family has lived in the North East of England for at least five generations.
This recent ancestry was picked up by the Genetic Groups analysis, as was my Welsh heritage from my maternal line.
A really nice feature of Genetic Groups is the timeline, through which you can discover how your groups migrated across the world. It wasn’t an exact trace of my maternal line, but it still gave me an idea of when and where my ancestors may have lived.
Returning to the dashboard, you can also see a summary of your DNA Matches and how they are related to you. My results revealed I have 9,583 DNA matches, all of which are distant relatives.
Click onto your matches and you’ll see a full list of all your DNA matches from the MyHeritage database, which contains over 4 million samples. Listed with each DNA match is:
A percentage of how much DNA you share
The number of shared DNA segments, including the length of your longest shared segment
Your estimated relationship e.g third cousin
If your match has a family tree and if you share any ancestral places.
By reviewing your matches, you’ll see some additional information, including ancestral surnames and on which chromosomes your shared DNA is found. However, if you want to view shared ancestral places, a full list of shared DNA matches and ethnicities, or their family tree, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription.
What’s nice about MyHeritage is you get regular emails when new matches to your DNA are found. This is great if you’re building a family tree, looking to make new family connections, or are just interested in seeing how far around the world your DNA has spread.
That’s the entirety of my results. I would like to see more information about the migration patterns of my ancestors or more information about my ancestry from my maternal and paternal lines, but MyHeritage currently only analyzes autosomal DNA.
However, the ancestry report does provide some interesting insights into where my ancestors came from, as well as giving me a great start to my genealogy journey. Additionally, you can bet more with a paid subscription and there is a free 14-day trial of plans but bear in mind that it will revert to a paid subscription once the trial is over.
The base price of the Ancestry test is well below the sticker price of many other ancestry tests and just $79.00. I’d also say they offer good value-for-money, with plenty of interesting ancestry insights, DNA matches, and the option to start your family tree for free.
However, the cost rises significantly if you add the cost of a genealogy subscription that allows you to build an extended family tree and access records for potential matches from MyHeritage’s historical database.
However, if you’re serious about building a family tree going back generations, you’re likely to benefit from a MyHeritage subscription, which gives you access to 14 billion historical records, 4 billion people profiles, and 52 million family trees
MyHeritage also offers affordable health insights from your existing DNA samples. You can use raw DNA data from other testing providers, but MyHeritage users get a significant discount on a health upgrade.
MyHeritage’s DNA tests are available worldwide, except for Israel, and you can pay for them in your local currency via PayPal, credit card, wire transfer, or check.
MyHeritage publishes a frequently asked questions page, which is pretty extensive, providing answers for any query I could think of, as well as plenty I couldn’t. Topics covered include DNA, family tree builder, discoveries and research, health, subscriptions, and so much more.
Plus, there is a knowledge base, which includes articles and webinars that are particularly useful to those, building family trees.
If you need a little more hands-on support, you can call the support phone number relevant to your location, toll-free. The phone lines in my region are open 24 hours a day six days a week (with Sunday as the only exception).
I called on a Saturday afternoon and was speaking to an agent within about 10 minutes, who was able to answer all of my questions about MyHeritage’s subscription plans in a friendly and informative manner.
There is also an online form for email support, but it isn’t easy to find, which I found strange as not everyone wants to talk to an agent on the phone. I eventually found it in the FAQ section, so fired off a question about how accurate the ethnicity estimate is and could any ethnicity have been missed?
It was two days before I received a response, but the support agent was friendly and provided a thorough answer to my question, as well as directing me to a video, which I may have found useful if I still had questions.
Overall, I was impressed with the customer support from MyHeritage, I have no questions that went unanswered, either by the knowledge base or customer support agents.
However, not all customers have been pleased with the service from MyHeritage. Some have complained of being automatically charged for a full year’s subscription (without their permission) when their free trial ended. But this seems to be a rare occurrence, with the vast majority of reviews from customers being very positive.
