6 Things You Need to Know about MyHeritage

6 Things You Need To Know About MyHeritage

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Welcome back to Tenacious Genealogy! Today’s post is going to focus on another genealogy website – MyHeritage.

MyHeritage is what the offspring of Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Spokt would look like. It has the:

  • functionality and (some of) the records that Ancestry,
  • records of FamilySearch,
  • ‘family website’ mentality of Spokt.

So if you wanted to access benefits from all three of those websites without having three different accounts, MyHeritage is great. That said, it can also be a little overwhelming. Especially at first.

But that’s what this blog post is all about – making MyHeritage less overwhelming. First off, some background on MyHeritage.

1) Fun facts about MyHeritage

  • Started in 2003.
  • Has partnered up with FamilySearch (which beefed up its records collections significantly).
  • Offers the ‘Family Website’ experience like Spokt, but combined with the genealogy research elements of FamilySearch and Ancestry.
  • 8 Billion accessible records (in context, Ancestry has 20 Billion accessible records, FamilySearch has 5.4 Billion accessible records, and Findmypast has 4 Billion accessible records).
  • Has FREE Family Tree software that you can download to your desktop.
  • Large collections of historical newspapers. Its two largest collections are Australian newspapers and the ‘Chronicling America’ collection, but it also has a hearty selection of more niched newspapers like those published by the Quakers.

2) Signing up on MyHeritage is super easy and simple.

Normally, I’d go through a step by step process showing how to sign up for a website. However, signing up for MyHeritage is actually pretty simple and straightforward. (Moreso than other genealogy websites, IMHO.) They walk you through every step and if you’ve signed up for other sites like Ancestry, it is almost identical. Enough so, that it’s easier for me to link to their page on signing up than to write out the process here. So if you want the step by step process on how to sign up for MyHeritage, click here.

3) There is a difference between MyHeritage’s Family Sites and their Family Tree Builder.

Family Site

If you sign up online, you automatically get a free, basic family site. This is essentially a website for your family tree that you can invite others to join. Family sites can also be upgraded as the family trees on them grow bigger.

The basic site gives you the ability to create (at least one) family tree of up to 250 people. You can also upload up to 500 MB worth of documents/photos/etc. Plus, you can make your family tree(s) on the site public or private, just like Ancestry.

You can also create multiple trees on one family site, with the only limit being the total amount of people on the site and documents storage. (For example, with a basic family site, you could have 1 family tree with up to 250 people, 2 family trees with up to 125 people each, etc.)

Family Tree Builder

Family Tree Builder is different in that:

  1. It is software, not a website.
  2. It resides on your desktop.
  3. It is private and not as shareable as an online family tree.
  4. It is FREE (no matter how many people are in the family tree).

The only real downside to using the Family Tree Builder is that you don’t necessarily have access to the records and other family trees that you would with an online tree. The information going into it is going to be the information you put into it, whether through a GEDCOM file or manually.

However, it is a great backup if you adhere to the concept of LOCKSS. (LOCKSS is one of the concepts I explain in the first email subscribers to the Tenacious Genealogy email list get.)

Want more information on the difference between a Family Site and Family Tree Builder? Click here.

4) MyHeritage has a variety of subscriptions based on what you want

One of the things that I do like about MyHeritage is that just because you sign up, doesn’t mean all of a sudden you are having to pay a monthly fee or yearly bill. Their default subscription (while a ‘lite’ version of what they offer) is free, so you aren’t worried about getting slammed with a hefty charge just because your 14-day trial ended.

They have two types of subscriptions and then a free LDS account if you link your FamilySearch LDS account to them. The two types of subscriptions are Site subscriptions and Data subscriptions.

Site Subscriptions

There are four types of site subscriptions available. While you can have multiple sites on MyHeritage under one account, each site needs to have its own subscription. So a person could have one MyHeritage account and have a Basic subscription for one site, Premium for another, etcetera, etcetera. (I’ve updated subscription prices as of January 2020 as well.)

