Ancestry.com

Family Tree Maker: Improving Performance

Posted by Tana L. Pedersen on November 29, 2010 in Family Tree Maker

We all wish we had an unlimited amount of time to work on our family history. But since none of us do, it can be frustrating when the software you’re using seems to get in the way instead of helping. If Family Tree Maker starts running more slowly than you expect, here are six steps you can take to increase the software’s performance:

Verify that your computer meets the minimum system requirements

Make sure that your computer meets or exceeds the minimum requirements. You can find them listed in the packaging and documentation that came with your software. Also, keep in mind that the more information you enter, the greater the amount of free hard drive space and available RAM you will need.

Make sure you are using the latest version of the software

Periodically, Family Tree Maker releases updates that fix various software bugs and issues. Make sure that the Family Tree Maker software is up-to-date by going to the Help menu and choosing Check for Update. A message alerts you if you need to update the software.

Run the Compact File tool

The Compact File tool re-indexes your file, removes unnecessary data, and optimizes your tree’s performance. You can learn more on this blog post.

Check your tree for duplicate individuals

Duplicate individuals can increase the overall size of your tree and make running reports, creating charts, and navigating your tree inefficient. Periodically you’ll want to make sure you’ve merged or deleted any unnecessary people. You can find detailed instructions on merging individuals in the Family Tree Maker Knowledgebase.

Work offline

If you have a day where you’re simply entering information and not using the Web Search or virtual maps, consider temporarily disabling your Internet connection within Family Tree Maker. This can really speed up your system, especially if you’re working in a large tree.

To work offline, go to the File menu and select Go Offline. To reenable Internet access, go to the File menu and select Go Online.

Disable Fastfields

Fastfields speed up data entry by automatically filling in repetitive data as you type. For example, if you type “San Jose, California” into a location field, then go to another location field and begin to type “San,” Family Tree Maker will recognize the similarity and suggest “San Jose, California.” Disabling this feature can increase performance, especially in large databases.

To disable Fastfields, go to the Tools menu and select Options. Deselect the checkboxes in the “Use fastfields for section” and click OK.

38 comments

Comments
1 Tony KnightNovember 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

You missed out deselect the check place authority. You can always review places as part of the regular housekeeping you should be carrying out.

2 CharlotteNovember 29, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I’ve tried to choose “Check for Update” before on FTM 2010 and it says I need to be the administrator of my computer, which I am (I double-checked) and to log in as the administrator. Anyone know how can I get it to recognize me as the administrator?

3 Tony KnightNovember 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Charlotte

Right click on the program file and select “run as administrator” from the menuu

4 AlexandraNovember 29, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Is there a way to remove the saved place names that show up in the Fastfields? I really like using the Fastfields, especially for places, but all previously entered place names appear (and some are old incorrect spellings, etc.). This is similar to Google search, in which the browser remembers all your previous search terms. However, one can selectively delete previous search terms by right clicking and selecting delete. Thank you.

5 Anon Y. MouseNovember 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm

How about just not selling software that’s not a slow pig? Leister Reunion doesn’t seem to have trouble making software that isn’t junk. How come you can’t do the same?

6 SherylNovember 30, 2010 at 7:42 am

I am no longer able to log into my Ancestry account through FTM although I can log into the site and also the World Archives project with no problem. Any idea how to fix that? I do have the latest version.

7 JannaNovember 30, 2010 at 8:27 am

And this would be exactly why I dont waste even more money than I already do. It’s worth it to find records or even just on picture of a great grandparent on here…but then to pay for a program with glitches no way. I am so glad there are people that offer free programs or ones that have limited options till you buy the full version (kinda a free trial version for unlimited time). Not to mention if you ever want to upgrade you have to shell out even more money.

8 Andy HatchettNovember 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I love it!

They add all these bells and whistles and then tell you that you should disable them if you want the system to perform at anything close to a reasonable speed, (Rolls eyes!!)

9 MerileeNovember 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I have noticed that the program slows down during certain times of the day/night. While everyone is at work, 9-5 PST, my FTM seems to speed up on processing when I am using FTM to search through Ancestry.com. It is also faster late at night from 9pm -… That works for those of us who are night owls!
One issue I have had lately is an error message saying my Java Script has crashed during the processing of information on FTM… does anyone know what that is all about and what to do?

10 Tony KnightNovember 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Andy

The first thing with any problem is to gain an admission that it exists. I believe we have made progress.
The solution will not be quick, I would hope it would appear in FTM2012. The first step (tongue in cheek) is to head hunt a programmer who works for virtually any other genealogy producing company.
In the interim it is only reasonable to make suggestions to ease the problems.

11 TonyCNovember 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I know this isn’t the correct forum so don’t all shout at once.