Ancestry Results at Low Cost, or Build a Family Tree with a Subscription
When it comes to determining your ancestry, MyHeritage has a lot to offer.
You discover a percentage breakdown of your ethnicity, as well as insights into which genetic groups you belong to, from 2,114 reference populations.
You also get matches to those in the MyHeritage database who share segments of your DNA. You’ll discover how you’re related and have the option to contact your newly found family members.
If you’re keen on learning more about your family journey, MyHeritage has excellent genealogy software, which you can test out for free to build a tree with 250 members.
To access its huge database of over 14 billion historical records and other premium features, you’ll need to sign up for a paid subscription, which can be pricey. However, you can take advantage of a free 14-day trial to see if it’s the right family tree builder for you.
The only thing missing from MyHeritage is a deeper ancestry analysis. As they only analyze your autosomal DNA, you won’t get insights into your maternal and paternal lineages. However, you do get an indication of how your ancestors may have migrated around the world over the last few hundred years with Genetic Groups.
That being said, MyHeritage does offer one of the best ancestry DNA tests available. It provides plenty of interesting insights into your heritage and provides a great starting point for your genealogy journey.
The ancestry DNA test requires a cheek-swab sample, which involves rubbing a textured cotton bud on the inside of your cheek. It only takes around 30 seconds and is completely painless.
In my experience, it’s easier than spitting over and over into a tube – as you do with AncestryDNA – but you still need to avoid eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth 30 minutes before you collect your sample.
How accurate is MyHeritage?
In your ancestral Ethnicity Estimate, you’re given a percentage of DNA that derives from different regions. The higher the percentage, the more confident you can be in the accuracy.
However, it’s important to remember that, although your Ethnicity Estimate is generated by a highly accurate statistical algorithm, they are still estimates.
Also, DNA is not the same as heritage, and that the further back in your family tree you go, the less likely you are to inherit DNA from your ancestors.
Can you upload raw DNA data from other providers to MyHeritage?
If you have already taken a DNA test with another provider you can upload your raw DNA data to MyHeritage for free DNA matches, as well as matches to users who uploaded their data from other services.
MyHeritage has a wide international reach, with availability in 42 languages, giving you a great chance of being matched with potential relatives living in other countries. Plus, you’ll also get an ethnicity estimate which pinpoints your ancestry across 42 ethnicities.
How much do MyHeritage’s services cost? (Any discounts?)
An ancestry test from MyHeritage is competitively priced at $79.00, which is cheaper than most.
Save 30% when you upgrade to a premium subscription to MyHeritage. Add up to 2,500 individuals to your family tree, benefit from enhanced Smart Matches, and enjoy priority customer support. All for just $5.75/month!
Upgrade to MyHeritage’s Premium Plus Subscription and save 33%, that just $9.92/month! It makes adding to your unlimited family tree a breeze, by adding entire branches from billions of family tree and historical records.
There has never been a better time to delve deep into your family’s history with a huge 50% discount on the Complete Plan from MyHeritage.Explore 14.5 billion historical records and over 56 million family trees as you start your own genealogy journey.
If you’re interested in discovering your ancestryfor an affordable price, MyHeritage DNA is one of your best options.
MyHeritage also combines its ancestry DNA test with a genealogy subscription service, making it a good choice if you want to build an extensive online family tree and watch it grow. These subscription costs are also more affordable than those of its chief rival, AncestryDNA.
Build an Extensive Family Tree with MyHeritage
MyHeritage is known for its genealogy software and for having one of the largest databases of historical records of any provider.
But there is more to its family tree builder than that. It’s easy to further your genealogy research with automatic hints to potential matches to family trees and historical records, excellent photo editing tools, and numerous chart options that can be shared with the family easily.
The family tree builder software is compatible with Mac and Windows, or you can build your tree directly online.
