April 26, 2017

Genealogy Giants: Which Genealogy Website Should I Use?

Genealogy Giants quick reference guide cheat sheet Big 4

“Which genealogy website should I use?” Gems editor Sunny Morton took on that ambitious but all-important family history question in her RootsTech 2017 live-streamed lecture, “The Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage.” Watch it below, catch a summary of what she loves (and things you should know) about each, and read reviews of the lecture.

Watch the “Big 4” lecture

The Big Picture: Which Genealogy Giants website is best for me?

Each site has unique strengths–and each person’s family history research has unique and ever-changing needs. You may determine that one or two of these sites meets your needs now. But learn all you can about what’s on each one so you know your options when your needs or interests change. For example, you may discover an Irish or Swedish ancestor whose records may be hosted on a different site. You may find you need DNA connections, which aren’t available on all sites.

The features discussed below are available to top-tier subscribers of each site. Many are available to Library Edition users and some are available to free users.

All 4 Genealogy Giants Websites Offer:

  • Indexed and browse-only historical records
  • Powerful, flexible search interfaces
  • Automated record hinting (if you have a tree on the site)
  • Help/tutorials for site users

Historical Record Strengths at the Genealogy Giants

  • Ancestry.com: Claims coverage for 80 countries, with strengths in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Mexico, UK)
  • FamilySearch.org: Claims coverage for 96 countries, with strengths in the US and globally; unique strengths in Central/South America, Africa, Asia
  • Findmypast.com: Claims coverage and specializes in 7 countries: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland; growing in US, Australia, New Zealand
  • MyHeritage.com: Claims coverage in all Countries, with strengths in Europe, particularly Scandinavia, Germany, England; also strengths in Jewish records

Genetic Genealogy: Which Site Should I Use for DNA?


AncestryDNA quick reference guideAncestryDNA: Over 3 million DNA profiles. Check out Understanding AncestryDNA quick reference guide by Diahan Southard, available in print or as a digital download.

MyHeritage DNA is up-and-coming! Read our most recent report here.



Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites
Quick Reference Guide

genealogy giants quick reference guide cheat sheet“Which genealogy website should I use?” It’s one of the most-asked questions in genealogy—and this quick reference guide answers it! Use this jammed-packed cheat sheet to quickly and easily compare all of the most important features of the four biggest international genealogy websites: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. Then consult it every time your research budget, needs or goals change. Tables, bulleted lists and graphics make this guide as easy to use as it is informative.

This comprehensive quick reference guide explains:

  • How knowing about all four websites can improve your family history research
  • How the sites stack up when it comes to the numbers of historical records, names in trees, DNA profiles, site users, site languages and subscription costs
  • Unique strengths of each website and cautions for using each
  • What to keep in mind as you evaluate record content between sites
  • Geographic record strengths: A unique table has an at-a-glance comparison for 30+ countries
  • How to see what kinds of records are on each site without subscribing
  • How family trees are structured differently at these websites—and why it matters
  • Privacy, collaboration and security options at each site
  • How DNA testing features differ at the two websites that offer it
  • What you can do with free guest accounts at each website
  • Subscription and free access options

Get the print guide here, and the digital download guide here at our store.

Additional Genealogy Giants Website Resources




MyHeritage Guide 2017

Reviews of “The Big 4” Lecture

“You may have asked, ‘Which is the best online genealogy service for me to use?’….I suspect this video [presentation by Sunny Morton at RootsTech 2017] will answer most of your questions. Topics covered include cost, record types, geographic coverage, genetic testing, DNA matching, search flexibility, languages supported, mobile-friendly, automated matching, and a lot more.

Sunny provides the most information about these four sites that I have ever seen in any other one document or video. This is a keeper! I have been using all four of these web sites for years and yet I learned several new facts about them, thanks to Sunny’s online video presentation. I suspect you will learn some things as well.” –Dick Eastman, Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

“We want to tell you how much we enjoyed the presentation about the comparison of the four major websites. [Sunny] did an excellent job and we were so thrilled with her presentation. She was so prepared and presented it in such a manner as to be understood. Give her our best.” –Eldon and Dorothy Walker

“I am incredibly thankful for your Big 4 session. I’ve never had interest in Findmypast or MyHeritage as I felt FamilySearch and Ancestry had it all…and hadn’t heard of PERSI either. With newly found Irish roots (via DNA), I’m excited to extend some lines that have gone cold.” –a FamilySearch employee