For those of you who tested your DNA at 23andMe or AncestryDNA, you can upload your results for free to the other major testing company, FamilyTreeDNA. (If you have not tested your DNA, do it!)
We are talking about autosomal DNA, which is the only kind of testing done by 23andMe and AncestryDNA. (FamilyTreeDNA offers other types of DNA testing, but you need to buy a testing kit and submit a specimen.) Autosomal DNA testing captures the DNA you inherited from at least your last five generations of ancestors.
This same transfer service in the past has cost money. I paid $50 per upload when the service was first offered in 2012.
What do you get for free? You get to see your top twenty matches quickly- within a few hours of uploading. Your are not able to contact them through FamilyTreeDNA, but you can see some of their information. If you are a sleuth, which is a required skill to be a genealogist, you might be able to figure out who the person is. This does not imply that this person will respond to you.
I am going to say, at this juncture, that I do not know if your matches can see you, and I don't know if you have full access to the database of matches. I have kits that I uploaded "for free" today, as well as kits with fully-paid accounts. The matches for both free kits and paid kits appear to be paid kits only; free kits are not visible in the matches (yet???). I am reserving my decision on whether or not this is the final situation, as the newly uploaded kits are not finished processing. Maybe their existence becomes known to other parties in a few days. I will check.
If you wish to "unlock" your matches and be able to contact them, you have two options.
1- Pay $39
2- Recruit four other people to upload their files from 23andMe or AncestryDNA, using a unique link
My technique to take the most advantage of this unlocking through referrals was to upload the first file using someone else's link. I am seeing a few people posting their links in online groups, requesting people to upload through their link. (If you have tested your DNA, you will benefit from joining online groups that discuss how to use the information.) I uploaded several more kits, using the unique referral links for the people whose full access would be most helpful. I achieved full access for two kits so far.
Using a referral link, here is what the login screen at FamilyTreeDNA looks like. (Note: If you have more than one person's file to upload, you can use the same email address for each one. Your login identification is a series of letters and/or numbers.)
Within a few hours of a successful upload, you can see two pages of twenty matches.
These are the top matches for my paternal grandfather's first cousin. I successfully "unlocked" all of his matches through referrals, but I cannot see the rest of the matches yet. Some of the differences I see between this free upload and a paid account are:
---The matching cousins' names are one initial and the last name, not the full name
---The Known Relationship function cannot be selected
---Family trees are not accessible
---Matches cannot be contacted
---Top matches from free uploads are not displayed
In comparison, these are my father's paid Family Finder matches at FamilyTreeDNA.
The free uploads for my father's siblings and his close cousins are not reflected in his matches. His top match is me, followed by our known third cousin, known fourth cousin, and then distant cousins of unknown relation. I will check in a few days, when the free uploads are finalized, who can see whom.
This free upload offer is a great way to check for close matches at FamilyTreeDNA without incurring costs. But I need to see if everyone is eligible to be revealed to someone who uploads for free. If not, you could have a very close relation in the database and miss him/her.
For years, you have been able to upload your DNA results to GedMatch.com for free. So why bother (paying money) having results at the three major testing companies? Because you never know where your important link is going to be solely residing. Most of the DNA matches I encounter are not serious about genealogy, but rather purchased a DNA kit out of curiosity about their ethnic background or genetic risk of diseases. All you need is one sibling, aunt, uncle, or first cousin to solve your adoption case or brick wall. Chances are, this person sent a DNA kit to only one company with no idea that they could provide you with your missing parentage. You need to seek that person out. It's part of your sleuthing skills.
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