DNA Do-Over: Downloading and Uploading Your DNA Test Data

Genealogy author and educator Thomas MacEntee shares a comprehensive guide to downloading DNA test data from one company and uploading it to another company.
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A Guide to Downloading and Uploading Your DNA Test Data

NOTE: You can download the PDF version of this article HERE.

So you’ve taken a DNA test from one of the major DNA testing companies that offer services for genealogy and family history research. What should you do once you receive your results? Here’s how to set up an action plan for downloading your DNA test data and then selecting another platform to which you can upload that same data:

DNA Test Data Action Plan

  1. Download DNA Test Data in .zip file format.
  2. Backup DNA Test Data file.
  3. Review DNA testing sites that allow DNA Test Data uploads. Also read Terms & Conditions and understand a) what you can do with your data on their site; b) what they can do with your data on their site; and c) if there is a fee for uploading data.
  4. Align selection of upload sites with your genealogy and DNA research goals.
  5. Upload DNA Test Data to sites. Determine if there is a waiting period before results are available and check notification settings.

Downloading Your DNA Test Data

Contrary to erroneous news article you may have seen as to “who” owns your DNA, the fact is that you own the DNA test data once you’ve taken a DNA test and have been notified that results are ready for you to view. So the first thing you should do is go to the DNA testing website, login, and then figure out how to download the data.

23andMe

Accessing Your Raw Data: You can access your raw genetic data within your 23andMe account one of two ways:

  • Navigate directly to you.23andme.com/tools/data/
  • Click on Tools in the navigation bar at the top of your homepage, and select Browse Raw Data from the available tools.

The main view of the Browse Raw Data feature shows the same pictorial representation of each chromosome — including a Y chromosome — for all users. It is important to note that except in rare genetic cases, women do not inherit a Y chromosome and will see “not determined” for markers found on the Y chromosome.

Downloading Your Raw Data: To download your raw data, click on the Download tab from within the top navigation bar within the Browse Raw Data tool and scroll down until you see the “Submit request” button. You will receive an email to the email address associated with your 23andMe account when your raw data download file is ready. Typically files are ready within 1 hour.[1]

Click HERE for information from the 23andMe website about accessing your 23andMe DNA test data.

Ancestry

Accessing Your Raw Data: Here is how to download your Ancestry DNA test data:

  1. Sign in to your Ancestry account.
  2. Click the DNA tab and select Your DNA Results Summary.
  3. Click SETTINGS on the right side of the page.
  4. Click DOWNLOAD RAW DNA DATA on the right side of the page.
  5. Enter your password and click CONFIRM. This will trigger an email containing a link to confirm the download. The link will expire after seven days. If the email is deleted or never arrives, please restart the process.
  6. Open the email and click Confirm Data Download.
  7. Click DOWNLOAD DNA RAW DATA.
  8. The file will be downloaded to your computer.[2]

Click HERE for information from the Ancestry website about accessing your Ancestry DNA test data.

Family Tree DNA

Accessing Your Raw Data: Here is how to download your Family Tree DNA test data:

  1. Sign in to your myFTDNA account.
  2. On the menu bar, click myFTDNA > MyDNA > Family Finder > Download Raw Data.
  3. Click on the data and build you wish to download.[3]

Click HERE for information from the Family Tree DNA website about accessing your Family Finder DNA test data.

Living DNA

Accessing Your Raw Data: Here is how to download your Living DNA test data:

“Our first principle is that you are in control of your DNA data. If your results have been uploaded to your portal, we have therefore given you the ability to download that data in TXT format for autosomal markers and CSV format for mt and Y positive markers.”

  1. Log-in to your Living DNA portal and choose View Test.
  2. Then in the left-hand menu you will see Download Raw Data.
  3. Clicking on this will give you some background information about your Living DNA raw data. We will then ask you to agree that you understand this information and the implications of downloading your raw data. A copy of this disclaimer is available here.
  4. Only after ticking the box will your download links be revealed.[4]

Click HERE for information from the Living DNA website about accessing your Living DNA test data.

