Review Review – Building A World Family Tree!

If you want to discover your family tree then you will need to join a genealogy site. But which one? Well, this review will show you what this website has to offer and whether it is right for you or not. Review

* Affiliate Disclaimer *

Within this review, I will discuss what you can expect from this website, the free and subscription packages that are on offer, and whether I recommend it or not.

So, if you want to learn more about then please read on. Rating and Details

RatingRating Stars - 3.5(3.5/5)
Pro Subscription$119.40 per year
Yes, but there are limitations with free membership
Family Tree Builder
Other FeaturesSmartCopy
Help & Support
Video Tutorials, FAQs, Community Help, Tickets, Bug Reporting
Bottom Line
Great opportunity to help build a world family tree!

What is Geni about?

This is both a genealogy search website and a social network where you can connect with fellow family historians and even your distant cousins as well.

Launching in January 2007 its’ founders wanted to create a family tree of the world, (much like the One Great Family website).

Please rest your worries as family profiles are kept private, while a shared family tree can be seen by every member.

Users can work on this tree together, which helps to eliminate duplicate work. If you are familiar with family trees on sites such as Ancestry or FindMyPast you will undoubtedly have seen many similar trees on members’ profiles.

According to Wikipedia as of August 2017, there were over 115 million profiles that had been created by over 11 million users.


About the company

Geni’s parent company is MyHeritage which is another genealogy site that you can build a family tree. MyHeritage purchased Geni back in November 2012.

MyHeritage also provides a DNA testing kit that can help you to break down any brick walls in your research that you may have encountered.

Before taking such a test I would advise that you first research your family tree for a while. Get yourself used to genealogy before you go down that path.

MyHeritage is a private company that has its roots in Israel, although they do have their headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

Discussed in this post:

When you have finished checking out this site review why not check out my Best Genealogy Sites For Your Family History Research post.

And then after that head on over to Top Ten Reviews where they review the ten best genealogy search websites that are both free to use and subscription-based.

Express Your Thoughts Below

Express Your Thoughts Below!

I would love to hear from you.

Tools and Features!

I’ve briefly explained to you what Geni is all about, but let’s look a little bit closer at the tools and features that this website has to offer.

Family Tree Builder

Creating your family tree is simple at this site. When you visit Geni you will see a box where you can fill in information about yourself. -Family Tree Builder

From this box, you select whether you are Male or Female, and then enter your full name followed by your email address.

You then simply click on the ‘Start My Family Tree‘ button to get started on your genealogy adventure.

If you have already signed up to the site then you can log into your account from this box, (by clicking on ‘Log In’).

Or, you can click on ‘Log In’ at the top-right of the screen. You can even log in via Facebook.

So, it’s a very social website in that respect.

Creating your tree

Geni is different from the other genealogy sites as it requires you to enter the email addresses of your parents, siblings, and other relatives, (if known).

This is to help connect with other members of the site.

From this feature, you can invite family members to join the site to contribute research for your tree. That’s what makes it a social website.

Please be advised that information can only be seen within your group of people, and providing that they have permitted you.

Search and View

Searching other members’ trees can be done simply on the site. However, you may be limited to what you can see if they have made certain aspects of their tree confidential.

You are also able to view trees that are held on MyHeritage, but you will need to have an additional subscription with this site to get full access to their records.

Family Tree Awards

There is an interesting initiative that I quite like within this website.

To help encourage people to contribute details about their family tree members of a family group are given awards.

Categories include:

  • Number of Profiles Added
  • Number of Invitations Made,
  • Photos Uploaded

These awards are given to the top 13 people in each category.

Discussion Forums and Projects

To make it even easier to contact and share information with your family members there is a discussion forum available for everyone.

From here messages can be posted and replied to.

The forum is great to announce any family news, ask any questions or even discuss projects that your family can help you with.


Another initiative that I quite like about this website is that they notify you of any changes or updates that have been made on your tree.