Better yet, you can build a family tree with up to 250 relatives completely free or upgrade to a subscription to access historical records and premium features, including viewing the family trees of your DNA matches. Plus, you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial of all MyHeritage’s plans and try it out risk-free.
What’s the Difference Between the Family Site and Family Tree Builder?
When I started researching building my family tree with MyHeritage, I was confused that there are two ways you can go about it.
If you have an account with MyHeritage (no DNA test is necessary for this), you can build your tree online directly on your ‘Family Site’. Or you can download the Family Tree Builder, which is MyHeritage’s desktop genealogy software, that is compatible with Windows and Mac devices.
So, what is the difference?
Essentially, your Family Site serves as a communal place for your family on the internet, where you can start your family tree project or synchronize it from the MyHeritage genealogy software. Share your site with your family and invite them to help grow your tree and research your family history together.
It’s super quick and easy to create a Family Site, and no genealogy software experience is required. A basic Family Site is free, but Premium and PremiumPlus subscriptions are available if you want to access advanced features.
Your Family Site is accessed by logging into your account at MyHeritage.com and you’ll find your family tree under the ‘Family Tree’ tab. You also have the option to upload an existing genealogy project in the form of a GEDCOM file.
Family Tree Builder
The Family Tree Builder is MyHeritage’s genealogy software, which can be downloaded for free. It’s a good choice for easily building a family tree visually. Add photos and use facial recognition to easily tag family members in new images.
As with your tree on your Family Site, you can also view interactive maps, create various charts and reports, and get Record and Smart Matches, and more.
You can sync the family tree you build in the genealogy software to the one on your Family Site to work on your genealogy project on the go.
Family Tree Software – Easy To Use with Lots of Extras
MyHeritage arguably has one of the most user-friendly interfaces – whether you build via Family Site or the Family Tree Builder – with an intuitive method for imputing relatives that’s easy to get to grips with.
Being simple to use, it’s a great start for amateur genealogists like me, and there are plenty of advanced features for the experts to take advantage of, including the ability to upload an existing GEDCOM file, with great accuracy.
Data entry is quick and easy, and you can add an almost unlimited amount of facts to each relative, which will be organized into a handy timeline. Add old photos and bring them to life with premium photo editing tools. Other features include:
SuperSearch – Browse through more than 13 billion searchable historical records, family trees, and more.
Smart Matches – Get automatic matches to 4 billion profiles in over 52 million family trees from MyHeritage users.
Record Matches – Receive automatic hints to potential matches between historical records and relatives in your family tree.
Instant Discoveries – Add an entire branch to your family tree with just one click.
Device compatibility is great. You can use the desktop version of the software on Mac and Windows computers or you can access the online family tree builder on your portable devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Overall, I found the MyHeritage family tree software to be one of the best I’ve tested, particularly as I took advantage of a 14-day free trial to access the MyHeritage’s entire database of records, family trees, and other premium features.
However, there were a few little things that bothered me. Although the amount of records is staggering, that in itself is a little overwhelming. You may have to look through numerous records to find one that’s linked to your tree. Plus, once you get past 15 or so family members, you can’t really view all of your family tree at once. You’re restricted to viewing one family line at a time.
For the purpose of this review, I have primarily used my Family Site to build my family tree as I favor using a Chromebook, which is not compatible with MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder. However, I have also experimented with the desktop Family Tree Builder on a Mac, and I can verify that you get the same features with both versions, and each one is easy to use.
SuperSearch Through 13+ Billion Historical Documents
With a Complete or Data plan, you can browse through over 13+ billion historical documents as well as information from 52 million family trees.
Search through Census and voter lists, birth, marriage, and death records, military records, photographs, and more. Simply add the information you know about a family member, such as name, approximate birth and death dates, and location they may have lived, and get a list of potential historical records.
