Members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in the process of being given free access to three of the large online genealogical database programs; Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and findmypast.com. One of the most common questions raised by these potential users, so far, is why do we need four online family trees? The main concerns center around the difficulty of keeping more than one online family tree in synchronized with each other and at the same time maintaining a centralized desktop database with a master file.
Before addressing the issue of multiple family trees, it is important to understand that Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com provide searching programs that automatically match individuals in your family tree with sources in their respective databases or collections. If you do not have a family tree on these programs, you simply miss out on one of the major benefits of both. Both programs find sources that you would not find by doing your own user-directed search. Essentially, the time and effort it may take to maintain the separate family trees is far out-weighed by the utility of the automated searches.
In addition, FamilySearch has made it clear on a number of occasions that there are plans to have the three other programs exchange data with the FamilySearch.org Family Tree directly in a manner similar to the way that some desktop genealogical software programs already exchange data (synchronize) with Family Tree. Even if this feature is never developed and the only way to exchange data is by manually copying the entries, having the automated search features are well worth that extra effort.
I have a few more days left to work at the Mesa FamilySearch Library and it is apparent that much of my time is going to be spent assisting members who have received the notifications to access the three programs. It is not that the process is at all complicated, but there are enough variations, including lost or forgotten pass words to keep many of the missionaries busy during the day. I was surprised at how large a percentage of the missionaries had not yet gotten the "invitation." I was sure that some of them had simply ignored the email notification.
I have been using Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com for years. If you have read my other blog, Genealogy's Star, you will probably know that I am a particular fan of MyHeritage.com but I am also an avid promoter of Ancestry.com. My judgment is still out on findmypast.com. I do not do that much English, UK etc. research and the newer family tree program still has a ways to go before it is fully functional. Unless you are sure that none of your family came from the UK, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, I would suggest that signing up for and uploading a family tree to each program is essential.
I noticed that Ancestry.com automatically uploads, at least, a four generation sample of information from Family Tree as soon as you confirm a new membership. If you have had a previous subscription to Ancestry.com, you will have to try and dredge your login and password out of your memory or records. Ancestry.com considers you to be a current customer and will tell you that your email address has already been registered.