DNA Testing and Transfers – What’s Your Strategy?

The landscape of genetic genealogy is forever morphing.

I’m providing a quick update as to which vendors support file transfers from which other vendors in a handy matrix.

Come join in the fun!

Testing and Transfer Strategy

Using the following chart, you can easily plan a testing and transfer strategy.

Transfers Dec 2019

Click image to enlarge

  1. After May 2016, V2, if no speculative matches, reupload or retest
  2. Dec. 2010 – Dec. 2013 V3 fully compatible, Dec. 2013 – Aug. 2017 V4 reupload or retest, Aug. 2017 and later V5 compatible
  3. GedMatch has been working to resolve matching issues between vendors’ chips, autosomal only, no Y or mitochondrial
  4. LivingDNA does not have functional matching, has recently changed chip vendors, transfers do not receive ethnicity or ancestry results
  5. Customer must extract file before can upload (changing soon to be auto-extract)
  6. Files must be in build 37 format
  7. Autosomal transfers are free, but payment for advanced tools is required at most vendors
  8. If tested at MyHeritage after May 7, 2019 AND transfer your MyHeritage file within 2 yeras of receiving your results.


My recommendations are as follows, and why:

Transfer Costs

Autosomal transfers and matching are free at the vendors who accept transfers, but payment for advanced tools is required.

  • Family Tree DNA – $19 one-time unlock fee for advanced tools
  • MyHeritage – $29 one-time fee for advanced tools or a subscription, which you can try for free, here
  • GedMatch – many tools free, but for Tier 1 advanced tools, $10 per month

All great values!

Please note that as vendors change testing chips and file formats, other vendors who accept transfers will need time to adapt. I know it’s frustrating sometimes, but it’s a sign that technology is moving forward. The good news is that after the wait, if there is one, you’ll have a brand new group of genealogy matches – many holding clues for you to decipher.

I’m in all of the databases, so see you there.

-Updated December 10, 2019



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Thank you so much.

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34 thoughts on “DNA Testing and Transfers – What’s Your Strategy?

  1. My parents and I tested with AncestryDNA first as it is the largest database out there. That and like you said they don’t allow uploads. I ended up following friends’ advice to “cast a wide net” by uploading to GEDmatch, Myheritage, LivingDNA, FTDNA and 23andme. 23andme was only on DNA day and I couldn’t see matches. I kind of regret that one. It’s a shame because I know of two cousins on there and I can’t see how they match. They also can’t see me. I know they are there as they told me via e-mail or in person. So, it seemed really pointless to upload there. For me anyway. I have yet to test at 23andme. I don’t know if I will.

    What is your take on DNAland? I keep hearing about it. I haven’t uploaded anything there. I’m kind of hesitant as I covered pretty much all the bases.

    • DNALand is a transfer site and if you’ve tested at the vendors, you won’t find new matches there.

      • Thanks! =D I don’t seem to have any matches on LivingDNA. Might be because not many of my matches uploaded. It’s all right, though.

    • Thank you for this article! I am interested in knowing what can be done with the CSV file from national genographic in terms of gleaning more information from it if possible. I also wondered if you could suggest any resources for learning more about mtDNA. Thanks so much!

      • Unfortunately, there’s not much more to be done with the file from Nat Geo. Have you looked at the mtDNA articles on this blog? Just type mitochondrial in the search box.

        • Thanks Roberta, I will do that. I’ve worked with the FTDNA Y DNA csv data files and wondered if a similar thing could be done with the csv data files from helix.

        • If you have tested with NAT GEO, they are going away the end of this year or Next year for sure. (2019 or 20) check their site. They posted about it a few months ago. NO longer able to transfer their files to other sites. (11 18 2019)

  2. Very timely article. I manage a number of DNA samples on Ancestry and am in the process of transferring to Family Tree DNA . How do I tell if the tests I have are pre or post 2013 ? I keep several kits on hand and guess i will need to start dating them.

    • Sometimes if you open the file in a text format it will say in the first couple rows if it’s V1 or V2. Before you open it, save it to another file name because I think they require an unopened file to upload.