The best thing about SuperSearch, is you don’t need to know exact information when searching manually. For example, for one of my Great Grandmother’s I only knew her married name and that she possibly lived in Newcastle at one point in her life. With MyHeritage’s vast database of historical records, that was all I needed to find more information, including her birth and death dates, and marriage records. This ultimately led me to information about my Great Grandfather and all the children they shared.
I was disappointed that I didn’t find any matches to any photographs, but if I spend a few hours digging, I think it’s likely I would discover something, especially if I continued to uncover more relatives and ancestors.
Grow Your Tree with Smart Matches
MyHeritage’s Smart Matching technology matches people that you’ve defined in your family tree with people in other family trees created by MyHeritage users across the globe.
It works by comparing names, connections, and facts to millions of family trees to see if yours intersects with any others. The technology can provide highly accurate matches by accounting for differences in spelling, phonetics, and relationships.
With billions of family tree profiles, you have a great chance of getting Smart Matches, just like I did, providing valuable new information about your family. You can review your matches and save new information to your tree, as well as contact other family tree owners to find more new connections.
Learn More About Your Relatives with Record Matches
MyHeritage’s Record Matching feature looks for potentially matching information in historical records, which could be added to your family tree. Translation technology means that this should even work if the examined records are in other languages.
If a potential match is found, an icon will appear next to the relative’s name in your tree. Clicking on the icon will take you to a list of the matching records, which you can view if you have the relevant subscription, to determine if is indeed a match.
Once you have confirmed that a record matches your relative, you can add it to that member’s profile on your family tree, which may add to the information you know about them. For example, I believed my Grandmother was born around 1934, but a historical record confirmed it as actually 1930. Knowing the age difference between my Grandparents, I could then alter my Grandfather’s birth date accordingly.
Excellent Photo Enhancing Tools
MyHeritage has some of the best photo editing tools of any family tree builder I have used so far. Upload your faded color or black and white photos and bring them back to life with color restoration technology. You can also enhance poor-quality photos automatically and bring the faces of your relative into sharp focus. With a Complete plan, you can colorize and enhance an unlimited number of photos or up to 10 with a free account.
Perhaps the most exciting photo enhancing tool from MyHeritage is Deep Nostalgia. It allows you to enhance and animate the faces in your old family photos, which really brings your family history to life.
I had to try out the technology using an old family photo featuring my Grandmother and Great Grandmother. Although the photograph I had wasn’t of the best quality, I was really impressed by how well it was enhanced and being able to see my long-missed relatives smile.
Don’t worry if you only have physical photographs, it’s very easy to use the MyHeritage mobile app to scan and upload your photos and animate them in just one click.
You can create several animations for free, but they will be watermarked with the MyHeritage logo. For unlimited animations that have no watermark, you’ll need a Complete subscription.
Avoid Making Mistakes with the Consistency Checker
The Tree Consistency Checker is a tool that scans your family tree and identifies any mistakes or inconsistencies in your data, so you can quickly make any changes necessary, improving its accuracy. It employs dozens of different checks, from the obvious (e.g. if a child was born before their parent) to the harder to find (e.g. if a relative was tagged in a photo taken before someone was born).
The Consistency Checker picked up a few issues with my tree, which I was able to rectify and in turn helped lead me to new record matches. It showed that I needed to mark a number of my relatives as deceased as they are likely to be too old to still be living. Plus, for a few of my female relatives, the Maiden name was the same as the Married name, which would be unlikely. Each inconsistency can be rectified with a single click.
Growing Your Tree is Easy if You Pay for a Subscription
I found building a family tree online with MyHeritage to be very easy, thanks to a simple method of data entry and user-friendly interface.
Using myself as the root person of my family tree, it took just a little over half an hour to add around 10 relatives. That exhausted my personal knowledge, but luckily, by this point, there were a number of on-screen hints to Record Matches.
Clicking on the icon takes you to the potential matching records, and once you have confirmed a match, you can extract information directly from the record to your family tree.
