Personal Ancestral File (PAF)

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by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Personal Ancestral File has been available free for many years and has a large following. The LDS stopped offering PAF downloads or support on July 15, 2013. The final version is 5.2.18.0 (2005) and is still available at Parowan Software.

Unsupported • Windows • Full Featured
http://www.familysearch.org/eng/paf/
Overall754.76 out of 54.76 out of 54.76 out of 54.76 out of 54.76 out of 5 4.76
2017134.86 out of 54.86 out of 54.86 out of 54.86 out of 54.86 out of 5 4.86
2016134.62 out of 54.62 out of 54.62 out of 54.62 out of 54.62 out of 5 4.62
Earlier494.77 out of 54.77 out of 54.77 out of 54.77 out of 54.77 out of 5 4.77

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75 Reviews of Personal Ancestral File (PAF)     RSS 2.0 RSS     Showing 1 - 20                   Add Your Review

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Beverly Palmer,  13 hrs ago

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I used PAF for many years and I loved it. It was so easy to use. I liked having it because no one could make changes on it like they do on Family Search. Recently I lost all of my data on PAF. I am crushed. I have the program but I can’t find all my information. I had thousands upon thousands of names and personal information. I spent 47 years gathering the information. Even my flash drive doesn’t work. I tried using the flash drive to upload on my computer. I also use Roots Magic and Legacy but I still prefer PAF. I guess I’m old school.

Biggest Pro: Easy to use and no one else can make changes to your data.
Biggest Con: That it’s not available for us.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Phil Carter,  Sep 7, 2017

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

For what it’s worth: have been using the LDS Personal Ancestral File program for many years, and I have yet to find a substitute that even comes close to PAF 5. I still have it on my Windows laptop - don’t have an installation disk because LDS offered it as downloadable from their website - but I subsequently switched to Mac a few years ago. Looks as if I may have to go back to my clunker of a laptop in order to use PAF 5 again. I used Wineskin to install it on my iMac, and it worked like a charm. But subsequent Apple operating system updates have made PAF 5 unusable again on my preferred Mac platform. And the current versions of Wineskin and Porting Kit don’t seem to work to get PAF 5 running on my up-to-date iMac. The Porting Kit developer’s response after my last failed attempt was that he may have let the Porting Kit licence expire, but he would re-instate it shortly. I’m still waiting. Wish there was some way to get an easily installable copy of PAF 5 onto my iMac. My genealogy work has suffered since PAF 5 stopped working on my iMac.

Biggest Pro: Very powerful, user friendly, comprehensive, and scholarly.
Biggest Con: I fear that PAF 5’s original Microsoft compatible code is eventually going to disappear completely.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by william rainey,  Aug 29, 2017

4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

I think PAF was great. I have GED and BAK files from my PAF1and2 which were DOS format. I have lost my software. Can anyone help me get my data back? I’d like to get software that would read the DOS versions. Thanks.William at rainey.wt@gmail.com

Biggest Pro: Great to use without too many complications/
Biggest Con: Unsupported now!

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Maureen Knight,  Aug 6, 2017

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have been using this program for many years and I find it the best out of those I have tried. I have since purchased another program but still use this instead.

I made sure I made several backups of the program as I intend using as long as I’m able.

Make sure you save (gedcom) and back up your tree regularly

Biggest Pro: Good plain views, no problems so support is not needed but I have a help pdf file too
Biggest Con: None that I can think of

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Garry L McLaughlin,  Jul 7, 2017

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have been using PAF since its first trial version. I have also tried many other programs and have taught genealogy to many people. I find PAF to be the most user friendly and will do what 99% of all users want or need to provide a safe and secure Family history database.

