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GEDmatch Genesis: 7 things you should know before using GEDmatch

Have you done a DNA test but want to dig deeper? This is a GEDmatch review that looks at how you can use its expert-level tools to turn raw DNA into detailed insights!

What is GEDmatch?

GEDmatch (GEDmatch Genesis) is one of the most popular and powerful raw DNA analysis websites. It is designed for amateur and professional genealogists who have gotten raw DNA from any of these sources:

  • AncestryDNA
  • 23andMe
  • FamilyTreeDNA
  • MyHeritage
  • Living DNA
  • Other custom commercial DNA kits
  • Health DNA test 
  • Forensic DNA test
  • Deceased DNA test

You are most likely here because you recently got a generic report back from your DNA testing company. GEDmatch is a popular next step for people like you! It provides a lot more detailed analyses that are way more advanced than the typical reports. Because many users from other testing companies also upload their DNA to GEDmatch, you can extend your search for relatives! If you only use your own testing company’s analyses, you may miss out on potential matches who tested with a different company.

How to use GEDmatch

GEDmatch Registration

  1. Register at GEDmatch login page by filling in some required information. You need to provide an email address and real name, but it doesn’t have to be public as you can set an alias name.
  2. Download your autosomal DNA raw data from your testing company.
  3. If your DNA data comes from common commercial genetic testing companies, you can now go to the dashboard and upload to GEDmatch’s Generic Uploads. If that doesn’t work, there is a link below that says “Upload if generic upload fails”.
GEDmatch guide

If you need a step-by-step GEDmatch guide to the registration process, check out this Tutorial that will hand hold you through:

  • How to upload DNA to GEDmatch
  • How to read GEDmatch results

How long does GEDmatch take?

Once your data is successfully uploaded, it can take up to 48 hours for processing. Come back in two days and you will definitely see a green tick next to your kit number – now we are ready to see the GEDmatch results!

Is GEDmatch free?

A number of basic tools are free and more than enough for the average person. For genealogy enthusiasts, Tier 1 subscription is at $10/month and offers access to additional tools.

Free applications

  • One-to-many DNA comparisons (Autosomal and X-DNA)
  • One-to-one DNA comparisons (Autosomal and X-DNA)
  • Admixture (heritage)
  • Admixture / Oracle with population search
  • People who match both, or 1 of 2 kits
  • DNA fil diagnostic utility
  • Are your parents related?
  • 3-D chromosome browser
  • Archaic DNA matches
  • Ancestor projects

Tier 1 applications 

  • Filter feature on One-to-many reports
  • Segment Search
  • Phasing
  • Triangulation
  • Multiple Kit Analysis
  • Lazarus
  • My Evil Twin
  • Combined/Superkits
  • Cluster Reports

Which are the highlight features on GEDmatch?

Among the many impressive applications, One-to-many, One-to-one DNA comparisons, and Admixture/ethnicity estimate are the most popular ones. 

Note that the website itself does not offer a whole lot of explanations, so you need to do your own readings. Under the ‘Information’ section on your dashboard, there are some useful links that will take you to additional blogs and videos. At the end of this article, you will also find some useful links that explain GEDmatch features. 

One-to-many comparison

This is usually the first place that users explore. It lets you find other DNA kits uploaded to GEDmatch that match to yours, including those tested from other genetic testing companies.

For each match, you will see exactly how long the largest shared DNA segment is. Generally, the longer the segment, the closer your relationships are.  Most genetic testing companies simply give you the contact of your match, without letting you in the details of what you share.

The cool thing about GEDmatch is that you can analyse not only autosomal DNA but also X-DNA – your sex chromosome! This additional information may help you find your ancestral line as males can only inherit X-DNA from their mothers. Daughters from the same Dad will also have one whole matching X-chromosome.

One-to-one comparison

The one-to-one comparison lets you compare the data with someone who you already think will share your ancestry. That means you need to enter a specific kit number. It could be a family member who did the test with you, or someone you just found from the one-to-many match.

After running the application, you can see which segments of the chromosomes you have in common with the person you compared. At the bottom of the report, it also tells you an estimated number of generation before the two of you shared a common ancestor

Many users find tables and numbers difficult to understand, this is when you can change to the chromosome browser representation. Now, you should see matched DNA segments on graphic bars.

A close up of a logo

Description automatically generated
In this case, the example has a match segment with someone on Chromosome 11 that is 36.3 cM long (red arrows)

GEDmatch Admixture (ethnicity estimate)

Don’t let the terminology scare you. Admixture basically estimates your ethnic groups based on your DNA. For example, you may be 50% North Atlantic, 30% West Asian and 20% Siberian. To get these estimates, you need to pick a project and then a calculator

Sounds confusing? You are not alone! These functions are quite advanced, and most users have little clue how to proceed. Basically, which project and calculator you go with should depend on your known ancestry. Make sure you read these tips at this step. 

GEDmatch Admixture (ethnicity estimate)
GEDmatch Admixture (ethnicity estimate)

If you have the determination to get to the nitty gritty, try this Guide. You could also contact the expert who developed the admixture model to learn more. The online Discussion forum is another popular place to ask for help.

Is GEDmatch accurate? 

The answer is we have no way to tell – we can’t go back to the past and trace how you came here! This is not an exact science and scientists are just trying their best to make a guess, hence the dozens of different Admixture calculators. The best thing to do is to try a few calculators and find common trends as they will probably give you different results. 

GEDmatch reviews: How did others find GEDmatch?

Users who are deep down the rabbit hole of genealogy absolutely love GEDmatch, but users who are just here for some quick results will be confused. Some reading and learning are inevitable when using GEDmatch.

Pros

  • In-depth details, one of the most powerful tools for genealogy enthusiasts
  • Allow you to find relatives tested from other genetic testing companies
  • Both autosomal and X-chromosome comparisons available
  • Lots of users and many active online discussions

Cons

  • Very technical for the average user. It does not hold your hand or build a family tree for you. You have to learn the tools yourself.
  • Selecting the right Admixture calculators could be tricky. You need to do some readings.
  • Results can be overwhelming and are presented with little explanations
  • A reputation of poor data privacy

Is GEDmatch safe?

Data privacy was a big problem for GEDmatch in the past as users’ DNA data was essentially visible to others. In fact, GEDmatch was previously used by law enforcement bodies to search for criminals or their relatives without informed consent. The Golden State Killer was identified this way. However, you are not by default visible to law enforcement anymore. An opt-in is now required. 

Who runs GEDmatch?

GEDmatch was founded by retired businessman Curtis Rogers and engineer John Olson in 2010. The company was acquired in 2019 by Verogen, Inc, a sequencing company for forensic science. Thus, GEDmatch now has a strong focus on solving crimes.

Summary

In summary, GEDmatch is a must-have if you are looking to take full advantage of your genetic data. It offers way more in-depth analyses based on your DNA. However, if you are scared of complex terminologies and numbers, you may find GEDmatch very overwhelming. Anyways, there are many genealogy enthusiasts out there offering easy-to-understand GEDmatch tutorials if you are keen to learn – Be sure to check out the links below!