In this Upload-Download Series, we’ll cover each major vendor:
- How to download raw data files from the vendor
- How to upload raw data files to the vendor, if possible
- Other mainstream vendors where you can upload this vendor’s files
Uploading TO Ancestry
This part is easy with Ancestry, because Ancestry doesn’t accept any other vendor’s files. There is no ability to upload TO Ancestry. You have to test with Ancestry if you want results from Ancestry.
Downloading FROM Ancestry
In order to transfer your autosomal DNA file to another testing vendor, or GedMatch, for either matching or ethnicity, you’ll need to first download the file from Ancestry.
Sign in to your account at Ancestry and click on the DNA Results Summary link.
Click on the Settings gear, at the far upper right hand corner of the summary page, just beneath your Ancestry user ID.
Click on the link for “Download Raw DNA Data.”
Enter your password and click on “I Understand,” after reading of course.
At that point, the confirm button turns orange – click there.
Ancestry will send an e-mail to the e-mail address where you are registered with Ancestry. Check your inbox for that e-mail.
If the e-mail doesn’t arrive shortly, check your spam folder. If you’ve changed e-mail addresses, check to be sure your new one is registered with Ancestry. That’s on the same Settings page. If all else fails, request the e-mail again.
Ahhh, it’s finally here.
Click on the green “Confirm Data Download” and do not close the window.
Next, click on the green “Download DNA Raw Data.”
You’ll see the following confirmation screen.
At the bottom of the page, above, if you’re on a PC, you’ll see the typical file download box that asks you if you want to open or save. Save the file as a name you can find later when you want to upload to another site.
The file name will be “dna-data-2018-07-31” where the date is the date you downloaded the file. I would suggest adding the word Ancestry to the front when you save the file on your system.
Most vendors want an unopened zip file, so if you want to open your file, first copy it to another name. Otherwise, you’ll have to download again.
That’s it, you’re done!
Ancestry File Transfers to Other Vendors
Ancestry testing falls into two different categories. V1 tests taken before May of 2016 and V2 tests taken after May 2016. Tests processed during May 2016 could be either version.
The difference between V1 and V2 files is that Ancestry changed the chips they use to test and different DNA positions are tested, resulting in a file of a different format.
If you don’t remember when you tested, make a copy of your Ancestry file using a different name, like, “Opened Ancestry file 7-31-2018.” Then just click to open the zip file.
The first four rows of the file will say something like this:
#AncestryDNA raw data download
#This file was generated by AncestryDNA at: 08/11/2017 07:23:49 UTC
#Data was collected using AncestryDNA array version: V1.0
#Data is formatted using AncestryDNA converter version: V1.0
This is a version 1 (V1) file.
A version 2 file will say V2.0.
Your upload results to other vendors’ sites will vary in terms of both matching and ethnicity accuracy based on your Ancestry version number, as follows:
|From below to >>>>>>>>>>>||Family Tree DNA Accepts **||MyHeritage Accepts***||23andMe Accepts*||GedMatch Accepts ****|
|Ancestry before May 2016 (V1)||Yes, fully compatible||Yes, fully compatible||No||Yes|
|Ancestry after May 2016 (V2)||Yes, partly compatible||Yes, fully compatible||No||Yes|
*Note that 23andMe earlier in 2018 allowed a one-time transfer from Ancestry, but people who transferred results did not receive matches from 23andMe.
**Note that the transfer to Family Tree DNA and matching is free, but advanced tools including the chromosome browser and ethnicity require a $19 unlock fee. That fee is less expensive than retesting, but V2 customers should consider retesting to obtain fully compatible matching and ethnicity results. V2 tests typically receive only the closest 20-25% of matches they would receive if they tested directly at Family Tree DNA.
***MyHeritage utilizes a technique known as imputation to achieve compatibility between different vendors files. The transfer and tools are free, but without a subscription you can’t fully utilize all of the MyHeritage benefits available.
****I’m not sure exactly how GedMatch compensates for the V1 versus V2 differences, but they can handle both data file types. Most people don’t take both tests, but I was conducting an experiment and have uploaded both V1 and V2 tests.
A quick survey of GedMatch matches to my Ancestry V1 and Ancestry V2 kits shows that of my first 249 (125 V2, 124 V1) matches, I have 3 V1 tests that don’t have a corresponding match to a person on the V2 kit, and 5 V2 kits that don’t have a corresponding V1 kit match. That’s roughly a 6% nonmatch rate between Ancestry V1 and V2 kits. I would presume that as the genealogical and genetic distance increases with more distant matches, so would the percentage of non-matches because the segment size is smaller with more distant matches, so there is less matching DNA to have the opportunity to match in the first place.
Testing and Transfer Strategy
An Ancestry V1 test is entirely compatible at Family Tree DNA, but with a V2 test, because the testing platform that Ancestry uses is only about 20-25% compatible with the Family Tree DNA test, you’ll only receive your closest 20-25% matches. Family Tree DNA can’t match on those smaller segments if you don’t test on a compatible platform, so please do.
If you have Ancestry V2 results, transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch but retest at Family Tree DNA. The cost difference at Family Tree DNA between the $19 unlock and a new Family Finder test is $60, for a total of $79 when the tests aren’t on sale. When they are on sale, it’s less. Right now, the tests are only $59.
You never know which match is going to break down that brick wall, and it would be a shame to miss it because you transferred rather than retested.
Matching and ethnicity is free with a transfer to MyHeritage, but you won’t receive the full potential benefit of SmartMatching without a subscription, as free trees are limited to 250 people and genealogical records aren’t included without a subscription. My subscription has been well worth the $.
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