Family Tree DNA 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
  • Other mainstream vendors where you can upload this vendor’s files

You can both upload autosomal data files from another vendor to Family Tree DNA, and download from Family Tree DNA.

Uploading TO Family Tree DNA

Step 1

On the main Family Tree DNA page, click on “Upload DNA Data,” at the top.

Step 2

Select either “Autosomal DNA” or Nat Geo’s Geno 2.0 data. Hint, the current version of Genographic data won’t work. The current version is processed on the Helix chip as of November 2016.

Step 3

If you are not transferring from Nat Geo, go to Step 4.

If you are transferring a Nat Geo 2.0 kit, proceed to enter your National Geographic Kit Number. If you don’t know your kit number, click on “Where do I find my Geno ID Code.”

Step 4

These instructions in Step 4 focus on uploading your autosomal DNA file from other vendors, not Genographic 2.0.

Complete the form. If you already have tested Y or mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA, select “Already have a Family Tree DNA account,” so that your uploaded test can be integrated with your existing account. If you have already taken the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA, there’s no need to upload your autosomal DNA from any other vendor.

Step 5

Next, select the vendor test that you are going to upload. Uploads accepted include:

  • 23andMe V3 and V4 – tests taken after December 2010 and before August 2017. The V5 chip, in use at 23andMe since August 2017 is not compatible.
  • Ancestry V1 – tests taken until May 2016.
  • Ancestry V2 – tests taken since May 2016
  • MyHeritage – fully compatible, Family Tree DNA is the lab that does their testing

If you select “MyHeritage,” you will be redirected to MyHeritage to log in and select your kit for transfer.

If you select either 23andMe or Ancestry DNA, you will be directed to either drag and drop your data file from that vendor or browse to upload.

Family Tree DNA provides a step by step guide for accessing your raw data files from those vendors by clicking on “How to I access my raw data files?,” above the grey transfer box.

You will be assigned a Family Tree DNA kit number. After your results are processed, you can sign in to see your matches.

Compatibility

The 23andMe V3, V4 and the Ancestry V1 kits are fully compatible, meaning that you will get the same matches at Family Tree DNA using those transfer kits as you would if you tested at Family Tree DNA. However, the Ancestry V2 kit is only partially compatible, meaning that you will only receive 20-25% of the matches by transferring a V2 test that you would receive if you tested at Family Tree DNA. Ancestry changed their chip in May of 2016.

If you want all of your possible matches, and who doesn’t, you should test at Family Tree DNA instead of uploading a V2 Ancestry test.

Step 6

The transfer to Family Tree DNA is free and so is viewing your matches along with basic tools. However, for additional tools, such as ethnicity and the chromosome browser, you’ll need to purchase the $19 unlock. This is a great value, as compared to retesting at $79, or sometimes less when on sale.

You will be prompted for the “Unlock” purchase if you click on either the Chromosome Browser button, the Ethnicity button or other advanced tools on your dashboard after your results are finished.

Downloading FROM Family Tree DNA

Step 1

To download your raw autosomal DNA file from Family Tree DNA, click on the orange “Download Raw Data” link at the bottom of your Family Finder section on your dashboard.

Alternatively, you can select the “Download Raw Data” option at the top of the page under myDNA, “Family Finder.”

Step 2

You will be given the option of downloading your Build 36 and Build 37 raw data files.

Different vendors request different types of files.

  • GedMatch – Build 36 Raw Data Concatenated
  • MyHeritage – Build 37 Raw Data Concatenated

Other vendors may request different file formats, and the above vendors may change over time.

Click the arrow beside the version you need.

Step 3

Save the file in a manner that you’ll recognize. The file name will be something like “37_R_Estes_Chrom_Autoso_20180818.gz”. I append the word FTDNA in front of the 37 so there is no question which vendor’s file this is. The last several digits are the date.

Family Tree DNA File Transfers TO Other Vendors

You can upload Family Tree DNA results to other vendors, as follows:

From below to >>>>>>>>>>> Ancestry Accepts MyHeritage Accepts 23andMe Accepts GedMatch Accepts
Family Tree DNA No Yes No Yes

Neither Ancestry nor 23andMe accept uploads from any vendor.

Family Tree DNA Transfers FROM Other Vendors

You can upload files from other vendors to Family Tree DNA, as follows:

From Ancestry  From MyHeritage  From 23andMe  From Living DNA
Family Tree DNA Accepts Yes Yes V3, V4 No

Testing and Transfer Strategy

Transferring to Family Tree DNA is always free, and you can see your matches. In order to view your ethnicity and use advanced tools like the chromosome browser, you’ll need to purchase the $19 unlock.