  • Basic (Free)This is the subscription that everyone who signs up for MyHeritage initially gets. This is also the minimal subscription you need if you take MyHeritage’s DNA test. Consider it to be the ‘lite’ version of MyHeritage. It is handy to have in order to get used to MyHeritage’s interface and creating a tree/family website. You can only have up to 250 people in a family tree on a basic site and 500 MB of storage. Researching ancestors is also limited to free searches and a handful of collections.
  • Premium ($99 for the first year/$129 annually afterwards) – The next level up from Basic. With the Premium subscription, you can have up to 2500 people in a family tree. You get Priority customer support and more storage. You also get full access to more collections as well as two MyHeritage collections (Family Sites and Members).
  • PremiumPlus ($159 for the first year/$209 annually afterwards) – The penultimate subscription plan. PremiumPlus lets you have unlimited people in a family tree, better customer support, and even more storage. Your access to historical collections expands and you get access to two more MyHeritage collections (Family Trees and Family Photos).
  • MyHeritage Complete Plan ($209 for the first year/$299 annually afterwards) – This is MyHeritage’s most complete plan and most expensive plan. It essentially gives you full access to everything on MyHeritage, so for all intents and purposes, the Complete Plan is the PremiumPlus and Data subscriptions combined. You get full access to all 10.1 billion+ records that MyHeritage has to offer, as well as their specific MyHeritage collections.
  • Data Subscription ($139 for the first year/$189 annually afterwards) – MyHeritage also offers a data subscription plan for people who want to research their family history through MyHeritage collections, but don’t necessarily want a family site or online family tree.
    • This subscription gives access to SuperSearch (MyHeritage’s search engine for historical record collections that it offers) and Record Matches (MyHeritage’s version of Ancestry’s Hints).
    • Because someone who purchases a data subscription doesn’t necessarily need a ‘family site’ to use their subscription, this is actually complementary to MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder that you can download onto your desktop.
  • LDS account (equivalent to MyHeritage Complete Plan) – Last, but not least, MyHeritage’s LDS account. Due to FamilySearch’s collaboration with a variety of genealogical websites (including MyHeritage), if you have an LDS account on FamilySearch, you can connect that account with a free LDS account on MyHeritage. The access is equivalent to what you would get with the MyHeritage Complete Plan.

5) It’s easy to start your Family Tree on MyHeritage

MyHeritage supports 3 types of Family Trees

  • An Online Tree – This is the kind of tree that you would create if you signed up with MyHeritage and started a tree on their website.
  • A GEDCOM Tree – This is also an online tree, but one that was created on another site. Regardless of the website, pretty much all online family trees are in the GEDCOM file format. So if you have a family tree on Ancestry that you want to upload to MyHeritage (or vice versa), you could do that with a GEDCOM file. Once it is uploaded, it’ll look identical to any family trees you may have created on MyHeritage previously.
  • A Family Tree Builder Tree – If you download MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and create a tree there, you can upload to MyHeritage. The only thing to remember is to make sure there aren’t more people in the Family Tree Builder tree than are allowed on the family site you are uploading it to (if the site has either a Basic or Premium subscription).

Overall, having multiple ways to create and upload a family tree makes MyHeritage a lot easier to work with. If you are curious about more information on the different types of family trees, click here.

6) MyHeritage has a lot of cool functions to play around with on its dashboard

Some of these are similar to what Ancestry or FamilySearch have on their dashboards, some are completely different.

Similarities to Ancestry or FamilySearch
  • Easy Access to Family Tree and Family Photos
  • Smart Matches and Record Matches – MyHeritage’s version of ‘hints’
  • Access to DNA results (if you’ve taken MyHeritageDNA)
Differences from Ancestry or FamilySearch
  • Family Statistics (sometimes helpful, always fun). One of the top buttons on the dashboard is ‘Family Statistics’. It calculates things such as how many men vs. women are in your tree, which birth months are most common, what first names and surnames are most popular, who the oldest living relative and youngest living relative is.
  • Reminders of (living) family members’ birthdates (only if you’ve put their full birthdate in). On the right side of the dashboard, you’ll see notifications for birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other celebrations of relatives as long as you’ve put those dates into your family tree.
  • Record Matches are sorted by collection.

      At the top of the screen, you’ll see an icon for ‘Record Matches‘ – if you click on it, you can see how many record matches are in a particular collection. So if you are looking for someone in a census, you could look up that census collection in the Record Matches and see how many possible matches are in your family tree from that collection.

