Friday, January 2, 2009

MyHeritage goes commercial

It was probably only a matter of time before web sites that offered a free family tree and/or a social network went commercial - charged for their services. recently did it ($4.95 per month for a Pro account), and now has done it. You can read the MyHeritage press release on Miriam Midkiff's Ancestories blog here or on Dick Eastman's blog here.

The press release starts by noting that there is a new version of Family Tree Builder 3 software which users can download for free to their computer and use at their leisure to create family tree information.

Later in the press release is the "news" that MyHeritage has created a tiered membership plan that limits how many persons can be on a person's family tree on their web site. The plan tiers are:

* Basic - free: Family tree size = 500 people, Data storage = 100 mb, Basic smart matching

* Premium - retail $3.95 per month, billed annually: Family tree size = 2,500 people, Data storage = 500 mb (about 500 pictures), Enhanced smart matching, Priority support, ad-free.

* Premium plus - retail $9.95 per month, billed annually: Family tree size = unlimited, Data storage = unlimited, Enhanced smart matching, Priority support, ad-free.

My Seaver database is on MyHeritage, and would require a Premium Plus membership in order to maintain it there. I don't have any pictures or documents stored there - so I don't use a lot of data storage space (I can't tell how much, the GEDCOM was about 6 mb).

When I logged in to this morning, I saw this message:

"Your family tree has 9,945 people. This exceeds the Basic subscription plan of your family site. In order for your family tree to display all people, you need to upgrade the site plan. We have a holiday special: 50% discount on our Premium plan! But hurry up, this offer expires very soon."

They are offering a 50% discount on a Premium membership ($1.95/month instead of $3.95/month - total cost would be $37.44 for two years with another 20% discount) and a 20% discount on a Premium Plus membership for a two-year subscription (total cost would be $191.04 for two years).

I think I will pass. I have had very few contacts from persons finding my information on I have my databases on several other free web sites and on the subscription site. The Ancestry databases generate several queries each month.

I downloaded Family Tree Builder 3 from the MyHeritage site - it took less than a minute to install on my computer (I did have an earlier version). Then I uploaded a GEDCOM file of 7,000 persons to it, and it loaded in less than 20 seconds. I will test it in the weeks ahead to see if it is a significant improvement over the earlier version I tested and discussed here (and in the earlier posts linked).

UPDATE 1/2, 6:40 p.m.: Tamura Jones has written an article called MyHeritage hijacking homepages detailing how installing Family Tree Builder 3.0 can result in a user's home page being switched to Note that Internet Explorer users cannot read Tamura's articles (Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users can, however). Tamura also commented on this post earlier today.

I worked a bit more in Family Tree Builder 3.0 and noticed that several of my complaints with the earlier version have not been fixed. Some of the "improvements" from FTB 2.0 to 3.0 require a "premium" subscription to


Kathryn Lake Hogan said...

Greetings Randy,
I have tinkered a bit with MyHeritage and now that it has gone commercial will likely not continue with it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of it and I look forward to reading your future posts.

familytwigs said...

SmartMatch is what they bought GenCircles for. So it only makes sense that they work it in.
With the 500 individual limit it simply doesn't work for me to have a free account. Though I did get the update for the program, I won't be using the new features which are the 'premium features'.
I am waiting for you to declare a perfect social/genealogy site to store trees.

Anonymous said...


I seem to recall that MyHeritage has had subscription plans for some time now.
Their announcement is not crystal clear about this, but I think they merely changed the already existing plans.

For example, Basic used to be for small databases of less than 1.000 individuals, now is for very small databases of less than 500 individuals. As a result, anyone with a database between 500 and 1.000 individuals has to upgrade from Basic (free) to Premium (paid) now.
I do not know whether it is legal to pull a change like that on existing members, I only know that it is pretty bad PR to do so.

Posted on 2008 Dec 11:

Posted on 2008 Dec 20:

That last posts starts with "Good news if you fancy becoming a MyHeritage Premium member", but I find it hard to believe that many former Basic plan members will consider the ostensible discount to be good news at all...

I guess there has been a message there for you for some time now, as you were over 1000 already. I do not think that you need to pay to keep your data on there, that they are only to happy to have it, but that they used to show only 1.000 of your 10.000 individuals, and are now showing only 500 individuals.
The limit of only 1.000 visible individuals would be a partial explanation why your MyHeritage database does not generate much contacts, and if I understand the recent changes correctly, your chances have not improved.

- Tamura

Xfaith said...


They have always had plans, there basic plan used to 1,000 they have dropped it down to 500 now. The others are about the same. I have not been able to test the other great features. They have always had smart matching, with 3.0 they have smart matching with merging.

Smart Research, they have always had this just not incorporated in FTB. I believe its their Mega Search from their website.

Hope this clears things up a bit.
I think Tamura also made some great points.


Xfaith said...

Also this issue with Hijacking, if people dont just blindly click through an install you will see it specifically ask you to change your homepage to Now if it does it in a weird way that you cant change it back then I can understand people's issue, but if it a simple click to remedy, its not a big deal.

Noah said...

Hi Randy,

Sorry to hear about your experiences. I just wanted to let you know that you are welcome to upload your GEDCOM to Geni. There are no limits to the number of profiles (or any other limits really) for users with our free Basic accounts.

Our Pro accounts that you mention add additional features such as Pro Support and upcoming features such as Advanced Search. Let me know if you have any questions.

The Geni Team

Lester said...

I have three questions/coments:

1) I'm having trouble generating a chart on MyHeritage. The PDF that is generated comes out blank. This started after I was using MyHeritage for some time. In the beginning I was able to generate PDF tree charts and now all I get is the blank PDFs.
2) I paid to update my MyHeritage to Premium. I was debited the amount on my credit card, but I don't know anything else about my payment. How long does my subscription run? What does it offer? Who do I contact for information. Will an attempt be made to charge my account after the yearly subscription period for another year?
3) I started a free Family Tree Builder account with a family tree because that was the only way I could generate a family tree chart. But I have done all my updating in MyHeritage (where I can't generate charts) so how do I get my information from my MyHeritage account to my Family Tree Builder account. I can generate a Gedcom from FTB but not from MyHeritage.Am I missing somethilng? Is it really impossible to generate a Gedcom FROM MyHeritage?
Please SOS. I need help.
Phone number? Email address? I sent a message top MyHeritage and got not reply.

Randy Seaver said...

Lester - I can't answer your questions, but I'm sure that MyHeritage will be able to once you get their attention.

I have several contacts at I can pass your message on to them if you'd like me to.

If you will email me at then I can pass your email address to them also.

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