Understanding the Scope of Features


Knowing where Family Historian stores its data and settings on your PC greatly aids routine processes such as backup or future migration/upgrade to a new or additional PC.  This article gives an overview of where both data and settings are stored.

Project Data

Each Project in ƒh stores its user data in a separate Windows subfolder within the nominated ƒh projects folder.  When the program is installed, it creates a Family Historian Projects folder at the default location for the user’s Documents folder, C:\Users\UserName\Documents\Family Historian Projects.

To change this if required, select  File > Project Window > More Tasks > Project List > Choose Location for Projects….

This default project location applies to all accounts on the PC, not per individual logged on user.  If all accounts use the installation default of C:\Users\UserName\Documents\Family Historian Projects, ƒh will manage separate folders for each user account on the PC, but if Documents has been mapped to another location for any account (e.g. within OneDrive), or an absolute path is defined (for example on a second hard disk or network drive), ƒh can only use the same folder for all users.  This limitation has existed for a long time, and it is perhaps surprising that even ƒh7, released in late 2020, is not fully compatible with a Documents folder in other than the default location.

When you create a new project, {projectname}, this is stored in the nominated projects folder as a new subfolder called {projectname}.

Each project folder generally contains a data subfolder (e.g. {projectname}.fh_data), comprising the actual tree data file ({projectname}.ged), plus various subfolders for things like defined charts, books, saved snapshots, etc.  There is also a Public subfolder, which is the default location for user output.


Items Family Historian Project Folder
Books \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Books
Image thumbnails \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Cache\Thumbcache.dat
Internet hints (V6+) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Cache
Charts (1) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Charts
Project only Fact Types (V7+) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Fact Types
Log Files specific to one project, such as import errors (V6+) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Log Files
Media (2) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Media
Websites & Family Tree CD/DVD (V7+) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Packages
Plugin data (used by some plugins) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Plugin Data
Settings for CD or websites creation \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Settings
Snapshots (automatic backups of the GEDCOM file only) \{projectname}\{projectname}.fh_data\Snapshots

(1) – If a generated diagram is saved as a Family Historian Chart, it is stored in this folder and is specific to the project.  If, however, it is saved as a Custom Diagram Type, it is stored in the ProgramData Diagrams folder (see below) and is available as a template for all projects.

(2) – See below for a more detailed discussion of media file storage.

ƒh5 used the Public Documents folder (a shared Documents folder available to all users of the PC) for tutorial files associated with the Family Historian book, but later versions have discontinued this practice.

Media Files

The Media subfolder is for media items associated with the project.  Although use of this folder is optional, it is the recommended approach, particularly for beginners, as it enables ƒh to manage the media, in particular backup, and ensures smooth migration or copying to another PC in the future.  More advanced users who are familiar with the Windows file structures may wish to store their media elsewhere (for example, if it is not used exclusively by ƒh).  In this case, the user needs to maintain their own backup protocol, as ƒh does not backup data outside its own project folders.  In addition, moving or copying project data between PCs can be more complex if media are not stored in the project folders.

Irrespective of whether media are stored within the Project folder or elsewhere, it is often useful to create subfolder for different items, for example census entries, Parish Registers, Civil Registration certificates, etc.  ƒh doesn’t care whether a folder contains dozen items or thousands, but greater granularity can help the user keep track of files.

Media File References

The only difference between media files stored within the Project folder or elsewhere is the filename stored in the GEDCOM data file.  For media stored within the Project folder, it is a relative file reference, such as Media\1841 Census\My Media File.jpg.  This means that the filename is independent of the precise location of the Project folder.

For media stored outside the Project folder, a complete filename with full path is used, such as C:\Users\UserName\Documents\Media Files\1841 Census\My Media File.jpg.  If the media are moved, or the project is copied to another PC with a different absolute path description, ƒh loses track of the file and reports a broken link.  While there are tools available that repair links automatically, this can be inconvenient if changes are frequent.

Family Historian Settings

ƒh is a highly configurable application.  There are a wide variety of options available for how the data are presented on screen, how output such as reports and charts are defined, how data are entered, etc.  In addition, there are facilities such as plugins, queries and fact sets that rely on additional configuration files.  In time, the large majority of ƒh users are likely to adjust the program settings and options to suit their preferred style of working.

Unfortunately, ƒh stores these additional files and configuration information in a wide variety of locations, and none of them are backed up by the standard ƒh backup routine.  Detailed instructions are given elsewhere on backing up and restoring settings, or migrating to a new or additional PC.  This section provides more detail on exactly what is stored where.  It is not necessary to be familiar with this level of detail to follow the backup or migration instructions, but it is provided for the more advanced user who wants to understand exactly what each step is doing.

Export and Import Options

ƒh provides the facility to both export and import single examples of configuration and supplementary files such as Fact Sets, Plugins or Queries.  The example below is the Export menu from ƒh7 (note that not all the options listed are available in earlier versions).  While this is quick and convenient for single examples, it is not suitable for more general copy or backup.