Remember that while Ancestry and MyHeritage both have records subscriptions to sell you, Family Tree DNA doesn’t. For Tier 1 tools, GedMatch requires a subscription. At Family Tree DNA, you pay a one time fee to unlock all of their tools. Every company needs to be profitable to stay in business and develop new tools, and each company has a different product pricing model.

My testing/transfer recommendations are as follows relative to Family Tree DNA:

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. I wrote a step-by-step guide about how to download from Ancestry here, including how to tell if you have a V1 or V2 format test.

    • If you have Ancestry V2 results, you can transfer to MyHeritage and GedMatch but I recommend retesting 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. 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.
    • If you test at Family Tree DNA, transfer your results to MyHeritage for free. Matching and ethnicity is free with a transfer to MyHeritage, but you won’t receive the full potential benefit of tree matching with other testers without a subscription.
    • If you test at MyHeritage, transfer your results to Family Tree DNA for free.
    • If you test at 23andMe and have the V3 or V4 test, transfer to both Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage. If you have the 23andMe V5 test, retest at Family Tree DNA and transfer those results to MyHeritage and GedMatch.

Have fun!

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Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

I provide Personalized DNA Reports for Y and mitochondrial DNA results for people who have tested through Family Tree DNA. I provide Quick Consults for DNA questions for people who have tested with any vendor. I would welcome the opportunity to provide one of these services for you.

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I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

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12 thoughts on “Family Tree DNA Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files

  1. Thanks for this article and the future similar articles. It will help many folks.

    Will you eventually also have a guide for uploading to LivingDNA? I notice that they have choices for after you’ve registered, and then start the upload process. See https://www.livingdna.com/help-centre/332/uploading-data
    That “Uploading Data” page shows choices for whether you are uploading for yourself or someone else, including a deceased person. I’m considering whether I should upload my late father’s file (a 23andMe v. 3 file, which was transferred to FTDNA and GEDmatch), since he had paternal Irish ancestry, and LivingDNA seems to have more finely tuned results for Ireland and British Isles. Even if they don’t, at least there may be more Irish people who have tested with them (correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption).

    Of course, I just noticed this note on the upload page:
    “Please note that uploading your autosomal raw data to the One Family project does not provide genetic ancestry breakdown or mtDNA/yDNA results, therefore it is not a substitute for a Living DNA test.”
    I understand about the “mtDNA/yDNA” results, but wonder why they wouldn’t provide a “genetic ancestry breakdown,” which I assume is similar to the other companies’ biogeographical/ethnicity breakdowns.

    • They have just started this and it’s extremely confusing, to say the least. I won’t be writing about it until after what they are doing is clear and after I’ve done the major companies.

  2. I was under the impression that a 23andme V4 test suffered from roughly the same level of FTDNA incompatibility as the Ancestry V2 test, unlike what you state in this article.

  3. In case this helps anyone, I have recently uploaded my FTDNA raw data to LivingDNA in the hope of getting more UK matches & “fishing in another pond”.

    LivingDNA are teaming up with FindMyPast.co.uk (a major genealogy website in the UK) – see this discussion thread for more info:

    http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=797816.0

    LivingDNA say they accept raw data from 23&me, MyHeritage & FTDNA.
    I had to use an unzipping program to send the raw data file across but it
    was straightforward after that.

    I’m guessing they are offering free entry into their matching portal as they need to build up their database. It looks like any add-ons e.g. ethnicity will be charged for.

    Here’s the message I got once I’d uploaded my data:

    “By uploading your DNA file to Living DNA, you will have the option to participate in our One Family, One World project, as well as Family Networks and your unique ethnicity results. To say thank you for your support, each uploader from now until October 31st, 2018 will soon be able to choose to see how they match and connect to other Living DNA participants. This feature is rolling out to small groups of users at a time, starting August 8th, 2018”.

  4. Now that MyHeritage can transfer raw DNA data from the V5 chip that 23 and Me uses, and that MyHeritage and FTDNA are partners, one would assume that at some point FTDNA would also be able to accept raw DNA data from 23 and Me V5 chip? Are you aware of any such information?

    Thank you

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  6. I have tested with FTDNA. When uploading my DNA data to MyHeritage several months ago, I used the “Build 37 Autosomal Raw Data” file, NOT the concatenated one as you suggest here. Do you know whether this will result in significant distortions or omissions in my match results?

    When I contacted MyHeritage with this question a while ago, their response was only that their matching program seemed to be working satisfactorily with the data that I had uploaded. However the person responding did not seem to be particularily familiar with this issue.

    Thanks,

    • Do you have any X chromosome matches? That’s the difference. You can easily upload a new file and delete the old one.

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