  • Relationship Report – for *anyone* (within the same family tree). This is a fun aspect of MyHeritage that you can play with and it is handy if you are trying to find a connection between two random people that you are related to. As long as both individuals are on the same tree, it will show their relationship to each other.
  • Tree Consistency Checker –  Great way to make sure data that might have been mistyped is correct or corrected. However, take the tips with a grain of salt. It will tell you that a mother and child being 15 years apart or a father and child being 60-70 years apart is incorrect because the mother is too young or the father is too old – when both scenarios are feasible. But otherwise, it is a great way to find possible mistakes in your family tree and quickly edit them.

In Summary

MyHeritage can a great website depending on what you are looking for in your genealogical journey. While it isn’t my go-to site for genealogy research, it still has quite a few records that places like Ancestry and FamilySearch don’t have and its collections continue to grow. It also has a few aspects (like combining a family website with a place to do research on said family or its ‘Family Statistics’) that make it stand out. That said, it’s become pricier than Ancestry (and definitely FamilySearch), so whether those records or aspects are worth the extra money is an individual choice.  

At the same time, it has a few functions that I wish Ancestry or FamilySearch had (like the Relationship Report and Tree Consistency Checker) and it is a great source for more advanced family historians to use in order to verify information and records found on FamilySearch, Ancestry, or other websites.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have questions or comments about MyHeritage that weren’t mentioned in this blog? If so, feel free to comment below! And if you like what you’ve been seeing here on Tenacious Genealogy – please subscribe to our email list. Not only will you stay up to date with the latest blog posts, but you’ll also get access to freebies such as ’10 Tips for Starting Your Genealogy’ and other fun ‘subscriber only’ items!

56 thoughts on “6 Things You Need to Know about MyHeritage

  1. Eleanor Allen says:

    This is a really helpful blog! Thank you!

    I have a relative that has done an extensive family tree on Heritage. He is up to 3500 relatives! It seems I can’t get on to see it unless I subscribe? I don’t want to add anything to it. I just want to see it. Is there a way to do this without paying for a subscription? Seems expensive at > $100/year.

    • Klaudia says:

      Try asking the relative to send you an invitation. Once you officially become a member then you should be able t see the tree.

  2. Laura Nelson says:

    I’m glad that the blog has been so helpful! With MyHeritage, you should be able to create a free account and view other people’s family trees. The only limit with the free account is what you can put up. If you have a free account and you still can’t see his family tree, it may be that he has viewing restrictions. But that’s a different issue. (Also, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you can get a free account on MyHeritage that is more than just the basic account.)

    • Laura Nelson says:

      With a Complete package, you get access to 1 PremiumPlus family site and all of MyHeritage’s collections. So if you wanted to do research on the separate families, you could, but they would need to be on one family site. (Which you could do with either you or your wife being the ‘main’ person and then creating family trees for each of the two families connected together at you two.) If you wanted separate sites for each family, then you’d have to get a second site. You should be able to do research for both sites since that second site would be under the same account, but unless you purchased a PremiumPlus subscription for the second account, it would either be a free site (with limits as to how many people are in the tree) or another subscription along with the Complete package. Hopefully that makes sense!

  3. Ann Moore says:

    This is a most informative website and I thank you for all your work in helping others. Your comments are much more helpful than MyHeritage’s website.

    • Laura Nelson says:

      Depending on the website that you are looking at, there are a lot of books out there for beginners. So, Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, etc. (I recommend checking out Amazon.) I also have step by step posts for starting on either FamilySearch or Ancestry here on Tenacious Genealogy.

  4. Linda says:

    If I subscribe to My Heritage for a year and then don’t want to renew my subscription, do I lose the information I have downloaded?

    • Laura Nelson says:

      Yes and no. The information (or data) is saved in your family site, but your access to it on MyHeritage will be limited based on what plan you are on. If you don’t want to renew your subscription, you’ll have access at only the (free) Basic plan level. So if you have more than 250 people in your family tree(s), you won’t be able to add more people and you’ll have a limited storage space of 500 MB. That said, if you’ve downloaded information from MyHeritage (such as records, etc) to your own private computer or hard drive, those won’t disappear because of a change in subscription.

