• Devon Noel Lee

Why Does It Take So Long to Upload Family Tree to FamilySearch?


Why uploading a GEDcom file to FamilySearch takes so long

Many of you are frustrated with using the FamilySearch Family tree. Potential users frequently ask, "why does it take so long to upload my family tree to FamilySearch?"


Today, I will share some reasons adding your family tree to this totally free genealogy platform takes so much time. Then, I'll share a few tips on what to do about it.


But first, we need to go back to come forward.

The Goal of the FamilySearch Family Tree

One primary objective of the FamilySearch family tree is to create one profile for every person who has ever lived. Not 15-100 profiles for the same individual.


Since 2012, FamilySearch has constantly worked to make this process easier. Nevertheless, it requires family historians around the world to make that happen.



FamilySearch Tracks All Changes

To achieve their objective, we must understand that we're not working on separate family trees on the FamilySearch platform. Instead, we work in a collaborative environment because the family tree is Open-Edit. Meaning, anybody can change the information on the family tree.


I've written about why this scares and angers many users. However, I've also written why this environment is a good thing to happen to genealogy.

Realize, people can change your tree. Others can do a lot of your research when you don't have time or access.


This collaborative effort helps reduce duplicate research. Every descendant of Ithamar Comfort will no longer need to visit the Canadian Archive to look at the same record. Instead, One relative does the research, puts it on the FamilySearch family tree, and every descendant benefits.


Tracking the changes in an open-edit environment is excellent for genealogy research.

  • You will know who adds quality research to your family history.

  • You will understand who doesn't improve the family tree.

  • In short, the changelog creates a peer-review thread, something that personal tree platforms lack.


An Open-Edit environment slows down all aspects of working on our family tree because of the need to track changes. FamilySearch tracks every change anyone makes on the family tree.

Some of the changes FamilySearch tracks include:

  • changes to names, dates, and places

  • adding or removing sources

  • adding or removing facts

  • merging duplicate profiles

  • unmerging profiles

  • adding or removing relationships


Do you get the idea?


FamilySearch tracks everything you do on the platform. Thus, this change-tracking dramatically slows down our ability to improve the family tree and upload our research in the first place.



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Your Ancestor is Likely Already in the Family Tree

The organization behind the FamilySearch company began in the late 1800s. They have gathered extensive materials. As such, many people with British or early American ancestors will find that their ancestors already appear in the family tree.

In 2012, FamilySearch combined several databases to seed the family tree we’re all working on today.

In my webinar, Untangling Your Family Tree on FamilySearch, I went into further detail about the origins of the database.


The short version is, FamilySearch placed multiple databases into one open-edit tree. As a result, our ancestors may appear in each database, at least once, if not more times.

For instance, you might have John Keverne appearing on:

  • his baptismal record in St. Keverne, England.

  • a user-submitted pedigree.

  • in LDS church membership records.

The programmers dumped each entry into the FamilySearch family tree, creating numerous duplicates.

Thus, everyone needs to learn how to merge duplicate profiles on FamilySearch.


Furthermore, this is one reason people say, "My family tree is wrong in FamilySearch family tree." However, when we merge the duplicate profiles, we can also accurately edit the content.


Additionally, one of the databases that seeded the FamilySearch family tree stems from the extraction program, which preceded the Indexing program. Volunteers extracted information from a variety of denominational church records around the world. That data became part of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) database.


Thus, segments of your family appear in the FamilySearch family tree because they are from the IGI database. These little twigs explain you'll find your ancestor's profile with only:

  • themselves and their spouse

  • themselves, a spouse, and one child

  • themselves and their parents.

Don't upload GEDcom to FamilySearch Family Tree

In short, the 2012 database had many ancestors you've already researched in the family tree. This assertion brings us back to the fundamental principle of creating one profile for each person who has ever lived.

Thus, FamilySearch doesn't want you to upload your family tree with the same ancestors. You'll create even more duplicate profiles rather than update what's already available for everyone.

Therefore, contrary to the recommendations of some of my colleagues who have taught you how to upload your GEDcom to FamilySearch. I will strongly advise you to ignore their advice.

Follow these instructions if you wish to upload your GEDcom file to archive it on FamilySearch.

Use Genealogy Software to Upload Your Family Tree

While many genealogy software programs will help you download your family tree to your computer, few can upload or write to FamilySearch. However, RootsMagic does write to the FamilySearch family tree.

RootsMagic simplifies the process of updating your family tree to FamilySearch. You will still have to do manual changes, which is time-consuming.


However, after linking your profiles to matching profiles on FamilySearch, RootsMagic compares them. You will then view a screen that will inform you of what is different between your tree and the tree on FamilySearch.


Some differences are minor, such as FamilySearch using the United States for a birthplace and your program as US or USA. Other differences are more significant.


From RootsMagic, you can select each change from a master comparison log. Additionally, RootsMagic will help you find potential duplicate profiles and merge them without leaving the platform.

Updating your tree will still take time, especially if you have a large tree. However, RootsMagic makes the process more targeted.



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Slow and Steady Improves the Family Tree


I can attest that slowing down has sped up my research and increased the accuracy of my family lines. In 2012, I went gangbusters pruning my family tree by:

  • merging profiles

  • linking missing relatives

  • correcting facts

  • adding additional facts


Since that time, FamilySearch has added new features and more record collections. I have continued to increase the accuracy of my lines by:

  • adding sources

  • adding notes

  • adding photos

  • adding life stories

For the most part, all the changes have stayed, and my family tree looks great. Other researchers have built upon what I've added, and I've seen photos and stories I didn't know existed.

Occasionally a researcher will make a change that I'm like, ‘what the heck are you doing?’


Using the changelog, I can see who made the change and contact them. Sometimes the researcher gives me new information. And sometimes I give them further information.


Using the collaborative environment, we can create an accurate family tree with less effort in the long run.



Why does it take forever to upload GEDcom family tree to FamilySearch
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