Gedmatch review: what to know before you start
GEDmatch is a non-profit company which focuses on genetic genealogy. However, unlike many DNA testing companies such as AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA, GEDmatch does not provide a DNA kit to collect your sample. Instead, GEDmatch allows users to obtain a kit number by uploading their raw data to the platform. GEDmatch Genesis, the newest version of the software, allows users a number of tools for finding common ancestors, closest matches, and family members.
What to Know, Before You Start
GEDmatch.com is not like Ancestry.com, FTDNA, or any other DNA testing company. GEDmatch is much more complicated and is intended for amateur and professional genetic genealogists. The platform gives you a number of tools not found on any other platform.
First, the chromosome browser allows you to review your many chromosomes, and see which segments you share with other users. Using your kit number, other users can find your data and compare with you. Using a GEDCOM file, users can analyze their family trees created on different sites use the family finder tool to find family members. The basic platform will also allow you to view your admixture, which is similar to an ethnicity estimate. Using their comparison tools, you can find DNA matches within their database.
Second, for a small fee every month ($10) you can join the Tier 1 subscription level, giving you access to a wide variety of other tools. For instance, with your parents DNA, you can use the phasing tool which will try to separate your maternal and paternal autosomal DNA. Other analysis tools allow you to analyze a specific DNA segment, set up your own searches, and generally conduct genealogy research at a much more advanced level than is allowed by AncestryDNA or 23andMe.
However, these analysis tools are complex and are built for advanced users. If you are interested in becoming the genetic genealogist of your family check out this Wiki page on raw data analysis tools used in GEDmatch. However, if you want to just learn how to get started and get the bare essentials from GEDmatch, read this beginner’s guide to get just that.
Data Privacy and Law Enforcement
When you use GEDmatch, your DNA data is then visible to any other users of the site, unless you specifically change your privacy settings. As such, GEDmatch offers the least privacy for your data. In fact, GEDmatch is used by a number of law enforcement agencies to search for criminals. While the actual criminal may not be in the database, the database is large enough that at least one of their close relatives has. This helps law enforcement identify a family, and has helped solve many cold cases. For example, the Golden State Killer was identified this way.
In fact, GEDmatch was purchased by the forensic company Verogen to make it easier for law enforcement officials to access this information. When you upload, you are allowed to opt-out of law enforcement discovery. While this feature was temporarily disabled, the site has been fixed and users can rest assured their choices will be respected. While this should really only be worrisome to you if you plan on committing a crime, it can be disconcerting to know that anyone can compare their DNA with yours. Luckily, aliases are allowed on the platform and you can take steps to protect your identity from being discovered.
What to use GEDmatch For
GEDmatch is considered a secondary tool, for people to analyze their data file themselves. By playing around with your test results, you have the ability to analyze different SNPs, manipulate the raw data, and find DNA matches that were not found on other sites. Because many users upload their DNA file from other sites, GEDmatch is a good place to find DNA matches. Compared to companies like MyHeritage and Ancestry, GEDmatch offers users a completely customizable experience, if you are willing to learn how to use the GEDmatch site.
GEDmatch Customer Reviews
There are surprisingly few reviews for GEDmatch online. However, word of mouth for GEDmatch is strong and it is the standard tool recommended among genealogy groups on Facebook. See below for some discussions on Reddit and Wikipedia on how to use the site, and different complications that may arise.
Reddit - GEDmatch Discussions
Wikipedia - GEDmatch
Other Sites That Take Raw DNA Data
If learning how to become a genetic genealogist is not your scene, we understand. Below are a number of other companies which will analyze your genetic data for free, and several which provide DNA matching. Many of these companies offer much more user-friendly software. Check it out!
Know "More" About Your DNA Data
1. Genomelink — FREE
2. Promethease (genetic health risk)
3. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) — FREE
4. MyHeritage DNA — FREE
5. LivingDNA — FREE
Nutrition and Fitness
To find out more, go to the updated list of uploading websites here!