Berkshire Family History CDs help

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Users of Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10 may experience some problems with Berkshire Family History Society CDs: the short summary is:

  1. don’t let the Autorun program execute and
  2. ensure you have installed Adobe Reader Get Adobe Acrobat Reader DC web button 158x39.fw (free) and install it (you do not need to install the optional item it offers) and make sure it is the default PDF reader.

Autorun Program

Old CDs contain an auto run program (AutoRunPro.EXE) which started up automatically when the CD was inserted in the drive, loaded Adobe Reader and opened the Start.PDF file. This program was required by old versions of Windows (eg Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME).

Windows XP began to give the user the option of whether to run the auto run program or not, but the default was to run it and the user had to take action to prevent this.

Currently it is not necessary to have an auto run program, a simple text file suffices (Windows 7 and later). Recent CDs such as Berkshire Marriages Edition 3 have done away with the auto run program and use the text file method instead.

From Windows 7 onwards, the default action is to ask the user whether to auto start or not. If the CD contains AutoRunPro.EXE then ALWAYS select the option NOT to auto run. AutoRunPro.EXE may cause Windows 8/8.1/10 to freeze or crash.

Recent CDs contain AutoRun.INF (a text file) instead. Such CDs may be safely auto started if you so wish.

New Computer Running Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10

These computers come with an inbuilt PDF reader. Most of our CDs are supplied as PDF files (the main exception being Monumental Inscription CDs), so a PDF reader is required. However, the inbuilt reader (a) makes navigation difficult by hiding bookmarks and (b) does not have all the required functionality (e.g. clicking on the “I Agree …” button has no effect).

On new computers running Windows 8/8.1/10, you should download Adobe Reader (free) from Adobe Reader has previously gone under other names such as Acrobat Reader. Adobe Reader used to follow a straightforward version numbering system 5,6,7,8,9, then it went X and XI, now it appears to be Adobe Reader DC.

Install Adobe Reader. At some point during installation it should ask you if you want it to be the default PDF reader – say Yes.

You should then be able to use Berkshire Family History CDs without trouble.

Upgraded Computer From Windows 7 to Windows 8, 8.1 or 10

If you have upgraded your computer from Windows 7 to Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 and Berkshire Family History Society CDs used to work under Windows 7 but no longer do under Windows 8/8.1/10 then the upgrade has probably changed the default PDF reader to the inbuilt one.

First off, try starting up Adobe Reader. If it asks whether Adobe Reader should be the default PDF reader then say Yes. Your Berkshire Family History Society CDs should now work.

If you still have a problem, Get Adobe Acrobat Reader DC web button 158x39.fw (free) and install it (you do not need to install the optional item it offers). During installation it should ask if it should be the default PDF reader – say Yes.

Other Known Issues

1851 & 1881 Census CDs

Both of these will work with Windows 8 and 8.1. If you have both CDs then install 1881 FIRST and 1851 SECOND. As with other early CDs, say NO to autorun if asked.

During installation you will be asked whether to run from the hard disk or the CD – select the hard disk option.

If you installed the CDs under Windows 8, then upgraded to Windows 8.1, the census CDs may no longer work as the upgrade seems to move some of the files around. The simplest solution is to re-install the census CDs.

Early Versions of Windows 8

Early versions of Windows 8 seem to have an inbuilt PDF reader which could not open protected PDF files. Download and install the latest version of Adobe Reader from (free).

Monumental Inscription CDs

These may contain small PDF files for which the inbuilt PDF reader may be OK. The bulk of the data on these CDs is HTML and will make use of your web browser. If you experience problems with the PDF files, download and install Adobe Reader from (free).

Published 28 July 2016