Online with Ancestry, Offline with RootsMagic

Previously, I was using another software program. I created a tree for me, up 10 generations, then down to catch the cousins and their spouses, and uploaded that to Ancestry as my “starter” tree. I have been working in Ancestry since then, pretty much non-stop. It’s too easy to add citations, search, and then with the DNA matches, to find cousins and piece together the shadow branches with DNA proof, not conjecture.

So, the tree I now have in Ancestry, working on it 6-8 days a week (gambling and drinking in a roadside saloon would be a worse hobby, no?) it’s the best tree I’ve got. It’s left my old tree behind.

Enter RootsMagic, which will actually capture the tree and info (and media!) from Ancestry and recreate it offline.


Except synching the offline tree with Ancestry is very kludgey, and if I’ve been on a roll in Ancestry, then it becomes overwhelming. Choosing to add a new source to a name here, a census entry there, a new person here (wait, add the person before I add the parents??), or adding a marriage (which doesn’t always work).

I think RootsMagic does a good job with recreating the Ancestry tree in an offline database format. (I wish it would take Ancestry’s “show me only the part of the picture with the face I want, not the whole wedding party and part of the port behind them,” but still, that it downloads the media at all has already sold me.)

Would it make sense to simply delete the offline RootsMagic database (archiving it maybe) and allowing RootsMagic simply to recreate a new version of my Ancestry every now and then.

I like the offline versions of the Ancestry database because I can see things more quickly. (Unfortunately, since I also use the suffix entry in my offline analysis and color coding, RootsMagic isn’t quite where I want it to be.)

I’m curious, do folks find it easier to let RootsMagic simply rebuild the Ancestry tree every now and then (with major updates, or several weeks of new data), or slog through the synch process?

I work in Ancestry daily. I’d have to be resynching fact by fact daily.

What program did you use to create your initial tree and upload to ancestry? Did it interface with Ancestry or did you use a gedcom?

It is very risky to have your primary tree on Ancestry subject to the whims of a customer unfriendly website. Look at what they did to their FTM customers in 2015–bye bye suckers.

FTM 2019 from MacKiev interfaces very well with ancestry up and down. FTM is my primary database. Ancestry hints provide data sources to download and add to FTM which can then sync up to ANC to bring it up to date every few days.

RM8 has a very different data structure than ANC and more problems merging data. Right now my little 370 person file cannot upload media to ANC and I use RM8 as a tool to show my tree while working in FTM and ANC. Periodically I make a new RM8 file from a FTM gedcom.

I’m using Family Historian 7. I download the Ancestry gedcom as a backup every week or so. FH7 reads gedcoms direct. It will let me work with the name suffixes. Where a name has a DNA emoji, :dna:, it means they are a DNA match on one or more services. FH7 will let me colorize individual boxes in a descendant’s chart based on the suffix content. So I can pick a common ancestral couple, view the descendant’s chart, and all the DNA matches pop up green. (And it’s using information I’ve entered once in Ancestry, not recreated with a program custom highlight color. (Which would be overridden every time I pull in a new gedcom version.)

I want RootsMagic to let me work more seamessly, less duplicatively, with Ancestry.

FH sounds like an excellent program for windows users lacking only hints and linking to ancestry.

Consider FTM over RM8 for now since the interface is much better pending another 6 months of beta bug fixes at least on the mac side. FTM is available at a discount if you tell them you owned a previous version with no proof required. No trial unfortunately.

I want to switch to RM8 from FTM for larger text but the bugs and the clumsy media handling prevent that now.


You can create a group or colour code in RM using Name Suffixes. However, it does not update dynamically (a long wished-for capability - at least a user-initiated refresh against stored rules).

I’m going the other direction. I do all my work in RM. I only upload from RM to ancestry in order to receive ancestry’s hints in RM. But my issue is the same as yours. After first getting an RM database uploaded to ancestry, or after first getting an ancestry tree downloaded to RM, syncing the two is extremely burdensome because it’s an extremely manual process. It takes me longer to do the manual sync than it does to enter the data into RM in the first place.

My solution is that I don’t even try to sync the two. Instead, I periodically delete my ancestry tree and upload from RM again. You could do the same in reverse. It makes perfect sense to me. If I were working in that direction, I probably wouldn’t delete the old RM database, or at least not right away. Instead, I would periodically make a new RM database while keeping the old RM database around for a while. In your situation, I think that would be the best way to work.

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Thanks for the hint about FTM’s upgrades. Last used FTM in early 2000’s and have now bought FTM2019 upgrade. At first glance, it looks more usable especially with regards Ancestry and the web scraping facilities look really good. Time will tell though.
I’ll still sync RM8 and RM7 from Ancestry though so I have different tools for reports etc as needed.