Getting the best out the free version of is a great service.  It is undeniably expensive to join.  The good news is that continues to release more affordable membership options.  Personally, I’m still waiting for a monthly billing scheme that allows for monthly billing.  I hope that’s coming soon!

Despite the cost, don’t be put off joining  The free option still gives you some handy things to use.  The main feature you have access to is the family tree display.  You can see an example of this below:

An example of a family tree
A partial view of the Roane family tree

For me, this is far better than doing a tree by hand.  And it helps me keep track of my ancestors.

It’s also pretty handy.  You can click on a specific individual to see or add information about them and his/her family group (parents, spouse & children).  In the family tree view (shown above), you can move forward in time or back in time to see descendants or ancestors.  You can also switch between diffreent lineages too.

In my ongoing research, I come across family groups or individuals whose direct relation to my family – or other branches of the family – isn’t clear.  Rather than ignoring them, I enter their details into  I’m thankful that I’ve adopted this practice.  Sooner or later, I do find a missing connection that ties them into my branch of the family or another branch of the family.  It takes only a few minutes to literally tie them into the family tree on  So in many ways, acts as my database and repository of family information.  This alone makes it a very convenient and handy tool.

Once you start your tree you can decide whether or not it’s private (only you can see it) or public (anyone can see it).  There are other varying levels of privacy settings that offers (whether or not anyone else can see details of living relations, sharing family tree details, etc). While I have quite a few privacy settings activated, parts of my tree are available for members to see.  This has allowed other people researching the same families to find members of my trees in their searches.  They can see my tree, assesses whether or not it’s the same family as theirs and contact me through  This has been brilliant in terms of sharing information, filling in gaps and finding out more about new branches of the family that come to light all the time.  I’ve made great personal connections as a result…meeting family members I never knew existed until a few months ago.

The family members I’ve met via have provided me with photographs of my ancestors, stories that add invaluable depth and histories. In return, I can do the same for other shared ancestors.

So don’t be put off by membership costs.  There are plenty of free things it provides for you to build a family tree.

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