The note about compacting the file would re-index the file, and that piqued my interest.

We recently found a really strange problem. A set of parents (Set A) suddenly appeared as the parents of a complteely different family (set B) that originally had no parents. When we looked at set A, set B didn’t appear. Looking at set B and set A appeared as their parents – confused yet, we were.

So we tried to compact the file believing that the file would be re-indexed – problem was still there.

The really odd thing is that the names were different and that set A were a married couple in 1960 and set B were in the early 1800′s.

So my question really is (finally I hear you say) – when does a re-index not re-index?

BTW this was in 2010 version of FTM.

TonyC

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ancestry.com, Valerie Craft. Valerie Craft said: RT @TamuraJones: #genealogy #WTF Ancestry.com on FTM lacklustre performance: it's your fault should buy latest version http://bit.ly/FTMPerf [...]

13 Scott SinnockNovember 30, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I took about 10 minutes to determine that the performance issues with 2011 were NOT fixed in the update. Its back to 2010 for me. The differences in performance between 2011 and 2010 is obvious. I dont understand why you can’t fix it. I will await the next update and hope Ancestry.com hires some database performance experts and fixes the problems. It is apparent it will take a complete reorganization of data structures. You are on the wrong path now and must change course or you will loose your market. That would be too bad, because the interface is wonderful (keyboard navigation problems notwithstanding) and the basic information contained in the database is excellent. It just needs to be better organized according to standard database rules, including getting rid of those awful nested do loops and bothersome buffers. I had hoped for a quick fix in the update, thanks for the try, but I will pass on this version.

14 Andy HatchettNovember 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Scott Re: 13

If I didn’t know better I’d swear the whole thing was written in early 1980s “spaghetti” basic.

15 PamDjDecember 1, 2010 at 7:18 am

Tana, you say “Periodically, Family Tree Maker releases updates that fix various software bugs and issues”? I’ve been using FTM2010 since it was first released and have reported two problems which were acknowleged by FTM Support as bugs. These were both passed to the developers for resolution. I’ve waited patiently – in vain so far – for a fix to be issued. Worse, FTM Support won’t even do me the courtesy of updating me on the problems (ie if the bugs have been ironed out in 2011 or if they’re still working on a fix for 2010); they just said it’s up to me to check for updates (what a shabby way to treat customers). Huh! In the whole time I’ve been using 2010 I don’t recall receiving an update for it.
The idea that patches are issued is just a joke – I guess it would have to be virtually unusable before they’d do something about it.
I’ve seen time and time again comments that Ancestry/FTM are more keen on bells and whistles to attract new customers than looking after their existing ones. Maybe when the market has reached saturation point and they’ve got such a bad reputation amongst serious genealogists they will realise their mistake.

16 Andy HatchettDecember 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

I have never known Ancestry to issue any patches whatsoever for any version except the current one (i.e. since FTM2011 is out there will probably not be any more patches issued for FTM2010).

17 Tana L. PedersenDecember 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

# 4
Alexandra
I have had this issue too. Especially when I misspell a name and it then appears in the drop-down from then on. I don’t know of any way to make it stop appearing in the list but will check and see if there’s something I’m missing.

# 6
Sheryl
I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems logging into Ancestry through Family Tree Maker. Have you registered the software yet (using the email associated with your Ancestry account)? Also, have you tried activating your subscription (using the Help menu)? When you load a new version of Family Tree Maker you’ll need to “activate” your subscription again, which really means that you’re letting Family Tree Maker know which account to access.

# 15
Pam
It can be frustrating when the bugs you want to be fixed aren’t always worked on as quickly as you’d like. I know that the development team keeps an eye on all bugs that are reported but they do have to prioritize what is fixed and when. I am sorry this has been a disappointing experience for you and will do what I can to be more proactive in helping customers know what has been fixed and when.

# 16
Andy
Family Tree Maker releases bug fixes/patches/updates a couple times a year and has for every version of the software that I’ve been a part of (since version 2005). If you aren’t being notified of fixes automatically, you might want to go to the Help menu and select “Check for Update” periodically.

18 Tony KnightDecember 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

Tana

I think what Andy was saying, is that once the new version is out, no matter outstanding problems there are your version is frozen in time and your only option is to buy the new one.

I am pleased that you wish to be more proactive in keeping people informed. There are other things that you could do.
I suggested in a Message Board thread some time ago that it would be interesting to have some anonymised profiles of the beta testers, what equipment they are using, the size of their database (people and megabytes) and their usage patterns and things like that. From the point of view of larger database owners it appears that if say you were an umbrella manufacturer, you would be testing your umbrellas in the Sahara.

19 Andy HatchettDecember 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Tana Re: #17

What I am saying is that FTM only issues patches for whatever version happens to be the current one.

