3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Ancestry DNA results
Have you taken the Ancestry DNA test and now you’re wondering what to do with your results? Besides viewing your ethnicity estimate, what else can you do to get the most bang for your buck? Today I’ll give you three tips that will get you started on your DNA adventure.
TIP #1 Download your Raw Ancestry DNA and Upload to Other Websites
Now that you’ve tested with Ancestry DNA, you can take advantage of your results by downloading your raw DNA and uploading it to four other DNA websites: FamilyTree DNA, MyHeritage, GedMatch, and Living DNA. Why would you want to go to the trouble of doing this? Besides discovering your ethnicity, you also want to connect with cousins that will help you fill in missing branches of your family tree. Experts in genetic genealogy recommend testing with multiple companies to increase your chances of finding family.
Downloading your raw DNA from AncestryDNA is easy. On your DNA Results Summary page, click on “Settings” in the top right hand corner to take you to your personal test settings page.
Under “Actions” on the right side of your personal settings page, you will see the prompt to “Download Raw DNA data.” You’ll be asked to enter your password and check the box taking upon yourself the responsibility of storing, securing, and protecting your downloaded data. Once that is confirmed, your raw DNA will be delivered to your email in a very short time in the form of a zip file. Now you’re ready to upload your raw autosomal DNA to four different DNA testing companies. Here they are:
The basic autosomal test at FamilyTree DNA is $79, but in just minutes you can upload your raw autosomal DNA from Ancestry DNA to FamilyTree DNA for free. You will need to join the database by entering your name and email, then you’ll be prompted to upload your raw DNA. In about 24 hours you’ll receive an email that your results are ready for you to view.
Initially you will only see your ethnicity, titled “my origins.” Don’t be surprised if your origins vary from your Ancestry ethnicity. The two companies use different reference populations from around the world to estimate your ethnicity. As DNA continues to evolve, look for these estimates to become more and more accurate. For now, just enjoy exploring where your family could have originated.
You can pay an extra $19 to unlock the FTDNA chromosome browser which allows you to find your cousin matches and see which chromosome you match on. This powerful tool puts you in the driver’s seat. You can do as much or as little with your information as you like. You can even download your matches to a spreadsheet to track your comparisons.
You can also upload your raw autosomal DNA to MyHeritage. On the home page, from the drop down menu in the upper right hand side, select “My profile” to go to your personal settings page. In the center of that page, you’ll see the DNA tab. Clicking the tab brings up the prompt to upload a file. You can upload a file for any of your relatives by going to their profile page.
MyHeritage offers ethnicity estimates, and advertises that their company has the most diverse ethnicity breakdown with 42 regions represented. You will see cousin matches, how much shared DNA you have with each cousin, and how many segments your share. You can view their trees or contact them to find out more.
GEDmatch is a website where raw DNA files from all of the testing companies can be uploaded for free. GEDmatch has many ways to analyze your data making this a valuable website. For $10 a month, you can use additional tools, but you won’t need to try that until you’ve learned more about how to use your DNA matches.
For now, you can upload your raw DNA data and start learning. It’s important to be aware that GEDmatch is a public database, and does not guarantee the privacy that the DNA testing companies maintain. To get started you’ll register with the website then you’ll be able to upload your raw DNA file easily. To upload your raw DNA from Ancestry, choose the category “Generic upload.”
GEDmatch provides three excellent Beginner’s Guides to Using GEDmatch. This website can be intimidating, so going through the videos and slides provided will help you get acquainted with the various tools. This additional information is on the GEDmatch website:
Genesis will become the only GEDmatch.com at some point in the near future. This has become necessary because of the divergence of SNP sets used by various testing companies.
As of 18 January 2018 all new raw DNA kit uploads are only accepted by Genesis. The legacy GEDmatch site will continue to be available for some time, but results are “frozen” with all new kits being accepted, processed and results available only on Genesis.
(updated January 2019)
LivingDNA is a new British based DNA testing company. They are inviting test takers from other companies to upload their raw results to find matches in their “Family Networks” database. Read about how to upload your DNA file to LivingDNA here. Your raw data file must be from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, or FTDNA. You will also need the name, birthdate, birthplace, and sex associated the DNA file. LivingDNA is highly concerned with the privacy of their clients, so you can be assured they will keep your data secure at all times.
TIP #2 Link your Ancestry tree to your DNA results
To make the best use of Ancestry DNA matching, make sure you have a tree associated with your DNA results. I have 1000+ close matches, (4th cousin or closer) and the majority of them have no family tree. I can view their ethnicity which gives me some clues, but without a tree I don’t have any way to connect my family with theirs.
How can you build your tree? If you have an LDS partner account with Ancestry, you can import up to 4 generations from FamilySearch. Find this option under the “trees” tab at the top left of the Ancestry home page. Select “Import tree from FamilySearch” in the drop down menu and follow the prompts. After you import 4 generations, you can add more relatives from FamilySearch as needed.
If you have your tree on family history software like RootsMagic or Ancestral Quest, you can create a GEDCOM file and upload it to Ancestry. You can choose to create a private or a public tree. If private, once someone contacts you, you can give them permission to view your tree. A public tree is open for anyone to view, but only you can make changes to your tree.
You can also create a new tree if you’re just beginning your family history journey. Start with yourself and begin to build. The more you add, the more DNA matching success you’ll have.
Once you’ve created your Ancestry tree, go to “Settings” on your Ancestry DNA Test Summary page and scroll down to “Family Tree Linking.” From here you can choose the tree you’d like to link to your DNA test results. You can edit the tree you choose to link anytime.
TIP # 3 Share Your DNA Results with Family Members
You can invite other family members to view your DNA results. Trying to interest your children in genealogy? This may be the hook that lures them into your world. From your Ancestry DNA Test Summary page, click on “Settings” again, (the same page that allows you to download raw DNA and link your family tree). Scroll to the bottom of the page, click on the green tab and invite others to access your DNA results by entering their email address or Ancestry user name.
You can select what role they should have: viewer, collaborator, or manager. You have the most control over your match list if you share your list with others at the Viewer level. The Collaborator level is beneficial when you want the other person to be able to make notes, and work in your account. As the manager you can edit the roles at any time. Your family members will be able to view your ethnicity, cousin matches, and shared ancestor circles.
Take some time to upload your raw DNA to other websites, link a family tree to your DNA results, and share your DNA results with others. Your DNA journey is just beginning. Commit to embrace this new facet of genealogical research and you’ll find it gets easier. Together we’ll learn how to make the best use of this amazing tool to find our families.
Best of luck in your genetic genealogy endeavors!
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