15 November 2019

2 Ways to Give Your Family Tree a Checkup

Don't wait for an annual checkup for your family tree. Do it often.

Have you added any people to your family tree lately? Have you added or changed any facts? Then it's time for a checkup.

Even when you think you're being extra careful, mistakes can happen. Why not spend a few minutes every 2 months or so to find and fix your slip-ups? The things you forgot and the goofs you made will surprise you.

Here are 2 ways to give your family tree a checkup. You'll feel more confident about your tree after you've fixed some errors. You'll feel even more confident if you don't find any errors!

1. Run Family Tree Analyzer

The free Family Tree Analyzer program gives you one-stop shopping for all kinds of errors. Launch it, load your latest GEDCOM file, and click the Data Errors tab.

Check all the boxes to find these errors:
  • Birth dates that are:
    • after the person's death
    • more than 9 months after their father died, or any time after their mother died
    • before either of their parents were 13 years old
    • after their mother turned 60 years old
  • Death dates that are:
    • after their burial (yikes)
    • after they were 110 years old or more
  • Marriage dates that are:
    • after the bride or groom's death
    • before the bride or groom turned 13 years old
Give your family tree a quick checkup with the powerful error finder in Family Tree Analyzer.
Give your family tree a quick checkup with the powerful error finder in Family Tree Analyzer.

You may have what I call legitimate errors. For instance, I do have some babies who were born before one of their parents was 13. In one case, when I looked in my family tree, I found a note saying "The mother was 12 years old." That's more of an "unlikely" than an "impossible" feat.

I also have a baby born almost 11 months after his father died. But that's what the birth record says. I have a note wondering about the man who reported the baby's birth. Is it possible he was the real father?

If seeing all the errors at once is too much, click one checkbox at a time, and resolve or look into those errors.

2. Check Your Family Tree Software

The only family tree software I've ever used is Family Tree Maker. I hope that you're using desktop software for your family tree, and not keeping it only online. Building your tree online doesn't give you the same level of control. And you'll miss out on lots of features.

Every once in a while I check a few of the tabs in Family Tree Maker for errors. This time around I found several place-name errors. I'll bet they got messed up when I had a failed synchronization with Ancestry.com. But they were an easy fix.

In Family Tree Maker, look at these tabs:
  • Check Media for images that are:
    • uncategorized
    • missing a caption, date, or other information
  • Check Places to find any that are not properly categorized
  • Check Sources to find any that have no facts associated with them
Each tab in Family Tree Maker gives you a different way to find errors.
Each tab in Family Tree Maker gives you a different way to find errors.

If you give your tree regular checkups, your errors should be minor. Of course, your first checkup may be a bit of a shocker.

Make this a routine and keep your family tree healthy and hearty.


  1. Thanks for the reminder :) great tips!!

    1. I faithfully backup my family tree files each Sunday. (In addition to most files being automatically backed up to a cloud.) I hope to add a checkup to that routine, too.