by Michelle Unger
This series of articles has dealt with the current technology available to conduct genealogical research. As we have found, there are many types and all are constantly changing. These types range from internet only capabilities to locally used. Each also has many pros and cons.
The internet only software can be found through major ancestry websites, such as Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com and Rootsweb. The most advantageous aspect of these software programs is the ability of these companies to keep up with the ever-changing technology and information. These companies offer the ability to keep their subscribers with the most up-to-date information and technology available without selling another, more updated version of the software. One drawback of these programs is the inability to enter data and research unless you are logged onto the internet. Now-a-days, the majority of people have a computer at home with internet access. However, not everyone has the ability to be connected to the internet through DSL (your cable line) at all times. For instance, my husband and I were only recently able to subscribe to this due to our living in a rural area. DSL can also be expensive and may not be in everyone's budget. Those without DSL may have to tie up their phone line in order to e nter in all of the information. A second drawback can be the cost of subscriptions to these companies. Some of these companies offer a free trial version of the software. Some offer the ability to use the software free of charge, however, in order to gain access to the different kinds of information, i.e. results of searches, newspaper articles, etc. one must be a subscriber. This can become very costly and one must, at times, weigh the amount of information each type of subscription is offered.
Locally used software, such as Family Tree Maker, has made vast improvements since being first released to the market. Family Tree Maker allows you to enter your information while not tying up your phone line. The new advances it has made allows you to log onto the internet to check for program updates. One new feature also allows you to look for more up to date information through Ancestry.com.
There are many types of software available, some easier to use than others. Each also has many pros and cons. Before investing your hard-earned monies into a program, I encourage everyone to sit down and determine what you want out of your software program, i.e. the ability to make a webpage, store information or create a book among many other options. I also encourage you to take advantage of the trail versions each company offers. If they do not offer a trial version, but offer a tour of the program, take the tour as it can be very informative. Check out every aspect the program offers. Many of these programs can be VERY confusing and mind boggling.
Every person is different and has different strengths and abilities. There are programs available for every person and every ability level. Before spending your money, make sure the program you are investing in is right for you. Happy researching!