My Response to Ancestry’s “Business” Decisions

I have never done a rant before, but I think it is finally time…. 


Angry Face Gnome IconI used to really like Ancestry. They were my go-to company for everything genealogical. However, over the past couple years, they have really let me down.
First, I did my Y-DNA testing through Ancestry. Ancestry quit doing Y-DNA; so whatever matches I had when they quit is all that I will ever have from them. I had to transfer my results to FamilyTree DNA and pay them their fee. I really feel that the money I spent on Ancestry’s Y-DNA test was wasted because they canceled the program about a year after I tested with them.
Next, I decided to go “all-in” with Family Tree Maker for Mac. I had used Family Tree Maker long ago. I tried Mac Family Tree, Reunion, and Heredis but found that Family Tree Maker was better for my needs.  So I bought it, upgraded it, and learned the nuances of its use. Then I started having more and more problems with the synchronization between my database and what was at Ancestry. Whenever the two (my local and the Ancestry) trees got out of sync and corrupt, the answer Ancestry support had was to accept what I had on Ancestry and replicate it back down to my local machine. Of course, that would break any private information I had or any media that I hadn’t uploaded to Ancestry. I have a lot of private sources, mostly correspondence or interviews with living individual where personally identifiable information is included in the original text or recording.
I decided to continue with Family Tree Maker for Mac but stop any synchronization with Ancestry. My trees seemed to remain stable and I figured I could upload what I had once or twice a year and keep the public parts of my work fully shared. Sound like a great idea except we know it won’t work after next December when Ancestry quits all support for Family Tree Maker.
Ancestry’s decision to eliminate Family Tree Maker is more than just a nuisance. What it did was eliminate any trust I had and crushed my respect for the company. I now truly believe Ancestry does not care about their customers and will not support them in the long run. What they seem to care about is maximizing their profits. It appears that lower profit product lines and legacy products just aren’t worth supporting.
The bottom line is I do not trust Ancestry any longer. When the bubble bursts on atDNA and something newer and better is in the market, I’m sure that Ancestry will drop atDNA support too — It seems to be their way.
Photo of "Angry Mob"What can I do? First, I’ll quit using Family Tree Maker for the Mac. I know they will support it for another year; however, I will not. I will quit recommending Ancestry for atDNA, mostly because I can’t trust they will keep with the program. Finally, over the next few weeks, I plan to review alternatives to Family Tree Maker for Mac 3. Once I find a desirable solution I will begin the tedious process of exporting my trees from Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 to GED files then importing them into whatever software I decide on using. It is a lot of tedious work to restart a tree and fixing anything that broke during a migration from a GED file, but it is clear that Ancestry doesn’t care about that. You know what? I don’t care about them either.  
I know that for Ancestry it is “only business,” but because of their attitude I’m weaning myself off Ancestry products, ‘cause you know, it is “only consumption.”


———- DISCLAIMER ———- 


8 thoughts on “My Response to Ancestry’s “Business” Decisions”

  1. I agree completely. I no longer trust Ancestry. They constantly change things and leave us with a mess. I am in the process of weaning off too. I have five months left on my subscription and hope to have everything moved by then. I have already transferred my DNA to two other sites. Now for the tree !!

  2. Well said Josh. I agree with all you said. It breaks my heart that a company who meant so much to us because we love our family's, has now completely lost their purpose. They would still be profitable if they cared about their customers, but they've chosen to disregard us. I believe in the long run it could ruin them. CEO's and developers must never forget who their customers are. Good luck with your transition. So glad I have used Legacy for 8 yrs after switching from FTM. I have trees on Ancestry as well as DNA. Will I continue?

  3. Thank you for a great post. In my teaching I always recommended that people used FTM so it would easily work with Those days are over. PAF has always worked well for me and support is not needed. I bought both Legacy and RootsMagic and am transitioning to them. It is a lot of work and may have to be repeated in the future. Nothing is a sure deal in the world of computers, but I am very disappointed in for reliability.

    1. Susan:

      Since PAF has worked well for you, you might take a look at Ancestral Quest (AQ), as the Windows versions of PAF were derived from AQ. There is even a free version (AQ Basics) that has about the same feature set as PAF 5.

    2. You mention that PAF has worked well for you. If you are transitioning, why don't you try out Ancestral Quest? The Windows versions of PAF were derived from AQ, so you'd essentially be upgrading to a newer version of the same base product.

  4. Well, I feel like this is the first honest entry by a genealogy blogger I've read regarding the demise of FTM. Every other blog I've read on the subject has the same theme (amazing that they all have the same talking points)…no whining, why didn't you read the terms when you signed up, there won't be ANY desktop software soon Ancestry is just ahead of the curve, it's easy to transfer your data, ect.

    Personally, I've never used FTM or paid to use Ancestry (I do occasionally use my library's version of Ancestry). Most of the information of interest to me on Ancestry was from the family trees and while I can see the trees and even get images and documents from users trees, I cannot communicate with them because I am using the library version. I would love to be able share family photos and documents with Ancestry members and maybe Ancestry members will branch out beyond the Ancestry bubble and see that there are many genealogists with valuable information sharing in a free, public manner such as familysearch and other sites. Familysearch BTW has an amazing collection of records and are adding more regularly.

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