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How To Use GEDMatch

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The Beginner’s Guide to Using GEDMatch

Our ancestry is an essential part of our identity. Knowing our family tree helps us to understand the journey of our ancestors and gives us an insight into their world. For this reason, a number of people get DNA tests done. These people want to find out about their ancestral roots and connect with people with whom they have a common history.

If you are one of such people, it’s likely that you have had a DNA test done recently. Although these tests are great for finding traces of our ethnicity, these tests don’t give us full insight about our origins.

Graphical Image of DNA Strand

Fortunately, we have services such as GEDMatch that provide us with data that initial DNA testing is incapable of providing. GEDMatch utilizes this raw data from DNA tests to help understand our genetic structure. Moreover, the website provides its users with a ton of other exciting services that help them reach lost relatives and discover a family member they never knew about. In this article, we will instruct you with a basic guideline on how to use GEDMatch.

Why Should I Use GEDMatch?

GEDMatch is a great tool to find people that have genetic similarities with you. What makes this tool unique is that it’s completely free. Unlike most DNA testing platforms, you won’t have to pay a penny to find your lost relatives. The problem with traditional DNA testing is that it can’t match DNA profiles that are not on the DNA database. However, GEDMatch has a collection of different records that span across all major DNA testing platforms. By using GEDMatch, you can find living relatives that have used a different DNA testing platform than you. You can also find out which individual chromosomes in your DNA profile match with your relatives.

GEDMatch Logo Website

GEDMatch logo website screenshot
Moreover, GEDMatch lets you access exciting tools that allow you to learn more about your genealogy. It lets you access the X-DNA information you have had on your matches. Besides that, the tool has an attached email address to each of the matched results. This makes it easier to contact any person related to you. Lastly, the tool has ethnicity calculators that help users trace their ethnicity and know their historical lineage with accuracy.

1) Initial DNA Testing

You can use any of these services to get raw DNA data. To get your DNA tested, visit the website of any of the above-mentioned websites. We’re using Ancestry to help you through the DNA sampling process before testing. However, if you already have your DNA test done, proceed to the next step.

Ancestry.com Website

Ancestry.com image

First of all, you’ll need to create an account on Ancestry.com. To get a free trial or membership, you must submit your personal details, including billing information. The website charges its users for access to other records for matching. 

Besides that, you’ll need to pay extra charges to have your DNA testing done. You can see what you will have to pay for the process on the website. 

Once you’re eligible for a sampling test, you can request for a kit to submit your sample. The website provides a detailed guideline on the precautions you need to take before sampling and what you’ll have to do to submit your sample.

Ancestry Sample Detailed Guideline

2) Download Your Raw DNA Data from the Testing Platform

After you’re done with the testing phase, you can submit your raw data on the GEDMatch website. However, first, you must download raw data from your DNA testing account. Almost all major DNA testing offer this feature.

To download your raw data from your Ancestry account, follow the guide on downloading raw data available on the Ancestry support page. You can also follow this link to learn how to download raw data from other DNA testing platforms

Ancestry Raw DNA Data Downloading Process

Ancestry raw DNA data download image

3) Uploading Raw Data on GEDMatch

Most probably, your raw data will be transmitted in a .zip file format. We advise our readers to leave it at that and don’t try to unzip the information out of curiosity. Even if you open these files, most of them will make no sense to you as it’s only understandable to computers.  

Step #1

To start using the GEDMatch website, you must create an account first. To create an account, enter your name, alias, email and password for the GEDMatch account. It only takes a few seconds to register yourself on GEDMatch.

GEDMatch User Registration

Step #2

After registering yourself on the website, search for “Upload DNA files” and click the “Generic Uploads ” to upload your raw DNA data.

GEDMatch Upload Raw Data image

Step #3

After visiting the link mentioned above, you will see a form that will ask you for crucial information related to the data sample provided by you. Since you can also upload samples of other people, you will have to provide additional information about the person whose sample you’re testing.

GEDMatch Upload File Form-1

Moreover, the website asks users to define what these users mean when they’re referring to raw data. Users have to select the option which seems the most appropriate to them. Besides that, users have to select the privacy options available on the form. These options represent the user’s consent for their data use.

GEDMatch Upload File Form-2

GEDMatch Upload File Form 2 image

After selecting all necessary options, select the .zip file which contains your raw DNA data and press “Upload” to get the file uploaded.