ProgramData Folder

In modern versions of Windows (starting with Vista, released in 2007), Microsoft encourages applications to store configuration data that applies to all users in the ProgramData folder, keeping it separate from the actual program files themselves.  Calico Pie follow this convention, and the large majority of settings data are saved in various subfolders within the C:\ProgramData\Calico Pie\Family Historian folder.

This folder is usually hidden by default in a new Windows installation, so it is necessary to enable viewing hidden files, folders and drives in Windows File Explorer.  The following table summarises the various subfolders typically found:

Items Family Historian Program Data Folder
Accent Sets (V6+) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\International
Autotext (V7) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Autotext
Autotext for Data Entry Assistants (V7) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Autotext for Plugins
Colour Schemes (V6+) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Themes
Diagrams \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Diagrams\Standard
\Calico Pie\Family Historian\Diagrams\Custom
Error Logs (V7) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Log Files
Fact Types \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Fact Types\Standard
 \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Fact Types\Custom
Fan Chart/Plugins (V5+) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\General
Flags \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Flags
Icons \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Icons
Internet Search \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Web Search
Language Packs (V7) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Lang
Map Geocoding (V6+) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Map\Cache
\Calico Pie\Family Historian\Geocode
Plugin Data (V5+) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Plugin Data
Plugins (V5+) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Plugins
Property Box Tabs (V4+) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Property Box
Queries \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Queries\Standard
\Calico Pie\Family Historian\Queries\Custom
Reports \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Reports\Standard
\Calico Pie\Family Historian\Reports\Custom
Source Templates (V7) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Source Templates\Standard
\Calico Pie\Family Historian\Source Templates\Custom
Spell Checker for Rich Text Notes Window (V7) \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Spellcheck
Text Schemes \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Text Schemes\Standard
\Calico Pie\Family Historian\Text Schemes\Custom
Website Family Tree \Calico Pie\Family Historian\Settings

AppData Folder

Again following modern Windows conventions, configuration data that are specific to the individual user are stored in the local AppData folder under the user name.  For example, a typical location would be C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Calico Pie\Family Historian.  This folder is also usually hidden by default in a new Windows installation.

Relatively little user data are stored in the AppData folder compared with ProgramData, but examples include individual user preferences in the Preferences\prefs.dat file, and custom plugin data under the Plugin Data folder.

Note that if you are running ƒh on an Mac or Linux PC using an emulator, the detailed location of these folders may differ from the standard Windows values.

Windows Registry

Ever since the early days of Windows, the Registry has provided a repository for basic application and user settings, which can be either system-wide, applying to all users, or specific to individual users.  Unlike the ProgramData and AppData folders, the Registry is limited to simple settings, and cannot be used to store entire files or other larger pieces of data.

While it is possible to edit the Registry manually using the regedit command, this is not recommended for the general user, and changes to the Registry should normally be left to application programs and plugins to manage.

Two separate Registry areas are used, one for global changes that apply to the ƒh program itself, so affect all users, and another for user-specific settings.

Global features:

  • File > Project Window > Location for Project root folder path (V4+), except as noted below
  • File > Import/Export > Import > User Credentials for Internet Data Matches (V6+)
  • Tools > Work with Data > Places > Columns option
  • Tools > Work with Data > Addresses > Columns option (V5+)
  • Tools > Preferences > General tab all options
  • Tools > Preferences > Startup tab Default Startup File & Register as Default for GEDCOM
  • Tools > Preferences > Property Box tab Captions
  • Tools > Preferences > Diagrams tab all options
  • Tools > Preferences > File Load/Save tab options (except Automatic snapshot) (V6+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Estimates tab all options
  • Tools > Preferences > Named Lists tab all options
  • Tools > Preferences > Backup tab all options
  • Tools > Preferences > International tab option
  • Lists > Configure Record Window Columns for each Record Window tab per User
  • Activation record (V7)

User-specific features:

  • Tools > Preferences > Navigation/Display tab all options (V5/V6+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Startup tab Display the Records Window & Check for Updates
  • Tools > Preferences > Focus Window tab all options (V4+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Internet Data Matches tab all options (V6+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Property Box tab all options (except that Captions affect whole PC)
  • Tools > Preferences > Records Window tab all options (V5+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Media tab all options (V6+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Map Window tab all options  (V6+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Query Window tab all options
  • Tools > Preferences > File Load/Save tab Automatic snapshot (V6+)
  • Tools > Preferences > Workspaces tab all options (V6+)
  • Tools > Record Window Options tabs and options (V4)
  • Lists > Configure Record Window Columns for each Record Window tab
  • Diagram (V5+) > Diagram Options for the Core Standard Diagrams settings
  • Window/Pane/Column sizes & positions (for some windows)
Last update: 07 Sep 2021