gedcom files

Importing or uploading a GEDCOM

In kiwitrees “importing” means transferring  a GEDCOM file that you have previously uploaded via FTP to your kiwitrees data folder, into your family tree database. This may be necessary if your GEDCOM file is larger than the size your server allows for  PHP file uploads.

“Uploading” means uploading a GEDCOM file from your local computer directly to your family tree database, but can only be done if your GEDCOM file is smaller than the size your server allows for  PHP file uploads. This may also be the only solution if you do not have FTP access to the server, such as for kiwitrees own hosting/support packages.

(Note: the server PHP file upload limit can be avoided to some extent on kiwitrees versions at or above 3.3.6 by uploading your GEDCOM file in a .zip folder.)

Both processes are started  on the same page by selecting the option Import a GEDCOM file on the administration page Administration > Family Trees > Manage family trees.

  • To “import” a file already on the server, select the option “A file on the server”
  • To “upload” and simultaneously import, select the option “A file on your computer”.

Whichever option you use, the file itself is no longer used or required by kiwitrees once the process is completed. All subsequent processing and display ONLY uses the database.

  • If you use “A file on the server”, that file remains in the kiwitrees/data folder and will not be changed by any subsequent editing of the kiwitrees data.
  • If you use “A file on your computer”, that file is left in its original location (usually your desktop computer), and again remains untouched.

When or if you change your genealogy data outside of kiwitrees, it is not necessary to delete your GEDCOM file or database from kiwitrees and start over. This is always part of the “upload” process.

Once you have selected either “A file on the server” or “A file on your computer”, and identified the file, proceed to the Import Options area below those, on the same page.

  1. Take careful note of the “Keep media objects” option.  If you have created media objects in kiwitrees, and then edited your GEDCOM off-line using a program that deletes media objects, then tick this box to merge the current media objects with the new GEDCOM. In most cases you should leave this box UNCHECKED.
  2. The other two options, “Add spaces where notes were wrapped” and “Remove the GEDCOM media path from filenames” have detailed explanations on the page.
  3. Click “SAVE”. Kiwitrees will validate the GEDCOM before importing. During this process, kiwitrees copies your entire family tree (GEDCOM file) to a ‘chunk’ table within your database. Depending on the coding of your file, its file size and the capabilities of your server and the supporting software, this may take some time. No progress bar will show while the data is being copied and, should you navigate away from this page the process is suspended. It will start again when you return to the Family Tree management page.


Every Family History program has its own method of creating GEDCOM files, and differing output format options to select from. Kiwitrees’ import routines can read many different formats, but not necessarily all. If your software has a “UTF8” option you should always use that. However, kiwitrees has been tested with these alternative formats:

  • ANSI – imports OK, but is slow due to the translation into UTF8 as part of the import process.
  • MAC – imports OK, but is slow due to the translation into UTF8 as part of the import process.
  • DOS – imports OK, but is slow due to the translation into UTF8 as part of the import process.
  • ANSEL – currently will not import. Gives warning Error: cannot convert GEDCOM file from ANSEL encoding to UTF-8 encoding. Later releases of kiwitrees may include translation from ANSEL to UTF8, but this is not a simple process.