Organise Your Files


Sooner or later you will begin to add pictures to Family Historian. When you do there are several things to consider:

  • The location of your GEDCOM file.
  • The types and formats of the images and other documents.
  • Your Backup and Recovery strategy.

Sub Folder Structure

Various discussions on the FHUG forums show many users prefer a structure such as the one below. ƒhVersion 4 introduced the Family Historian Projects folder that improves support for this strategy.

  • My Documents
    • Family Historian Projects
      • FamilyHistory
        • FamilyHistory.fh_data
          • FamilyHistory.ged
          • Media
            • Census
          • Certificates
            • Birth
          • Photographs
            • People
            • Places
          • etc.

This means that all the linked documents reside in Media sub-folders below the GEDCOM file to which they are linked. In turn, this means backup is simplified because the whole Family Historian Projects folder can be backed up.

File Naming

There are many different ways of naming files and may vary for different types of documents.

One option for photographs is to name the photo with the names of the people in the photo and the date or approximate date of taking. However this can result in very long file names, where there are many people in a single photo, in this case it may be more appropriate to simply use the “predominant” surname.

Note: In Windows, long filenames can result in special problems. There is a 260 character limit on the total number of characters in the path name PLUS filename PLUS file extension. If a file is to be copied or backed up to another directory, the new pathname + filename + extension can sometimes exceed that limit and cause the copy or backup operation to fail. See: Microsoft: Naming Files, Paths, and Namespaces ~ Maximum Path Length Limitation 

There are two solutions if this happens: (1) rename (i.e. shorten) the directory/ies where the problem occurs. If the problem persists, then shorten the name of any affected files. (2) Zip (compress) an affected directory and then copy or back up the zipped version. The copied or backup zipped directory will contain both too long filenames as well as those that are not a problem. Unzip (decompress) the original directory to carry on using it as normal.

Windows 10 has a Windows Registry fix for the problem, but it may not apply to every application.

For Census documents many people use the Census reference as the document name and in fact Ancestral Sources can rename them to your preferred pattern as you link them.

Certificates can be named Birth-person-date for example.

Other documents will need considering on an individual basis.

File Formats

When scanning and storing your documents you should consider the best file format for each document type.

Last update: 22 Feb 2024