Why Upload to GEDmatch or FTDNA?

What is the advantage of uploading AncestryDNA results to GEDmatch and/or FTDNA? Let me count the ways… Here are my top 10 reasons.

[1]. To get additional Matches. (from other companies, including Matches below thresholds)

[2]. To get Matches with emails. And most at FTDNA have real names; many at GEDmatch have real names.

[3]. To get cooperative Matches. A much higher percentage of folks who test at FTDNA will work with you on genealogy. Same with folks who have taken the trouble to upload to GEDmatch.

[4]. To see the shared DNA segment. This is probably the most important reason, IMO! For each shared segment with a Match, you see the chromosome number, start and end locations, cM value, and number of SNPs included. This is technical DNA info, but it is invaluable to those who utilize the DNA beyond just a list of Matches (who may or may not be related – read on…)

[5]. The shared segment data allows the tester, or a Match, to confirm the segment is a true segment from an ancestor (that the segment is Identical By Descent, IBD) – this is done by Triangulation with other shared segments

[6]. The shared segment data allows the tester, or a Match, to evaluate the segment – a small segment indicates a distant relationship; a large segment, or multiple segments, indicates a closer relationship.

[7]. The shared segment data allows the tester, or a Match, to group segments from Common Ancestors – you will tend to have only one (or very few) different segments from a distant ancestor, and this is where you will find other cousins from that ancestor.

[8]. With Colonial American ancestry (and other endogamous populations), you may have multiple Common Ancestors with a Match. The shared segment data will allow you to determine which ancestor the DNA came from, because all who have the same shared segment data should descend from the same Common Ancestor.

[9]. Admixture (ethnicity, ancestral geography) reports are different at different companies. GEDmatch, in particular, has several utilities with a range of admixture evaluations that target different areas.

[10]. GEDmatch has other utilities, including seeing if your parents were related.

Readers are invited to add other reasons to upload AncestryDNA results to FTDNA and/or GEDmatch in the comments section.

21 Segmentology: Why Upload to GEDmatch or FTDNA by Jim Bartlett 21050611

59 thoughts on “Why Upload to GEDmatch or FTDNA?

  1. I’m waiting for my DNA results from Ancestry. I’m new to this research. How do I go about submitting my DNA to the other genealogy sites you mentioned?

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    • Sandy,
      1. Download your raw DNA data file at Ancestry – click on the Settings (Gear) Icon – click on Get Started – and save the file to your PC (do NOT open or unzip it)
      2. Register at http://www.GEDmatch.com; then carefully follow the instructions for uploading (copying) your DNA file to GEDmatch
      3. Go to http://www.familytreedna.com; click on DNA Tests Tab (upper left); and select autosomal transfer; follow directions

      Liked by 1 person

      • I down loaded my raw data several days ago. It still says it is processing has found 20 matches but am I right in thinking I need to pay the 30 something dollars before they will let me contact anyone or even see all my matches? I am being hesitant because yes I see some new matches and a few older ones. The ones I am not seeing are my brother who’s DNA I uploaded before mine. And my husband who should at least show as a tree match and I uploaded my tree to one of the accounts also.

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      • Lorane,

        Yes, the free view is just a teaser/preview. You need to pay the small fee, and then you’ll be treated like a full customer with all Matches and tools.

        Like

    • Jim do you have to pay this small fee for everyone in the family that I upload or is there some way to group us as a family? And one other question I have is , I believe my father’s 1st DNA test was done with FTDNA and now I have an autosomal one for him from Ancestry. How could I link both test to my father?

      Like

  2. This is excellent Jim! Thank you!
    We could also use a comment or two regarding the integrity of these sites, especially GedMatch, since Ancestry warns them that there is a “risk” to sharing your raw data on other sites.

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    • Christine,
      I do not doubt the integrity of either site – they have both been around for quite a while and enjoy very high reputations.
      Ancestry’s “risk” warning is may be based on: 1. anything you copy to your computer is at some risk. 2. Uploading to FTDNA is no different than testing there. Uploading to either either site allows others to see the segments you share with others – there is a very small risk that someone could figure out from your Matches some medical info, although no one has reported such a feat on any of the email boards. 3. As with all DNA testing, there is the risk of finding a surprise in your genetic ancestry.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christine,
      You undertook that “risk” when you sent your DNA to Ancestry. Sharing it with other GEDMATCH and FTDNA customers is no further risk (in my opinion), and the rewards are really substantial if you are serious about finding unknown relatives.
      I have seen no advertising or spam related to DNA testing since I began using any of the sites and their services. Seems to me that would be a signal that the companies are selling our data. Such practices would really bite them in the long run. Certainly not worth the risk.