  5. Andras says:

    Hi Laura, thx for all these, really helpful infos. I’am on free basic subscribtion, and my question is, if is there a period limitation, or sofar I do not change it remains free? Or is there any automatic upgrade or charges, even if I do not order any other level? thx again A

    • Laura Nelson says:

      With MyHeritage, there is no time period limit on the basic subscription. I had a free basic subscription for years before I upgraded to the one I have now. As long as you have less than 250 people total on your family tree(s) or use less than 500 MB of storage, you can have a basic subscription. If you were to reach either of those limits, you wouldn’t have an automatic upgrade or charge, rather MyHeritage would alert you that you’ve reached your limit and need to upgrade in order to continue (either growing your family tree or using more than 500 MB of storage). In fact, I don’t believe you have to give MyHeritage payment info when creating a basic subscription. (I created my one account years ago, so things could have changed, however.)

  6. Peter Poulsen says:

    Thanks for your blog.
    I have both online MyHerritage and MyHerritage Family Tree Builder. Most of the time they sync fine with each other. However, I had a branch that I imported as a gemo (spelling?) file into Tree Builder and integrated with the existing tree. At first, nothing showed. I did this three times, I was then able to find the new branch and connected its beginning and end into the rest of the tree. Now it shows fine on Tree Builder. (though I think the two extra imported branches are still hiding in there).
    It took a number of syncs to show anything in my online tree. Currently all ancestors in that branch show just birth and death dates with names unknown. No amount of syncing will bring the names across.
    Please, do you know what I might need to do to fix this?

    • Laura Nelson says:

      So full disclosure, I’m not a technical person by any means. It sounds like you might have had a glitch when syncing between MH’s Tree Builder and their website. That said, it might be worth it to contact MH’s technical support to see if they have a better idea of how to fix the issue.

  7. Leigh Easterday says:

    I have the DNA kit (for my father)…
    I paid about $60 for the kit, but someone told me there is an additional fee to process the sample. That’s fine, but I want to know what that fee is, as I am giving this package to my father and want to write the check for the processing, because I don’t want him to have to pay for it. So, I basically need to know the amount of the fee needed to process the DNA he will send in.
    Thank you to whomever can answer this!

    • Laura Nelson says:

      What company did you get the kit with? If you got it directly from the company there shouldn’t be any extra fees. At least for the major DNA companies. (Ancestry, 23&me, etc) Some of The companies (such as 23&me I believe) also allow people to purchase the kit at various stores (CVS, Walgreens, etc) for a cheaper price and then pay for processing sample later. If that’s the case, you can find more information here: https://www.23andme.com/info/ or contact their customer service.

    • Laura Nelson says:

      When you buy a test kit from a place like Ancestry, 23&Me, or MyHeritage *directly*, the cost of testing it is included in the price. So if AncestryDNA has their kits on sale for $59, then all you have to pay is $59. There is no extra charge. If you buy the kit from a retailer (like Walgreens in connection with 23&Me) you pay for the kit (at Walgreens) and then the service you choose (at 23&me), so either $69 or $169 (at the time of this comment).

  8. Sam says:

    Glad I found your site. My question has to do with mistakes. I have found that some of the matches I previously confirmed contain incorrect information. Now I’m daunted with the task of clearing out the mistakes (3K+ site). Any advice you have for the simplest method for deleting inaccurate information would be much appreciated.

  9. Reeve says:

    A great review Laura, and your observations are very similar to mine, having joined MyHeritage 10 years ago. One aspect that I found out only recently is that the online FAQ is the only form of support available to “basic” accounts. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, except…
    If your email account used to create the site becomes disabled (mine has) there is no way to reset your password or access. You cannot change your email address unless you can log on, and you cannot get any kind of email or phone help to have an administrator reset your account unless you have a paid subscription. Keep your login details up to date!

  10. Scarlett says:

    I just tried accessing my medical information that was on the site and I cannot get into it. I used to fill out all the surveys as well and I haven’t gotten a request lately. Do I have to pay a fee for this? I tried calling the help line but they won’t help me because they said I do not have an account…I’m confused. Did they take all my medical information away from me?