I found that the more you extract from the historical records the likelier you are to get further matches. For example, I found a census record for one of my Grandparents from when he was a young boy, which included everyone that lived in the household at the time. This enabled me to add almost an entire branch to my family tree with a single click.
You also have the power of MyHeritage’s Record Detective software to help further your research. It scans the record you’re currently viewing and locates additional records and family tree profiles related to this person. It doesn’t have a 100% success rate, but it did help me to find new information that I could save to my tree.
You can save all the historical records to the profiles of family members in case you want to look at them again or share them with relatives. The most astonishing record I found was from the 1939 Census, which showed where my Grandmother was living when she was evacuated during the start of the Second World War. She was evacuated out of the city to live with evacuee volunteers with other children in the countryside. She was just 9 years old at the time.
Another avenue of research to follow comes with Smart Matches which matches people in your family tree with people in other family trees. With tens of millions of family trees created with MyHeritage, there is a good chance you’ll get lucky with a match.
Other features I liked included an interactive map feature to map out where your ancestors lived, the automatically generated timeline of significant events for each family member, and the wide variety of visually appealing charts, which can be shared with family or printed as posters and booklets.
There wasn’t much about the MyHeritage genealogy program I didn’t like. I feel maybe those with Australian or US ancestry may find more matches in historical records. That’s not to say I didn’t find a lot of information.
In just one day, I had tripled the size of my family tree and managed to find relatives going back five generations. Plus, I have many more lines of inquiry to follow to expand my family tree further.
I have no doubt that I wouldn’t have got anywhere near that far without a subscription to view historical records. It may seem expensive, but you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial to see if it is worth the cost for you. Plus, MyHeritage’s subscription cost is lower than many of its competitors.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to purchase a DNA test to access the family tree software but to take advantage of historical records and premium features you will need to purchase a subscription. Thankfully, the first year of a subscription is usually heavily discounted from the cost of subsequent ones. Plus, you can try the genealogy service out before making a commitment with a 14-day free trial.
There is also a free basic plan, which lets you add up to 250 people to a family tree. While some nice features are present – such as the photo colorizer – the free plan only really hints at what is possible with a paid plan.
The Premium plan provides access to the Smart Matching system so that you can review potential matches and grow your tree to include up to 2,500 people. The PremiumPlus plan additionally lets you add multiple branches to your tree with one click, and it allows access to MyHeritage’s consistency checker to ensure your tree doesn’t have any errors. Plus, you can add unlimited entries to your tree.
Separately, MyHeritage offers a Data plan that lets you search through and review the 13+ billion records, although it limits your family tree size to 250 people. At the other end of the spectrum, the Complete package provides access to everything – the full database, all of MyHeritage’s matching algorithms, and customer support – and it lets you add an unlimited number of people to your tree.
A Great Knowledge Base But There’s Room for Improvement
The MyHeritage website has an excellent Help Center to answer a wide range of FAQs as well as a Knowledge Base that is full of educational content, which helps you make the most of your research for your genealogy project. This includes step-by-step how-to videos, tips for searching through certain records, and many interesting webinars.
There is currently no live chat support option, but you can contact customer support via email if you can find the email address. I eventually located it in the FAQ section and sent off an inquiry hoping for more clarity on the difference between the Family Site and Family Tree Builder.
Unfortunately, it was almost a week before I received a response, but instead of addressing my specific inquiry, I was directed to an FAQ page that I had already read and didn’t have the answers I was looking for.
Luckily, I didn’t experience the same disappointment with telephone support. It took less than 15 minutes to be connected to an operator and she patiently talked me through any differences between my Family Site and the Family Tree Builder, assuring me that wherever I build my family tree I would have access to any and all features.
You can call up customer support in your location, toll-free and I was pleased to note that the phone lines in my region are open 24 hours a day, six days a week (with the exception of Sunday). You will have to answer some questions to verify you’re the account holder, but it shouldn’t take too long and I actually appreciated the extra security.
