Family Historian Copy and Migration Guide


This page describes the process for copying or migrating ƒh (version 5 upwards) from one PC to another.  It can be used when upgrading to new hardware, installing a second copy of ƒh as permitted by the licence, or re-installation on the original PC following maintenance.

In the description that follows, the PC that already contains ƒh is referred to as the source PC, and the PC receiving the new copy (either as a hardware upgrade or additional installation) is referred to as the target PC.  When re-installing on the same PC after maintenance or an Operating System upgrade, source and target can be the same PC.

The standard ƒh Licence Agreement permits two copies of ƒh to be installed on different PCs, provided they are both owned by the same person and not used simultaneously.  For ƒh7, each installation is logged against the users ƒh account.  If you are simply adding a second installation of ƒh (say to a laptop PC) or migrating from an old to new PC, the second installation is automatically logged against your account on activation.  However, the standard licence does not permit a third installation, even temporarily.  If you attempt to register a third installation, the activation process will ask you which of the existing two is to be deactivated. Once an installation has been deactivated, it can only be restored by Calico Pie, so switching a licence backwards and forwards between different PCs is not possible.

Deactivation does not delete ƒh from your PC, so you can still access its configuration files directly from Windows.  However, you cannot access or process them from within ƒh, so it is vital to ensure that the steps described below under Preparation and Copying Program Settings are completed prior to deactivation.

A detailed account of all the files and storage locations used by ƒh is given in the KB article Understanding the Scope of Features.  While it is not necessary to be familiar with this level of detail to copy or migrate ƒh successfully, the more advanced user may want to understand what is happening in more detail.

An alternative to the procedure described here for more advanced PC users is to simply follow the guidance given for backing up Family Historian, and restoring the backup to the new PC.


Ensure that ƒh on the source PC is updated to the latest release for that version.  For ƒh5 and ƒh6, these are 5.0.11 and 6.2.7, respectively, and both are available as free upgrades from the Family Historian Download Archive.  The latest release of ƒh7 can be downloaded from the Family Historian Installation Guide.

To determine your release and version of ƒh, select  > Help > About Family Historian from the main program menu.

If you are upgrading your ƒh version (e.g. from ƒh6 to ƒh7) at the same time as changing hardware, the recommended approach is to install the old version on the new hardware initially and copy across your data and settings as described here.  Once you are confident everything is working correctly on the new PC, upgrade it to the new version as described here.  This will ensure that your data and customisations are correctly carried across to the latest version, as it is difficult to reliably copy settings between different versions of ƒh on different PCs.

Copying Program Settings

If you have made any changes to ƒh installation settings, or used any custom features such as plugins, fact sets, or user-written queries, these will also need to be copied to the target PC.  Unfortunately, ƒh stores its settings and customisations in many different locations, so copying settings is slightly more complex than copying user data and requires some preparation on the source PC.

The easiest way to copy ƒh settings is via either the Backup and Restore Family Historian Settings plugin or the new Backup and Restore Family Historian Settings via Windows plugin.  The two plugins are compared in the accompanying page on Backup and Recovery.

Both plugins collect preference settings and customisations of Diagrams, Reports, Queries, Plugins, Fact Sets, etc, into a backup folder that is selected in the plugin menu.

When running the plugin to backup the settings of the source PC, you can either store the backup directly on portable storage ready for transfer to the target PC, or to a suitable folder on the source PC (e.g. \Documents\Family Historian Projects\Backup or similar) that you then copy  to the target PC along with your project data.

Media Files

ƒh can store its media files either in the relevant project folder directly, or external to the project in any other location either on the local PC or attached network.  While the former approach is generally the more straight-forward, many more advanced users choose to store their media outside ƒh.  Wherever the media are stored, it is recommended to ensure that all file links are correct prior to migration to simplify setup on the target PC.  In each of your projects, select Tools > External File Links… from the main ƒh menu to display the Work with External File Links window.  Correct any broken links marked with a red X.

Diagram Icons prior to ƒh7

If you have used your own Custom Icons in Diagrams, then they could be located anywhere on your PC.

View the Diagram and use Diagram > Options > Boxes, select the Condition and Edit Features button. In the Icon section, click the <<Select button, and the Select Icon window will identify the folder and Icon filename. Repeat this for each Condition that has an Icon. Now you know what Icon files need to be copied to the new PC.