For example:

  • New people added to the tree,
  • New pictures uploaded,
  • A new message was posted to the forum,
  • Someone celebrating their birthday.

The frequency of these notifications can also be set, this includes none, instant, daily or weekly.

Import and Export

If you are familiar with genealogy research then you will understand the importance of a GEDCOM file.

This file contains information about your family tree that can be shared easily between people. As this file is universal this means that you can import it into any genealogy software program that you are using.

Geni makes it possible for you to export your family tree if you wish to.

However, unfortunately, Geni does not allow you to import your GEDCOM file. So, if you have been working on your family tree outside of the website then I am afraid that you will not be able to upload it to the site.

The reason for this is that many users were uploading duplicates to the site through this feature, (which was available between 2008-2010).

It was also found that the information brought to the site was also of poor quality.

Using SmartCopy

To facilitate the import of information users can import facts about their family tree through 13 supported genealogy sites. This is done using a tool known as SmartCopy.

Through this feature, families can be imported one at a time, and information can manually be edited and verified before it is imported to the site.

There is an in-built consistency check feature that will warn whether any data is unreasonable, i.e. poor quality or duplicate information.

Merging Trees

Part of creating a worldwide tree is the ability to merge your tree with someone else’s tree, providing of course that there is a common ancestor or living relative.

Again privacy can be maintained within this extended tree.

You can allow all members to view every detail within the tree or selected information passed a certain distance of relationship.

DNA Information

As I mentioned before the parent company MyHeritage has its DNA testing kit. Geni allows you to enter information gleaned from this test such as your haplogroup, (i.e. where in the world your ancestors originated from).

If you have had your DNA tested with another company then there is no need to worry as you can import your test results into Geni.

These include autosomal, YDNA, and MtDNA tests.

Subscription Packages

When it comes to joining this site there are two options available to you. Either you select to become a basic free member, or you sign up with the Pro subscription package.

There is a difference between both of these options, so let’s take a look.

Basic Free Membership

Joining for free will allow you to create a family tree.

Free Access

You can add an unlimited number of profiles to your tree, so I quite like that you are not restricted in this regard compared to other sites.

However, support will be pretty basic with this option, and you are limited to uploading 1GB of media.

If you do not intend to add much media then this should not be a worry. But if you do then try to keep the file size low with photos of your family to save your limited media space.

Media can also include video and documents.

There is however the possibility of uploading duplicated information with this package.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve just said before that Geni removes the possibility of this, but unfortunately this can still happen through this type of membership.

Pro Subscription Package

Opting for the Pro package will remove these limitations that have been set for Basic members.

So, not only will you be able to upload as much media as you wish but also you will receive premium support.

And besides that, you will get enhanced searching and tree matching which will help identify duplicate trees when you merge information.

Cost of the Subscription Package

  • Pro – $119.40 per year
    • Access to Tree Matches
    • Unlimited media uploads (includes photos, videos, and documents)
    • Enhanced search
    • Premium support
    • Geni Pro Badge – show other members that you have joined Geni Pro
    • Priority GEDCOM support for exported files

Unlike other genealogy sites, there is only one option, to sign up for 1 year. Some sites do offer monthly packages but Geni, unfortunately, does not.

Please be aware that you will be billed once you have upgraded to this package.

Do not worry if you do sign up for the free membership, to begin with, and change your mind.

If you want to upgrade to the Pro package then you need to go to your Account Settings. From there select Geni Premium Account, and then enter your billing information.

Try Geni Pro for Free

You can check out Geni Pro for Free if you sign up for the 14-day free trial. First, though you need to be signed up to the site to take advantage of this offer. - Try Geni Pro for Free

Once you are signed in just click on your name at the top-right of the screen then click on “Try Geni Pro For Free“.

You will then be taken to the sign-up screen where you will be signed up to the Geni Pro package for 1 year.

DO NOT WORRY! You will not be charged during the trial period.

All major credit cards are accepted, (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) as well as PayPal.

If you do not cancel your subscription within the 14-day free period then you will be charged for Pro for 1 year. So, make sure you cancel beforehand if you do not want to continue with the package.

