Family Historian Activation


Family Historian 7 uses a new system of online activation that creates a number of practical differences in program installation compared with previous versions.

Prior to Version 7, ƒh was activated after installation with a unique Activation Key that was either supplied in the box with the CD version, or by email if downloaded. While this was generally a simple and reliable process, it created problems if the Key had been lost.  These were time-consuming to resolve, both for the user and for Calico Pie.

The details of the new ƒh7 online activation are well described in the Installation Instructions and associated Activation Help, so only the briefest overview is given here.

Process Overview

When you purchase ƒh7, either as a new installation or upgrade, the first step is to create a Family Historian account. You are then supplied with an Activation Code, which is used to associate your copy of ƒh with your account, and so enable the software. This is a single use code, and does not need to be kept after the initial installation (in fact, there is no point in keeping it, it cannot be used again).

There are a number of advantages in this method of activation. For the user, it means that ƒh can be reinstalled on the same PC quickly and conveniently if necessary, just by logging in to your ƒh account. For Calico Pie, it frees them from labour-intensive “I’ve lost my code” support calls, and automatically prevents unauthorised installation beyond that permitted by the licence agreement.

Consequences of Online Activation

Online activation creates a number of practical differences between using ƒh7 and previous versions.

Internet Access

ƒh7 can only be activated online. There is no mechanism for activating the program on a PC without internet access. If you keep a PC off the internet altogether for reasons of security or other considerations, it cannot be used for ƒh7.

Transfer to Another PC

If you try to install ƒh7 on more PCs than allowed by the standard licence (normally two), you will be requested to select an existing installation to deactivate. This deactivation is permanent and cannot be reversed. As a consequence, if you are already using both licensed copies on two PCs (e.g. desktop and laptop) and need to replace either PC (e.g. upgrading), it will be necessary to permanently deactivate the old PC prior to setting up the new installation.  With earlier versions, it was possible to have a temporary third copy while testing, but ƒh7 automatically enforces strict compliance with the two installation limit.

In addition, you cannot temporarily deactivate one copy to free up a license for experimental purposes, such as testing performance under emulators. For this type of testing, the free 30 day trial version is recommended (although only one application is permitted per user).

Hardware Upgrade

When ƒh7 is activated on a particular PC, a record of that is kept both locally on the PC and on the Calico Pie servers. This enables the PC to be used offline without having to go online to check activation every time ƒh is started. It also enables automatic reactivation if reinstallation on the same PC is necessary, even if the hard disk is wiped completely and Windows reinstalled.

Exactly how this works is proprietary to Calico Pie, but probably involves storing a hardware profile, similar to the way Windows is activated. It is likely that upgrading hardware, such as installing a larger or faster system disk, will affect this process, and the new PC configuration may not be recognised.  Calico Pie’s policy is to not disclose any details of how activation works, so it is not possible for us to give definite advice on potential problems caused by hardware changes at this stage. Users experiencing problems should contact Calico Pie for support directly, and post their experience on the FHUG Forum so we can keep this article updated for the benefit of all users.

Transferring Ownership

When you “purchase” a copy of ƒh, you do not own the software. What you have is a licence to use it, normally on up to two different computers, provided both are owned and used by the same person.

This licence is non-transferable.  To quote directly from the licence agreement, you may not rent, lease, license, distribute or otherwise transfer the Software or your licence to use it, to anyone without the express written consent of Calico Pie Limited.  There is no mechanism within ƒh for the user to transfer ownership of the software, even if they are no longer interested in family history and completely wipe the program from their PC. You cannot sell or even donate an activated copy to anybody else without authorization from Calico Pie, as online activation enforces the “non-transferable” clause in the licence strictly and without exception.

Future Proofing

Earlier versions of ƒh with local Activation Key installation will continue to operate in both new and existing installations until such time as a change in the Windows operating system renders them incompatible (many old Windows 95 programs no longer run in Windows 8/10).  While there is no reason to believe that activated versions of ƒh7 are time-limited in any way, new installations will only be possible while the activation servers are on-line.

Should Calico Pie stop supporting ƒh for any reason, or cease trading altogether, it will no longer be possible to activate new installations of ƒh7 (including on the same PC after upgrading or maintenance) unless another company takes over support.

Last update: 09 Mar 2021