Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, January 15, 2018

Does Personal Ancestral File Still Function?

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post entitled, "Why does Personal Ancestral File (PAF) refuse to die?" I think a quote from the earlier blog post is needed to start the process of bringing us up to 2018 and Personal Ancestral File. Here is me quoting me.
In a sense, PAF has moved into the category of legend and myth. It has become the part of the pantheon of genealogical gods. It is now the immortal program and is fast becoming part of the "origin myth" of genealogy. From this standpoint, I really appreciated the comment in the email at the beginning of this post that says, 
PAF has a place for everything most genealogists want to record and the exceptions can go into the notes. Its all the program most need or want.
Hmm. Now here is the question. Is Personal Ancestral File (PAF) all the program most need and want? My question is a little bit different: does PAF still work on a new computer?

I just happen to have a PC running Windows 10 which was updated during the time I was writing this blog post. So I began the task of finding a downloadable version of PAF to see how it works on a relatively new computer running the latest Windows upgrade (until tomorrow when another upgrade comes out). As you can probably guess, I am reasonably familiar with searching online. However, after spending a considerable time looking, I was unable to find a reasonable website that had a PAF download. So I couldn't verify for myself whether or not the program will still run on the latest version of Microsoft Windows 10.

However, the fact that I had no success in finding a copy online indicated that when all the old copies are gone, the program will quietly die a real death. But then, I had a thought. What about Amazon.com?


It is still for sale!! But not only is it for sale, the asking price is more than both the brand new, fully-supported, up-to-date, programs that support all the old PAF files: RootsMagic.com and AncestralQuest (ancqueste.com) Now using an old, abandoned, pernicious program seems even more illogical.

If you want to read recent reviews of PAF please see GenSoftReviews.com. Here is a five star rating from January 3, 2018, that points out the inconsistencies in the defense of PAF but still lauds the program.
I have been using PAF since its beginning and have and will continue to use it until no computer will any longer support it. I just finished copying PAF5 to my new computer running the newest version of Windows10 and it runs beautifully and even faster than on my old computer. 
The important thing is you must continuely make new gedcom files as you update your genealogy data. Then often upload the latest PAF gedcom file into a commercial software program of your choice. Some like RootsMagic and Legacy are 2 programs that even allow you to import your PAF file into their programs. There may be others. 
If the time comes then that PAF can no longer be supported, you still have your complete database to point of the last GEDCOM upload into your commercial paid for software. It is more than worth the money and these extra steps to be able to have the simplicity and ease of use of PAF and not be concerned about losing all the research and effort you’ve expended. 
Biggest Pro: Ease of Use
Biggest Con: None
Unfortunately, this reviewer wants you to buy the real commercial program to make sure you don't lose all your data. Why not just use the commercial program? By the way, the program is no longer supported. 

2 comments:

  1. We had a dozen copies os PAF when we closed down the BYU-I FHC. I bet many FH centers have copies stashed away. Now all you need is a PC with a CD reader and maybe a floppy drive to read the old GEDCOMs
    keep up the good work

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  2. How about instructions from Familysearch and the church to all FHCs that every copy of PAF in their possession must be destroyed? Now all you need is a pair of tin snips to cut up each and every copy and render them useless.

    Modern software, and indeed modern free software, will read the PAF files. Stop giving lazy people a crutch and actually force them to do something properly. Frankly if they give up genealogy as a result it's very likely that extremely little of true value is lost since people who are too lazy and too stuck in their ways to stop using PAF are also likely to be lazy and stuck in their ways with respect to proper sourcing and actually learning how to do proper research in the modern world.

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