Understanding how to fully utilize your DNA data and take it further is a huge benefit for persons searching for a biological family or for confirming genetic networks in your family tree. Taking the data that you already have from one website and transferring it over to other websites, really broadens the scope of what you’re able to do with genetic genealogy. Whether you’re trying to verify your family tree using genetic networks, or an adoptee looking for your biological family, uploading to all DNA websites is the first thing I recommend doing.
As mail-order DNA testing kits have become widely accessible within this last decade, people often wonder which testing company is best? With that said, the major front runners are AncestryDNA and 23andMe. However, the most important factor within these companies (and others) is that they will allow you to download your RAW data file (zip files generally) and upload them to other sites.
DNA transfer basics
You CANNOT upload your data to:
- National Geographic
You CAN upload your data to:
Transferring your DNA
MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, and GEDmatch have their own databases with matches that you might not see within the primary testing company’s database. You can very well have a closer relative at one of these secondary sites than you might at Ancestry and 23andMe. It is truly all within the luck of the draw.
Statistically, you’re likely to have more matches at Ancestry because they have the largest database. They have even released a Health Kit much like 23andMe, their competitor. Ancestry and 23andMe vary exponentially. It is important to note that 23andMe focuses more on the health and traits aspects along with your ethnic breakdowns whereas Ancestry focuses more on the content which allows its users to use their vast records database with billions of records. With that said, it is important to approach these companies with the concept that one might be able to help you more than the other. For instance, if you’re adopted and searching for a biological family, you will have DNA matches in both databases but you are more likely to establish a connection through family trees utilizing AncestryDNA rather than 23andMe. More on the best DNA kits for adoptees. If you are interested in what health traits you might have inherited 23andMe would be the best option. Please understand that both of these companies have DNA matches however, you cannot upload your data from 23andMe to Ancestry or vice-versa.
Nevertheless, uploading to the other sites will benefit you in whatever it is you are searching for.
How to download raw DNA from Ancestry
- Ancestry’s home page displays a ribbon toolbar along the top.
- There you will find the “DNA” tab. Clicking the DNA tab, a drop down will display and you will select, “Your DNA Results Summary”
- From the next page, in the top right corner you will find a settings button. Hover and click “settings” and it will direct you to the next page.
- Scrolling all the way down to the next page you will see a section that is titles “Actions”. You want to select the blue Download to the right of “Download DNA Data”.
- Ancestry will have you enter your password to confirm and, within minutes, they will email you a download link.
- Download the file from your email link and remember where you saved it on you computer
How to download raw DNA data from 23andMe
- When you sign into your 23andMe account, there on the top right of your homescreen should be either your profile picture displayed or the initials of the kit owner. Beside that is a blue drop down arrow. Select this arrow and a drop down box will appear and on it you will select, “Browse Raw Data”.
- On the following page you will select the small blue “download” button and a prompt will be sent to your email to initiate the download.
- Download the file from your email link and remember where you saved it on you computer.
How to upload raw DNA to other sites?
- After creating an account, sign in. The Home page might look a little outdated but to the right you will see the Uploading panel.
- Select “Generic Uploads” and it will instruct you on the rest. Just make sure you know where on your computer that you downloaded that DNA file.
- Follow the prompts from the website.
Perks to uploading to GEDmatch include a plethora of tools which cannot be found anywhere else. The main tools are free but there are some very fun tools to play with behind a subscription ($10/month).
This is a third party database and it is used for Law Enforcement. However, unless you “opt-in” for Law Enforcement matching, your data cannot be used. “Opting-in” provides a way for forensic genealogists to identify unknown decedents and perpetrators and victims of violent crimes. It is a great way to be a public servant however, it is up to each individual user.
- After creating an account, you will find the DNA toolbar on their home screen.
- Select DNA and a dropdown box will display an “Upload DNA data” option.
- Again, remember where you downloaded the DNA file.
MyHeritage is a great website which offers it’s own ethnic breakdown or ethnicity statement based off of their base samples. You may see percentage variants across websites. MyHeritage was accessible to European consumers long before AncestryDNA so, if you’re looking specifically for DNA matches across the pond, this is a great place to upload your DNA data. There are also tools on here that are specific just to MyHeritage users.
Many of these tools and features are behind a paywall.
- You do not have to make an account before uploading to FamilyTreeDna, you can do it simultaneously. Go to the website and on the page, on the top, there is an option to “Upload DNA Data”.
- From there, follow the prompts on the website.
FamilyTreeDNA is also a website that is accessible by Law Enforcement. It serves as a great database, like GEDmatch, to help forensic genealogists identify unknown decedents and individuals who were either victims or perpetrators of committed violent crimes.
The cM threshold (Centimorgan threshold) is 1cM – This means, you will appear to share more DNA with your DNA matches here than on other sites. It does not mean you’re more related to them, it is just an algorithmic feature. (I recommend DNAPainters WATO tool for determining your relationship to all DNA matches).
Can I upload Ancestry DNA to 23andMe?
No. You cannot upload Ancestry DNA to 23andMe. If you want your DNA in the 23andMe database, you’ll need to test with them seperately.
Can I transfer DNA results to Ancestry?
No. You cannot transfer your DNA results from other companies to Ancestry. You have to test with them seperately.
Expanding your reach
Uploading your DNA data from websites like AncestryDNA and 23andMe are great ways for your genetic genealogy to really go further. This is especially important for adoptees, or others, who are in search of locating their biological family members. Do not be discouraged if you test with a company that has a larger database and you don’t receive any close matches. Always upload to other sites because there will always be leads through each individual website.
Remember, just because your data is in one database does not mean that you’ll be able to access data from other companies. This is just another reason why uploading across all major sites is, not only a great opportunity, but also a pertinent factor in taking your genealogy further while getting more bang for your buck!