    • Laura Nelson says:

      I am actually not too familiar with MyHeritage’s DNA Health + Ancestry kit and how they run that. It looks like they just introduced it in May of 2019 and so it may be that they are still dealing with some hiccups? That’s my best guess. I don’t think they would intentionally take away a consumer’s medical information (both because that would be unethical and bad business), so I’m guessing it is something more benign. If you have a kit number from when you did the test, that might be helpful to them as well. Beyond that, I don’t know.

  11. Jason Gehrke says:

    Hello Laura,
    Great post and great work on the Q&A here as well.
    I have a question that might have a really simple and obvious answer:
    Are the MyHeritage subscription fees based per user or tree?
    I am not the site manager for my family website, and have today tried to access the site only to get the message that the site has expired?
    If I’m not the site manager, can I still pay to upgrade or renew the subscription (I suspect we have gone past our 250 person limit), and will this give all family members access again, or just me?
    I can’t find this info on MyHeritage itself, and their helpline is only for paying customers apparently.

    • Laura Nelson says:

      Hi Jason,

      As far as I know, the subscription costs are per site/tree. So, for example, if there were a lot of people from my mother’s side active in genealogy and wanted to connect, I might use one of the larger, more expensive plans and I’d have to pay the subscription price for that larger site. Then, if I wanted to do a site for, say, my dad’s side of the family and they weren’t too into genealogy or connecting with each other, I might use a smaller, less expensive subscription for that site. But I’d have to pay for two separate sites and two separate subscriptions.

      As for renewing a family website, I believe that only the site creator can do that. Usually, a site will expire if the site creator stopped paying for a subscription. So that may have been what happened. (Here’s a link to MyHeritage’s FAQ on what Site Managers can do)

      Depending on how close you are with the original site creator for your family site, if you are wanting to renew the site (and cost is an issue for them), you could see if they would be willing to transfer the site to you or otherwise let you pay for the renewal. I believe there is a page talking about this on MyHeritage’s FAQ site, but it looks like their site may being having some issues right now. (I’m not able to connect to it like I normally can.) If you’re not able to transfer the site data (which is NOT erased when a site expires – you’re just limited to what and how much you can access), you may have to just rebuild the site from scratch (which isn’t great, but is still an option).
      Hopefully that helps!

  12. Jim Hitz says:

    I have a huge My Heritage tree but in the last year have not had time to add to it and don’t anticipate time in the next year or two. If I do a GEDCOM and cancel my account, will I lose anything?

    • Laura Nelson says:

      It depends on what you have in your tree. If you have photos, notes, or any kind of documentation that is stored on your site and you cancel your account (as opposed to canceling a subscription), then yes, I believe you will lose those files. (When you cancel an account, everything gets erased.) The GEDCOM will only save basic data, not photographs, scanned items, etc. (At least that has been my experience when moving a GEDCOM file from one service to another – ie Ancestry to MyHeritage.)

      If you are currently paying for a MyHeritage subscription for your tree and are wishing to cancel because of a lack of use, you can cancel your subscription instead of canceling your account. In that scenario, you wouldn’t lose anything, you just would only be able to access a limited part of the site until you renewed your subscription.

      • CathyP says:

        Hi Laura,
        Just read your ‘work’ here on the site and loved it, most insightful, but I would like to seek clarification about downgrading a MyHeritage subscription.
        If I upgrade to a premium or premium plus subscription for 1 year, work like blazes and add an extra 2,000 profiles, then downgrade my subscription again to the basic membership, would I still be able to see (alter/read) all 2,250 profiles I’d created? I don’t use a lot of data etc but I’m worried I won’t be able to read/access the ‘premium work’ I’d done through a downgraded package. I don’t want to be locked in to a big bill each year just to access prior work.

        • Agnies says:

          Hi Laura,
          I try to find answer to the same question as posted by CathyP.
          Are the family members above limit going to stay in my tree if I downgrade subscription? If yes, are they still visible to me or hidden?

  13. Curt Holzworth says:

    I have a premium account with My Heritage, if I subscribe to “record matches” can I cancel that part after the year is completed?

  14. Eric says:

    Hi. The birthday alerts : suppose I am the owner/administrator, will they send me the alert-notification with an email on the day of the birthday ?

    • Laura Nelson says:

      I believe they will if you set it up that way (or if you don’t tell it to not send you emails). I usually get birthday notifications the day before or the day of.

