Help me decide buying RM

Hi all,

i’m in the market for a genaology software program. i’m not into geneology for a long time, but ive tried 2 other programs so far (MyHeritage & Aldfaer (which is a dutch program)). both programs are just not exactly what i need (myheritage becomes very expensive in relation to what you get in my opinion, and aldfaer doesnt have the reporting tools that i would like to see.

Ive been playing around with the RM Essentials yesterday and it looks promising, but i still have a few questions for my particular case which i can’t test with the essentials. so i hoped to find some answers here.

  1. i’m working together with my sister and my wife on 3 different branches, we would like to do this on our own computer. i found the merging option (which i cannot test as it is only in the paid version), i found an older movie with drag and drop that shows how easy merging is, but my question, does this merge ALL information, so also media, citations and so on?
    1a: additional question, how will the software react with double persons? can this largely been done automatically, or is it a manually task (which will be huge when the database is expanding ofcourse).

  2. how well does RM works from the cloud (microsoft onedrive), that is mainly the place i would like to store everything, A) i can share this map with my sister and wife so we have all media in one place, B) this is the biggest storage space i have.

  3. i didn’t find any option for different languages, did i miss the setting somehow? data like notes will be entered in Dutch, in my opinion it will be very strange (and maybe a little unusefull) if a report is partially dutch and pertially english. is there a way to fix this?

hope to hear from you!


Hello, I would like to be allowed to make a few comments in connection with your points 1 and 3.

I live in Norway, and have also some challenges with text in Norwegian, where in RootsMagic it becomes something of a quasi-language. Now it is the case that most Norwegians understand English well. RM is only in English but has UNICODE.

You can change the sentence strings in RM to Dutch or extract reports in Word, correct before sending out.

If there are longer Notes, I often set them up in both languages.

I believe that MyHeritage is not a genealogy program, but a database. In my view, an impolite database that is far too open. Yes, it is expensive if you should have the version on the top shelf. However, RootsMagic has come in recent years twice a year with an offer

to a subscription to their customers at a much lower price. I will renew it soon and will pay about US$ 65. As I remember I paid more a yar ago.

As far as RM is concerned, only one license is sufficient for everyone within the same household. (max. 5 people?)

Hi thanks for your reply already!

i definitly agree on this! it’s not that i don’t want to pay, but if i pay i want value for my money, and MyHeritage doesn’t offer that to me (In my opininon). MyHeritage was our first experience with genaology and only chosen because it was the most famous one, now i’m further into it, i would like to find the right piece of software.

this sounds as some work, but after that it will help me for sure. would be great to deep dive into this, i think it is “customizing sentences” isnt it? i can’t test it unfortunality due to the paid version.

Three users can certainly collaborate on the same database and media files on the one computer. That guarantees there is but one user at a time.

Collaborating across multiple computers is fraught with risk. RM is not a networking, multi-user software and database system. It is for one user at a time on a local drive. RM support warns against having a database open on a LAN drive or in a local folder actively synced to Cloud storage such as OneDrive.

It is ok to store and share media files in a local Cloud-synced folder(s) but the sharing computers must see identical local paths for any copy of a common database to avoid having all media links broken.

RM is hard-coded in American English in the user interface, date formats, and for some elements of reports. While you can enter data in Dutch, most reports will output a mixture.

Thanks for your answers Tom,

I understand that, but the physical distance between me and my sister doesn’t allow to work on the same computer.

Perhaps i wasn’t completely clear, i would like every one have their own database set, for example Tree Maikel, Tree Sister and Tree Wife. if its better for the software program to have all their own folders than that will be fixed.

every once in a while i will collect their databases and put them together in a master file (a 4th file) to make a complete story. In this way we can make sure that only one is working in their own tree at the time.

one of my main questions is how difficult (or easy) will it be to merge the three databases together, especially with all the data like media, citations, notes and so on.

That depends on a number of things and others are more capable than I of giving a more fulsome answer. Copying all to one database is easy but sorting out the resulting issues is not. Easiest if:

  1. There are no duplicate people among the three databases. Are there absolutely no common ancestors? I cannot see you and your sister avoiding that (unless she is only doing her spouse’s tree) and there is a probability, maybe very small, that you and your wife may have a common relative (‘tree collapse’).
  2. The same sources are defined exactly the same way.
  3. The same places are defined exactly the same way.
  4. The losses due to transfer are acceptable (see GEDCOM & DnD transfer losses)

It’s hard to provide a simple answer to that question.

Merging in RM can be a very automatic operation or a very manual operation. There are automatic merges, but such merges depend on that data being pretty much identical. For manual merges, RM keeps all the data. For example, if you merge John Smith who was born about 1850 with John Smith who was born 1 Jun 1850, the newly merged John Smith will have two Birth facts, one for about 1850 and one for 1 Jun 1850. You as the user would then have to edit John Smith and clean up the birth information after the merge.

If your model is to maintain three separate databases and periodically to merge them into a 4th database, I would suspect that you would quickly discover that the project is unmanageable. For example, suppose you merged once a month. Each month, wouldn’t you need to repeat all the merging work that you had accomplished the previous month plus all the new merging work for the current month?

Hello again.

I see you have also received an answer regarding your point number 2.

You write “customizing sentences”. You must go through the Fact List and change the sentence string for all required Facts. Then it becomes global and will apply to posterity. It is then not necessary later to make changes every time you use a Fact.

Karleif Lende in Norway

I’m not afraid to say it. That will be a complete nightmare. If you want to spend a huge amount of time and your remaining sanity on trying to synch three separate databases you have more courage than I do.

I don’t think that RM is the right tool for that and I can’t think of any other genie software that will do that.

Maybe you should send out two copies of your db and get handwritten reports back once a month, update your master and send out copies of the updated master. That will take a lot less time and effort an will maintain the integrity of your db.

1 Like

That’s probably as good an approach as there is. The only other reasonable option I can think of is to do something like keep the database online at where all three of you have editor privileges. You could periodically download the tree anew. I personally would hate to have to work in that environment, but many users very much like working in the environment.

As already conveyed, RM is not a multi-user collaborative tool by design. Assuming family users are in different locations doing data capture to a central database means using a tool designed to support that style of interaction. Yes, that can be achieved with the likes of Ancestry. Another tool option is the use of WebTrees, a free open source tool of good report. I suggest look that up via Google to assess if it fits your needs. Now given RM may have the analytics and reporting you need, at an appropriate time you have your consolidated data capture done, you can export the data as GEDCOM from WebTrees into a single RM database install, then run your analytics and reporting. Just another idea for your consideration.

Welcome Lotusmaikel,
Merging is very easy, sometimes I think perhaps too easy. They offer a auto-merge which merges everything that is very obviously duplicate. There is also a manual merge feature that allows you to merge persons one at a time. Which is better if you have several people with the same general information, but different say, parents. These you need to merge individually, and not send as a match. There is also a match-up which pairs 2 records and you must decide with limited information whether or not they should be matched. This can be quite lengthy depending on the size of the database.
RM is not perfect by any means, I have tried a number of different programs and have found them lacking. RM9 isn’t nearly as good as RM7 was, but perhaps eventually that will improve. From my experience RM is probably about the best you are going to find, even with the issues.
I don’t know about using the cloud as I don’t don’t like it. I prefer to keep everything on a external harddrive, but for your situation the cloud might work best.
Yes, it seems to move everything, or you can stop it with the click of the mouse. The only thing I have found at this time that it doesn’t move is if you have groups, they appear to need to be redone.

Re: Cloud computing with RootsMagic. I have used both Dropbox and OneDrive over several years with RootsMagic and have not experienced data loss or other issues. Some people stop the synching process while using RootMagic but I don’t. I have also shared large Access databases via Dropbox with several people updating without issues. But no two users have the file open at the same time.
BUT, when others use the shared database, I ask them to place a text file with a informative title in the folder indicating so, like “Jane is using the database” so that I don’t open it. This has worked except when someone fails to remove the text file when they finish updating. In Dropbox, if you open an already open file and try to update it you will typically get a “conflicted copy” title in the database. I know the RootsMagic people do not recommend use of cloud services but it seems to work for me. Another option some users try is to temporarily remove the folder (including data, media, reports) from the cloud service, do updates, and then replace it when finished. This process assumes your other user(s) follow the procedures you have conveyed. And that had more risk so you need to backup your folder often. Also, if you are concerned about data loss, you can always keep a baseline version of your database on a local drive and use the File-Tools-Compare feature in RootsMagic to see what the other user has added, changed, or deleted in your share cloud database.

Hallo Maikel,

Here’s a message from Driebergen, UT. And you know that that’s not in Utah. :slight_smile:

There is a totally different path that you can use with a paid version of RootsMagic, and that’s to use Ancestry to work together, and use RootsMagic to download your cooperative tree from Ancestry and synchronize that with one local database, where you can make corrections and send those back to Ancestry. That is assuming that you plan to act as an editor for the whole tree.

You can already do this on My Heritage, when you have a paid tree there, and invite your wife and sister, but on Ancestry, this feature is free, and there is no limit on the size of the tree, at least not that I’m aware of. Another thing is that Ancestry also has a nice and free app.

You could do all of this without RootsMagic, by downloading GEDCOM files from Ancestry, now and then, but in that case, you can’t make corrections in RootsMagic and send those back to the shared tree. And with the paid version, you can do the automatic duplicate merge too, if you want. RootsMagic also has the advantage over pure GEDCOM that it can deal with your media.

If you have media on My Heritage now, I suggest that you use their desktop program to download your tree with media, and then import that to RootsMagic, from which you then upload it to Ancestry, before you invite your wife and sister. Working with Ancestry is easier than moving files around, and RootsMagic will then act as gateway between you (and only you) and the shared tree on-line.

If you want your reports in Dutch, you can still export GEDCOM files from RootsMagic to Aldfaer, or the My Heritage desktop program, and create the reports in those.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the only way to keep in control. Automatic merges of large amounts of data don’t give you the insight that you need for a quality tree.

As you can see several people are suggesting Ancestry as an option to use with Rootsmagic–it is a good suggestion BUT they are NOT telling you abt the problems using Treeshare—from what I’ve read on here the biggest problem is that you have to accept each and every fact that has changed for an individual ( unless this has changed in RM 9)-- that alone can become quite a task in a large file–some user suggest you work in one ( in your case Ancestry) and then periodically download a NEW TREE to RM to run reports etc…

There also seems to be at times a problem with downloading/ uploading bigger trees BUT think this is due a lot of times because of Ancestry timing out or having issues…

Ancestry does NOT support PLACE DETAILS – so either put it in the place field or the description field— it does NOT support the use of Prefix in a name ( add it as part of the first name)—it does NOT support shared facts-- and there is no place for GENERAL NOTES— you can add notes in the description field of a fact BUT I am told there is abt a 100 word limit…

a quick search in the box at the top of the page will bring up many threads on treeshare

Hi Maikel,
I’m not sure if this is what is meant by Unicode, but RM has a “Character Map” which has subsets of every special character, any of which can be selected. The subset called “Latin-1 Supplement” contains Germanic characters like ö,Ö,ẞ,ü, and Ü. When in fields for entering or editing an individual’s details, you open the Character Map by right-clicking. In the Notes section, you open the Character Map by opening the options in the top, right, corner of the screen, then selecting Character Map.

I have used Bruce Buzbee’s programs since it was Family Origins. I have had every edition of Roots Magic. I do not use nearly all of the options they offer. I do however enter my genealogy research to keep. You back up Roots Magic where ever you wish. I have it backed up on my PC. I also back up to a CD burn, Dropbox or Google Drive. I also put it in Dropbox and my daughter can access it. She knows that I am the only one who can make edits so it does not mess up the information. That might work for your wife and sister. Each create the data they want and put it in Dropbox for the others to see. I have 8 surnames I work from. My 4 grandparents and my husband’s 4 grandparents. Only place I had to repeat info was from those grandparents to me and then on to my daughter and grandchildren. I suggest that you decide who is the primary person for each name and others do not edit at all. Just view and get info. Should you find something to add, you can call or email that to the person who is the primary for that name.

what a replies! thanks for that. after reading everything carefully i have to conclude that RM is not the software for me (happy to find out now, and not after purchasing and spending lots of time).

im now looking into webtrees, what seems to be a better fit for my purpose and wishes.

1 Like


An option that might be of interest is to "use the (free) Family Tree website* (which is part of the free web database) as your ‘software’ until you want more features then it has. Then decide later on a genealogy software (see below). You can download copies of your entered data
from Family Tree (in a GEDCOM format) to an approved software (like Roots Magic), but this is rather complicated. One example is “How to Download Your Family Tree from FamilySearch” at: )

*The FamilySearch website is maintained and enhanced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), or Mormons. It is known as “the largest collection of FREE family history, family tree, and genealogy records in the world.” The Mormons have been collecting millions of genealogical sources Worldwide since 1938, much of which is freely available online.

FamilySearch is available in 30 Languages, including Dutch.
A Dutch speaking person can simply register at
As far as I know (after using the database for over 30 years) they never divulge your personal information.

You can search for your grandparents or great grandparents and if found, begin adding information on your ancestors, OR if not found, create your own ancestry there.
One caution, however, is that millions use the Family Tree system, and sometimes others ‘correct’ what you have added. That is, unlike your own computer or smartphone’s personal
software, such as Roots Magic, the data on Family Tree can be changed. So far, with
about ten years of adding my ancestral data, I have had only a few problems. (Note, that I also use Roots Magic as my main software, and also use MyHeritage for some features it has.)

The advantage for your spread out family is that you can all work on your tree in collaboration, each using your own computer, etc. (Each person of course needs to register separately.)

One web page about getting started with FamilySearch, that offers some good information for beginners is:

For example, you might choose the web page called “Create a Family Tree” at:

If you already have a tree built on a personal genealogy software program, you can read about “How to Add Your Family Tree to FamilySearch” (using GEDCOM). This 13 minute long video is a bit complicated for newcomers, but contains good information.

If your relations prefer to use a smartphone or iPad, see the APP information at: “Getting Started with the FamilySearch Family Tree App” at:

If you are still undecided, one of the many webpages that compares software’s is “What is the best family history website?” at:

Be aware that no system is perfect, so please use good sources when entering new data. Family Tree also contains duplicate records, but duplicate data can usually be merged. But do so carefully!

You may want to view the links FamilySearch has created called “The Netherlands Online Genealogy Records” at:

(But I find these lists a bit frightening for even a seasoned genealogist…)

All the best,
Bill Benson

1 Like

Maikel, (and other RM readers) - Just so you know, I only entered URL Web addresses on my reply. The RM system turned these into the colorful ‘advertisements.’ However, the ‘ads’ link to the URL addresses I entered. Bill