Posted by Ancestry Team on February 6, 2009 in Site Issues

I wanted to give everyone a quick update on a few of the changes that have been made to improve site performance over the past few weeks.  We recognize we are by no means done.  These represent our first set of improvements:

1. Compression: Across the site we’ve compressed the code that has to be downloaded with each page.  Our initial tests show that this has reduced “page weights” (or number of bytes you download when you hit a page) by almost 50%.  The improvement is more or less on a given page but it appears to be roughly 50% in aggregate across the site.  We have begun this process with our javascript and stylesheet files.  We are continuing on to our images and HTML files.

2. Photo Serving: We’ve moved the serving of member-contributed photos to a set of beefier, dedicated servers to ensure this system is getting sufficient resources.  This system comes into play anytime we display member photos like in the pedigree view or on person pages.

3. Reducing Duplicate Calls:
On a few pages, we have reduced the number of times where key software libraries (code used to construct the site) are downloaded more than once.  Fewer requests to download libraries means faster page load times.  We are working our way through more pages like this on the site.

I’ll repeat — we are by no means done.  The Site Performance team is working on a number of further optimizations.  To summarize it, we are working on other ways to reduce the size of the data that is being transferred between us and you and improving our server response time.

We’ll report back as we make further improvements.  Have a good weekend.


Eric Shoup


  1. Mike


    As I have mentioned in various message board threads on the slowness problem, the fix that helps a lot of folks is the following:

    1) use Firefox browser
    2) use AdBlock & NoScript extensions and learn to use them well.

    While that has been termed by some others as “only” a workaround, it does work, and not just for this site.

    It would seem to me that a key part of your process would be also to require optimization on the part of advertisers you allow to place ads here. They are often the ones responsible for gumming up the works.

    Again I don’t care because I use the Firefox method above and will continue to do so instead of the slower and less secure IE browser. But making those ads have less adverse effects individually and in aggregate might help others.

  2. Dave

    I noticed something had changed. I was viewing images of a cemetery record book and they were nearly twice as fast from page to page.

  3. Sherry


    I am writing you out of total frustration. I have written so many times to customer support with the only “support” being an email saying, “thanks for writing us…”

    I am a long-time subscriber to Ancestry and each year, the time it takes me to do minimal work on my family history just increases. I can explain the problem in one word, ADVERTISING!!!

    When I try to log in, the “Make this the year you discover your story” pop-up causes the page to be slow to load and causes my log-in to be interrupted multiple times. I am ready to pull an Elvis and shoot the monitor before I even get started.

    On EACH PAGE, the “Try and find a better price for the DNA” ad sloooowwwwwwwssssss down the loading of the page. Please tell Tim Sullivan I would not take a frigging busload of DNA kits if you were giving them away because I am so tired of being body-slammed by the ads on each page, I could scream.

    I believe that the majority of users are intelligent, literate individuals, who must also…since we are still here… have the patience of Job. We do NOT require constant and frequent flagellation by ads for everything from DNA kits to new telephones. We PAY to use this site!! I have been to free sites which have faster and fewer ads. The situation is beyond ridiculous.

    I apologize for directing my anger at you specifically, but I am tiring of complaints that go unanswered. Please forward this comment to someone who can and will fix the issues with the ads and the speed.

    Thank you for listening,

  4. Mike R

    I’m looking forward to some improvements – thanks for that.

    Clearly, the volume of users at any one time has adverse effects on response time.

    Can you publish some general information about peak and non-peak times, so those with the flexibility can aim towards the non-peaks?

  5. Arlene Miles

    Maybe Eric can work on putting a sorting feature on the shoe box so the info can be sorted by surname so when we look back to print out a document, scrolling will be at a minimum.
    Come on Eric, you can do this.

  6. Linda Smyth

    I am with other users. I am TOTALLY frustrated with this site – especially for the amount of money we pay for this service. A good example is that I am working on one family tree, find a record to attach which doesn’t pop up with the main name I am searching (name misspelled, etc) and when I try to attach it to the correct page, it links me to a completely different family tree. This is a programming error. It needs to be fixed. Customer service offers NO response. I am not impressed.

