Transferring Your DNA – Let’s Find More Cousins

(This is a long post with lots of pictures. This explains how to transfer an AncestryDNA file to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) but part way through this post there will be a link to instructions to upload to MyHeritage. Note that for some, what I mention may be obvious, but we are all at different levels of understanding)

I was doing a presentation for my DNA Special Interest Group (SIG) in Edmonton and I thought why not present this on my blog? After all, I’m all about multi-tasking.

First of all, why would we transfer our DNA? One of the reasons I’ve done this for myself and for some of my family is because I want to ensure I get cousin matches in as many places as possible. Fishing in all the ponds. After all, you may have tested at one company and your best cousin matches may have tested at another and never the twain shall meet. But we have to help this meeting take place.

In my first example, I’m going to download a file from AncestryDNA and upload the file to Family Tree DNA. I want to let you know by downloading your file you are in no way changing what you have on the original site. Your DNA remains. You’re taking a copy of your raw data (the file) to use for the other site.

You also need to know that if you want to upload to more than one other DNA site you don’t have to download multiple copies of your raw data you can use the same file over and over. Let’s get started.

The Download

In this example, I’ll be downloading the file from Ancestry (that’s what I’m supposed to be showing at tonight’s SIG) but you can download your raw data file (Your DNA) from any of site you’ve tested your DNA at.

To do this you need to login to your AncestryDNA account or go to the DNA tab if you have a full subscription to Ancestry. Click on Settings.

DNA Profile Page

You’ll see on the right-hand side a box which looks like the box shown below. Click on the Download Raw DNA Data box. Be careful not to click on the Delete button.


You’ll be asked to enter your password and confirm you understand that by downloading your raw data you are no longer protected by AncestryDNA’s security.

Password and Privacy

You’ll see this little box which is the trigger to go to your email.

Almost there

Switch to your email and you’ll have an email from Ancestry which looks like this.

Confirm Data Download

When you click on the confirm button you’ll automatically be taken to a new Ancestry login page. After logging in you will see the page below. Click Download DNA Raw Data.

Download DNA Raw Data

Immediately the file will download to your computer. The file will go to the download folder on your computer. Click on the download file and you’ll see all the files you’ve downloaded and it will likely be at the top of your list. BTW it’s a good idea to clean up this download file folder from time to time.


Phew, we made it and now we’re ready to upload to Family Tree DNA. (If you’re looking for instructions on how to upload to MyHeritage click HERE.)

Click the Family Tree DNA link above and you’ll go to this page. If you’re uploading your own DNA you’ll create an account for yourself or if you’re uploading someone else’s raw data you’ll create an account for them.

Next you’ll be taken to this page.

In my case, I’ll be using the AncestryDNA file but you see you can also use a 23andMe or MyHeritage file as well. Once you choose the AncestryDNA button the box appears to browse and find the file you have in your download folder (or wherever you’ve decided to store your raw data file). Choose your file and submit and Congrats you’ve uploaded your file.

As you can see you’ll get an email with your password to log in. When you log in for the first time you’ll be taken to the Terms of Service page where you’ll have to agree before you are able to use the site. Be sure to read the Terms of Service so you understand exactly what you’re agreeing to.

Once you agree you’ll be taken to a second screen which looks like the one below; Consent to Matching. Again it’s important you read this as it’s telling you there are two levels of matching. Matching for cousins and matching for law enforcement.

Once you’re logged in I think you should do two things. I would suggest you go into the settings and change your password to something you’ll remember.

The second thing I would suggest is to go to the privacy tab and make a decision on your privacy settings. You’ll see you’ve automatically opted into the DNA Relatives (cousins) and Law Enforcement. You’re fine to leave it that way but if you choose you can decide here whether you want to be included in the law enforcement part of the matching.

Personally, I’ve opted in on the law enforcement but on all the kits I manage for others I’ve opted out until I’m able to ask each of the people involved. Initially, when I started all the DNA testing of my family they agreed to the cousin matching but things have changed and I have no right to do that without their permission. If you’d like to see a consent form you can provide your cousins with, you can find one here at Blaine Bettinger’s blog.

Now all you have to do is wait for the file to be processed and that’s sometimes the hardest part.

(Haven’t tested at Ancestry but you’d like to? Here are links to all of Ancestry’s site

AncestryDNA – US AncestryDNA – Canada AncestryDNA – Australia AncestryDNA – UK

Note: The post above contains affiliate links. This means I make a small percentage on sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. It’s  simply a supplement to my income so I can continue  to support The DNA Angel Project and to make donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society


  • I have downloaded my raw dna to Gedmatch and DNALand. I have done both Ancestry and 23andme dna kits. I have contacted dozens of dna cousins and have become friends with many on facebook and through email. Hoping to meet a few eventually.
    I have been able to help others fill out their trees, and they have helped me do the same. We have exchanged photos of ancestors and even articles from newspapers.
    I’ve also connected with distant cousins (we have shared ancestors) on Find a Grave, and have exchanged info such as pictures, wills, and trees.
    I have had a blast connecting with my dna cousins and hope to make lifelong friends with some of them.
    When I first decided to do my dna with Ancestry in 2015, I was not looking for family. However, I had a ‘1st cousin’ come up and contacted him, Turned out to be my nephew as my sister had given a child up for adoption when she was 18 years old. I was heart-broken when she gave him up (I had offered to keep him, but she said no). He is now part of our family and still has his wonderful adopted family (who is his real family as they raised him).
    Then I decided to do 23andme as I kept reading you should do more than one test. I had another ‘1st cousin’! How??? This time it turned out to be a true first cousin as my maternal uncle had had an affair with a woman who was separated from her husband, but then she went back to him. She had given this child up for adoption (she looks exactly like my uncle!). And now I have a new cousin.
    I love all the connections with my 3rd-6th dna cousins. I love the sharing and the connectedness we have through shared ancestry.
    I contacted one man who shares about an inch or so of dna on one chromosome with me as I recognized his last name as a distant grandmother’s surname and knew how we were connected. As we wrote back and forth, he asked me if I was related to two other surnames and I am! It turns out that through my paternal great grandmother, I am related to this man from both sides of her family! We are related through 3 surnames!
    Here’s the odd part, he and I share dna, but his biological sister and I do not share any dna! She and I are related through the very same 3 family lines, but we did not inherit the same dna! We thought that so odd! These two siblings are dna cousins I hope to meet one day. One lives in CO and the other lives in MT, while I live in OH, so not sure when this will happen. We’ve spoken on the phone and we email regularly. Fun!!!!
    We are very distantly related through their surname that is the same as my 7 x’s great grandmother, but more closely related to the other two surnames as that would be 3 x’s great grandparents. (We are related through my 3 x’s great grandfather and his wife!- Both sides!)
    It has been and continues to be a fun journey of exploration and friendship.

    • Thank you for your comments. It sounds like you are a DNA nut like I am. As for your cousin, that doesn’t share DNA. Depending on the distance of the relationship the sister may not have received and carried forward the DNA that your male cousin received. My brother has a connection to a 5th cousin that I don’t share any DNA with. That’s why it’s so important to test your siblings as they may have DNA connections in their genetic tree that other siblings didn’t get. It’s for that reason I’ve convinced both of my brothers to test. Happy Hunting