Biggest Pro: User Friendly
Biggest Con: the LDS stopped supporting and upgrading the program and have sold out Ancestry.com

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Karen Dalton,  Apr 26, 2017

Not Rated

I have been using PAF since the days when you actually needed to purchase the discs from LDS. I was grateful when it became I free download and I glad I saved the download. I have since used the program on Vista and now Windows 10 and have had no problems. Upgrades to the program would be nice but my version works just fine. It is very easy to use and very intuitive. Like every program it has its quirks but as previous reviewers have said, you can work around them. I have never used another program so I have no comparison but for me PAF works just great.

Biggest Pro: Easy to use, free–if you can get it, remembers locations so it cuts down on the typing
Biggest Con: Doesn’t automatically order the children

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by MaryBeth,  Apr 21, 2017

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I want paf back. I’ve been looking for a way to get it back for a long time.

Biggest Pro: It works
Biggest Con: It’s not supported by the church anymore

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Angie,  Apr 17, 2017

Not Rated

I love my PAF, and have used it for many years. Will NOT switch. Only problem it has is it gets bogged down once you get over 100,000 names with notes for each included.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Tinda Marchant,  Mar 31, 2017

Not Rated

After a 4 year hiatus from working on my genealogy with the Churches PAF program, I was shocked to read that
it was discontinued, I did read the many messages sent to you however and could not believe those stories of
feeling cheated,. frustrated, bewildered and abandoned. Now, It would seem that kindest thing, that those of you who are responsible for this debacle stand up, apologize and give us something that is workable. You did it once
already with the original development of PAF., which was a good reliable program, .so why can’t you do it again?
Leaving the good souls,, who authored these heartbreaking messages floundering and the entire temple program
dwindling away because we have no place, to place our research. Oh by the way, my 4 year hiatus mentioned in
the beginning of this letter was because my husband needed to be cared for until the day of his passing. From
that day I looked forward to starting my genealogy research, but to no avail. Won’t you help??? Pleased
Please!! Sincerely Tinda M. Marchant

Biggest Pro: Can’t think of a one.
Biggest Con: Read the messages, you might begin to understand what the upset is all about. Whose idea was this?

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Joyce Kirby,  Mar 2, 2017

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I loved PAF and want it on my computer again.

Biggest Pro: Easy to get to

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by jocellyn Beach,  Feb 18, 2017

Not Rated

I have lost all my family tree since changing to windows 10 and I would like to retrieve it

Biggest Pro: i have now lost all my family tree

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Hilda,  Jan 20, 2017

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

This is the best family tree program. This was my first genealogy software. When the LDS stopped supporting, I switched to Family Tree Maker. That was cumbersome to use and when FTM was discontinued, I looked at others. I keep coming back to my PAF software. It is easy use and gives me everything I need. Would love to see them bring this back.

Biggest Pro: So easy to use and edit if need be
Biggest Con: Only that it isn’t supported anymore

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Jeff Stoker,  Jan 5, 2017

Not Rated

Its a Good Program

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Don,  Dec 10, 2016

4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

I give it a 4 because there are other programs that have many more toots and whistles. That said, it is still the best and easiest program I have ever used and I say without stopping to count, that I have used 6 or more different programs over the last 41 years of research.
One review said the program would not handle anything over 10,000 very well but I have a database of over 43,000 individuals and it works far better than the one LDS steered me to, Legacy, which I am led to believe may be the programmers that built the program for LDS. Unless I buy the Legacy program, it is missing a lot of very functional things I and I would think many, would want in a program, and is included in PAF.
I just downloaded a fresh copy of the file because the illustrious Microsoft has messed up my computer badly and in the process, wiped a lot of my programs and files or caused them to no longer function properly, including changing my settings which prevent me from changing things back as they were.

Biggest Pro: all pro
Biggest Con: none worth mentioning

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Pat Wilson,  Nov 26, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

This was my first genealogy software. When the LDS stopped supporting, I switched to Family Tree Maker. That was cumbersome to use and when FTM was discontinued, I looked at others. I keep coming back to my PAF software. It is easy use and gives me everything I need. Would love to see them bring this back.

