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Will You Lose Your Family Tree If You Cancel Ancestry?

Do you wonder what will happen to your family tree if you have to take a break from your Ancestry subscription? In this post, find out that answer, as well as what you can do to preserve the information that you worked hard to collect.

Will You Lose Your Family Tree If You Cancel Ancestry?

Those of us who have spent many, many hours carefully researching our family tree on the site have found that having a subscription is a great benefit. It provides access to millions of records and photographs that we would not otherwise be able to access, and helps us quickly and easily add information about our ancestors from other family trees.

Sometimes, a genealogist might come to a point in their life when they need to take a break from actively working on their tree. Life happens, as we all know, and we can’t always work on family history research as much as we like sometimes.

When a person needs to take a break from their tree work, it is natural to want to know what happens to the research that has already been done.

What happens to your tree when you cancel your Ancestry subscription?

Your Ancestry family tree will remain safe and intact while your Ancestry subscription is paused or canceled. You will be able to use and view your family tree just as you could while you had an active subscription.

All of the documents, genealogy records, photos, and stories that you attached to people in your family tree will still be connected to your family members. In addition, all of the photos and documents that you uploaded to your galleries will still be there.

Will you still be able to see the records and sources you saved to your tree?

You will be able to see the source referenced on your tree, but if it is a record that you found on Ancestry that you attached to your tree using their “save” button, you will not be able to view the original record without an active subscription.

For example, in the image below you can see that my ancestor was living in Warwick, New York, in 1800. The source attached to this fact is the 1800 United States Federal Census.

A view from my ancestor's profile in my family tree.  He was born in 1759, and the facts listed include marriage, and the birth of his children.  One fact is highlighted with a link to a source that I have saved to my tree
The “Residence” fact is highlighted here, but all of the facts are linked to various sources on my tree

The “fact” about my ancestor will always remain on my tree, even without a subscription. However, if I cancel my subscription, I will not be able to view the actual image of the census form.

As you can see, the information on the family tree can still be very useful even if you have a paused subscription. You can easily find details that you want to share with someone and tell them where to find the record for themselves, if needed.

How does cancelling subscription affect documents and photos that you’ve uploaded to your tree?

Anything that you have directly uploaded from your device to your Ancestry family tree will always be visible to you, even if you don’t have an active Ancestry subscription. Anyone who has saved your photo or document to their tree will still be able to see it, too.

Can you still work on your family tree if you cancel your Ancestry subscription?

Yes, you can always work on your Ancestry family tree, even if you don’t currently have a subscription. Ancestry allows anyone who has a free account to build their family tree, and you can continue to do this if you have to cancel your subscription for a period of time.

This is honestly one of my favorite aspects of using the site for building a family tree. Since it is free to building one or more family trees on the site, you can always peck around in the tree and add people here and there as you learn about them.

Also, if you are going through old boxes and find old photos you should upload, you can do that too – whether or not you have an actual Ancestry subscription.

Of course, it’s easier to find new records and sources when you have a subscription. You can always restart your subscription once you are ready to spend more time working on your tree again.

Can you see DNA matches if you cancel your Ancestry subscription?

Yes, you will always be able to see your DNA matches and your ethnicity estimate if you cancel your subscription. In fact, you will continue to get new DNA matches as they come available for you, even if you aren’t paying for the monthly subscription.

In addition, your ethnicity estimate will go through regular updates as technology improves – even if you cancel your subscription.

There are some things you need to have a subscription to do on your DNA results, including viewing the family trees of your matches and using some of the more advanced analysis tools.

How to make sure you don’t lose your family tree

It is important to note that this article is about cancelling your subscription. If you delete your Ancestry account completely, your tree will disappear and cannot be recovered.

So, definitely don’t delete your Ancestry account!

Even though your Ancestry family tree won’t be lost if you cancel your subscription, there are a few steps that you can take to make sure that you always have a copy of the hard work that you have put in on your tree.

Before you step away from your Ancestry tree for a while, check to make sure that you have done the following:

  • Check to see who has access to your family tree under your tree “sharing” settings, and adjust as needed
  • Download a copy of your Ancestry tree in the GEDCOM format
  • Download to your computer any documents or records attached to your tree that you would like to make sure that you always have access to before you cancel your subscription

You can read more about safeguarding your research in “How to Backup Your Ancestry Family Tree“.


I hope that this article has helped you understand everything that you need to know about what happens if you cancel your Ancestry subscription. As you now know, you can easily take a break from your research without losing all of your hard work.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this article, or if you would like to share a tip for not losing your progress, please join in the discussion below.

Thanks for reading today!

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Thursday 25th of January 2024

Unfortunately I did a DNA test way back on Ancestry. When they updated their DNA testing they did away with my DNA results because outdated. Regardless that I paid good money to have that done!I can not access any of the results. Should have used FTDNA instead. That’s who I used when testing the second time.

Charlotte Spencer

Monday 22nd of January 2024

My Ancestry family tree is private because I have info in my notes that I want to keep private. (My tree is too large to edit completely). I am getting old and in poor health, so I would like to make my years of research available to others by making the tree available to everyone.

My question is this:

Can others read the notes in my public tree? By that, I mean those notes that are not listed as sources.

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