  3. So if I uploaded my Ancestry file to LivingDNA back when they were asking for people with a lot of German ancestors. I’m thinking it was about a year ago that I uploaded it. But the Ancestry test was early in 2017, then it would have been the wrong chip? I don’t have any matches, but then lots of people don’t. They haven’t indicated that anything was wrong. Would I be better off to upload my 23andMe results from about a year ago? Thanks

    • They simply aren’t ready yet. I tested AT Living DNA and have only one match. Just give it more time. At this point, I don’t think it matters at all. Do be sure you’re opted in for matching though.

      • Yes, I did opt in. I keep checking ever so often. My husband’s was uploaded there too. He also has no matches. He’s gotten the ethnicity break down, which I didn’t. His was uploaded when FindMyPast was first involved. I had hoped his Ireland break down would be more than it was. Trying to find where in Ireland his paternal 3rd great grandfather was born. (Y-DNA didn’t help on that.) He had lots of break down in England but we know most of that on his mother’s side. Thanks!

        • did you check on the FTDNA site for the surname group project? How many others did he match with? If any. Go to home page, bottom of page, click on Group Projects, Search for surname of interest, click through to page with DNA results on left panel. Click either Classic or Colorized if your admin has set a public chart. Is in Haplo Group and STR order. If you tested with them that is, should be on the chart. If not, should have all his matches on his personal account Y DNA list. Good to do Family Finder if have not done it yet. Otherwise, can share your ANCESTRY or other DNA site to their site for autosomal matching. Be sure to share to GEDMATCH site. Does define the ethnic breakdown.

          • Yes, he’s in the Coleman project on FTDNA. No matches at Y-37 or Y-67. Yes, he’s on Family Finder and has matches there. I need to call FTDNA again and have them put the 2 accounts together. I tried once before with no luck. He tested first at Ancestry, then at 23andMe. His Ancestry results were uploaded to GEDmatch, FTDNA, MyHeritage and LivingDNA. Still no matches at LivingDNA. I checked yesterday. Three of his sisters tested on 23andMe. They are also on GEDmatch, and I’ve done visual phasing with the 4 of them and been able to assign each segment to their grandparents to help with finding more Coleman matches.

    • I didn’t mention Geni or Wikitree because they aren’t comparing for matches. You don’t upload your entire DNA file, only enter results of haplogroups and indicate that you’ve tested. That’s different. I do use both sides to discover who has tested from the lines I’m interested in though.

      • I think you’ll find that on Geni you can upload the DNA File. I have uploaded my autosumnal DNA data and have received to date 80 DNA matches.

  4. In your first paragraph in the email sent April 9, 2019 the email states that “After May 2016, the Ancestry test is only partly compatible, meaning you receive your closet matches . . .”. What are closet matches? I have never seen this term used with respect to genealogy except possibly for those folks who want to, or have come out of the closet.

  5. Hello Roberta

    So the question left hanging is …….

    Should we go back to advising people to test with AncestryDNA and rely on an upload to FTDNA for autosomal, but still use FTDNA for mt and Y testing?

    Put another way; are you telling us that the AncestryDNA test is now effectively compatible (enough) with the FTDNA Family Finder test?

    If this is not so; how come we now see so many FF matches when uploading recent AncestryDNA tests?

    ……. and; what about the compatibility of other vendors tests?

    • It appears that the new transfers are more compatible – I suspect with the imputation required for their new GSA chip. I have not been able to compare an Ancestry test against a new one at FTDNA to see if they are fully compatible but based on the distance of Ancestry matches, it looks promising.

  6. Hello Roberta,
    Do you know what is happening with MyHeritage? It doesn`t accept the new FTDNA files. The ones they are giving these days, with the new chip.

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  8. 2019 UPDATE: Unfortunately it isn’t possible to transfer FTDNA raw data to myheritage anymore because they changed the Chromosome 37 build. Does somebody know if myheritage is working on a solution? (Gedmatch manged to integrate it.)

  9. Roberta,

    I’ve been working through your very helpful information but I’m still perplexed about one thing. I’ve tested with both Ancestry (post 2017) and Family Tree. I want to upload to GedMatch to try and tease out a Native American GGG-grandmother. Which vendor’s data would be best?


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