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 23andMe
This part is easy with 23andMe, because 23andMe doesn’t accept any other vendor’s files. There is no ability to upload TO 23andMe. You have to test with 23andMe if you want results from 23andMe.
Downloading FROM 23andMe
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 23andMe.
Download Step 1
Sign on to your account at 23andMe.
Under your name at the upper right-hand corner of your page, by clicking on the little circle with your initials, you’ll see “Browse Raw Data.” Click there.
Download Step 2
You’ll see “Your Raw Data.” Click on the blue download link.
Download Step 3
On the Download Raw Data page, scroll down towards the bottom until you see “Request your raw data download.”
Click on Submit request.
Download Step 4
You’ll see the following message saying an e-mail will be sent to you.
Download Step 5
A few minutes later, an e-mail will arrive that says this:
Click on the green button in the e-mail which will take you back to 23andMe to sign in.
Download Step 6
After you sign in, you’ll be immediately at the download page and will see the following.
Your raw data file will be downloaded to your computer where you’ll need to store it in a location and by a name that you can find.
The file name will be something like “genome_Roberta_Estes_v2_v3_Full_xxxxxxxx” where the xs are a long number. I would suggest adding the word 23andMe 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.
23andMe File Transfers to Other Vendors
23andMe files can be in one any one of four formats:
- V2 – the earliest tests taken at 23andMe. V2 test takers were offered an upgrade to V3.
- V3 – V3 files beginning December 2010 through December 2013
- V4 – V4 files beginning December 2013 through August 2017
- V5 – V5 files beginning August 2017 through present
The changes in the files due to chip differences sometimes cause issues with transfers to other vendors who utilize other testing chips.
Your upload results to other vendors’ sites will vary in terms of both matching and ethnicity accuracy based on your 23andMe version number, as follows:
|From below to >>>>>>>||Family Tree DNA Accepts *||MyHeritage Accepts**||GedMatch Accepts ***||Ancestry Accepts||LivingDNA Accepts ****|
|23andMe V3||Yes, fully compatible||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|23andMe V4||Yes, partly compatible||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
* The transfer to Family Tree DNA and matching is free, but advanced tools including the chromosome browser and ethnicity require a one-time $19 unlock fee. That fee is less expensive than retesting, but V4 customers should consider retesting to obtain fully compatible matching. V4 tests won’t receive all of the distant matches that they would if they tested at Family Tree DNA
** MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA use the same testing chip, but MyHeritage utilizes a technique known as imputation to achieve compatibility between different vendors files. The transfer and matching is free, but advanced tools require a one-time $29 unlock fee unless you are a MyHeritage subscriber. You can read about the various options here.
***GedMatch recently transitioned to their Genesis platform and is still working on matching between multiple vendors highly disparate chips with little overlapping test regions. Patience is key. Matching is free, but the more advanced features require a Tier 1 subscription for $10 per month.
**** LivingDNA accepts files, but their matching is still in an early testing phase. They have also just changed DNA testing chips so the net effect is unknown. I will review their features later in 2019.
23andMe Testing and Transfer Strategy
My recommendation, if you’ve tested at 23andMe, depending on your test version, is as follows:
- V2 – Upgrade (retest) at 23andMe to newer test version.
- V3 – Transfer to Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and GedMatch
- V4 or V5 – Test at either Family Tree DNA or MyHeritage and transfer to the other one. 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.
Step by Step Transfer Instructions
I wrote step by step transfer instructions for:
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