Check out the site for free first!

I would suggest that you check out this website’s free membership program first.

By doing this you can get a feel for the site, get accustomed to the tools and features, and whether it is right for you or not.

As I mentioned above there is no limit to how many people that you do add to your tree. But there are some limitations that I have outlined above.

If you feel that this site is right for you and that you can get more out of it then you can simply upgrade to Pro at any time.

Help & Support!

Genealogy is a hobby where you will need help at some time. There will be dead ends, (no pun intended), or things that you are not certain of.

Help and Support

So, where do you go for advice?

Help Section

The Help section of the site can be found by clicking on Help, located at the bottom-right of the screen.

From this section, there are several ways that you can get help from staff or other members of the site.

Video Tutorials

Some videos have been added to the site that can help you.

Unfortunately, there are only 2 videos at present that help you to add and invite relatives and add photos

Help Topics – FAQs

This section of the site shows Frequently Asked Questions that have been divided into 25 different categories.

Some of these include:

  • Login & Invitations
  • Premium Subscriptions
  • Privacy
  • Family Tree
  • Profile
  • Merging

Community Help

This is a message board or forum where members can post their problems and seek advice from others.

The board is not divided into any categories, you just simply post your query and wait for a response.

Submit A Ticket – Not available for free members

If the other help sections haven’t been, well of no help, or you want to get support straight from staff then you will need to Submit A Ticket.

By filling in this form you can let staff know exactly what your problem is.

Report A Bug

Part of the charm with Geni is that it is a community website where everyone helps each other.

That also extends to reporting a bug with the site if you have experienced an issue that needs fixing.

This is another board where you post your bug issue which can then hopefully be resolved.

Pros & Cons


✔   Over 125 million people added
✔   Build your family tree for free
✔   Interact with other users
✔   Building a worldwide family tree
✔   Interface very intuitively
✔   Get help through videos, FAQs, message board or submitting a ticket


❌   No monthly subscription offered
❌   Expensive compared to other sites
❌   Duplicating content when merging trees as a free member

Do I Recommend Geni?

The aim of this website is a bold one. To connect everyone by a single family tree, much like the One Great Family site that I mentioned at the start of this review.

The difference with Geni though is that they offer a site that is much more user-friendly and easier to navigate.

One key factor that hinders One Great Family I believe is their outdated interface and that it is not very intuitive to use.

That is why I rank Geni over One Great Family.

It’s expensive!

Compared to other genealogy search sites it is expensive. But I do feel that you have to put in what you get out.

What I mean by that is you need to spend the time on the site-building your tree with other members of your family.

It of course helps if you do have a large family that you can draw a lot of knowledge from.

In time though as your tree grows and grows you will discover ‘new’ distant cousins who can help you with your quest. Like I did!

Building your tree is simple!

Creating and building a family tree is very simple with this website. And I like it that you can invite your family to join the site and help you with your tree.

There is huge potential with this site I feel, so if you do feel that it is right for you then give it a go.

Of course, you can try the free option if you like.

Give it a try first!

So, if I have inspired you to check out this site then see what it has to offer for free first.

Of course, features will be limited with this option but I feel not too much. You can still gain a lot from the free membership, i.e. unlimited profiles can be added.

So, do I recommend Geni?

Yes, I do recommend Geni. This site will help you to create and build your family tree, all while connecting with close and distant family members.

If you do decide to subscribe to this genealogy website then please come back and let me know what you think of it. I would love to hear how it is working for you.

Help Build A World Family Tree!

Discover your family tree, together! Tools

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Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed reading this Review and what it has to offer. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.

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16 thoughts on “ Review – Building A World Family Tree!”

