The opening paragraphs of Pinky’s post here
sum it up.
In addition to those comments, the choice really depends on what you
want to use a program for – is it for display online, for storage, for hints, or for sharing within open or closed groups? What else do you want by way of access to records, newspapers, what type and where? Some companies are better for the US, some are better for the UK, it depends on your own specific requirements.
Most companies have free versions that will allow basic data input but are capped at a certain level so they might not be sufficient for your needs. You then get to the paying/subscription stage, with tiered payment levels for varying levels of access.
Do not be taken in by the claims about ‘billions of records’ as most of the geno programs have access to then, many for free. Learn to exploit the system (!!) for example a pay-site might have a better search facility but want a fee to see a record. Use their free search to gather data and then go to a free look-up on another site.
is meant to be great, some here use it, not I (no particular reason, I started with FTM years ago).
is possibly the best all-round of the paying programmes and it claims 2 million users. They own AncestryDNA, AncestryProGenealogists, Family Tree Maker, Fold3 and Newspapers.com.
(previously DC Thomson Family History, still owned by them via Brightsolid, a datastorage facility leaning towards Cloud computing.) Its family of online brands includes Genes Reunited, The British Newspaper Archive and My Heritage. They also work with the Imperial War Museum. Their subsidiary GenesReunited is heavily focussed on UK records for BMD & census data, military, etc. Primarily it is a publishing company, so the geno subsidiary could be spun off /sold. They have a ‘branch’ in Ireland. Their subsidiary Mocavo was recently closed down and users were given a free 2 week trial on FMP
- I’ve been granted access to a couple of trees on My Heritage and it works well. Based in Israel the company is heavily backed by venture capital investors who will want a return at some stage. They also own FamilyTreeBuilder, World Vital Records and Geni.com.
n is a British company, small, privately owned, founded 1995. Offering discounts to FTM customers. Has web hints that are linked to matches in a MyHeritage web page. Some of the matches can be viewed and confirmed for free, while others require a MyHeritage data subscription (Family Historian users obtain 33% discount on MyHeritage subscriptions).
Remember there is a big caveat on all database size claims and from all companies with a ‘links/hints’ facility, where a person on your tree can match with another, same name/age on a different tree – inevitably the links are incorrect BUT can be useful on a FEW occasions, if only to exclude a ‘suspect’ relative.
Let us know which route you take!