  7. Barb

    What is going on with the Ancestry site. I am getting an error page over and over. When I can get on to the site, it is so slow. I’m paying for something that I can’t get to work. I’m very, very frustrated. I am a long time ancestry member.Things were good in the past, not anymore. Please get this fixed!

  8. Ian Mair

    Great to read of the efforts to improve the user experience. Sadly I am totally with Sherry #5 and even sent a message to customer support the other day to complain about the time the ads take to load. Generally the rest of the page has a very acceptable response time but the improvement is completely negated by ad gloat.

  9. Eric Shoup

    Bob- Thanks for the suggestions from YSlow. We are using another like program called HTTPWatch that gives us similar recommendations.

    Sherry & Ian- This is fair criticism. We are working on our implementation of ads so that they load independent from the rest of the page (via an iframe). Once we’re done, the page load should not be impacted by ads. I’ll look into the pop-up ad as well.

    Arlene – I’ll pass this shoebox suggestion along.

    Linda – We need to look into the “completely different family tree” issue. I hope this is an isolated incident. We’ll check it out.

    Barb – what error message are you seeing? please email me at eshoup at thanks.



  10. I can not removed items to correct family relationships. The items will not remove when I hit the remove button. This happens when I log in from home on my verizon account. When can access my account from work over our LAN, (but not lateley) I can remove the items. What changed????

  11. Virginia Byron

    I’m a long-time subscriber, using XP, IE7, cache clear. Performance (time loading pages) has become unacceptably slow, worse than when I had dialup, spoke with tech support, they acknowledge problem, need new servers, no target date for fix. Called member services, want membership extended for period site not usable, they know nothing. I’ve been getting up at 4am to get some decent performance. So far, I haven’t found anyone at Ancestry who cares.

  12. Is Ancestry getting the message – the site is running very slow, pages now take longer to load than a few months ago.

    Like Virginia #13 I’m a long time subscriber to Ancestry. All other sites load extremely quickly, even if they have intrusive ads on them.

    I’m running core 2 duo (4 processor)with 4 GB memory and SATA3 drives on XP with a 15 Mbps fiber ISP. With that configuration there can only be one problem – ANCESTRY.

    When is something going to be done?


  13. Brenda Dailey

    Are the Genealogy researchers aware that there is discusion going on by Congress to use mathematical estimates or sampling to count urban residents and immigrants in the upcoming census? What implications does this have in the future for researchers???

  14. Eric,

    We’ve seen a lot of complaints about the poor response, from both the site and the “support”, and threats that subscribers will not renew. Is Ancestry considering a ‘loyalty’ discount for renewing a subscription?

    I know of at least one other Genealogical research site that is actively doing this – and they don’t seem to have the same performance problems as Ancestry.


  15. Barbo

    Ditto to all of the other comments. I’m getting very fed up with the site. I have been doing a lot of census pages lately-what a nightmare.

  16. Dear Sirs,
    I have in my possession the original 1852 Poll Tax Book of the City of Fredericton, New Brunswick. This information is available no place else that I’ve been able to determine. There are 95 pages which I have scanned and put on a CD. The writing is very legible. Below I have inserted a page of explanation of this book and am willing to send a copy of the jpg of any one of them should you wish.
    Now, my question to you is this. My subscription renewal is due the end of this month, February. As a senior on pension, I must look to find some way to alleviate the cost. Would your company consider giving me a deal on this?
    Sincerely, and with thanks for your taking the time to consider my request.
    Mary Patricia Hennessy
    375 St Peter Ave., Bathurst, NB E2A 2Y4

    There are two pages for each, starting with the name and numerous fields across into the second page. The fields are as follows:

    FIRST PAGE – Name – Profession – Residence – Real Estate of Citizen – Personal Estate of Citizen – Real Estate of non-Resident – Income – 20% of value of Property – Amount to be Taxed

    SECOND PAGE – Poll Tax – Poor – Fire – Gas – County Debt – Adm of Justice – Roads – Total – Remarks (some of these are quite interesting)

  17. Virginia Byron

    Why isn’t anyone from Ancestry responding to the complaints re site performance, i.e., slow loading of pages. The site gives slow but livable performance during the night (eastern standard time) but grinds to an ususable crawl by 9am.

  18. I agree with the people who say that they system is ever so slow. Ever since Ancestry has taken it upon itself to sell ads, the time it takes to get the results has grown exponentially. We are paying for premium service and we are getting pedetrian results. The ds are horrendous, and I NEVER click through an ad … I don’t care what website I am using.

  19. Beverly

    The slowness of the site is a problem, it’s quicker, if you can call it that in the morning UK time buts slows up as the day goes on.
    Now today it keeps coming up with error on page and the only tab showing is family tree.
    Why does this always happen when I’m finally on to the trail of my ancestors.

  20. Wesley Hodges

    I don’t understand why we are told improvements are being made when in fact it seems almost the opposite. Lately, I have spent more time waiting for screens to load than doing research. I switched to high speed DSL cable, that didn’t help.

    Also need to improve the old search method and “trash” the new. I still find myself going back to the old search method and finding more and better hints/fact than using the new.

  21. Shan

    Is it just me, I can’t even access the home site at all today. I have been a subscriber for 3 years, no problem. I have had loading problems, no access to BMD last week, slow loading, and today I cannot access anything, it is just waiting to load taking forever. Is there a PROBLEM? HELP!!!!!

  22. I agree with the other readers. I am a patient person, but today, I can’t even get my tree. Unfortunately, I just renewed and had problems before and they continue after. What is happening? I am retired and start early in the morning It doesn’t take much time before the slowdown. All day it is impossible and also in the early evening. I just started adding pictures and I spend more time waiting for pages to load than I am able to get any work done.
    Please help!!!

  23. Mary Beth Marchant

    Absolutely awful today. Hanging, freezing, waiting, you name it, it is happening today. I’m not sure what you mean by fixing things cause it is sure not fixed. I am a subscriber for nearly 10 years. Boo!!!

  24. Eric
    I’ve just sent an email to you at TGN with details of a TRACERT. Let me know if you don’t get it.

    The TRACERT stalls in the XO network and never reaches TGN / Ancestry.


  25. Tony Brothers

    TonyC wrote:
    “The TRACERT stalls in the XO network and never reaches TGN / Ancestry.”

    And this would be an Ancestry problem because ….????

  26. James Ralston

    I have been a customer for many years and find that the more complaints that are filed, eventually gets your attention and you manage to fix most stuff, even if it does take you months. My largest complaint is this:

    YOUR SEARCH ENGINE SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS. Explain how if I enter John Smith, born, 1802, in New Hampshire,it gives me every Smith you can think of and none with that date, location or name. You need to get some education from a search engine like Google and apply it to our genealogy needs. Your WASTE of servers is unbelievable.

    I have no faith in your programming department. They proved themselves, along with management, with the FTM 2008 debacle. Now, every time you turn around, you manage to screw something up again. As of this moment, the “new” Ancestry search, in FTM 2009, will not work. Please, think of the customers, who keep you in business. Like many others who say, “no one ever answers emails”, I think my writing this will be as usual, a waste of time.

  27. Mary Beth Marchant

    Eric, thanks for taking note of the slow load time of the pages today. I am encouraged that y’all(that’s Southern speak) are taking note of the problems and working on solutions. Also, I appreciate the new data sets that were posted this morning, especially the Georgia Civil War Pension files.

  28. I want to report that I am still having a problem with hints not loading. They will not load from either New Content Added to Your Tree nor from Family Tree Page.

  29. Re 31 – Tony Brothers

    I think if you check my posting I didn’t say it was an Ancestry problem.

    If you are unaware, TRACERT measures the milliseconds between each leg on the net between the originating PC and the destination site. It was surprising that the trace never reached any TGN site, Ancestry, TGN, Myfamily etc.

    Eric did respond to me that the Ancestry OPs people were blocking the trace on the XO hub!!!


  30. Constance Peck

    Still slow and the longer you are on it the slower it gets. Nothing on this part of ancestry issues [any there are many] has changed.
    I have never encountered anything like anywhere online. I have learned to just back out and start all over.
    Which is pathetic…but I am trying to get work down…so I deal with it and by the time I am done for the day I am so angry I cannot express it. I am on anywhere btw 10:00 pm to 6:00 am central standard time.

  31. Connie Norheim

    I’ve been trying for several hours this morning and the Hints won’t load. Also, when I go to my tree and use the family group sheet tab it shows the children, spouses and parents. But when I click View Profile the parents, children and spouses are missing.

  32. John

    I totally agree with Constance #36. The performance gets continually slower, the longer it’s in use. It’s as if there is a memory leak. It’s exasperating. It get’s so slow that it appears to not register my mouse clicks, but when I re-click, I’m 2 pages beyond where I want to be. Arghhh!

  33. So happy to know the slowness isn’t my computer. I was about to buy a new one. Why is it that when a page FINALLY loads, and I have the cursor on an item I wish to view, the page seems, jumps, reappears and adjusts itself – slowly as usual. I sit and wait, wondering “is it finished”? Wish I hadn’t rejoined. I do just as well just using Google, Wikipedia & Yahoo.

  34. Barbara

    I have been a member for a long time. I’m with everyone else, the search “hints” won’t come up, do not like the “new” search function and the more you use Ancestry the slower it gets. AND I HAVE A NEW COMPUTER!

  35. Carol A. H.

    I must agree with John in #38. My mouse doesn’t seem to be registering my clicks and if I click again, I’m further than I wanted to go. It is especially true with the back button. It appears to not be working but if I just get up and walk away and wait, it eventually goes back. But backing up several screens takes forever.

    I upgraded my speed with Cox Cable to their Premier speed. There is nothing faster available. NO CHANGE! I’m taking my modem in to exchange it for another. I can’t buy a new computer at this time, and really don’t seem to need one except for ancestry. The speed has been getting slower since ancestry rolled out the new home page and then the new search. That definitely was the changing point. I tried the new search several times and found it totally unacceptable. Even slower and not enough information on each screen, plus some other things. (I’ve seen snails move faster!)

    My renewal comes up next month. Perhaps I should rethink that. The adverising graphics are slowing the site as well.

    I have used ancestry several years and it is getting steadily worse. I have been in touch with the customer service people and they try to help but the problem doesn’t get solved. I’m weary of hearing or reading, “We are working on the problem.”

    What more can I say?

  36. Hints are still NOT LOADING. I also tried to set up and put information into a MILITARY PAGE to no avail. The new civil war military information is great, but I can’t use it. I use this site every day so am very frustrated.

  37. Because of enlarged graphics and advertisements your displays have grown to the point that subscribers require a monitor with a 20-inch screen in order to view a display without scrolling right-to-left. The browser must be adjusted to 80 percent in order to access the top-to-bottom slide on the side of the display. Doing do, however, simply distorts the image. Adjusting for minimum sized font has no affect. We know you won’t eliminate the right side advertisements but can’t you at least reduce the size of everything so we can get a more user friendly display?

  38. Iva

    I have had since 2001…and I am ready to quit! I cannot access the “hints” that I am told I have for people. All I get is the “loading” screen which just goes on forever. It never goes beyond “loading.” What is the problem? You need to fix this or you will lose a long time customer!

  39. robertstidolph

    Eric, why have have there been no responses to all the comments. I recently send an invite on my tree. The person could not open. It just wouldn’t load

  40. Beverly

    Problems yet again BMG will not load. Site is slow slow slow………….

    Try removing the animated adverts that might help, did not have the problem when there were so many.

    Any reply welcome

  41. Carol A. H.

    With the many problems people are having, why doesn’t Ancestry take a poll on what kind of hardware and software subscribers are using? I read the blogs and many of us are having similar problems, but there are plenty who have the odd problem here and there. Perhaps you could find some answers in the results of such a poll. I’m not telling folks to go out and spend money on upgrades, not in this economy, but if ancestry knew what we are really using, it might help them to address our problems. This poll could be kept confidential.

  42. I think a black hole has swallowed all of the Ancestry / TGN VPs and product people – where are the responses to all the complaints – or is it impossible to defend?


  43. Eric Shoup

    Hey guys-

    Sorry for taking over a week to come back and address your latest comments.

    Our site performance improvement work is still on-going. From what we can tell different users are having different experiences (in terms of site speed) on the site. We have been calling customers who are complaining about site slowness and are willing to install some diagnostic software on their computers for us. In some cases, we have had our engineering team on the phone controlling the customers’ computer to see exactly what the customer is seeing. All of this has been to help us accelerate development of the “right” site performance improvements.

    For those of you who are still experiencing site slowness, thank you for bearing with us. We are going to keep working on this until we get the issues resolved.

    For those of you who are willing to volunteer to talk to us and install some diagnostic software, please email me at eshoup at We temporarily install httpwatch and go-to-mypc.

    Thanks very much.

    Eric Shoup

  44. Paula Vaughan

    Why is it taking so long for the Ancestry pages to download now. I have cable and new computer so this shouldn’t be a problem. I have had to problems until the last week or so. I am hearing also from alot of others they are having the same problem???

    With the subscription rate so high it would be nice to be able to access the information quickly.

    What is going on?

  45. James Ralston

    You people are right back in the same boat with angry customers, just like you were with the FTM 2008 debacle. You must really find it hard to hire people who know what they are doing, when it comes to servers, search engines and such. I have been a customer almost since Ancestry came into life. Over the years, all I have seen is that you service has gone from good to POOR. As usual, you folks tend to not think it might be anything you are doing on your end. One would think for the price you charge us for this service, that we would get that, SERVICE. I have the fastest ISP service in the area, Comcast. At least 5 times faster than DSL and every site I go to is blazing fast, except for you people. Service just keeps getting slower and slower. I bet when you start losing customers, like you did with FTM 2008, you might wake up and smell the coffee. Don’t blame the customers, I use all of the tools that have been suggested, Firefox, Adblock and NoScript and never had problems until about the last three months. Each month gets worse and so does the anger of the customer. Hopefully someone might respond to this with something positive to tell us.

  46. Eric Shoup


    Don’t misunderstand my post — I am not suggesting that the problem lies with our customers. We are talking with customers directly to find out where the problems lie with Ancestry.

    We take your comments seriously and recognize that to keep you all as customers we need to meet your high expectations for site speed. It may not yet be visible to you but we are actively working on the problem.


    Eric Shoup

  47. Ken


    I have been posting on this blog about poor performance, slow performance, poor to nonexistant customer service,and getting answers to my questions that don’t answer the question. The last time I posted, I said I would not post any further messages because it didn’t seem to get any results. Something must have hit a nerve, because the post was removed. I guess TNG doesn’t like to hear the truth anymore. Well, before I cancel my subscription March 1, here’s a few things you folks need to understand.

    I can only speak for myself, but until TNG “updated” the home page,everything was fine. The addition of the “new search” was actually like pressing the self destruct button. It appears to me that when someone at TNG gets a brain storm, they throw together a program, uploads it to the website and wait for the customers to find the bugs so you can patch/repair the program. Nothing “new” in the last couple of years has worked as advertised. We pay a substantial amount of money to use this site for research, not debugging programs. Nothing should be uploaded until it is thoroughly tested. Granted, there will be minor glitches in any new program, but what we have here is not minor.

