Taking Results Further
Widen your search by making you DNA visible on more databases.
Where to take your DNA next
There are two websites I recommend taking your DNA to once you receive your results and exhaust the possibilities at AncestryDNA. And if you took a DNA test with 23andMe or FTDNA, this tutorial is still relevant. Read on!
Download your DNA data
Step one in making the most of your DNA is to download the raw file from the website of whichever service you chose.
Click the website below that you took your DNA test from for directions on how to download your DNA.
Upload your DNA to GEDmatch
GEDmatch is a FREE DNA database that allows you to upload your DNA from most popular tests and compare it against everyone else in the GEDmatch database. Now that you've downloaded your DNA file, you can upload it to GEDmatch. You are pretty much guaranteed to find new cousins!
Check out your matches on GEDmatch
Once your DNA is done processing at GEDmatch, you can start checking out your matches.
- Log into GEDmatch
- Click the One-to-Many Matches link
- Enter in your kit number and leave the other defaults alone
- Hit "Display Results"
You'll see a list of matches that may take a moment to load. Give it time, especially if you're on a slower connection. The list isn't as glamorous as Ancestry or profit-driven competitors, but the information provided is incredibly valuable.
Here's the key columns to pay attention to when you're just starting out:
- Autosomal: Total cM
- This is the total number of shared DNA centimorgans (cM) between you and your match. Think of centimorgans as a unit of measurement for DNA, just like an inch is a unit of measurement for distance. The bigger this number is, the more DNA you have in common.
- When DNA companies calculate your relationship to someone, they are translating this number into a percentage of shared DNA that coincides with an average expected share percentage for varying familial relationships.
- Autosomal: largest cM
- This is the longest matching unbroken DNA segment you have in common with your match. Most genealogists will tell you that anything under 7cM is insignificant.
- I like this number because that segment of DNA was passed down to you and your match from the same ancestor, unchanged, for however many generations you are apart. That's an unchanged piece of your ancestor that you both carry with you. How cool is that?!
- This number won't tell you how closely related you are to someone, but it is useful as you become more advanced in genetic genealogy and begin chromosome mapping.
- Autosomal: Gen
- This estimates the number of generations back that you share a common ancestor with your match. I've been told (and also found in my own experience) that this estimation isn't deeply reliable, but it's a place to start. Look for people with a Gen number of 3 or lower. They're your best matches.
- People are very liberal here. Some put their own name, some put the name of the person whose DNA it is, and others use screennames which mean virtually nothing to the rest of us. If you see a name, though, that's handy for addressing the person if you decide to contact them.
- Hooray, a way to contact your match! I don't recommend you spend much time on 4th cousin+ matches until you've exhausted other research. If you find anything in the 1-3 Gen, though, definitely reach out!
If you're a McKinnon or PEIslander...
Use my spreadsheets!!! Check 'em out here.
If you're willing to spend an extra $39...
You've already downloaded your DNA. If you did your test through Ancestry or 23andMe, you can also upload it to FTDNA.
The goal here is to find more matches who may not have used Ancestry/23andMe/Gedmatch. Be forewarned that family trees aren't quite as common on FTDNA (which I suppose is kind of ironic, considering the site name). You'll likely need to rely on contact with your matches to figure out common ancestors.
You can upload to FTDNA HERE.
And don't listen to that baloney about it being free. It's not free. If you want to "unlock all your matches" you have to pay. They'll let you upload your DNA for free, then they won't let you see all your matches. I'm not sure if that's because they think they'll have you hooked so you'll pay, or if it's because they have some other underhanded reason to incentivize you to upload your DNA. To be honest, I have a lot of gripes about FTDNA, but I'll save that for another time.