DNA Match Manager from Heirloom – Product Review

As of June 2020, this software seems to be no longer available. The links to the company website are not working. I will leave the post in place for the time being, in case the website becomes available again.

The DNA Match Manager from Heirloom Software is a free desktop application that downloads your matches to file from the major DNA test services. This review is exclusively on downloads from the Ancestry website.

In-Depth Guide to Ancestry

Summary

It’s fast. It’s free. It leaves a lot of info behind (this may be fine for your needs).

Wow, it’s fast!

The DNA Match Manager from Heirloom Software is fast. Usain-Bolt-level fast, compared to other match download software I’ve ever tried (or built). It took 3 minutes to complete my Ancestry download, on my chosen threshold of 10 cM and above (that’s about 2,900 matches).

What you get

One of the reasons its so fast is that the download includes a limited amount of information, what Heirloom refer to as core details. This is what you get for Ancestry:

  • Match Name
  • CM
  • Number of Segments
  • Admin Name
  • Ancestry Category (“Fourth Cousin” etc)
  • Gender

What you don’t get

There is no information about trees, shared matches or ethnicity. This is fully documented on the Heirloom website, but the limitation is not immediately obvious as you download and install the software. I suspect people jumping to the download page from a direct search may be a little disappointed with the outcome.

However these core match details may be all you want at your current point of research. In that case, Heirloom’s match manager is an easy choice. It works and it’s free.

Usual Ancestry Caveats

You may have already encountered occasional problems using the Ancestry website – pages not loading, the endless spinning wheel etc. These are times when the Ancestry servers are overloaded. At those times, this desktop application may hit the same connection issues. Follow Heirloom’s advice. Basically try a little later, and maybe reduce your download size.

Easy Installation

There’s a version for Windows and for Macs. Download the correct install file, accept the T&C and you’re good to go. I’ll link to the the main company website, [edited 13 June 2020 – this link is not working] you’ll find DNA Match Manager under the Product menu.

Using the Application – choosing the DNA website

The software is genuinely easy to use via a step-by-step wizard. There was some minor confusion on my part as I looked for a “NEXT” button – click on the circles at the top to move forward.

The first important step is Step 2, the Sites step. Dna Match Manager works with five different test companies at time of writing, and by default all companies are selected for download. I have to deselect all sites except AncestryDNA every time, which is a minor irritant (why not have all deselected by default?)

Heirloom Step 2 - Sites

There is a drop down box that lets you choose which Ancestry location you’re logging into. The default is USA. So Irish, UK, Canada and Australia users – be sure to pick the Ancestry location you are closest to.

Using the Application – Logging In

Step 3 is Login. At this point you’ll provide your Ancestry password if needed. The sequence may be a little bit confusing as you may get logged in automatically with Ancestry, and you probably will if you’re using DNA Match Manager for the second time.

If you’re not logged in automatically, the software will display the Ancestry login screen embedded within the application. Here you enter your login details. I’m not a fan of this method, as an unscrupulous application could intercept your credentials. But as with everything online, its a balance of risk and reward. Ancestry displays limited financial details (the last four digits of your credit card), so I’ll continue.

Using the Application – Downloading your Data

Step 4 is the Download step. If you manage multiple Ancestry DNA tests, be sure to scroll down a bit and pick the DNA test you want to download.
Here you can also set the minimum CM. The default is 10 CM which is fine for me.

Heirloom - Choose Test

Using the Application – Processing…

The bottom of the screen has a running count that zips along at an impressive rate. My latest download from Ancestry is just under 3 minutes for 2.8K matches.

Heirloom Step 5 Wrap-Up

Feature Comparisons

I’ll be reviewing alternative downloading applications and services over the next week or so. I’ll do a feature comparison summary in the final blog post.

What about Trees?

Which of these matches have a public linked tree? Or even a public unlinked tree? And for matches with trees, who has the annoying little 3-person tree and where are the whopping 200+ person trees?

Well, this download doesn’t have that information. That’s one reason it’s so awesomely fast. And less likely to break/disconnect half way through the download.

What about Shared Matches?

Which of the downloaded matches have shared matches? How many? And give me a list of shared matches for each match, please.

Like trees, shared matches are not provided by this application. This, I suspect, is the single biggest factor in how fast the download is to complete.

Summary – DNA Match Manager from Heirloom

If the core match details are all you need, then its a great tool.

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