If not already there, it is advisable to move those Icon files into the C:\ProgramData\Calico Pie\Family Historian\Icons folder. The Diagram Icons will then need to be reselected. The explanation is that Icon files in that folder will not need to be selected again after migrating to the target PC, and in ƒh7 that is the only folder allowed for Icon files.

If you wish to save your Internet Data Matches for ƒh6 or later and have not used the plugin to backup settings, you should use File > Import/Export > Export > User Credentials on the source PC to save the ƒh User Credentials.fhcrd file to a suitable backup location as described for the plugin above.

If you have not already done so, you can now install the latest release of your version of ƒh on the target PC, so that the identical program is now on both PCs.  As described above, you may have to deactivate your old copy of ƒh7 in order to activate the new one.  If you are re-installing ƒh7 on the same PC, the Calico Pie activation process should recognise the hardware and not require separate activation once you have logged into your ƒh account (this is similar to the way Windows 10 activation is linked to your hardware and Microsoft account).

Copying Project Data

Define the folder that the target PC is to use for ƒh projects.  The installation default is the Documents\Family Historian Projects folder.  To change this on the target PC, select File > Project Window > More Tasks… > Project List > Choose Location for Projects…..

Projects are stored in the selected folder, with one subfolder per project.  It is also possible to store ad-hoc projects in any other location, but this is not recommended, as they will not be listed in the standard Project Window.

Copy the entire contents of the projects folder on the source PC to the corresponding location on the target PC using either intermediate storage such as a USB stick or portable hard disk, or via cloud synchronisation (OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.).

If the source PC has its ƒh media files separate from the projects folder on the source PC, also copy these files to the target PC.

If you have backed up your projects to a location other than the projects folder and you want these backups to remain accessible, copy the relevant files and folders to the target PC.

Restoring Program Settings

To restore ƒh settings, ensure that your preferred plugin is installed on the target PC.  The new Backup and Restore Family Historian Settings via Windows plugin can restore backups from either plugin, but the original plugin only restores its own backups.

Follow the help instructions for your preferred plugin to restore settings data.  The detailed sequence is different in the two plugins.  In the original version, select the backup location and tick Allow Restore Registry Data in the options tab.  Return to the Restore tab to start the restore process.  Close ƒh manually to allow the Registry to be restored to complete the process.

In the new plugin, simply click on Restore from the main menu.  Select the folder containing the backup.  The plugin closes ƒh automatically, and completes the restore with no further user input required.

If you have not used the plugin to restore ƒh settings and wish to maintain your Internet Data Matches for ƒh6 or later, you should use File > Import > Import > User Credentials on the target PC to load the ƒh User Credentials.fhcrd file described above.

Restoring Media Files

If your media files are stored within the relevant ƒh project, they are copied along with the rest of the project in the steps described above.  However, if you use external media, and the path on the target PC is different to that on the source PC, you will need to re-establish the file links as described below.

Completing the Migration

On the target PC ensure the File > Project Window > Location: and Tools > Preferences > Startup > Default Startup File and Tools > Preferences > Backup > Default Backup Folder are specified correctly as these settings are NOT included in the migration data, because they may be unique to the new PC. However, these settings will often mimic those on the old PC.

  • Location: will usually be the …\Documents\Family Historian Projects folder.
  • Default Startup File is set by Select > Make Current File the Default assuming the main Project is open.
  • Default Backup Folder usually is …\Documents\Family Historian Projects\Backup folder.

On the new PC, check the File > Projects Window opens all your Projects correctly.  In each of your projects, select Tools > External File Links… from the main ƒh menu to display the Work with External File Links Window.  Click on the Auto Repair Links button, and ƒh will search your disk for the media folders and re-establish the media links automatically.

Further Advice

See also the Ancestral Sources Migration Guide.

Once all working OK, you may want to synchronise the two PC so their data remains in step. See Downloads and Links ~ Synchronise and Backup Tools for advice on how to achieve that using Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive.

An alternative technique relocates the File > Project Window > Location: to an external USB memory stick that is configured to use the same drive letter on both PC. See Sharing Data using a USB Stick. Just make sure to take regular backups, as that one USB memory stick is very vulnerable and can fail at any time.

Whenever the preferences or customisations are changed, remember to use your preferred Plugin to repeat the above BACKUP and RESTORE process to migrate the new settings from PC to PC.

Last update: 05 May 2022