“Is That Software Expired?” Why I Wouldn’t Use Obsolete Family Tree Maker Software

As Family Tree Maker software nears the end of its product lifecycle, many may wonder how far past the “expiration date” they should use it. Here’s my take.Family Tree Maker Discontinued

Ancestry.com recently announced that they will stop supporting Family Tree Maker, the popular desktop software that syncs with Ancestry.com trees online. Sales will end on December 31, 2015. Product support and major fixes for current users will end a year later. (Click here for full details.)

This means the clock is ticking for Family Tree Maker users to decide where to put their family trees. Or is it? Can you continue to use software after it’s officially “expired?” For how long? What risks do you take if you do?

Consider the “Best If Used By” dates we see on the food products we buy. There is currently still some life in this product, and will be for a year after they stop selling it. According to Ancestry, during 2016 “all features of the software, including TreeSync™, will continue to work, and Member Services will be available to assist with user questions. We will also address major software bugs that may occur, as well as compatibility updates.” So technically, the “Best if Used By” date is the end of 2016. But then what?

What Happens with Family Tree Maker after 2016?

The software will still function on your computer. But it won’t sync to your Ancestry online tree anymore, and there will be no upgrades to make it compatible with future computer hardware or software. So eventually, you’ll need to transfer everything out of Family Tree Maker software anyway to be able to keep up with evolving technology. That’s what happened to me with my first favorite genealogy software. When it was discontinued, I hung on to it for a long time, and honestly, I had no problem.

Eventually, however, the old software was no longer fully compatible with new operating systems and I had to upgrade. I took a risk in continuing to enter information into an obsolete system–and  wouldn’t take it again in retrospect. When it finally did come time to transfer, I was gambling with whether my system had gotten so far behind the times that it would be too difficult or even impossible to transfer everything. (Think how much our data transfer technology has changed in recent years: from floppy disks, CD-ROMs, CDs and DVDs to flash drives and now cloud-based transfers.) And I also ran the risk that there might be license limitations to how many computers my old software could be loaded onto.

Our genealogy software contains thousands of pieces of linked pieces of data: names, dates, relationships, source citation information, digitized photos and documents and more. This is not something we could easily re-create and I for one would not want to have to redo all that research (or even just key it in). Even if GEDCOM files continue as a universal file type for genealogy software, the ability to export every piece of information exactly as you want it in GEDCOMs is not guaranteed. For example, consider that when you download a tree from Ancestry, according to their customer support pages,”Any pictures, charts, books, views, or similar items found in the original file will not be included in the [downloaded] GEDCOM. Vital information, notes, and sources are usually retained after conversion.”

Why continue to load your Family Tree Maker software with data you might not be able to fully retrieve when you want to?

If you’re a Family Tree Maker user, I’m not saying you should panic. You have time to do your homework and carefully consider the best next step for you. You could start using new family history software with a reliable cloud-based back-up service for your computer, so your files are fully protected. You could migrate to another cloud-and-software-sync model over at MyHeritage (their desktop software is free). Click here to read more about those options and see current offers by RootsMagic and MyHeritage.com for Family Tree Maker users.

Bottom line: “Best if Used By” usually indicates that the sooner you finish consuming a product and move on, the healthier and better your experience will be. That is an applicable analogy for Family Tree Maker users. Research your options and move on to another product so your family tree will continue to grow and be healthy!

More Gems for Family Tree Maker Users

Here at Genealogy Gems we care about you and your data. Here are more resources for you:

What Ancestry’s Retirement of Family Tree Maker Software Means for You

Best Genealogy Software: Which You Should Choose and Why

How to Download and Backup Your Ancestry Data

 

Recent Updates: Online Genealogy Records at MyHeritage, Ancestry and Findmypast

At this time of sheltering at home, we’re fortunate that we can continue to pursue our favorite past time at home. Here are some of the latest genealogy records to come online this month. From my family to yours , stay safe and well friends. 

new genealogy records

The latest genealogy records from Genealogy Gems.

Ancestry

The first two items in this list of new and updated records is important for everyone who is researching their family history. If you had difficulty finding an ancestor in the 1850 or 1860 in the past, now is the time to search. Ancestry has updated portions of these two important census records. 

UPDATED – 1850 United States Federal Census

1850 census

Example of the 1850 US Federal Census.