Overall, customer service seemed to be a tale of two halves. Email support was disappointing on this occasion, but I have had faster responses from the email support team in the past, and I did receive an apology for the delay. On the other hand, I couldn’t have been happier with telephone support. and wouldn’t hesitate to contact them again if I had any questions.
I found building a family tree with MyHeritage not to be just easy and simple, but also enjoyable thanks to Record Matching, SuperSearch, and excellent photo editing software.
Whether you choose to build your tree through your Family Site online or with the downloadable Family Tree Builder you’ll get the same features.
I personally prefer the convenience of working online through my personal Family Site. It is easy to invite relatives to collaborate on your tree, I find the visuals more appealing, I can easily consult my DNA matches and link my DNA test to my tree, and I found it generally smoother to use.
Plus, if you’re managing more than one family tree, you can switch between them with just a click of the mouse. Additionally, you can work on your family tree anywhere on any computer through your Family Site.
However, old-school genealogists may be more familiar with the input method of the Family Tree Builder, the classic dashboard, and the extra tools to check for inaccuracies, such as checking for duplicate and deceased people.
Overall, whichever version of MyHeritage’s genealogy software you choose, you will benefit from advanced features and access to over 13 billion historical records (with a subscription). Plus, you have the option to work between the two, thanks to the ability to sync your Family Tree Builder tree to the one you have on your online Family Site, and vice versa.
Extensive database of over 13 billion historical records
Smart Matching to find potential relatives
Easy integration with MyHeritage DNA testing
Advanced photo enhancing tools to bring your tree to life
Plenty of visually appealing chart options to choose from
Access to historical records is not included in the lower tier plans
Some search results are irrelevant
Customer support is not perfect
Can you build a family tree for FREE with MyHeritage?
Yes, you can start building your family tree for free with MyHeritage with the Basic plan. It allows you to add up to 250 individuals to your tree with a storage space of 500 MB for photographs and scanned documents.
Can I upload an existing family tree project to MyHeritage?
Yes, you can easily import your family tree from another genealogy program in the form of a GEDCOM file, which is the most widely recognized file format for family trees.
Will I benefit from a MyHeritage subscription?
If you want to build an extensive family tree that’s well researched, you’re likely to benefit from a subscription to historical records. This will help you significantly when it comes to expanding your tree beyond your personal knowledge. With access to over 13 billion historical records, there’s a great chance you’ll find information on new relatives and gain insights into their lives.
Do I need to take a MyHeritage DNA test to be able to build a family tree?
No, absolutely not! To us MyHeritage’s family tree builder, all you need is to create an account (and download the free software if you prefer), and you’re ready to go.
If you do take a MyHeritage DNA test, you’ll get DNA matches, which may help you find additional family connections and relatives to add to your family tree.
How much does it cost for a MyHeritage subscription?
You can start your genealogy journey for free with MyHeritage, but if you do want to access historical records and premium features, you’ll need to sign up for an annual subscription. There are four annual subscription plans:
Complete Plan (£229/year or 1st year: £139) – Get everything MyHeritage has to offer and create a family tree of unlimited size, access 13.1 historical records, advanced DNA features, priority customer support, and more.
Data Plan (£129/year or 1st year: £79) – Access to all historical records, create a tree with up to 250 people, and get Record Matches.
Premium Family Tree Plan (£89/year or 1st year: £59) – Build a family tree of up to 2,500, access Smart Matches and advanced DNA features, and enjoy priority customer support.
PremiumPlus Family Tree Plan (£169/year or 1st year: £109) – Get all the features of the Premium Plan, as well as Instant Discoveries, Consistency Checker, and build a family tree of unlimited size.
Gemma is an Applied Biology graduate who has always had an interest in DNA, spending a few years after her degree researching epigenetics. She always keeps up to date with the latest advancements in DNA technology and has even DNA-tested her puppy.
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