Step #4

Once your raw DNA data gets uploaded on the website, it will be called as a “kit.” The file will then go through a process on bashing. After that the user will have to wait a few hours to start using various tools available on the website.

GEDMatch Icon Legend

It’s a good idea to note down your kit number for future reference. However, you can also see your kit number by visiting the “Your DNA Resources” section on the homepage.

DNA Profile Tools on GEDMatch

GEDMatch has a number of useful DNA profile testing tools available. However, some of these features are limited to premium users of the website. These advanced features come in the category of Tier-1 features. To become a premium user of the website, a user has to pledge $10 a month.

However, GEDMatch has plenty of free features as well. In fact, the majority of features are available for free users. These tools are sufficient for running basic DNA analysis tests. 

Further down the line, we’ll guide our users through some basic DNA profile tools. Below are some basic tools new users can try out.

GEDMatch Applications image

Run the One-to-Many Comparison Tool

The easiest tool to start off is the On-to-Many comparison tool on the website. The tool allows users to match their DNA kits with that of other users on the GEDMatch platform. After you upload your kit on the website, you can use this tool to find interesting DNA matches on the website.

To start off, just enter your kit number and click on the “Display results” option to see which DNA profiles match your own.

GEDMatch One-to-Many Comparison

GEDMatch One-to-Many Comparison image

After you press start the tool, you will see a list of all DNA profiles that have matching DNA characteristics with you. This list will also include email addresses of people you’re trying to find. The “Largest Segment” column represents the largest DNA segment both of you have in common. 

GEDMatch One-to-Many Comparison 2 image

The “Gen” column, on the other hand, tells the users what relationship she/he might have with these people. If a user has a 1.0 value, it means that these DNA profiles belong to the user’s twin sibling or parent. Values in the proximity of 1.5 represent that the person is your aunt, uncle or grandparent. If you have any unknown first cousins, they will be in the proximity of 2.0.

Run the One-to-Many Comparison Tool

In the one-to-one comparison tool, you’ll be able to see further details about your association with the people of matching DNA. The tool will display how many DNA segments a person shares with another person. Moreover, the tool will also show you various useful bits of information, including where matching segments lie on your chromosomes. 

You will have to enter the kit number of the DNA profile you want to compare yourself with. After that, select how they want to view the segments of each of their Chromosome. Users can select whether they want to view this data in “Graphics and Positions”, “Position Only” or “Graphic Only” options.

GEDMatch One-to-One Comparison

You can also access these details in the One-to-Many comparison tool by clicking the corresponding value in the “1:1” column. This tool helps users verify their relationship with the matching DNA profile. 

However, users need technical expertise in genealogy to makes sense of the information presented in these tests. 

Explore DNA Matches Utility

The DNA matches utility gives us access to a number of exciting features, such as family trees.  Though family trees are not always reliable, they can provide useful insight into your relation with your DNA matches. 

GEDMatch also has a special tool that allows people only to find matches that have been uploaded to a family tree.  To start using the tool, users have to enter their kit number and submit it by clicking the “Submit” icon. 

After going through the process, you will get all your data in the form of a spreadsheet. Here you will be able to see all the names, kit numbers, amount of DNA shared, e-mail addresses, and Gedcom numbers of all the matches who have family trees on the GEDMatch website.

This way, you can trace the relationship you have with a certain GEDmatch user and where you fit in their family history. 

Admixture Calculators

In genetic genealogy, “Admixture” represents racial mixing of a particular DNA profile. For instance, it can represent the extent of mixing a person with South Asian descent with a Middle Eastern gene.

However, the DNA testing platform can also give you an ethnicity estimate that’s based on their reference population.  Despite what many claim, these ethnicity estimates are just estimates.

The GEDMatch community has lots of researchers who have their personal DNA ethnicity projects. Though these estimates are not as accurate as the ones given by DNA testing platforms, they can give a fair estimate about your origins and give an alternative interpretation of your individual DNA.

GEDMatch Admixture Utilities

To start using this tool, you’ll have to select the project that will calculate the association of your DNA profile with others. Some of these projects include “MDLP Project”, “Eurogenes”, and “HarappaWorld” projects.

You can try any of these admixture calculators to see which ethnic group you associate the most to. Just type in your kit number and wait for a couple of minutes to see your results. 

GEDMatch HarappaWorld Admixture Utilities

Conclusion

GEDMatch is an amazing tool to know more about your ancestry and find out lost relatives. The tool lets you access insightful information about your DNA without charging you with anything.

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