Best Tech Tools for Genealogy

By David A. Fryxell Premium

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Looking for new ways to make the most of the Internet in your genealogy research? These tech tools can help your organize your family history research and give you new ways of discovering information about your ancestors.
Compatible with most Windows genealogy programs, this free service automatically backs up your files; you can then access your data from anywhere via a web browser. It even retains up to 25 previous versions in case you accidentally delete Great-Aunt Mildred and her entire line.

Cyndi’s List

This pioneering guide to genealogy websites – 18 years and counting – totals more than 330,000 links in 200-plus categories. A daily newsfeed now scrolls the latest genealogy news, and Cyndi’s blog serves up tips not only about her list but also about online genealogy. 
Think of Diigo as sticky notes for the web. “Paste” a note on their marriage record you wanted to follow up on, and the next time you visit that web page your note will be waiting for you. You can keep your note private or share with a group, and access notes from an device including tablets or smartphones.
Evernote is perfect for saving you genealogy finds for easy retrieval. Click to clip a web page, image or text and save it to Evernote, then access it from anywhere on any device. The web clipper is now also available for Chrome, Safari and Opera browsers (in addition to Firefox and Internet Explorer), and if you have Penultimate for your iPad you can hand-write notes.
Enter the brave new world of genetic genealogy here, with the largest DNA database and a complete suite of testing services ($99 to $199). Need a crash course first? Explore the beginners forum, study the success stories and read the tutorials and interviews.
Well, duh, as they say. From web search to mapping, Google Earth to Gmail, translation to Google Books, it’s hard to imagine genealogy without Google as your all-purpose gofer.
Conceived as “Google for genealogy,” Mocavo – now opened by Britain’s findmypast – keeps going beyond that original mission. You can even add your own data to its search engine, uploading documents for automatic OCR-ing. And there’s no need to keep checking the site, as Mocavo will email you as it finds hits in its latest database additions (more than 300,000 of them in a recent update). Basic searching of one database at a time is free, but to do a global search, access advanced search features and download records you find, you’ll want to spring for a Silver ($84 a year) or Gold ($108) upgrade.
Another new site that works with your FamilySearch trees, Puzzilla gives you a mile-high overview of your pedigree so you can spot holes, dead ends worth revisiting and lines left incomplete. Click on an ancestor symbol to reveal that individual’s descendants; click on a descendant symbol to automatically launch a search in FamilySearch.
More than just a place to plant your family tree online, Tribal Pages generates charts and reports just like the genealogy software you pay for. There’s even a smartphone app (iOS, Android). Hosting is free, or upgrade for more space and advanced features.
This catalog of the world’s libraries now includes links to more than a million listings for FamilySearch’s Family History Library. That’s in addition to the 2 billion books and other items in 10,000 repositories you could already search for here (using your web browser or a smartphone app, then view the closest library holding your hits.

Back to the 101 Best Websites of 2014 main page.

From the September 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine