If your data seems to have disappeared, here are some things to try. Remember that you may have more than one file containing the same family lines. The largest file will usually be most complete. Follow these steps until you reach a solution or until all attempts have failed.
- Check in your Windows Recycle bin; perhaps the file has been accidentally deleted and is waiting there. If so, move it to a location where you can use it.
- Look in PAF's File menu below Print Reports. You may see links to your most recently used files. Try those links.
- From PAF's File menu, click Restore, and then look for your missing file and restore the backup.
- Start PAF without a file open, and you will get a menu. ClickSearch, and let PAF search your computer for PAF files. PAF will bring up a list of all the PAF data files, and by double-clicking your choice, it will open in PAF.
- If you cannot find any PAF files, do a Windows search for files with names ending in .zip, and look for those that may be backups of PAF files. (Windows uses .zip files for many other purposes, but PAF5 saves its backups in that format.) Also look for files with names ending in .bak, as these may be backup files from PAF4. The .bak files can be restored in PAF4 or PAF5.
- Also do a Windows search for files with names ending in .ged, since these will be genealogy files in GEDCOM format. To use the GEDCOM file, create a new PAF file from PAF's File menu, and then Import the GEDCOM file.
- If there are no genealogy files on your computer, search on removable storage media and other computers in the home. This may include USB flash memory drives (flash drives/memory sticks), CDs or DVDs, floppy disks (5.25" and 3.5"), etc. You could also look in drawers and ring binders. If you find storage media that has the file but it is unreadable by your computer, our Disk Doctor service may possibly be able to help. Phone us at 1-866-406-1830, and ask for Product Support.
If the data file you are looking for is nowhere in the home, did you give a copy to a friend or family member? Did you keep a backup in your safety deposit box or at work?
Have you e-mailed copies of the files to yourself?
Did you upload a copy to a Web site? If so, contact the Web site to see if you can get a copy.
Much of the data submitted to FamilySearch.org can be downloaded from Pedigree Resource File CDs or DVDs at some family history centers.
Once you have recovered your file, make backups to at least one form of removable storage media (for safety) as well as to the hard drive (for convenience). Remember, you don't want to ever go through this again! It is a good practice to give each backup a new name so that it doesn't replace your previous backup. Your computer probably has room for millions of backups, but just keep the 10 most recent backup copies of any file. External backups to a flash drive, e-mail program, or CD are vital if your hard disk crashes, because any backups on the hard disk will be lost!
The PAF program and your family data file are separate things.
The PAF program can run without your data file, but your data file can only be opened by the PAF program. If you simply install PAF on your computer, it has no data. If you have a PAF data file on the computer without PAF, you will be unable to access your data. If you want to move your data to a different computer, you will need to (a) move the data as well as (b) install the PAF software, which is free from www.familysearch.org. Do not discard your old computer until you have verified that the data is working on the new computer. The data can be moved from one computer to the other on a flash drive, on a CD or DVD, or through e-mail as an attachment. (CDs usually save the data as a read-only file, but these are easily converted to normal files by removing the "read-only" property.) If the old computer does not use flash drives and cannot copy data to CDs, take your files on floppy disks to a family history center, and arrange to have them help you copy the data to your flash drive. If you need to buy a flash drive, remember that even the smallest in capacity can hold about as much information as 1,000 floppy disks, so there is probably no need to buy one larger than that. Costs tend to range from US$5-$20. After you have copied the files, before unplugging your flash drive, click the icon to safely remove your flash drive (at the bottom right of the screen), or shut down the computer before unplugging the flash drive.
We hope this document helps you to recover your hard work so that you can continue your efforts on the behalf of your family.