      Jim,
      Great post!
      I think one of the most important features of uploading to GEDMATCH, in particular, is the ability to compare and triangulate match results from all three of the major companies: 23andME, FTDNA, and Ancestry. To my knowledge, it’s the only way to do that.

      Peggy

      Like

      • Peggy,
        Thanks!
        The other way to compare at a all three companies is to test with each one. But they will only give you Matches above their threshold. GEDmatch lets you adjust the threshold to suit your needs.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Also searching the Gedcom entries on Gedmatch and then seeing if there are shared DNA segments I have been able to find three distant cousins in the past two weeks alone. With two of them we have already been able to establish a paper trail link. Viva Gedmatch.

    David

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gedmatch is Great! Only there can you do a one-to-one comparison which is required for TG – triangulation. You can also access the match list of each of your ~ 1500 matches, which is sometimes interesting/helpful.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have my DNA on GEDmatch and FTDNA but I am confused. How can u tell your relationship with your match. I have a very close match but cannot find the paper trail and most of her ancestors are of German origin in the USA. I do have west Europe ancestry but this is baffling. Regards Ann

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    • Ann,
      Relationships can only be determined by genealogy. You can get help on the genealogy by forming a Triangulated Group around this Match’s segment. Everyone in a TG will be a cousin, and, collectively, you may find more clues.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have had DNA tests done by both ancestry and Ftdna… is there a way (or any advantage) to uploading the ancestry.com results to Ftdna? That’s what I assumed I was doing, following these instructions, but when I got to the “autosomal transfer”, there didn’t seem to be any way to do anything with my gedcom file. Is it because Ftdna already has their results for me?
    Also, is there a way to upload my family tree from ancestry to ftdna, without manually adding each ancestor?
    TIA for advice!

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    • Since I do not deal well with GEDcoms, in my profiles at FTDNA and 23 and Me, I invite my matches to my tree at AncestryDna, giving my username. I also put into the profiles my kit #s at Gedmatch.

      That might only cover Ancestry members, since I do not know if non-members of Ancestry can access the trees there even if they have the username. Probably not.

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    • Anita, If you provided a real DNA sample to both AncestryDNA and FTDNA, that is all you need to do. There is no advantage to uploading your AncestryDNA data to FTDNA in this case (but there are many advantages to uploading your AncestryDNA data to GEDmatch…). If you only provided a DNA sample to AncestryDNA, then, per this blog post, you should upload that data to FTDNA and/or GEDmatch. The upload to FTDNA is free for a teaser look, but you really need to pay the small fee and get the benefits of being a full FTDNA customer with all Matches and tools.
      And yes, you can download your tree at Ancestry to a GEDcom; and then upload that GEDcom to FTDNA (free). In this case FTDNA also creates an alphabetical list of all your surnames for you and posts that too.

      Like

  7. My granddaughter Emily Ann Jackson is unusually dark skin for members of our family ..we want to do DN A testing , to begin with with Emily. Then the rest will follow , my question is :Where do I start, ,and how do I go about doing it.. I know to swab the cheeks, once I get a kit, where do I send for the kit. The best place for DNA…testing…

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  8. I have had my DNA on GEDmatch for over a year now. I’ve tried and tried to figure out exactly how to use it. It really overwhelms me. Is there a place that will help me get more comfortable in working with it. I just get frustrated not understanding it all and have probably missed out on quite a bit of information.
    Thank You

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    • Sharla, On the left side of your GEDmatch homepage, click on “DNA for Dummies” – there are two articles and a video about using GEDmatch. In a nutshell GEDmatch will list more Matches (use One-to-Many utility); and has several admixture programs (ethnicity/geography of ancestors); and allows you to compare any two Matches to each other (use One-to-One), which is essential for Triangulation. It also lists names and emails for your Matches. The DNA basically tells you your Matches are your cousins – it’s then up to you to contact each one, share ancestry info, and determine your Common Ancestor(s).

      Like

    • There is also a Forum at Gedmatch, where you can ask questions. Just tell them you are a New Bee. They will understand. Also, the FTDNA Forum will answer your questions. You were asking about Gedmatch, but also read everything on the ISOGG site. Good luck.