MyHeritage

Accessing Your Raw Data: Here is how to download your MyHeritage DNA test data:

  1. Hover over the DNA tab and go to ‘Manage DNA kits’
  2. On the right hand side of the MyHeritage kit, click on the three dots and choose ‘Download’
  3. A window will pop up with information on what you are about to download. Click ‘Continue’
  4. In the next popup you will be asked to accept the MyHeritage Terms of Service and the Privacy Policy, then click ‘Continue’
  5. An email with instructions will be sent to your registered email address.
  6. Find this email in your mailbox and click on the download link. Important: The link is only valid for 24 hours. If you haven’t used the link within 24 hours, you will need to start the process again from step 1.
  7. Once you clicked on the download link, you will be redirected to the MyHeritage site. Enter your password and click the ‘Download’ button.
  8. The file will be downloaded to your computer.[5]

Click HERE for information from the MyHeritage website about accessing your MyHeritage DNA test data.

Uploading Your DNA Test Data

Here is a table listing each of the five major DNA testing companies and how they handle import of DNA test data:

A chart comparing DNA test companies and their DNA test data upload policies and charges

23andMe

At this time, 23andMe does not allow users to import DNA test data from other DNA testing companies.

Ancestry

At this time, Ancestry does not allow users to import DNA test data from other DNA testing companies.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA accepts DNA test data from 23andMe, Ancestry, Geno 2.0, and MyHeritage. Note: Family Tree DNA uses a “freemium” model for transferring DNA test data to its database and only accepts autosomal DNA test data uploads. For free, “you will receive a list of your autosomal matches from our database and have access to our Family Finder – Matrix. The Matrix feature allows you to select and compare the autosomal DNA relationship between up to ten of your matches at one time.” For $19 USD, “After transferring, you can unlock all Family Finder features, which include the Chromosome Browser, myOrigins, and ancientOrigins for only $19.” In addition, if you transfer MyHeritage DNA test data, there is NO CHARGE for the extra features.[6]

Click HERE for information from the Family Tree DNA website about uploading your DNA test data to Family Tree DNA.

Living DNA

As of January 2018, Living DNA accepts DNA test data from 23andMe, Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and MyHeritage. Access to matches and the DNA database is promised to me available around August 2018. At this time, it is unknown if there will be full access or if Living DNA will follow a freemium model similar to Family Tree DNA.[7]

See One Family One World Project with Living DNA – Upload Your DNA Data for FREE via DNA Bargains (https://dnabargains.com/one-family-one-world-project-with-living-dna-upload-your-dna-data-for-free/).

Click HERE for information from the Living DNA website about uploading your DNA test data to Living DNA.

MyHeritage

MyHeritage accepts DNA test data from 23andMe, Ancestry, and Family Tree DNA[8] free of charge. Once uploaded you will be able to see your Ethnicity Estimate and DNA Matches with other MyHeritage users.

See Another Reason to Upload Your DNA Test Data to MyHeritage . . . FREE Chromosome Browser! (https://dnabargains.com/myheritage-dna-quietly-rolls-new-chromosome-browser/).

Click HERE for information from the MyHeritage website about uploading your DNA test data to MyHeritage.

Conclusion

This article only covers downloading and uploading from/to the five major DNA testing companies used by most genealogists and family historians. In a future article, we will cover third-party sites such as GEDMatch and Promethease that accept DNA test data uploads and offer specialized services.

[1] Accessing And Downloading Your Raw Data, via 23andMe website (https://customercare.23andme.com/hc/en-us/articles/212196868-Accessing-and-Downloading-Your-Raw-Data, accessed 10 January 2018).

[2] Downloading Raw DNA Data, via Ancestry website (https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Downloading-Raw-DNA-Data-1460089696533, accessed 10 January 2018).

[3] May I download my Family Finder raw data?, via Family Tree DNA website (https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/autosomal-ancestry/universal-dna-matching/may-download-family-finder-raw-data/, accessed 10 January 2018).

[4] How do I get my Living DNA raw data?, via Living DNA website (https://www.livingdna.com/en-us/help-centre/105/how-do-i-get-my-living-dna-raw-data, accessed 10 January 2018).

[5] How do I download my raw DNA data file from MyHeritage?, via MyHeritage website (https://faq.myheritage.com/DNA/Manage-DNA-/951697461/How-do-I-download-my-raw-DNA-data-file-from-MyHeritage.htm, accessed 10 January 2018).

[6] Join the world’s most comprehensive DNA database!, via Family Tree DNA website (https://www.familytreedna.com/autosomal-transfer, accessed 12 January 2018)

[7] One Family One World Project, via Living DNA website (https://www.livingdna.com/en-us/one-family, accessed 12 January 2018).

[8] Upload DNA Data, via MyHeritage website (https://www.myheritage.com/dna/upload, accessed 12 January 2018).

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©2018, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.