We know that it’s important to test at, or upload to, each DNA testing vendor. Every vendor has some people that aren’t in any other database.
If you don’t assure that your DNA, and that of your close relatives, is in each database, you’re cheating yourself out of information. Potentially very valuable information. Puzzle pieces you need.
It’s like searching for that lost item. It’s ALWAYS in the last place you look!
I’m sometimes asked how many matches I have in each database, so let’s take a look.
|Vendor||Number of Matches||Closest match*|
|LivingDNA||567||Predicted Second/Third Cousin|
|23andMe||1,803**||First Cousin Once Removed|
|Ancestry V2***||57,812||Half First Cousin|
|Ancestry V1***||103,516***||Same as above|
|GEDmatch****||3,000 and 200,000||Second Cousin|
*This is the closest match whose test I did not arrange. For example, I tested my mother and several close cousins. In other words, these are matches I would have found had I not tested family members.
** 23andMe restricts matches to 1500 without a yearly membership, which allows 5000ish matches. Memberships are only available for people who have taken the V5 health+ancestry version test. The match limits are 1500/5000+any person you have communicated with that would have otherwise rolled off your match list.
***I’ve included both of my Ancestry V1 and V2 test numbers because I tagged each one of the 6-8 cM segment matches on my Ancestry V1 test in order to prevent those people from being removed from my match list back in the summer of 2020. The Ancestry V2 test is the test without any special “preservation” tagging, so that is the number of matches I would have without having preserved those smaller matches.
****GEDmatch is not a testing vendor, but provides matching tools not available at all vendors. The matches found there have tested someplace else and may be included in the matches at the original vendor. The number of matches displayed at GEDmatch is 3,000 using the free version, and up to 200,000 in the subscription version, although the match list at the highest levels sometimes doesn’t load on some computers.
The Right Match
The right match is far more important than the total number of matches. Fishing in all the ponds is your best bet to find the matches you specifically need to achieve your genealogy goal or goals. You never know where the match you need has tested – and is waiting for you – so fish in all of the ponds.
You must test directly at both Ancestry and 23andMe, respectively, but you can upload your raw data file from either of those vendors to the other databases – all of whom accept free transfers. I wrote step-by-step DNA file download and upload instructions, here.
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DNA Purchases and Free Uploads
- FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
- MyHeritage DNA – Autosomal DNA test
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – Upload your DNA file from other vendors free
- AncestryDNA – Autosomal DNA test
- 23andMe Ancestry – Autosomal DNA only, no Health
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – Genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software – Genealogy software for your computer
- Newspapers.com – Search newspapers for your ancestors
- NewspaperArchive – Search different newspapers for your ancestors
- DNA for Native American Genealogy – by Roberta Estes, for those ordering the e-book from anyplace, or paperback within the United States
- DNA for Native American Genealogy – for those ordering the paperback outside the US
- Genealogical.com – Lots of wonderful genealogy research books
- Legacy Tree Genealogists – Professional genealogy research
Roberta, Thanks for the numbers. I have an unrelated question. About five years ago I gave a Turkish friend an Ancestry DNA test. We assumed that the results would be interesting as his family is very mixed with Turkish,
Cypriot and Bulgarian connections. Both of us were very surprised after I took his DNA to My Heritage and they have consistently suggested that he has 16% Sephardic DNA and 2% Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. They also suggest that he has 26% Greek and southern Italian heritage. The recent Ancestry rollout of ethnicity only suggests a small hunk of southern Italian but no Jewish background whatsoever. I thought that the Jewish markers were clear and easy to find. Kitty Cooper has heard that Ancestry ignores Sephardic ancestry. Any ideas or comments? I know that the Jewish and southern Italian suggestions are real, because he has many DNA cousins who could only be related to him from these ethnicities. thanks Bill
I would suggest transferring to FamilyTreeDNA. I think they are the best with Jewish heritage.
Did you transfer your DNA to Geneanet.org? It’s a bit like GEDmatch in that they don’t test but do take transfers and show matches. I’m curious what your experience w/re match count would be there. I have only 245 matches on Geneanet (and 17,714 on myHeritage for comparison). Not a lot on Geneanet but there are quite a few European relatives.
Hi Don. No, I haven’t.
you can also link your familytreedna dna to geni.
It’s interesting to see these numbers. I wish the vendors would give us basic graphs to show the basic breakdown of our matches. For example, a pie chart that show the percentages with 1 segment match, 2 segment match, 3 segment match, more than 2 segment match. Or, the percentage of matches in various cM ranges. MyHeritage kind of does this, but is very limited. On MyH, I get 12 close matches, and then all the rest of my matches, which is not very informative. I could use my match downloads to make the charts, something for the To Do list.
Why did you list the max number of matches at gedmatch instead of the actual numbers of matches ?
I had 3000 which is the free max and the other would not load, so I don’t know how many.
I think your comment about 23andme is incorrect, “+any person you have communicated with that would have otherwise rolled off your match list.”
It is more than communicated. You need to send a sharing invite. Anyone that you sent a sharing invite and that invite is still there on the match’s account or the match accepted the invite will not fall off your list. Anyone that you did not or could not send an invite may fall off your list. Also anyone that you sent an invite and the match deleted the invite may fall off the list.
Roberta, If you don’t mind me asking did you test at all these vendors or are some of these uploads?
I have tested at all the vendors, except I can’t remember for sure about Living DNA. I think I tested there directly too. I have also uploaded other kits to the vendors to compare the matching results. And I have taken multiple tests at 23andMe, Ancestry and FTDNA to compare versions. The numbers I have are the direct tests, not the uploads. I hope that helps.
It would be an interesting comparison if you showed the number of matches you have as a percentage of the total tests at each vendor
Thanks for this post and responses. I too have tested at all the 5 majors and uploaded to GEDmatch. My question is: Have you found any value in secondary testing with the three that you took multiple tests at? As a follow-up: What specifically were those valued takeaways and what would your recommendation be to others to replicate?
The only reason I tested directly was when a new chip was released or to see if there were matching differences. That was related to my blogging. I discovered minimal differences, so no, I don’t really recommend it.