  1. Geni is nothing but thieves facilitating fraud!
    My little sister and mother spent years, YEARS, doing original field research, and then one day they come up with their *paid* account option, whereby they allowed a very distant relative (who never actually proved she WAS a relative) to STEAL ORIGINAL RESEARCH and claim it as her own! My sister was sixteen, SIXTEEN, and this heinous company thought it acceptable to steal three years of original research from a poor teenager hoping to use her research skills to get a scholarship, and thanks to the THEFT AND FRAUD facilitated by this company after sharing her research in good faith, she couldn’t use it for future projects, because they continue to insist the women who PAID TO STEAL RESEARCH “owned” the tree, *because she paid to steal it*! STAY AWAY! Keep your research as far away as possible!
    This woman paid to steal a family tree that she couldn’t even prove she was related to, locked out anyone else from editing AFTER she put in completely incorrect, unsubstantiated information (in direct contradiction to the thoroughly documented information my Mom and sister had submitted), then refused to release the tree stating “sorry, but I paid for this, so no” and Geni backed her after both my Mom and sister filed complaints. Why? Because they were free members, and the thief had paid them. So now there’s completely incorrect information on OUR family tree that we have ZERO access to correcting.

    STAY AWAY FROM GENI! They will just sell your research contributions to the first person willing to pay to claim the work as their own, even if you have stacks of scanned documents, receipts for scanning and entry to specialty museum collections, and dated documentation proving that the work is yours.

    1. I must agree David that Geni is good in that respect. However, it is not as popular as Ancestry.

      With that in mind you can still use Ancestry for free. Your local library may have access to this genealogy website, (as well as maybe other genealogy resources).

      It’s worth checking out whenever you have used up all your other avenues of research.

  2. Great review, Owain. Thank you for the information. One thing I was wondering is that, with the free membership, a lot of the things I click bring me to, which requires a membership. If I did the premium package, would it include the myheritage? Or is that separate? I can’t seem to find any info about that on Geni’s site. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for liking the review. Although MyHeritage is a parent company of Geni they are both separate companies. Therefore, you will need a subscription with MyHeritage to access their records.

      If you do not wish to spend any more money, (and I don’t blame you), you could always visit your local library. Usually you will find there free access to Ancestry and FindMyPast.

      This is one way that has helped me to build up my family tree.

      Hope this helps and all the best with your research.

  3. No, don’t do it.
    Once you make a mistake there is no way to correct it.
    Moreover, there is no phone support and MyHeritiage has a hands off policy.
    They used to have active curators to assess the information…but everything with value has been
    stripped from this fine little company once they allowed themselves to be “acquired”.

    This is, pure and simple, a dying entity.

    1. Thanks for your input LS. It is a shame that there’s no one now who will check what has been added to the site. I like how you can try it out for free but as I’ve mentioned there are limitations to that.

      Personally my go to site as of late is Ancestry. I have currently been researching my mother’s genealogy and have recently discovered new information using this impressive global site. Worth checking out!

  4. Great work Owain, you covered a lot here about what to expect from Geni. I can see that it can really help me with my tree.


  5. Great review. I took a lot from this. I will be checking this out for sure. How does this compare to some other services?

    1. You’re welcome Jonathan. It is a bit more expensive compared to other genealogy sites. But as I said in the review you take out what you put in. So if you’re willing to put in the hard work then you can really see your family tree grows. Of course it does help if other members of your site will join. They can do that for free and help you with your research.

  6. Hello,
    Great post and subject! There is a lot of valuable information here to help researchers find what they are looking for. I searched for years until finally giving up. I’m African american (not sure if that really makes a difference) but I found myself having to go to several different places, and piece together what I could. So let me just say thanks. I took a lot from this post.

    1. Hi Jaywhon, thanks for the comment. You’re right there is a lot of information out there, and it tends to be in different places.

      Sites like Ancestry do hold vasts amount of records that we can use for our research.

      I feel though that we will always be digging and poking here, there and everywhere.

      But saying that this is a great site that you can use to learn more about your family tree.

      I’m glad that you liked the review.

  7. Hello

    I really love you’re review of Geni. You have covered a lot here and I can see that it can really help me with my research.

    I just hope that other members jump on board and see what I have created.


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