Ancestry Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files

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.

Step 1

Sign in to your account at Ancestry and click on the DNA Results Summary link.

Step 2

Click on the Settings gear, at the far upper right hand corner of the summary page, just beneath your Ancestry user ID.

Step 3

Click on the link for “Download Raw DNA Data.”

Step 4

Enter your password and click on “I Understand,” after reading of course.

At that point, the confirm button turns orange – click there.

Step 5

Ancestry will send an e-mail to the e-mail address where you are registered with Ancestry. Check your inbox for that e-mail.


Still waiting…

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.

Step 6

Ahhh, it’s finally here.

Click on the green “Confirm Data Download” and do not close the window.

Step 7

Next, click on the green “Download DNA Raw Data.”

You’ll see the following confirmation screen.

Step 8

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

My recommendation, if you test at Ancestry, is to transfer your V1 results to MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch.

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 $.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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44 thoughts on “Ancestry Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files

  1. The Ancestry download instructions are great. Can you provide similar instructions for the rest of the downloads and uploads? I would really like to see the instructions for upload to GEDmatch. Enjoy your blog posts Roberta. Thanks!

    • Yes, this is useful, together with upload instructions for GEDmatch, it would make a great Word file to be able to email to a match who you’re trying to trianagulate with. Anything that keeps people from Googling GEDmatch is helpful, being able to have everything simple on one resource would be a strong encouragement to Ancestry matches who seem to be less than computer savvy, in my experience.

  2. I understand this process and I am am member of FTDNA. For me I found my Parental side of my family through There seems to be a problem with the DNA process algorithm’s. Since there are more and more families with different parent couples. The problem is now our cousins are now counted as half siblings and half cousins. I tried to use FTDNA but it just didn’t work for me. I found more family members through But again, They don’t take into consideration of half relatives. So I had to resort to using the shared cM project chart, by Blaine T. Bettinger.

    • Almost no companies list half-relationships. They list what seems to be the best fit for the right side of the shared-cM project chart. There are multiple relationships that are possible. It was either 23andMe or MyHeritage that has the option of updating the estimated relationship they give and putting in yours. FamilyTreeDNA will insert the relationship if you link it in your tree.

      • I understand your comment but here is the problem for your company. If I continued to use FTDNA, I would not have found my Paternal or Maternal side of the family. They all used Ancestry. I went from 3 close Maternal to 200 distant, which the shared DNA would be impossible to match. To over 400 relatives from 3700cM to 42 cM.

        • To be clear, it’s not my company. I’m not an employee either. My point is simply that serious genealogists need to be in the databases of the major testing companies because you never know who tested where. This article was focused towards people who tested at Ancestry and how to transfer elsewhere. I’ve found important matches in all of the databases, with perhaps the exception of 23andMe.

  3. The transfer update at FTDNA is $19, not $39. From the FTDNA website: “After transferring, you can unlock all Family Finder features, which include the Chromosome Browser, myOrigins, and ancientOrigins for only $19.” Easy mistake to make since it was $39 for so long. Bill

  4. Thanks so much for coming out with this series of articles! They’ll be a great resource for people who’d like to upload, but aren’t sure how to go about it. Now if only they’d use the same name/username on all sites, and connect their DNA data to a tree,..

  5. My sister took the My Heritage test, but it is so unreadable. No-one understands how to read it. She then called My Heritage to see if they could explain or shed some light on understanding it all. However, because they could not help my sister with understanding the results, they gave my sister her money back. Do you know of a more simpler way to read those results??

    • What didn’t she understand? There are two parts. Ethnicity is straightforward. Matching means you match someone and the “game” is to figure out your common ancestor.

  6. My cousin tested at Ancestry in June of this year, as I recall. He tried last week to upload his results to ftdna, but was unable to do so. A message from them tells him they are working on a compatibility problem, no time frame for fix.

  7. Step 1. Click on DNA – check. See the dropdown menu. What????
    I have never seen this. Nor has anyone I know who has tested in the past couple of years.
    We have to go via “Settings”.
    I think that you as a pioneer might have something different from the rest of us.
    Some other notably experienced bloggers have similar advice, but they apparently see what I see and also have to go via “Settings”.
    Otherwise, great article.

  8. At “Rootstech” in 2018 you were wearing a T-shirt that read “WHAT’S YOUR HAPLOGROUP” in sequins – I wrote & you sent me vendor’s info. I bought it & now others want one? Please send the info again??? I follow your blog faithfully & have tested mt/DNA at Family Tree DNA…

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  12. I’m very new to this and found this blog to be informative and non-biased….much appreciated…my problem is four sons and a wife and ‘no one’ used the same company so I’m trying to get everything organized at one site …I don’t know if its possible. My test are at Heritage…..Thanks for the blog I will be reading often

    • You can transfer everyone to MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch and they will have different matches in each place.

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  18. My sister tested with and I tested with 23 and me. I would like to compare results but am a bit confused, so could you give me a little advice ? Would it be easier fir one of us to retest? Thanks, DG

    • If you want to compare at one of those sites, yes. But you could both transfer to Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage or GedMatch for free. Of course there are people in each data base that aren’t in the others.

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  21. The format of the Ancestry raw DNA data does not look compatible with simple data analysis tools such as spreadsheets or a database. Are there ways of downloading just the matches, for instance, or for processing the Raw data into a suitable format for importing to other applications rather than putting it into another genealogy product?

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  23. I have the V2 version of the Ancestry autosomal test. I have an old Family Finder test at FTDNA. I tried to order a retest of the Family Finder, but was advised “it is not allowed.” Do I have to create a new account at FTDNA to do this?

    • You don’t need to retest. But to answer your question, yes, to have two Family Finder tests would necessitate a second kit be ordered which means a second account.

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