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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Switching Software

I'm definitely a creature of habit and I like my routines and familiar tools.

But, every once in a while, something changes that you can't avoid and you have to make a change:  new dentist, new hair cutter, new software.

I've used PAF, Personal Ancestral File, the Mormon family history software, for decades.  I first acquired it because it was free and it proved to provide everything I need and it improved over time.  I did try another software for a very short time, for whatever reason.  It was inexpensive but had more of a learning curve than I wanted and it also linked my database to a well-known online genealogy site that I pay to use, and appreciate, but I don't have any interest in supplying them free data.  So I uninstalled it.

I used to have my own free family history web site with charts, photos and lots of information but encountered someone who appeared to want to exploit my data for personal profit and that same genealogy web site clearly data-mined my site and sent me emails wanting to sell me back data that, as far as I knew already, only I had.  So, I deleted all my online files and deleted that site membership.

I use a couple of online genealogy sites that allow you to upload your GEDCOM - genealogical database files - and control access to your own data.  My membership in one has lapsed to I don't have access to my own data now and updating the database is not easily done.  More on that later.

Most recently, I've been migrating my data files to my new laptop.  You can't migrate your software applications; you have to install them on your new system.  So, I visited the Mormon FamilySearch site to get the latest edition of PAF only to discover that it's no longer supported.  This has happened before and within a few years, PAF is downloadable at the Mormon site again.  Still, I can't wait, I have work to do.  The edition I have on my old laptop was downloaded, no discs.  The last edition I have on disc is way too old and is not compatible with Windows 8 which is the operating system I have now.  So, what to do?

FamilySearch, the Mormon genealogy site, with some effort in finding it, has a list of both free and commercial software available.  I went to the site of a couple of them but it was obvious, right away that Ancestral Quest is, more or less, a new edition of PAF, with with a few bells and whistles.

Ancestral Quest is very inexpensive, under $30, and easy to use.  I was very concerned about migrating my database file into the new software but it worked easily and, so far, foolproof - no errors. I'm happy with it so far and have already added quite a few records to my database through AQ, added a database to compile some work for a friend and printed out a substantial number of reports from mine and her databases.

I highly recommend Ancestral Quest as a basic genealogical software application, and beyond.

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