Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MyHeritage.com is a Super Genealogy Search site

One of the problems with a blog post like my last one ("FamilyTreeSearcher.com is Useful") is that it doesn't provide much context - meaning "what else does the same job or better?"

There are several other web sites that provide some sort of "survey many web site databases" for a name search.

The one with by far the most web sites searched is at MyHeritage - http://www.myheritage.com/. You have to register to use the site, but it is free. You can input a given name and last name and the search engine will look in over 900 different databases. It takes a little time to do this, but for a unique name it might find just the database you haven't found yet. Many of the databases surveyed are commercial for-fee sites, but at least you get an idea that some information may reside on those sites.

For example, today I input "David" "Auble" into the MyHeritage search engine. It first asked me to specify some spelling variations (I chose "Aubl" and "Huble" - it didn't have "Aubel" as an option). MyHeritage searched 957 web sites and found over 50,000 matches in 129 databases, with 15 databases timed out. There are some web sites on this list that I haven't seen before - mainly English shire or town sites. MyHeritage finds entries in Rootsweb, USGenWeb, FamilySearch, obituary sites, people search sites, newspaper sites, vital records sites, etc.

All in all, it is an excellent search site, especially for an uncommon name. For a common surname only search, the results would be way too many to effectively find a nugget in the coal mine.

While MyHeritage was "working," it used 100% of my computer CPU for much of the time, effectively preventing me from doing anything else on my computer. I had to cancel all running programs, reload IE7 and sign back in to MyHeritage and Blogger. The David Auble search took about ten minutes to complete on my system. You can progressively see how many matches it has found and the number of databases searched until the search is complete.

UPDATE 11/29: Please read Gilad's comments about my post in Comments. Thanks, Gilad, for taking the time to respond to my concerns.

2 comments:

gilad said...

Hi Randy,

I'm Gilad, the CEO of MyHeritage.com and a frequent reader of your blog.

I'm glad you found our genealogy search engine valuable.

I have a few comments related to your experience:

1. You are welcome to add surname synonyms to the search engine. For example, if you searched for 'Auble' and 'Aubel' was not suggested, you can add it as a synonym and it will then become suggested in 'Aubel' searches from then on. This will benefit you and other researchers as well. Our search engine is special in that it can not just cover more than a thousand genealogy Websites in every search, but it can also do that for multiple spelling variations at the same time. It tries to offer researchers good variations to choose from; those missing are gradually added by researchers so over time, the system becomes more useful.

2. Whenever you search for a last name, our search engine gives you the means to contact other researchers who searched for the same name, which is extremely useful even if your search does not yield any matches -- you might find a relative who was searching for the same family.

3. We are about to add a major update to the database with several hundred new genealogy databases. If you are interested I can update you when this takes place so you could inform your readers.

4. The high CPU load on your computer while searching is the result of our unique search engine architecture. In order to search thousands of other Websites we harness the power of the computer of the user who is searching. This lets us scale and handle a large number of concurrent searches. The less spelling synonyms you choose to cover, the lower the CPU load; and we also provide a slider that lets you slow down a search so it will consume less CPU, but then it will take more time to complete.

5. You can save searches for free for immediate retrieval later on. So if the search took ten minutes to complete, just save it, and later retrieve the results instantly to continue going over them. It will remember which results you've already looked at, and let you add annotated notes to each search, which is useful for TODO items, etc.

We always welcome feedback and suggestions for improving our site.
You can reach me directly at: gilad at myheritage dot com

Best regards,
Gilad

Gilad said...

Quick update:
MyHeritage Research, the free genealogy super search engine on MyHeritage.com, has been significantly upgraded today. The number of important genealogy databases included in this search engine, has been increased by several hundred.
Randy, you are welcome to try it out again and see if you can find new matches. There is a good chance you will be successful because of the significance of this upgrade.

One of the most useful new sites added is JewishGen - the top resource for anyone interested in Jewish family research. MyHeritage Research now searches almost all JewishGen databases concurrently in every single search, which is a real time-saver.

Here's the link:
Genealogy search on MyHeritage.

Gilad