Monday, 25 April 2016

How to download your Ancestry DNA data and upload it to FTDNA

The DNA test from Ancestry is proving very popular and a lot of people are taking advantage of the low cost of the test, especially when there is a Sale on. Ancestry compares your DNA data to everyone in their database (over 1 million people at this stage) and gives you a list of your "matches" - many of these will be genetic cousins with whom you share a common ancestor who was born sometime in the last 250 years or so.

But you can get a lot more from your Ancestry DNA test if you upload the results to FamilyTreeDNA and take advantage of a second database of potential genetic cousins. FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) also have a database close to 1 million people and all these databases are expanding all the time. I have tested with both companies and (as of April 2016) I have 3671 matches with Ancestry and 828 matches with FTDNA. However, being Irish, I find that most of my closest matches are in the FTDNA database, not in the Ancestry database. So it is well worth while fishing in both pools.

The good news is that you can get your top 20 matches in the FTDNA database for free, and for a small fee ($39) you can reveal all your matches. So by paying the $39 transfer fee, you get to swim in two data pools for the price of 1.4 (the usual price of the Family Finder autosomal DNA test at FTDNA is $99).

Here's how you download your Ancestry DNA data and transfer it to FTDNA.

1. Log in to your Ancestry account and click on the DNA tab in the menu at the top.

2. Click on Settings (far right)

3. On the next page, in the box on the right, click on the Download Raw DNA Data button

4. Enter your password in the box indicated, and tick the check box below it ... then click on Confirm.

5. You will get a confirmation message asking you to check your email for a link to download your DNA.

6. Click on the green button in your email to confirm you want to download your raw DNA data.

7. This takes you to a new browser window where you will be asked to click on another green button (Download DNA Raw Data). Click on this (only once) and wait. This can take a while ...

... and be sure to note into which folder the DNA Raw Data file has been downloaded - you will need to access this folder in the next steps.

8. The next step is to upload the raw DNA data to FTDNA (FTDNA's instructions can be found here). Begin by visiting

9. New customers must enter their name and email address to get started. If you (or the person whose data you want to transfer) already have an FTDNA account, just click Already have a Family Tree DNA account? (Reminder: Each person needs to have their own kit number.) If you have an existing Y-DNA or mtDNA kit, be sure to sign in to it before launching the process.

Don't forget to click your gender and agree to the Terms of Service & Release Form.

10. Next, click Upload Raw Data to select and upload the raw data file from AncestryDNA from your computer. It is not necessary to unzip the file prior to uploading it.

The first round of results processing takes about an hour or so. An email notification will be sent to your registered email address after the raw data is processed. After the processing is complete, the free Family Finder experience includes:
  • your top matches
  • some Family Finder tools, such as the Chromosome Browser and the Family Finder Matrix. You can use the Chromosome Browser and Matrix with your matches to see the longest block and whether or not they’re an X match.
The free transfer has certain limitations compared to the full functionality you get for the $39 fee:
  • myOrigins is not included (genetic ethnic admixture estimates)
  • you cannot use the “in common with” feature
  • you cannot download any data
  • your results will not be seen by any of your matches

11. The price to unlock all of your matches and myOrigins results is $39. Once you’ve paid or unlocked your full results, it takes 3-5 business days for the full results to be completed.


  1. Some of the those figurs are a bit out - the Ancestry autosomal database passed 1.5M some time ago. The FTDNA AUTOSOMAL database is nowhere near a million, maybe 250-300k at a guess but they won't say. The rest of the database you refer to is male or female line tests only so you won't get a match to them.

    1. The databases are expanding all the time. I just heard from Ancestry that their database is approaching 2 million. For the most up to date information regarding database size, check out the comparative table on the ISOGG Wiki ...

  2. Hi!

    You definitely gave a lot of information but I am still uncertain how I should proceed in my testing. I want to know my ethnic roots and I want to know my medical history. From what I understand, 23andme had a good medical one but has limitations now. Do you know what the medical test took out in the US vs the one 23andme gives to other countries?

    Also when it comes to my roots. I would like to get a better ethnic understanding that is as specific as possible. So I would like to know where my African roots came from in detail. Many of my Ethiopian friends mistake me for Ethiopian. Is there a test that is specific about what part of Africa your roots come from?

    In addition, I am interested in mostly my maternal DNA from mom and dad's side. My grandmother (on my mom's side) has Turkish roots through her dad (his mom came from Turkey). My grandmother is no longer alive, so I would have to get DNA from my mom or my grandmother's brother. On my dad's side his mother was Irish & Italian from what I hear. But I don't have a connection to her side. The furthest DNA I have is my Dad.

    So basically I want to know my personal DNA/medical information, whatever test gives the most information. But I also want to know my dad's mom side and my mom's great grandmother's side in detail as well. But I also don't want it to cost a fortune. What do you suggest that won't break the bank? Or at least what steps can I take over time if there is no way to avoid the cost.