Ultimate Guide To GEDmatch
We have over thirty in-depth articles and tutorials on using GEDmatch for your genealogy research.
This ultimate guide is an overview of everything we’ve got!
We cover what you need to know to get started through to harnessing the power of the website’s sophisticated tools.
What Is GEDmatch?
GEDmatch is a website that lets you upload your raw DNA results from DNA testing companies like Ancestry.com or 23andMe (and many others).
Because GEDmatch has over four million users in their DNA database, you get access to many more relatives to help your research.
Free and paid tier
GEDmatch has a suite of free powerful tools for reviewing your DNA matches. You only need to create a free account to use these tools.
Do you need to pay the ten bucks for monthly access to the paid tools?
Maybe not. Read on to find our in-depth articles on both the free and paid tools.
GEDmatch Is Not A DNA Testing Company
GEDmatch doesn’t sell consumer DNA kits. So you’ll have to use another service in order to use the site.
Here are our comparison reviews of the major testing companies:
Things To Consider Before You Upload Your DNA
You should check the background of any website before your upload your DNA. I’ve been a GEDmatch customer since 2017 and I keep a keen eye on developments.
Who is behind the website?
Our article on who owns GEDmatch gives you the background of the former and current owners.
You may not have heard of the current owners. So, we also have a rundown on who owns Verogen.
Privacy and law enforcement
You may know that GEDmatch provides special access to U.S. law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation. The Golden State Killer was caught when investigators uploaded crime-scene DNA and found some of his relatives on the site.
It’s important to understand before you upload that you can choose to opt in or out of easy access to law enforcement.
Is it too darn difficult to use?
You may have heard that GEDmatch is a little difficult to use.
It’s true that the interface isn’t as slick and user-friendly as some other sites. Some features, like the ethnicity tools, are very different.
Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Check out my GEDmatch review which runs through the best and worst features.
This is my opinion of course. I do recommend that you give the site a whirl. So read on…
What Are The GEDmatch Basics?
You want to get up and running as fast as you can.
You’ve probably got used to reading centimorgans and segments from reviewing your DNA results on your testing site.
But GEDmatch has some of its own lingo and peculiarities. Here are some explanations to get you unstuck:
Free Tools On GEDmatch
The different DNA websites have their own ways of naming their features. Finding your list of DNA relatives is not immediately obvious on GEDmatch!
Check out our tutorial on using the GEDmatch One-To-Many Report – which is the list you’ll want to start with.
When you want to do a detailed comparison between yourself and a relative, check out our tutorial on using the GEDmatch one-to-one tool.
What about shared matches? Which are also called “relatives in common” on some testing sites? We’ve got that covered! Check out our article on matches in common on GEDmatch.
If you tested your DNA with Ancestry.com, you may be coming to GEDmatch to get their chromosome browsers!
There are two on the free tier. We’ve covered one in our GEDmatch one-to-one tutorial (already mentioned).
The other is the rather cool-looking 3D chromosome browser. It’s not the easiest tool in the box, so our article should help you decipher what you’re seeing.
Neanderthal and other ancient DNA
If you didn’t test with 23andMe, you may be envious of their estimates of customers’ Neanderthal DNA.
But GEDmatch can fill in this blank in your life. Follow our tutorial on how to research your Neanderthal and other archaic DNA matches.
I also found it fun to examine how much DNA I share with ancient Irish specimens found in archaeology digs.
The website has a nice feature where it pulls together groups of people interested in the same research topic.
That could be a surname, an ethnic community, or some very varied projects.
To learn more about this, check out our article on the GEDmatch ancestor projects.
Is GEDmatch accurate?
As you compare what you see on GEDmatch and your test site, you’ll notice differences in the DNA analysis.
That is also very apparent in the ethnicity tools, which I’ll get to in the next section.
We’ve addressed this in our article on whether GEDmatch is accurate.
It should help you understand some of the peculiarities that you may see.
Ethnicity And Admixture
Not sure what “admixture” means? You’ll see this term a lot on GEDmatch. It means the mix of ethnicities and communities that you inherited from your ancestors.
The major DNA testing sites give you a single breakdown or ethnicity report. GEDmatch has seven different projects.
Most of the projects have multiple calculators with different results!
Then pick one of the projects and use the link below for an in-depth tutorial. Then you can try more projects to see a variety of estimates.
Most of the projects provide a detailed spreadsheet to help you interpret your results. We have a dedicated article that explains the GEDmatch Oracle.
If find yourself drowning in a sea of acronyms, don’t worry. We’ve got all the details in our article on abbreviations on GEDmatch. You’re welcome!
It’s important to understand that these admixture projects are dealing with ancestry from thousands of years back. I have more about this in our article on how far back GEDmatch goes.
Paid Tier One Tools
The website has a set of tools that require paid access. The monthly cost is ten dollars, which gives you access to everything.
You don’t need to pay for recurring access. I dip in and out of the paid tier through the year.
There is one tool that I think is worth the price alone. You’ll find out why when you read our article on the Segment Search tool on GEDMatch.
This tool goes hand in hand with using the method of triangulation to analyze your DNA matches. You’re now getting into more advanced techniques, but there’s no need to be daunted.
We have a walkthrough of a full example of using triangulation on GEDmatch.
Other nice-to-have tools
I’ve tested with both Ancestry and 23andMe, so I’ve got a walkthrough of building a GEDmatch superkit that combines them both.
The paid tier has a further set of tools that try to automate some analysis of your DNA relatives. You can check out our review of the GEDmatch surname search.