Biggest Pro: Ease of use
Biggest Con: Cant think of any

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by D. Rose,  Sep 30, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

Love, Love it. Easy for other family members to use across all generations!!! I payed to try a few others after PAF was dropped…I would rather use the unsupported PAF. Very sad

Biggest Pro: Everything
Biggest Con: none compared to to other software

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Julie Grant,  Aug 28, 2016

4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

I loved PAF. Then, they stopped supporting it. I had no problem until one day, it wouldn’t show up on my computer. I did purchase PAF 5 online last month. Then, I got it to come back up, but it is now a “read only” file. I can’t add or take away, and what good is that now? I have some family history near to the year 1500, but I can’t access it to do anything. I never did like (thus the “4″ rating) the lack of being able to print out everything I put on the system. I had to individually print each person or family, but not the whole family information - i.e., individual, direct line, family group sheets, etc. with one print command. With so much genealogy, Printing would take days doing it by individual. My main problem now is not being able to change it from a “read only” file. Cany help out there?

Biggest Pro: Simple, easy, best program all around.
Biggest Con: Having to print my information individually instead of one printing of all my entries & their information.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by Michael Andrews,  Aug 21, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I have been using PAF ever since I started using a computer for genealogy in 1991. I have found it easy to use and for what I want does all I need. The GEDCOM feature is excellent.

Biggest Pro: Simplicity and versatile on a number of operating systems.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by ron ward,  Aug 14, 2016

Not Rated

wasthe best

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Review by David,  Aug 12, 2016

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

Beginning genealogists should not be intimidated by lack of support for PAF 5.2.18.0. It’s free. It still works quite well, even on Windows 10. Even for beginners. Especially for beginners. It’s got a good old-fashioned help file, not some online website somewhere. You don’t have to be connected to the internet to use it. It’s not perfect by any means, but I haven’t found a better free genealogy program. Most free ones are crippled versions of software they really want you to pay for. If you have no intention of paying to upgrade, you’re going to be disappointed.

A few PAF operations are a bit more awkward than they should be, but all common operations are very intuitive. I do recommend that you keep your trees small. A program is more likely to break the more data you try to stuff into memory. If you get beyond 10,000 names you may have trouble running other software with it, and these days you need a good web browser too. Plus you may need a notepad-type editor and a pdf reader open at the same time.

You probably won’t understand how good PAF is until you try to find a replacement. There are lots of genealogy programs out there that either aren’t as intuitive or don’t do half of what PAF can do. There are no limitations of how many children a couple can have, or limitations on how many spouses a person can have. The only limitations on how many people it can hold is how daring you are and how much memory you have. You can add custom attributes and events and even change or add additional templates with the fields you actually use.

Yes, a marriage has to have a male and a female, but I haven’t found that to be a problem in actual practice. (If you really want to code a homosexual relationship, you have to lie and tell the program that one person is the wrong sex.)

The worst limitation you will encounter in actual practice is that an adoption has to indicate both parents of a marriage. For instance, if a man marries a previously married woman and adopts the children of her previous marriage, the woman ends up with two connections to her children, one biological through her former marriage and one adoptive. Livable, but not ideal. The other situation that you may actually encounter is an unblessed union that produces children. Simply put “Not married” in the marriage date or location field and otherwise pretend that it’s a marriage. If a couple has a child before marriage, there’s no problem entering the dates. You’ll get a warning that you can simply ignore.

The only things PAF really can’t do are query online genealogy databases or automatically give you hints like Ancestry . com. For that you’re going to have to resort to paying for your software. Also, if you have lots of pictures and multimedia, you probably want a more advanced program. For a beginner or a dabbler who doesn’t want to pay for genealogy software, I recommend PAF. For those on a budget, it’s more important to have a subscription to ancestry . com.

Biggest Pro: Intuitive GUI, flexible data handling, full featured, real help, free.
Biggest Con: Unsupported, no advanced internet support, a few awkward but livable limitations.

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