Speaking of the census, all genealogists are looking forward to the release of the 1950 US census. We don’t have that long to wait now. The 1950 US Census is due to be released to the public in April of 2022. Until then, be sure to read our article answering the most important questions about this census. Read 1950 Census Substitute: What To Use Until its Release Date.

1950s family history

Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 181 for more about finding your family history in the 1950s.

Let’s continue on looking through the newest records on Ancestry:

UPDATED – South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1968

NEW New York, Episcopal Diocese of Central New York Church Records, 1800-1970

NEW – New York State, Extradition Requisition and Mandate Registers, 1857-1938

NEW – South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964

NEW – South Carolina, Chesterfield County, Original Marriage licenses, 1911-1951

UPDATED Berlin, Germany, Births, 1874-1906

UPDATED – Montana, Divorce Records, 1943-1988

UPDATED – Montana, Birth Records, 1897-1988

UPDATED – Montana, Marriage Records, 1943-1988

UPDATED –U.S., Northern Pacific Railway Company Personnel Files, 1890-1963

One of the important aspects of this update according to Ancestry is that “changes were made to improve the performance of this collection. Family relationships such as parents and spouses are enabled to attach to your tree.

Note: This database does not yet include the entire collection of personnel files. Currently, only the file numbers listed in the browse are included. The remaining files will be added to this database at a later date.”

UPDATED – Ohio, Death Records, 1908-1932, 1938-2018

UPDATED – Ohio, Birth Index, 1908-1998

NEW – Irish Emigrants in North America, 1775-1825

According to Ancestry, “This present work is a consolidated reprint of two pamphlets by Mr. David Dobson that shed light on more than 1,100 Irish men and women and their families who emigrated to North America between roughly 1775 and 1825. As such, this volume adds to the list of 1,000 men and women compiled by Mr. Dobson in three earlier pamphlets in this series, which were published by Clearfield Company as Irish Emigrants in North America. Unlike the earlier collection, which was derived from a variety of Scottish and North American source records, the persons named in Irish Emigrants in North America, Parts Four and Five, were found primarily in contemporary newspapers in Canada and the United States. Each of the two lists of Irish persons is arranged alphabetically by the emigrant’s surname and, in the majority of cases, provides us with most of the following particulars: name, date of birth, name of ship, occupation in Ireland, reason for emigration, sometimes place of origin in Ireland, place of disembarkation in the New World, date of arrival, number of persons in the household, and the source of the information.”

NEW – Web: U.S., Congressional Medal of Honor Society Recipients, 1839 – 2012

UPDATED – Massachusetts, Boston Archdiocese Roman Catholic Sacramental Records, 1789-1900

NEW – Maine, Piscataquis County, Deed Books, 1838-1902

UPDATED – New York, New York, Index to Birth Certificates, 1866-1909

NEW – Maine, Veterans Cemetery Records, 1676-1918

NEW – Maine, Nathan Hale Cemetery Collection, 1780-1980

NEW – Maine, J. Gary Nichols Cemetery Collection, ca. 1780-1999

NEW – Maine, Faylene Hutton Cemetery Collection, 1780-1990

NEW – Maine, Tombstone Inscriptions, Surname Index, 1718-2014

NEW – Maine, York County, Probate Estate Files, 1690-1917

Findmypast

Here are the latest new and updated records from Findmypast, the home of the largest collection of UK parish records online.

Middlesex Baptisms

Unique to Findmypast, these records can reveal details about the start of your relatives’ lives in Middlesex. The collection has been enhanced with over 17,000 new records from the following parishes:

  • Hampton
  • Hayes
  • Hornsey
  • Stanwell

Click here to search. 

“Our thanks go to Cliff Webb and West Middlesex Family History Society for providing these latest additions.”

Cambridgeshire Burials

Over 6,000 burials from Mt Pleasant Cemetery, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire have joined the largest collection of British parish records online at Findmypast.

These latest additions join the largest collection of UK parish records online at Findmypast.

Click here to search the Cambridgeshire burial records.

“The burial records date from 1881 to 1925 and have been provided by Fenland Family History Society. You won’t find them anywhere else online.”