    If you really want to improve this sight, drop the new search, the new home page, and any other “Updates” you have made in the last couple of months and start over.

    I realize most of these folks may be content to spend good money to help TNG fix these fiascos, but I can’t afford it. I’ve lost countless hours of research time trying to get search engines to work and pages to load, and holding for the greatest of all TNG’s disasters – “Customer Service”. What an insult.

    It has been suggested several times on this blog that TNG should implement a program to suspend the subscriptions of your loyal customers until the site is operating as advertised. The silence has been deafening. Canceling this after eight years will put me light years behind in my research, but I don’t have to listen to bogus excuses or incompetent company representatives talk down to their customers about why the site doesn’t work as promised. You (TNG) say you listen to your customers. I say your hearing is selective. The customers have two choices – stay for more of the same or leave. Bye

  48. James Ralston

    I guess I can best sum up the customer’s point of view:
    STOP ACTING LIKE MICROSOFT, quit putting out junk programs until they are proofed as “working”. This whole mess over the last few years, stems from management that obviously has one thing on their mind, money. When you have a system that works, it is like a car that runs good, DON’T TAKE IT IN TO FIX IT. If you folks would set up a site that actually lets the customer tell you what they would like, survey the customers to see if the majority indeed would like to have it and then do your homework and make it happen. The big thing that really kills you is constant promises, just like with FTM 2008, always telling us “it’s coming soon”. Just like Ken said in #56, this new search thing you came up with is a joke.

  49. Carol A. H.

    A few minutes ago I was working on a tree I have in Ancestry Family Trees. I tried to attach a “hint” of the 1930 census to a person. It would not save it so I walked away from my computer. I came back in 10 minutes and it still had not saved the hint. It absolutly stalled. I had to log off the Ancestry and log back on. but still no luck.

    i have experienced slowness in attaching hints before but this is the first time it stalled totally. It is just past midnight here on the “left coast” and I thought fewer people would be on the site, and it would be faster. I checked Eric’s post about maintenance but it is early Sunday moring and not on his schedule.

    What new surprizes are just around the corner?

  50. Sherry


    Thank you SO much for fixing the pop-up on the initial page that was interrupting our log-in attempts (#5 comment). I greatly appreciate that one frustration being eliminated.

    Although it seems to us – at times – that nothing is being done; I know these problems are difficult to assess and reconfigure. I thank you for your efforts.


  51. Dave roll

    I to have tried tech support with no results. My Problem is the same as everybody else very slow and will not load hints. Tech people said it was a problem with Norton. I have had as much trouble trying to get thru to them for help. I am a novice and have problems making changes with my system. I need help from your end if that is possible.
    Thanks for your time.

  52. James Ralston

    Dave, with comment #60

    I have been into computers for years and have a suggestion. Take your Norton and put it in the trash can. You are throwing good money away for using it. And, the biggest problem with it, is that it hogs your system and slows it down badly. Simply trash it. If you need Anti-virus protection, use the free stuff. You can’t beat ThreatFire and Avast. Just Google them and download for free. I never have a problem with viruses or adware.

  53. Pam

    I am also a long tme subscriber to For whatever reason, this site continues to get slower. Each click just hangs there forever. I really don’t have the patience to wait since I remember what is used to be like when I could see several pages in the time it takes to load one now. Consequently, I haven’t been using the site as much, which means I will not resubscribe unless the speed improves significantly. I also teach genealogy classes – yesterday I taught 30 novices – and I’m telling them to get a library card & log onto Heritage Quest for free, at least until regains it’s former speed. Blame the server, blame the browser, blame Norton, blame whatever, but I blame Ancestry.

  54. Rebecca

    I have Family Origins software and have been putting obits in the notes section for death.

    When I uploaded my material to the
    site I’ve lost all the notes that I had. I’ve also got tons of other notes that have not been transferred to the tree online.

    Do I have to retype all these notes individually?

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