      Like

      • Thank you. I did upload to FTDNA after reading this article. I’m determined to figure this out. lol

        Like

  9. Pingback: DNA Testing Strategy for Adoptees and People with Uncertain Parentage | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  10. I downloaded all of my FTDNA matches into Excel, sorted by cM and eliminated everything under 5.0, then sorted the way you recommended. I had previously sent all of my Ancestry and FTDNA to GEDMatch. Next I asked GEDMatch for a one-to-many and printed the full list of my 1,500 matches. I don’t need to concern myself with the lack of raw data from Ancestry since GEDMatch provides it. At that point things get tedious. Using the “two kits match” utility, I can get a list of other matches in a family group. I finish up that list with a one-to-one match and enter the data into the appropriate chromosome/start/end spot in my spreadsheet. While this sounds as if it makes sense to me, and the results look reasonable for known cousins, I would appreciate your review. I don’t want to spend hundreds of hours going down the wrong path, and you are the only person I trust with an answer.
    Thanks,
    Don Sheaffer

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    • Don

      You have properly done the collect and arrange steps. The next step is to compare (and it seems you’ve done some of that) and then group. In general you will wind up with two groups in each broad area of a chromosome – every segment in one group will match most of the other segments in that group; and likewise, all the segments in the other group match most of the segments in that group. No segment in one group should match any segments in the other group. A few segments, usually below 10cM, will not match either group – they are IBS. Over half of your 5cM segments will probably be IBS. These two Triangulated Groups are one on your maternal side (chromosome), and the other TG is on your paternal side (chromosome). To figure out which is which you need some genealogy – you need to determine the Common Ancestor for at least one segment. Once you know the CA, you know the side for that segment, and thus the side for the whole CA. And you know the other (overlapping) TG(s) are on the other side.

      If your ancestry is from Colonial America (or is AJ or other endogamous population), you are cautioned to confirm the CA of the TG with two or more other Matches (segments) in that TG.

      Each TG will come from a CA; and, as you develop your map of each chromosome, you’ll find a logical map for both chromosomes (maternal and paternal), with TGs “lined up”, “heel-to-toe” (adjacent to each other) from one end to the other on each of your 41 separate chromosomes (42 for females)

      Hope this helps…

      Like

  11. Thanks for this information. I am planning to upload my results as soon as possible. I have been wondering why all my cousin matches on Ancestry are from my father’s side. Could it be because my paternal grandparents were first cousins? How can I find matches from my mother’s side?

    Like

    • Pat – the only reason I can think of is if you mother (or her recent ancestors) were recent immigrants. Otherwise you should get about the same number of matches from both sides. All your Matches are displayed at AncestryDNA and GEDmatch – you cannot “find” any more unless you test (or transfer) your atDNA to FTDNA and/or test at 23andMe – where you’ll get lots of additional Matches.

      Like

  12. I have called FTDNA four times in last two days trying to install Family Finders and x-chromosomes. Each time I try and install, GEDmatch sends X(565) ERROR and says data is not in Chromosome-Position order. They also tell me to contact FTDNA to “get your raw DNA file replaced.” FTDNA is giving me runaround. They say they have not experienced this problem before and to contact GEDmatch.

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  13. Hi Jim
    I just got my DNA result from FamilyTreeDNA, I did the Y-DNA test only because I am interested in my father’s side heritage since I do not know who my father is. My mother have gone to her grave without telling me.
    Is there any site I can upload the result to so I can get more matches. The result on FamilyTreeDNA is very limited to say the least.

    Thank you for your time.

    Like

    • JJ: If you did Y-DNA testing only, you cannot upload your Y to Gedmatch. They only take atDNA (autosomal) which gives you cousin matches from each of your parents.

      Why not consider autosomal testing at AncestryDNA and then uploading to Gedmatch. Test at Ancestry because you get the trees of your dna matches which might help you find clues, especially if you know your mother’s ancestors (if your dna cousins are not related to your mother, then they are related to your father). You do not have to have a tree to participate. The trees that are well documented will be most valuable. Obviously, some of the trees are a joke……… Good luck.

      Like

      • Hi Caith My mom is a orphan from Poland and thats about all that I know, I am considering taking another test since the Y-DNA did not give me much to go after, I do not even have a match in US. What do you think of the difference between Ancestry and 23andme? I am trying to decide between the two.

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      • JJ: I have tested at Ancestry, FTDNA and 23andMe; and I still recommend AncestryDNA to do your autosomal testing because of the trees – for your particular case; but remember my prior caveats. Ancestry has dna tested more than 1 million people, more than each of the other two companies.

        Thank you, Jim, for allowing us to highjack your Blog.

