For some reason lately it seems that I have received many questions about Personal Ancestral File (PAF). PAF is a genealogical record manager created by FamilySearch nearly 20 years ago. It started as a DOS program and then eventually was ported to Windows. It has been one of the more widely used record mangers for genealogical work, particularly among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
FamilySearch stopped development on PAF nearly 10 years ago. It is a testament to the enduring nature of family history and the product features that each month there are still thousands of downloads of the software. Having said that, PAF is dead, the body just hasn’t finished cooling yet.
I am often asked what record manager is the best. My answer is always that it depends on what you are looking for. I follow that up with my opinion that the record manager selected should synchronize with new FamilySearch, and should be anything but PAF.
Several commercial organizations have released free record manager software. RootsMagic and AncestralQuest are two of the products that have good free versions. Both of these synchronize with new FamilySearch and both of them are better than PAF. They provide better sourcing, better handling of documents, print better reports, and run better in Windows than PAF. They are also primed to support the new features of new FamilySearch in a way that PAF is not.
About now I expect that many long term-users of PAF are getting out their pitchforks and torches and looking up my address for a visit. PAF has had a surprisingly strong loyal following over the years. I can only say that its time has come and gone and it is time to move on.
If you are one of the die-hard PAF users, then know that you are missing out on a much better experience with other products. I encourage you to look elsewhere for the best experience. Once you make the transition, you will be glad you did.