  15. Sharon says:

    Hi, great information here, it’s been very helpful. Do you have the option of printing your family tree on MyHeritage, and how successful is it? Could I order really nice printed books if wanted?
    I am deciding if I should buy the complete package, I wish there was an option to pay monthly.

  16. Chris says:

    As a newbie just considering looking into my family history I’m interested in your comment, “While it isn’t my go-to site for genealogy research”.
    If MH is not what is?

    • Laura Nelson says:

      I usually use Ancestry and FamilySearch. Partially because I’m more familiar with their websites than MH and partially because most of the resources I need for my particular family history work, I’ve been able to find on there.

  17. Bobby Lev says:

    Hello. I’ve purchased a kit from MyHeritage and I got a Basic plan with it. All was fine, I could see my matches’ whole ethnicity estimates, trees, and our multiple common matches also. Then I purchased 2 more kits – for my grandmothers. Well, when I “change the person” to either of them, I only see the first common match between them and anybody, and just 1 of their common ethnicities… It seems the Basic plan is just for the first kit – mine, and then the others are limited… What should I do now? I want to purchase 2 more kits for my parents, but… Should I make individual accounts for each of them and order a kit from each separately (so they would both have Basic plans), or could I order 2 kits together from any of them (just to spare the cost) and then can I activate each kit separately from their separate accounts…? I don’t quite remember the procedure…

    • Laura Nelson says:

      So my experience with MyHeritage DNA mainly stems from uploading my raw data from the Ancestry test I took, but given what you’ve mentioned, I think ordering a kit from separate accounts may be the easiest course of action. I don’t know that purchasing two tests together on one account would be that much cheaper than buying them individually through two different accounts.

      • Bobby Lev says:

        Hello. I think I’ve figured it out! I bought 2 kits through my own account but I knew you could always gift kits to other people, and so they could make their own accounts and activate each kit from their individual account, and in this way the activator is the owner… Waiting for the kits to arrive so I could try it out…

    • Audrey Stone says:

      I’ve given my name,email address and ticked the “agreement terms” box. But decided I wouldn’t go any further for a free 14 day trial . I’ve received an email asking to supply my password as I have joined MyHeritage.. I didn’t give any bank details and not happy about doing so. Will I be invoiced after my 14 day free trial for something I won’t be using?

      • Laura Nelson says:

        If you haven’t given MyHeritage any bank information then (as far as I’m concerned) they won’t charge or invoice you for anything because they don’t have your information. It sounds like you stopped before completing the account registration process and that’s why they’re asking for a password (as a reminder in case you forgot that you were in the middle of your registration). If you’re not interested in having an account with them, I think you’re safe to ignore their emails. If you are still concerned, you can always call them and double check with them.

        • Audrey Stone says:

          Thank you for your reply Laura.. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that this will be fine.. I’m worried if I rang them from abroad it could cost quite a lot.

  18. Peter H Robertson says:

    my tree is nearly 70,000 people
    —- is My Heritage unable to support it if there is a size maximum requirement ? Should I delete my tree and post elsewhere? I’ve posted dna report here too?

    • Laura Nelson says:

      The site maximum requirement is in regards to subscriptions. If you get a free Basic site, you can have up to 250 names in your tree. This limit goes up with the site subscription. For example, Premium gets you up to 2500 people and PremiumPlus would get you unlimited people in your family tree. Technology wise, MyHeritage can support a tree with 70,000 people in it or more. It’s just going to require a paid subscription.

    • Laura Nelson says:

      I do not work for MyHeritage, so unfortunately I do not have access to any phone numbers for them other than what is on their site.

  19. Will says:

    I have heard my heritage have a 14 day free trail, but I have also heard of people then being billed for the whole year, when taking up the “free” 14 day trial, people have suggested to stop My heritage from billing you for the whole year is to get a temporary credit card and load it up with the lowest amount you can, and use that. Like Cheryl Bernett above I just want a month. And I definitely don’t want to be billed for the whole year. I did send them an email asking if it was possible to have just a month. But no reply.

  20. Susan says:

    Thank you for this comprehensive comparison of their plans. I was getting frustrated trying to figure this out from the MyHeritage website. They really should make things clearer!

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