Jamaica, Civil Death Registrations

Discover your Caribbean roots with over 1.5 million new civil death registration records from Jamaica. Brought to you in partnership with FamilySearch, these death records can tell you more about your relative’s life and death in Jamaica.

As you trace your Jamaican past, be sure to also delve into these other useful resources:

Dating as far back as the 1500s, our Jamaican family history records are essential for finding out more about your Caribbean ancestors. What’s more, they’ll provide hints for any Jamaican ancestors already on your Findmypast family tree.”

Newspapers

“The Caribbean-themed releases continue in our newspaper collection this week. We’ve added new papers from Jamaica and Ireland and updated a range of others. Brand new to the site are:

While the following newspapers have been supplemented with more issues:

We’ve added almost a century’s worth of pages from one new newspaper along with substantial updates to 10 titles from England and Ireland this week. Brand new to the site is:

As well as that, here is the list of papers that have had more pages added and the years covered:

Newspapers are a goldmine of information on your family’s past. Not only could you find your ancestors making headlines, but you’ll also get insight into the world they lived in, the kind you won’t find in other records.”

MyHeritage

MyHeritage photos

Thanks to the amazing new colorization tool at MyHeritage, their collection of old family history photos is larger than ever before. (Learn more this new tool in our article Myheritage Launches Colorized Photos!)
 
As of Mar 26 2020, the updated collection of old photos reached a total of 141,129,707! This is a great time to check your smart matches 

Now through April 23, 2020, you can enjoy Free and Unlimited Access to MyHeritage In Color™. Read more about that here

Photo colorization at MyHeritage

Click to read the Genealogy Gems article.

 

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Each week we scour announcements of new genealogy records online and share those we think our readers most want to know about. This week, it’s all about Irish and US records!

IRELAND CENSUS RECORDS. MyHeritage.com has added to its site “over 8.7 million Irish census records from the 1901 and 1911 censuses [which record every household member]. Both collections are completely free and contain images.”

IRELAND PARISH RECORDS. Findmypast.com subscribers now have access to an exclusive index to the National Library of Ireland’s free online collection of digitized-but-not-indexed registers from 1000 parishes, with over 10 million baptisms and marriages. According to a FMP press release, “This is the first time that the collection has been indexed with the images linked online, making the search much easier and the records more accessible. As a result, family historians will now be able to make all important links between generations with the baptism records and between families with the marriage registers. These essential records cover the entire island of Ireland, both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.”

(US) DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH RECORDS. Ancestry.com has added a new collection of Dutch Reformed Church records (1701-1995)  from 14 states and has updated a separate but similar collection of Dutch Reformed Records (1639-1989).

US MARRIAGES. Findmypast has just released an enormous collection of marriage records from across the United States. “Containing over 450 million names from 1650 to 2010…the US Marriages collection will, when complete, include over 100 million records, 60% of which have never been published online before.” A third of the data (about 33 million names) are already online.

More Irish Research Gems

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Census Research Tip: Why Look at the Same Thing Twice

When may it pay off to look at the same records or indexes twice? When you can compare them on different genealogy websites. Here’s an example for this census research tip. census research tip

You’ve probably noticed that some record sets are available online at multiple websites. At each site, the images and indexes you find may be a little different. Online tools for viewing and searching at each site may also be different.

For example, a digitized image may be faded, dark, blurry, blotchy, cut off, or otherwise unreadable on one website but clearer on another site. Here are two images from the first few lines of the 1880 U.S. Federal Census taken in Bay Minette, Baldwin, Alabama. The first image comes from HeritageQuest Online (available at public libraries) and the second is from Ancestry.com. See the difference?

 

 

As you can see, depending on which line you’re reading, one image may be clearer than another.

Here’s another census research tip: The online tools available at each site are different, too. At HeritageQuest Online, you can view the image at original size, 200% or 400%, and you can look at the image as a negative, which sometimes helps faded text stand out a little more. Ancestry.com lets you zoom in and out, magnify specific areas, and rotate the image or view it in mirror form (in case you’re trying to read backward text bleeding through from the other side).

More Gems for Online Genealogy Research

HeritageQuest Online Gets Better with Ancestry’s Support

4 Tips for Getting the Most out of Ancestry.com

Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 125: HeritageQuest Online, Ancestry Library edition and other great genealogy resources at the public library (Available only to Genealogy Gems Premium website members)

 

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