Ancestry Destroys Irreplaceable DNA Database

fire

In spite of petitions and letters and pleas, from their customers, from the genealogy community and from the leaders in genetic genealogy, Ancestry did exactly what they said they would do – they deleted the Y and mtDNA data bases and in effect, destroyed the contents – tens of thousands of irreplaceable records, gone, forever.

In other words, they burned the courthouse of the County DNA.

Worse yet, several years ago, in 2007, Ancestry had acquired the DNA results of the customers of Relative Genetics and incorporated them into their Y and mtDNA database.   So the results of testing at two companies from the earliest days of genetic genealogy are gone – poof – up in smoke – not available for comparison or searching – the lynchpin of genetic genealogy.

It’s simply beyond me how a company that makes their living from rare historic records, like the census, for example, could be the one lighting the torch on something so valuable as a searchable database containing irreplaceable genetic data.  Many of the early testers are deceased now but through their DNA tests that identified their lineage, their legacy could live on and benefit all genealogists.  Some of those people were the end of their line.

I still can’t believe Ancestry did this.  It’s unfathomable.  Unthinkable.  Unbelievable.

But they did.

I won’t even begin on the topics of responsibility, stewardship and ethics.  It’s pointless.

Ancestry announced their intention to do so in early June, giving people in essence three months to retrieve their data or search the data base.  A few days later, Ancestry suffered a denial of service attack which broke the search function of the data base.  They never repaired that function, so, in essence, other than retrieving your own results, the data base had been non-functional since mid-June.  They extended the deadline to the end of September, but that mattered little since the data base wasn’t operational.

Today, October 1, I checked to see if the data base was in fact, gone, and it is.  We had held out hope to the very end that Ancestry could be persuaded to reconsider, or sell, or combine their results with the Sorenson data base they also maintain (as a function of their Sorenson purchase contract) – something – anything to salvage the resource – but no dice.

Ancestry did do one thing however.  If you tested your Y or mtDNA or hand entered results previously, you can still download or print your own data.  Any matching or other capabilities are gone and in their place, an ad, of course, for their autosomal DNA test….

ancestry download y2

 

100 thoughts on “Ancestry Destroys Irreplaceable DNA Database

  1. For crying out loud, Robert, this database represented a discontinued product! Every single match that this product would generate had already occurred. Because the product was discontinued, no further matches to Ancestry users would ever be generated or uncovered no matter how long you wait! In other words, all the collaborators you will ever find from those products have already been identified, and you know who they are! Why would you ever need to search this database again if you’re never going to find any new matches?? If you wanted new matches from these tests, you should have downloaded your results file and ported it to another online service where it can remain searchable and where you might actually find new matches. I’m not defending Ancestry’s choice to delete this data base, but we don’t need alarmist muck-a-muck either!

    • Actually, even though Ancestry had stopped selling that test, people still were getting new matches because Ancestry allowed people who tested at other companies to enter their data. The more disturbing aspect of this is that many people who tested at Ancestry are now deceased, and may have been their end of line. As long as the data base was accessible for searching, you could find at least that info, and now you can’t. Hopefully Ancestry will reconsider and find an alternative.

    • @Barry….. Yes, I am one of those people who had a Project on their site….
      If you think that I am an alarmist … then consider my time and effort in setting up the site and getting people tested… And yes I lost a lot of data .. some of those members are now deceased.

      Not to even mention.. I spent good money for a service and data that was trashed WITH NO CONSIDERATION FOR MY COMPENSATION….

      As a Project administrator .. I know what I lost and paid for …
      Dont think I will consider AncestryDNA… when they may also think that it too , is no longer as profitable as, their objective.

  2. Are you going to correct the incorrect information that you delivered in this blog? The Y-DNA and mtDNA genetic results are still available to those who took the test by logging into their DNA account on Ancestry. Those results were never destroyed.

    • There is no incorrect information in this article. I said very clearly in the article that individual results were still available. However, the data base used for comparison is no longer available. Comparison is the power of DNA testing.

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  7. I am confused by your lead and your close which contradict each other. I am sure you are just leaving out some salient details.

    To wit: You said “the Y and mtDNA” data were irretrievably destroyed but, at the end, you close by saying you can request your own set if that data. How could they possibly provide your own data if all data was permanently destroyed?

    Perhaps you are referring to interelationship linkage/analysys/access or data sourced from other companies? I am sure there is a story here but not as worded. Pethaps you can resubmit a revised, more explicit article clarifying what data items are truly destroyed to the degree it cannot be retieved by any person, their submitter/owner, family member, government, group, agency, NSA, or, the most evil of all, companies and businesses.

    Thanks for your zeal.
    I look forward to the revised edition.

  8. This is a truly sad outcome. I was just about to order a DNA kit from Ancestry.com until realizing they do not provide Y-DNA profiling. As every researcher knows, surnames have historically passed from father to son. Surname based research requires Y-DNA information. This is about as fundamental as things get in the world of historical genealogy. Genetic circles do not help my team of researchers who are looking into the pedigrees of the early Norman families at CrispinCousins. Must say this decision from Ancestry.com is beyond bizarre and doesn’t even make business sense. Family Tree DNA is among the obvious beneficiaries.

  9. I got excited from an older post at FTDNA that Ancestry had Y-DNA results that I could possibly enter and compare. As an adopted person looking for hints, this seemed pretty cool – another pond outside of Ysearch or FTDNA in which to fish. But alas… I’m an Ancestry.com customer since 2008, but only recently waded into DNA testing (at Ancestry, 23andMe, and FTDNA). This database destruction is rather sad.

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