GEDCOM files and website recommendations

April 6, 2012

A GEDCOM is a file specifically for family tree research. GEDCOM is short for genealogical data communication and was developed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The church has been a big believe in recording family ancestry for many generations now. I used their local library located in the church for many years in the years before the internet.


All of the good family research software allow you to “save” your information to a folder on your computer or an external source. The software will ask you what type of file to save you information as. You MUST use the GEDCOM file or any internet website you plan to upload your tree to won’t be able to read the information.

I would advise uploading your tree at least every other day in case of a computer disaster.

I upload mine to three different sites. is an excellent site to upload to as it’s the largest on the internet. It’s not my personal favorite because there are a lot of issues if you can’t afford their monthly fees. It is the best overall if you plan to stay with them. is a totally free site and uploading your GEDCOM file is easy. You simply set up an account and give your tree a name. My tree name there is Carolina Kinfolk. A tree name may reflect your major lines of research or the geographical area you are covering. Rootsweb gives the option to keep some information (such of living relatives) private.

Then you click the “browse” option and upload your tree from your computer. You can upload from external sources such as a CD or flash drive. Your new tree will overwrite any tree you already have on Rootsweb.

I also like the Rootsweb and Ancestry sites because you can enter family stories as well as data.

There’s a lesser known site called Tribal Pages I absolutely love. This is a free site for those starting out and there are pay options for those who want to add a lot of photos. This site, located at, has a very customized feel to it. You can change background colors,and add lots of personal information beside each person.

This is also a good site for a beginner with no software installed on their computer.

Chances are a lot of long lost relatives will contact you through the email you list, either wanting or offering more information.

Please use caution when exploring the many different websites online. Many cost money and still don’t offer much help after you’ve joined them. Others are very difficult to use. Either their design is hard to maneuver or you have to pain once information is found on your ancestor. The ones listed above are my favorites not only for the price, but they don’t drive you insane in the searching process.

Whatever site you choose, keep in mind you may be using it for many years. It’s important to find the right fit and feel comfortable. If searching for your roots feels more like work than an enjoyable activity, you’re using the wrong website.


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