Name one patch for FTM2008 that was released after FTM2009 was introduced.

Name on patch for FTM 2009 that was released after FTM 2010 was introduced

Name one patch for FTM2010 that was released after FTM2011 was introduced.

The truth is that for *any* previous versions of FTM after the introduction of a newer version the *only* ‘patch’ is to upgrade to the newer version.

How about this-
Don’t add any new bells and whistles or even release FTM2012 until *ALL* the problems with 2008,2009,2010, and 2011 have been fixed. Then- and only then- might FTM2012 be worth buying.

20 JamesDecember 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Still on 2010 for main databases:

Dual Core 2.8GHz Processor, 2- 500GB HD, 2 – 1TB HD, 4GB RAM.

DB1 – ~25,000 persons, 118MB database file size, 11,700+ images (mostly census, military, birth and death record images), ~500,000 records

DB2 – ~30,000 persons, 114MB database file size, 11,500 images, ~350,000 records.

Total file size of databases and images are about 33GB.

Already split version 16 file to make the files above when 2GB file size limit was reached.

Files sent back in the 2008 version fixes.

Due to Ancestry.com’s excellent content, both files are growing each day with additional facts, sources, images, etc., to a tune of about 50 images per day.

Regards,

21 Tony KnightDecember 2, 2010 at 5:58 am

James

I think one question you might want to ask yourself is do I really need to link all the images to my file.
The only ones I actually link, as opposed to recording the data in facts, are what I described earlier today as “decorative” ie photos of people, gravestones, buildings etc.

A further performance tip.Don’t stress your file beyond what it needs to be.

22 BEEDecember 2, 2010 at 8:23 am

sigh,,,,,,I guess that is why FTM 2009 – and the book I bought to go with it, and FTM 2010 sit there unused……….I don’t need these headaches!

23 TonyCDecember 2, 2010 at 10:30 am

Andy #17

If Ancestry did what you suggest and not release another new version until they fixed all the bugs in all previous versions we might see a version entitled FTM 2015 – maybe.

TonyC

24 JamesDecember 2, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Tony,

Thanks for your comments.

Files work “fine” in 2010 but in 2011 program is too slow even when turning off the features noted in this topic. Even smaller files are slow as compared to version 2010. Merging from Ancestry.com in 2011 is faster than in 2010. Report generation speed is still very slow.

Regards,

25 Andy HatchettDecember 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm

TonyC Re: #23

And this would be bad because…?
;)

26 Tony KnightDecember 3, 2010 at 3:35 am

Without knowing how long the beta test stage is, but I would hazzard a guess at no more than 3 months, I feel that the next version probably needs to be beta tested for up to a year and probably by a wider group. Alpha testing appears to need to be more rigourous.

Some problems can be caught with a simple check list, some will manifest themselves in day to day working, like the memory management problem in both Windows and Mac, others will only show up as you in effect stumble upon them.

I was astounded to find that FTMM2010 will not import version 5.5.1 gedcoms without a workaround. This problem was in the initial release of the 2010 Windows version and fixed by patch. More than a year later it crops up again.

Some are more subtle. There was a complaint that the import Legacy file feature in FTM2011 was shuffling parents. I tried to reproduce the problem and initially the import seemed to have gone well. It was only when I looked at my relationship to my Home Person and saw that my late wife now had a direct relationship, rather than an extremely convoluted one and followed up the line, that I found it had shuffled the parents at the top of this branch and the result was absolute nonsense. I couldn’t quickly see any others affected, but in a database of 93000, if it hadn’t been in my particular portion, would I have shown the problem had occured again?

27 Tyler RasmussenDecember 3, 2010 at 11:17 am

I was wondering if you might have a post listing the top 10 or so ideas currently under development for future FTM releases, and ask for community feedback on what they think among those 10 ideas should be the top priority.

28 PamDjDecember 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I agree with Andy #16 and #18. I’ve bought FTM 2008,2009 and 2010 as they’ve been issued. The program is set to automatically check for updates and also I do from time to time do a manual ‘forced’ check. Zilch.

Tana #17 : It’s not a question of wanting bugs to be fixed quickly and I do appreciate that these have to be prioritised; as I said in #15, I *have* waited patiently. But having bought the software I just want it to work properly, not to have to buy yet another version to see whether the bugs have been fixed. It does not seem to be unreasonable to expect a fix for a bug that is reported WHILST THAT VERSION IS STILL THE LIVE VERSION. It’s not as if I want a fix for a version that was superseded a long time ago. It’s rather like having to buy a new car because spares for last year’s model aren’t available (even though it never worked in the first place!).

