Editor's Note: The email addresses and passwords of MyHeritage account holders were stolen during a data breach Oct. 26, 2017. Company officials said it's unlikely the passwords will be decrypted but recommended changing your password as a precaution. You can read more about the data breach at Tom's Guide.
MyHeritage is a great genealogy website because you can use it to search about 9 billion resources and build a family tree. You do have to pay to use the service but it’s easy to use and includes extras like an app and DNA test kits.
Like all the websites we tested with a family tree builder, you need to know the birthdays and death dates, if applicable, of your parents and grandparents. Entering this information into MyHeritage is easy and you can get this far without having to pay for a membership. You do, however, have to get a monthly subscription if you want to use the website’s genealogy search functions, view documents and use its billions of other resources. These resources include birth, marriage and death certificates, census data, military, immigration and legal records, newspapers, yearbooks, directories and guides, family trees, photos, documents and maps.
You can choose between two membership levels and while the less expensive option is much more affordable than the likes of Ancestry.com, you must pay for an entire year at a time, bringing your total purchase to at least $100. It might be worth it though as MyHeritage shows you hints regarding potential relatives or more detailed data about people you’ve manually entered into your family tree. You can approve this information if it’s accurate and save it to your tree. We ultimately tested the website using a full-fledged subscription, but MyHeritage shows you search results for free but won’t let you click on them without paying. We were able to use Google to gain access to those documents through other websites, which might work for you if you’re just trying to figure out something about one particular family member. That, or you can check out a free website like FamilySearch.
One really cool feature of this website is a “show neighbors” button. Available when you’re looking through the U.S. Public Records Index, it will show you the neighbors of whomever you’re researching. That way you can find out whatever happened to that lady who lived next door when you were growing up. One downside to having so much information at your fingertips is that when we searched for a specific deceased relative of one of our testers, we got a very large list of results. It’s going to be easier if you can narrow your search by a person’s location or age. We did discover you get access to yearbook pages through MyHeritage, so be prepared to see some acne and bad hair. You must have a subscription to access this, but we did find a workaround in that some yearbooks are archived online by the institutions that publish them, so you might check their websites directly.
MyHeritage also sells DNA test kits, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. They analyze the DNA you send in through the kit and then tells you which area of the globe you originate from within 42 supported ethnicities. This isn’t as many ethnic regions as Ancestry pulls from, but it’s still a fairly wide swath of the globe, encompassing Japan, Ireland, Italy and numerous others. MyHeritage even gave out 15,000 free DNA test kits to help adoptees find their biological families but many services selling DNA testing also have very specific licensing agreements. The MyHeritage website says submitting a DNA sample grants them royalty-free worldwide license to use that sample or any resulting reports. If this isn’t OK with you then we don’t recommend you use the kit.
You can also use MyHeritage on a smartphone app, which is free to download but like the website requires a subscription to use in its entirety. It’s nice for doing some research during downtime while traveling or perhaps sitting shotgun on a long car ride. You can send messages to other users in the app, do research and build your family tree.
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