Where should I host my family tree?

Robert C. Bradley
November 2016

The Problem: If you are like me, you have many megabytes of genealogical data, gedcom files, HTML files, and scanned photographs and documents accumulated during many years of genealogy research. Some of this is on your home computer; other pieces you've put up on Ancstry.com; and still more may be up on your Google Docs or other free hosting solution.

As I age I ponder not my own mortality per se but that of my projects, including my genealogy. When I pass on I am certain no one will immediately take over either my work nor safeguard my online published stuff. Once I go, the services I use - the servers I rent or subscriptions I maintain - will cease.

So what I need, I think, is someplace that will long-outlive me; that can maintain that information without my input; that can make that information easily available to the public and my descendants; that is relatively easy for me to feed and maintain; and, ideally, that will allow my data to be improved - by correcting my errors, and adding new information as it becomes available.

My needs are probably similar to yours.

My answer: WikiTree

I've been using WikiTree for over a year, and I am continually impressed by the activism and energy of the organization. The system has a lot of great features, and a very active community and development staff. The service is absolutely, positively FREE. As in, you couldn't pay them even if you wanted to. There are no "premium" memberships. Further, they have expressly and publicly stated that they will provide all their data to be republished should they go out of business (in fact, their data can be downloaded even now, just for asking).

You can upload a GEDCOM file to start, or you can hand-enter the data for each person or event, or some combination.

The Caveat is that they (rightfully so, in my opinion) place a gread deal of emphasis on the proper sourcing of all the information placed there. Yes, you can put facts there for which you don't have a source, but it is discouraged.

The focus at WikiTree is on a documented, SHARED family tree. Personally, I think that should be the goal of every genealogist, but I don't think less of someone who simply wants to put "their" family tree online and be solely-responsible for its accuracy and the solo maintainer of it. But doing so puts us right back into paragraph 1 of this article: this approach is part of the problem.

If the idea of a family tree whose data is not "yours" scares you, then the next best recommendations I have are:

Further reading:

Ancestors Genealogy home