This is a step-by-step walkthrough of how to upload your DNA to MyHeritage with a free account.
We’ll look at some background to the company, and how MyHeritage treats your privacy and security. You should be sure you’re comfortable with these aspects before you upload your raw DNA results to any site.
We’ll also review the features that you get with the free account (with screenshots), and what features come with an upgrade.
Which DNA Tests Does MyHeritage Accept?
MyHeritage accepts uploads of raw DNA results from:
The MyHeritage support pages don’t list Living DNA as one of the kits they accept. If you’ve tested with the UK company, it’s worth trying the upload to see if it works. Drop a comment below and let me know how it went!
Step 1: Download Your Raw DNA Results
Each of the testing companies I listed above lets you download your raw DNA results to your local computer.
If you’re not sure how to download your DNA, follow our tutorials:
The download is a zipped file. MyHeritage expects this exact file, so don’t try to extract the contents and load that instead.
Step 2: Create a Free Account With MyHeritage
MyHeritage would prefer that you create a trial account instead of a free account. This is because it’s easier for them to convert you into a paying customer! The trial account requires you to enter your credit card details, although you are not billed until the trial period is over.
However, they also have a free account that does not require payment details. You can get the free account in two ways.
Find the “Sign Up For Free” link
Scroll right down to the end of the MyHeritage home page, past all the entreaties to take the free trial. You’ll see a link to “sign up for free” in the footer.
Even during the “free” sign-up process, MyHeritage may show you the trial sign-up screen which asks for your credit card details.
Jump ship by hitting the exit (X) button. The sign-up process will then continue, and you will get the free account.
Start and exit the free trial screen
If you don’t find yourself in the free trial sign-up, go ahead and provide your sign-up details.
You will seem to be “stuck” on a screen that requires your credit card details. If you bail now by hitting the exit (X) button, you will end up within a free account on MyHeritage.
Step 3: Upload your Raw DNA File to MyHeritage
When you are logged into your MyHeritage account, you can upload your DNA file.
The top menu bar has a DNA drop-down menu. Click the option to “Upload DNA data”.
MyHeritage will take you through their terms and conditions, and then present you with a file upload page.
Make sure you use the zip file exactly as it was downloaded from your test site (see Step 1).
Step 4: Wait For Your DNA Results To Complete Processing
MyHeritage has to go through several processing steps to analyze your raw DNA file and prepare your list of DNA relatives. This can take a few days.
You should check back in one or two days and open the DNA Matches page. You’ll find this on the dropdown DNA menu.
What Do You Get With A Free Account On MyHeritage
Your free account gives you your full list of DNA relatives within the MyHeritage database. Here’s an extract showing one of my DNA matches.
You’ll see details such as the centimorgan and percentage shared DNA, along with the estimated relationships. The free account also lets you contact your DNA matches via the MyHeritage messaging system.
You can also export your list of DNA matches to a local file that you can open with a spreadsheet program. That’s a welcome novelty for Ancestry users, as the Utah giant doesn’t provide this feature.
You can also create or upload a family tree within a certain size. We have a separate tutorial on uploading a GEDCOM file to MyHeritage. Even if you think you don’t need a walkthrough for this, you should take a look at my review of the privacy aspects of family trees on MyHeritage. It’s quite different from how Ancestry treats living people, so it’s worth knowing the differences.
Once you have your DNA results and a tree on MyHeritage, you need to link the two together to get full benefits of the free features. It’s easy to forget this step! Follow this guide on how to link your DNA to your MyHeritage tree.
Upgrading To A Paid Account On MyHeritage
If you’re looking for access to MyHeritage’s record archives to build your family tree, then you need to examine several subscription and pricing options.
However, access to the paid DNA features requires a one-off unlock payment. This is about 30 bucks. You also get access to future features that the company adds. The most recent is the Theory of General Relativity and the Genetic Groups. Read on for details.
Here is a breakdown of the paid features…
Access to shared matches
In my opinion, the shared matches feature on MyHeritage is better than Ancestry.
You get to see how many centimorgans your shared matches share with each other. 23andMe also provides this information, but Ancestry does not.
This can be hugely useful. I’m showing the shared match display for Philip with whom I share 32 cM. We have a shared match called Syliva in common. But Philip and Sylvia share a much higher 163 cM, which places them as around 2nd cousins.
That can really help narrow down the relationships between the three of us. This aspect is hands-down worth the unlock fee for me.
Theories Of Family Relativity
If you’ve tested your DNA with Ancestry, then I’ll tell you that this feature on MyHeritage is akin to Ancestry’s ThruLines.
The feature tries to knit together the family trees of your DNA matches and give you insights into their possible relationships with you.
Some people report that they have tens of these theories. Personally, I only have two. However, one of these turned out to be pure gold for me. I messaged the DNA match to investigate the possible links, and it turned out that he had several documents and certificates that I’d never seen before.
I’ll assume that you’ve looked at the ethnicity estimates provided by your DNA kit provider. There are bound to be differences with what MyHeritage shows you. Remember that these are “estimates”.
I don’t take the ethnicity estimates too seriously, but I’m far more impressed with a more recent feature: genetic groups.
I have a full article that reviews Genetic Groups on MyHeritage. The article also has a video that shows you what they look like.
A paid account also gets access to a Chromosome Browser. This visualizes the shared segments between you and your DNA relatives.
If you’re starting out, then you may want to focus on reviewing your matches and shared matches before hitting up the chromosome browser. It’s an advanced method, and well worth getting into – but don’t get overwhelmed by how to use the tool. You can come back to it later.
The AutoClusters tool organizes your matches into a spreadsheet that shows clusters of shared matches. The usefulness does depend on how many DNA matches you have on MyHeritage.
MyHeritage Special Offers
I have access to all the DNA premium features, but I didn’t have to pay the unlock fee. MyHeritage upgraded everyone who had uploaded their DNA to the site before 2018.
Since then, they’ve provided the extra upgrade to new uploaders on several occasions. They did so in December 2019, and more recently in June 2020.
If you don’t want to pay the $30, keep an eye out for announcements of future special offers.
Is it Safe to Upload DNA to MyHeritage?
MyHeritage is a long-established and respected company with an online presence since 2003. Yet, it hasn’t been without security issues.
I’ve previously detailed a phishing scam in July 2020 that targeted MyHeritage customers. In that article, I praise MyHeritage for its vigilance in investigating the phishing attempt and helping its customers.
MyHeritage and Law Enforcement
Some DNA sites actively encourage law enforcement agencies and their associates to use their matching services for forensic investigations.
MyHeritage takes a more stringent approach. Their privacy terms state this:
However, the company is subject to international and local court orders and subpoenas. If you have major concerns, do not upload your DNA to any external site.
Who Owns MyHeritage?
Check out our article on who owns MyHeritage. It will give you all the background.