Frequently Asked Installation Questions

For questions about specifications, product requirements and other similar product questions, please see Product FAQ.

All Versions:

Version 4 only:

Version 3 only:

Version 2 only:


I am trying to enter a key into the Download (trial) version, but it isn’t being accepted.

If you bought the boxed version of Family Historian, you can’t use your key to unlock the Download (trial) version.  That doesn’t work.  You need to uninstall the Download version, and then install the boxed version from your CD.  Installing and reinstalling does not affect any family trees you may have created.  When you have finished installing, you will be able to carry on working on your family trees as before.  After you have completed the install, you may wish to click ‘Check for Updates’ on the Help menu, to  ensure you have all the latest updates.

If you bought an upgrade version, your key will also not unlock the Download version.  You need to uninstall the Download version, and then install your upgrade.  See How can I reinstall an upgrade version? below.

Make sure that your key version matches the version you are trying to unlock.  If you have a key for version 5, for example, you can’t use this to unlock version 6.

If you bought a licence for the download version, you will have been sent your licence details in an email.  You must enter both the licence name and the licence key exactly as shown in the email.  We recommend that you copy and paste both of them to avoid risk of typing errors (press Ctrl-C to copy and Ctrl-V to paste).

I am trying to install from a CD, but my key isn’t being accepted.

If you are installing the full version (not an upgrade version) from a CD, you should have a copy of your key printed on a piece of paper. If your key isn’t being accepted, the most likely reason is that you have misread the key. Check it very carefully. Look in particular for the Gs and 6s, as these are sometimes confused with one another. Also, Us and Vs are sometimes confused with one another. If the key still doesn’t work, contact Support and send them a copy of what you think the key is, so that they can check it for you.

I am trying to download a file from the Downloads page (or an upgrade link) but it isn’t working

There are a number of possible reasons for this. It may just be unlucky timing (too many other people trying to download at the same time). Try leaving it for a few hours, and trying again later. If the problem persists, it may be a firewall issue. It may also be related to security settings on your web-browser. If you have any software that is designed to manage downloads for you, try disabling that. If you have more than one Internet Browser, try using a different one. If you have another PC (e.g. a laptop) try using that. It may just be a question of persistence.

How can I reinstall an upgrade version?

To reinstall an upgrade to version 6, you only need three things: the V6 upgrade program, your V6 licence and your V5 licence key. Make sure that you have no version of Family Historian installed on your PC (uninstall the trial, for example, if you installed that), then run the V6 upgrade program. This will detect that there is no version of Family Historian on your PC and will prompt you for your V5 key (to prove that you are a V5 licence owner). Then it will prompt you for your V6 key. Then it will do a full install of version 6.

If you buy an upgrade as a download, you are recommended to make a single backup copy of the upgrade program, in case you need to reinstall in the future.

To reinstall an upgrade to version 5, you also only need three things: the V5 upgrade program, your V5 licence and your V4 licence key. Make sure that you have no version of Family Historian installed on your PC (uninstall the trial, for example, if you installed that), then run the V5 upgrade program. This will detect that there is no version of Family Historian on your PC and will prompt you for your V4 key (to prove that you are a V4 licence owner). Then it will prompt you for your V5 key. Then it will do a full install of version 5.

To reinstall an upgrade to version 4, or earlier, you will need the original program you purchased, plus subsequent upgrades. For example, if you bought version 2 on CD, and then bought an upgrade to version 3, and later another upgrade to version 4, you will need to reinstall version 2, and then re-apply the upgrade to version 3, and then reapply the upgrade to version 4. There is no need to reapply any ‘minor’ upgrades – that is, upgrades where the first digit of the version number does not change.

I got an error when I tried to upgrade to version 4

See Upgrading to Version 4.

I can’t find the registration key/code

If you bought a boxed copy of Family Historian, the installation program will tell you to look for the registration key (or registration code – it’s the same thing) on a leaflet inside the box, or on a piece of paper inside the CD envelope. However, in some cases the registration key may be printed in a third location – on the front cover of the booklet “Quick Start Tutorial” at the top.

The installation works but Family Historian won’t run

This can occur if DEP (“Data Execution Prevention”) is enabled for all programs on your PC. In that case, you can solve the problem by simply adding Family Historian to the list of programs for which DEP is not enabled. To do this, open ‘System’ within the Control Panel, and click on the Advanced tab. Click on ‘Settings’ in the Performance area and choose the ‘Data Execution Prevention’ tab. If ‘Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select’ is selected, click the Add button and locate the Family Historian executable (usually located at “c:\program files\family historian\program\fh.exe”). Save the changed settings.

I can’t access the Help

This problem can occur if you have version 3.0 or earlier and are running any version of Windows from Vista onwards. If you have version 3.0, the best solution is to upgrade to the most recent version of Family Historian. The Help has been updated to use a newer and better technology which solves this problem, and the content has been much improved at the same time. However, if you don’t wish to upgrade, you may also be able to solve the problem without upgrading by downloading and installing an extra Help program from the Microsoft website, at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917607. We have heard reports that this web page only works properly if accessed using Internet Explorer.

I can’t open the book “Getting the Most From Family Historian”

“Getting Start with Family Historian” is installed as an electronic document. You should be able to open it on your PC by clicking on the appropriate command on the Help menu when running Family Historian, or by clicking on the appropriate command on the Family Historian sub-menu, accessible (under Programs or All Programs) from the Start menu. You need a special program called Adobe Reader to read it. Often, this program will already be installed on your PC. If it isn’t, you need to download and install it (it is a free program). You can download the latest version by clicking on the button below:


Get Adobe Reader

I have version 2.3 or earlier, and I can’t open the user manual

The version 2 user manual is installed as an electronic document. You should be able to view it on your PC by clicking on User Manual on the Help menu when running Family Historian, or by clicking on User Manual on the Family Historian sub-menu, accessible (under Programs or All Programs) from the Start menu. You need a special program called Adobe Reader to read it. Often, this program will already be installed on your PC. If it isn’t, you need to download and install it (it is a free program). You can download the latest version by clicking on the button below:

Get Adobe Reader

I am trying to install version 2.1 or earlier, and it isn’t working

Some very early editions of version 2 will not install on 64-bit versions of Windows or if your 16-bit subsystem is not working. You can get round this problem by downloading a ‘CD-backed Installer’ – see Special CD-Backed Installers for more information. The most common error is “cannot find installation languages in \FH\SETUP.LID”

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