Also, my point was just as much a complaint about the lack of feedback once bugs are reported as on the lack of fixes. Anything you could do to facilitate a procedural change here would be much appreciated – thank you for your offer.

29 janet MyersDecember 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Wow-this sounds like a nightmare! I was thinking of asking for the Mac version for Christmas, but reading this for FTM that has been out for years…I think not!

30 kathy priceDecember 4, 2010 at 7:31 am

Wow! Wish all this had come out before I had ordered the 2011 version. I had the 2010 and what a pain. I spent DAYS trying to get rid of the date and time on pages in my book.Who on God’s green earth would want the time clear down to the second on pages in a book? Luckily it hadn’t gone to a printer…that would have sent me over the edge for sure. I was told by phone help there was nothing I could do. Then I was told to make the font color white and it would not show. That worked but then you had NO page numbers. To correct this, YOUR problem, I had to buy an upgrade. Get this, the old 2005 didn’t have this problem!!! I have had 4 new versions but none are as trouble free as that old 2005. In all my years of using that old thing I had only one issue with it, you couldn’t make much of change in size of the photos. Think my hubby was right….you need programmers who know what they are doing or make sure you have all your ducks in a row BEFORE you release a new version. When you do have problems the least you could do is give us an update for FREE!!!
Kathy

31 AngelaDecember 5, 2010 at 4:34 am

Tamura Jones did a funny parody of Tana’s insulting blog post: Family Tree Maker Performance: It is Your Fault

32 Dan WilmothDecember 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Tamura Jones nailed it!!!!!!!!!

Enough Said.

JUST FIX IT!!!!

33 LindaDecember 5, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I purchased FTM 2011 and had no problem installing it with Windows 7. The ancestry team helped me. And I am very pleased. I did the update for FTM 2011 and went to help and all the info was there and it worked. Very pleased. Purchased FTM 2011 for Mac for my cousin who has a Mac.

34 Andy HatchettDecember 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Tana Re: #17

You said:
# 15
Pam
It can be frustrating when the bugs you want to be fixed aren’t always worked on as quickly as you’d like. I know that the development team keeps an eye on all bugs that are reported but they do have to prioritize what is fixed and when. I am sorry this has been a disappointing experience for you and will do what I can to be more proactive in helping customers know what has been fixed and when.

It would really help if users actually knew just exactly what was on that prioritized list so they would have a sense that something was actually being done and could see items disappearing from it as they were fixed – to say nothing of seeing where problems fall on that list verses developing new bells and whistles.

As we all know, the actual FTM development team *NEVER* makes substantial comments on anything. Everything they might say is so full of wiggle words as to render any comment meaningless.

Please post that prioritized list for all to see!

35 RitaDecember 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Worst yet is when something is working in 2010 and they screw it up in 2011. In the book in 2010 you could add other spouses in the FGS and only the people with other spouses would get that line now in 2011 everybody gets the heading other spouse wether they have one or not. Go figure they had it working properly and now they fixed other problems instead and caused another in the process. So I have gone back to 2010 until they fix it because it adds un-necesary pages to your book.

#30 You can easily get rid of of all of that extra stuff at the bottom by creating a book and saving it as a book. Then say preview book and you will see that none of that is there and you also have the page number that you want. You then print it as a pdf file or as a word file. If you just create FGS and other reports and don’t create it in a book you will get all of that stuff at the bottom. Note that it will appear until you preview the book or save it as a pdf or word document.

36 TonyCDecember 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Andy re #25

No – not bad for us but the revenue stream would be a little slower for Ancestry.

Even Micro$oft don’t bring out a completely new version every year and expect to be paid for it – at least they wait 3 or 4 years and then you can maybe upgrade to the newest version :)

37 Tony KnightDecember 9, 2010 at 2:02 am

TonyC

When you look at the disk only package price and in particular at the upgrade one, I am not entirely sure when you take into account all the various on costs, sales taxes, intermediates profits etc there is a revenue stream of any great amount. I suspect that if we draw an analogy, FTM is the printer and their money comes from the ink which is the Ancestry subscriptions.

You didn’t mention the other point about Microsoft which is whilst they do not add new features to outgoing operating systems/programs, they do continue to fix the bugs for a substantial time

38 TonyCDecember 9, 2010 at 9:29 am

Morning Tony #37
While I didn’t make any mention of the size of the revenue stream from FTM I do agree with your point regarding where the major revenue comes from.

However I bought the 2008,2010 and 2011 versions directly from Ancestry and still have a buggy product that runs very slowly on a fully loaded dual core machine.

Folowing all the steps outlined in this blog to speed up FTM is to say the least – ridiculous, turning off features and compacting the file so often. You might say that MS should suggest turning off file explorer or some of the many windows processes to make Windows faster:)

TonyC

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