        Like

  14. Hello Jim,
    I recently did an “In Common With” on one of my FTDNA results. The return was about 40+ matches on Chromosome #16. I then went to GedMatch and used the tier 1 triangulation tool and added another dozen plus names. I noticed that the two companies must use different algorithms since the starts and stops for the same people were slightly off-set from each other. After removing the duplicates, I ended up with right at 50 matches. Based on these returns, should I take it that the ICW of FTDNA can be considered a triangulation tool? Obviously, my next step is to begin the contact phase of identifying a Common Ancestor. I have identified a couple of CA’s on other chromosomes, but I would like to confirm my assumptions. If, out of the 50+ matches, I can identify a single match with a CA, with a good paper trail, can I assume the all 50+ of us have the same CA? Of course I will want to verify the low cM’s as possible IBS and not IBD.
    Your Padawan Learner
    Don Sheaffer

    Like

  15. Rae Jean, I have seen more than 4 trees with a son marrying his MOTHER. Many trees with brothers and sisters marrying. (Although according to a NA with whom I spoke, this was acceptable in earlier times). I have seen many, many dozens of trees with the parents younger than the offspring. And lastly, I have seen multiples of trees with a 200 year gap between generations.

    When I see that, it is a joke, and I laugh……….

    Yes, I make many mistakes, but not the above referenced.

    Like

    • And, last week one of my dna matches who is a post PhD had gg grandparents who had 2 sons with the same name and birthdate. The two sons (who were the same person) then had a DAUGHTER. I kindly contacted her with the mistake, we had a warm exchange, and I talked her into uploading to Gedmatch.

      Like

  16. I have an account with ancestry.com where I submitted my father’s dna. Him and I together are trying to find out who his great grandfather is. A friend of the family also submitted dna through our ancestry account to help us determine if he was possible cousins with my father which would have helped us determine if his great grandfather was the same as my father’s great grandfather. When ancestry came ack with dna results for our two dna mits we submitted, it was not clear if they were cousins or not. Then I was also told there is a possibility that they may be related but have different portions of dna that may not show them as matches even though they may share the same great grandfather. If I transfer their dna to gedmatch.com or ftdna would I find out more information on whether or not they are related? Or more info on who my fathers paternal side is? Thanks in advance for any help.

    Like

    • Absolutely! You will quickly see exactly which segments you share and how much it is. And others who match you both will have the same Common Ancestor. This may allow you to go even farther back.

      Like

    • Yes, plus there will be people who have tested with the other DNA companies (FTDNA, 23andMe, etc) that you will not see on ancestry.

      Like

  17. Hi Jim
    Thank-you for the website and info. I am finding it all a bit complicated, but do want to get my head round it all. I have had my DNA analysed on Ancestry.com and have uploaded this to gedmatch. I am trying to look for any clues to find a Maternal Grandfather, my late Mum never know who her Dad was, but I have a couple of names who may be likely candidates. I have been looking at matches for any connections with surnames of these candidates not having much luck. Do you think that any other genetic tests would be useful?
    I know its all a bit of a longshot. Any advice or help would be very much appreciated that could help my search for this missing relative. Thank-You Linda

    Like

    • Linda,
      Did your Mum have any brothers? If you can find an all male line from your maternal grandfather down to a living man, then Y-DNA is a powerful test to use.
      If not, you’ll want to squeeze every bit of evidence out of your atDNA that you can. On average about 1/4 of your Matches will be from each of your grandparents (or about 1/2 of the Matches on your Mum’s side). Study up on Triangulation, and then try to group your Match/segments – each group will come down a specific line to you – about 1/4 of them through your maternal grandfather. Other than grouping your Matches through Triangulation, the rest is pretty much genealogy.

      Jim

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      • Jim
        Thank-you for your speedy reply, unfortunately Mum had no brothers, so will read up on Triangulation. and grouping my matches. Thanks again.
        Linda

        Like

  18. Hello Jim,
    I find your “top ten” reasons and all the comments above from others to be very interesting. Several years ago I took the DNA test (autosomal) at Ancestry.com and have downloaded the results in a zip file.
    Question; although I have immense interest in using the DNA raw data to upload to GENMATCH, etc., and having all the analysis performed (with the primary objective of finding CA for my paternal line) I am hesitant to “go to school” on all the technical details and would like to know; is there a reputable organization or individual that would (for a fee) upload my DNA zip file & perform all the analysis and provide me with the results I am seeking? Would you recommend such an organization or individual?
    Thank you,
    Ted

    Like

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