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.

DNA Vendor Transfer Chart 2019

Click on image to enlarge.

Caveats and footnotes as follows:

1. After May 2016, the Ancestry test is only partly compatible, meaning you receive your closest matches (about 20-25% of the total) but won’t receive distant matches due to chip incompatibility. However, beginning in April 2019, when Family Tree DNA implemented the Illumina GSA chip, Ancestry files are receiving all matches.

2. The 23andMe December 2010 (V3) version is fully compatible. December 2013-August 2017 (V4) and August 2017 (V5) tests are partly compatible meaning you receive your closest matches (about 20-25% of the total) but won’t receive distant matches due to chip incompatibility. However, beginning in April 2019, when Family Tree DNA implemented the Illumina GSA chip, 23andMe V4 and V5 files are receiving all matches.
3. GedMatch has been working to resolve autosomal matching issues between vendor’s chips. Patience is a key word.
4. LivingDNA does not yet have full blown matching (I have one match), which has been in the testing phase for months, and has recently changed chip vendors.
5. Customer must extract the file using a file utility before it can be uploaded. LivingDNA indicates that they are working on a simpler solution.
6. Files transferred to LivingDNA must be in build 37 format.
4-12-2019 update – please note that MyHeritage does not accept 23andMe V2 files, only V3, V4 and V5.


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
  • 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.



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Thank you so much.

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31 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.

  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!

    • 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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