Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Discontinued—Learn It's History and Alternatives

Woman uses a new genealogy application because personal ancestral files were discontinued.

Beginning July 15, 2013, PAF will be retired and will no longer be available for download or support. For full details and for information on alternative products, please visit

A Great New Opportunity

For the last several years, FamilySearch has focused on building relationships with partner organizations to deliver better overall services to the market. This has facilitated better patron experiences with FamilySearch and the partner products. The past several years have seen Ancestral QuestLegacy Family Tree, and RootsMagic introduced as significantly better alternatives to PAF. These products also all have free versions.FamilySearch recently introduced the Family Tree to all users in multiple languages. Family Tree provides the capability for patrons to manage and share their family history information online at Each of the products listed above support synchronization with the Family Tree. This change further underscores the commitment from FamilySearch to form strong partner relationships that will enable:

  • More and better conclusions about family information.
  • Best in class technology with many more choices.
  • Collaborative efforts that allow other organizations to build on and enhance FamilySearch products.
  • More records to be indexed and published.
  • Record availability from a variety of sites and products.

History of PAF

PAF was originally released in the spring of 1984 and has been a popular genealogy database application ever since, with over 3.2 million copies distributed. The current version of PAF is based largely on code provided by Incline Software (Ancestral Quest). While it has remained available to download, PAF has not been updated since 2002.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Timeline

Having been in service for about 29 years, it could be said that PAF is one of the longest running personal computing programs in software history. We recognize that as quite an accomplishment.

The Future Is Bright

At the same time that we give a big “Thank You!” and “Goodbye” to PAF, we are excited to embrace what the future holds. Beginning in 2007, family history-related online services of various types began to really take off. The growth of these services, including FamilySearch, has been an exciting thing to watch. Once isolated to paper documentation, or digitized record keeping on a single computer, we are now able to work together with family members across the globe on similar family lines in real time. Likewise, we see an increase in mobile and desktop apps that enable rich, interactive experiences, often connected to these online services. This is an exciting time for family history, with great new products and services that exist today and continue to emerge to fulfill evolving consumer needs! Visit to find apps for managing personal family trees, all (or almost all) of which can import PAF files.

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