Personal Ancestral File (PAF) is free genealogy software offered by FamilySearch. Millions of people have used PAF to do family history work. Over the years, many other genealogy software programs have been introduced by commercial companies. Most of these programs can work with PAF and GEDCOM files, and they offer additional features that PAF does not have.
The last major update to PAF was PAF 5.2 in 2001. Since then, FamilySearch has been developing a web-based genealogy system that will allow people to create, search, manage, and share their family histories online. This online system will replace TempleReady. The first phase of the new system is being made available temple district by temple district to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day and is temporarily accessed at new.familysearch.org. Once the system is complete, it will be available for free to members and the general public at www.familysearch.org.
Currently, family history information cannot transfer automatically between PAF and the new FamilySearch system. You can create a GEDCOM file in PAF and export information into the new system, but you cannot export information from the new system into PAF. You need to manually enter any information you find in the new system that you want to add to PAF. To avoid duplication, it is not recommended that members export large GEDCOM files into the new system. The system includes guidelines on how members should add information.
In the future, you will be able to purchase software developed by other companies for use with PAF that will allow you to transfer information between the new FamilySearch system and PAF. As another option, you will be able to purchase and use genealogy software programs developed by others that allow automatic transfer of information between the programs and the new system.
There are benefits for those who wish to use both the new online system and one of the commercial software programs. These programs will allow them to:
- Work offline and then enable genealogical information to be automatically entered into the online FamilySearch system.
- Maintain a working copy of their genealogy file on their own computer hard drive.
- Use additional or advanced features that will not be offered in the online system.
PAF users who consider the purchase of another program should contact the manufacturer of the software to ensure that it will allow them to transfer and update their data between the software and the new FamilySearch online system.
The decision is much easier for those who are just beginning their family history and for those who do not have an electronic file of their family history—they will simply be able to build their family histories completely online using the new FamilySearch system. No other software will be needed.