This is a step-by-step walkthrough of how to upload your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA.
We’ll also look at some background to the company, and how FamilyTreeDNA treats your privacy and security. You should be sure you’re comfortable with these aspects before you upload your DNA to any site.
Which DNA Tests Does FamilyTreeDNA Accept?
FamilyTreeDNA accepts uploads of raw DNA results from the major consumer DNA testing companies, including
- 23andMe (*)
Watch out for older 23andMe tests
Note that older DNA kits from 23andMe used a different chip technology from Illumina than the kits sold since the second half of 2017. The kits sold before 2017 can’t be processed by FamilyTreeDNA.
If you’re not entirely sure which version you have, go ahead and try the upload. The process will identify an older kit and tell you that you can’t take it further.
What Do You Get When You Upload Your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA?
FamilyTreeDNA has a free and paid set of features. I’ll touch briefly on the free features first:
FamilyTreeDNA gives you a list of your DNA relatives in their database. You may recognize some who also transferred from where you originally tested.
However, FamilyTreeDNA also sells its own DNA kits. The great benefit of uploading to the site is that you’ll get these additional DNA matches that may aid in your research.
I estimate that FamilyTreeDNA has the fourth largest autosomal DNA database of the major consumer DNA testing companies. You can read the comparisons in our article on database sizes of DNA companies.
You can see from the picture that some of my matches have created a public tree on the FamilyTreeDNA website. I can jump straight to view the tree of a match where it’s available.
Unlike Ancestry and 23andMe, you don’t use an internal messaging system to contact DNA relatives. FamilyTreeDNA provides the email address that the account specified for receiving messages.
FamilyTreeDNA has several features that are available for a single payment to unlock the paid tier. The most notable ones are the Chromosome Browser and their Ethnicity Estimates.
The chromosome browser may be very welcome to Ancestry customers, as Ancestry doesn’t offer its own version.
FamilyTreeDNA And Law Enforcement
FamilyTreeDNA allows law enforcement agencies and their associates to upload genetic kits as part of criminal investigations. Although the company has some restrictions, they are more liberal in their co-operation than Ancestry or 23andMe.
Some people prefer that their DNA kits are not accessed by law enforcement investigators. FamilyTreeDNA allows you to opt out of the more routine kinds of access. However, the company is still obliged to comply with legal proceedings.
If you want to avoid law enforcement matching without rigorous court orders, you can opt out at any time. The option is available within your account settings, on the Privacy & Sharing tab.
FamilyTreeDNA Change Of Ownership
FamilyTreeDNA was founded in 2000 and stayed in the same ownership until 2021. The company was purchased by an Australian genomics firm in 2021.
Our article on who owns FamilyTreeDNA takes a look at the new owners in detail if you want to check out their background.
A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Upload Your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA
This section has a pictorial guide on uploading your DNA. If you prefer video, we have a short video that steps through the process.
Step 1: Go to the FamilyTreeDNA website
You can register for a free account before you start the upload process. But if you jump straight to the upload from the home page, you’ll be guided through creating an account later.
Step 2: Expand “Upload DNA Data” in the top menu
Choose “Autosomal DNA” from the two options.
Step 3: Select the source of your DNA kit
Choose either of 23andMe/Ancestry or MyHeritage.
Are you wondering why the two big rivals are lumped together? They use the same Illumina chip for DNA processing.
Step 4: Upload your raw DNA file
You will have downloaded your raw DNA results from the site you tested with. It is likely a zip file, which you will upload as-is i.e. do not extract the contents.
Simply drag the file to the web page. The upload may take a while to complete.
If you need some help to download your DNA, here are two quick tutorials:
Step 5: Confirm and complete
However, I don’t recall explicitly opting in or out of DNA matching and the additional law enforcement access. These options may be turned on by default.
However, you can turn one or both off at any time. Check out our previous section that shows how to change the law enforcement settings.
Step 6: Wait for the processing to complete
You will receive an email from FamilyTreeDNA that says it may take three to five days before you see your DNA relatives.
In practice, your upload may be completed the following day or even within a few hours. They seem to be processed in batches, so it’s the luck of the draw.