Gedmatch review: what to know before you start
GEDmatch is a non-profit company that focuses on genetic genealogy. However, unlike many genetic DNA testing companies such as AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA, GEDmatch does not provide a DNA testing kit to collect your sample. Instead, GEDmatch allows users to obtain a kit number by uploading their raw data to the platform. If you are wondering whether GEDmatch is accurate, GEDmatch Genesis, the newest version of the software, allows users to access a number of tools that can also help you find common ancestors, closest matches, and family members.
What to Know, Before You Start
When it comes to GEDmatch vs. Ancestry, FTDNA, or any other genetic DNA testing company, it is not like any of them. GEDmatch is much more complicated and is intended for amateur and professional genetic genealogists. The platform gives you a number of tools that are 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 and 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 GEDmatch DNA 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, GEDmatch’s DNA 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 Genesis, your DNA data is visible to any other user 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 is. 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 raw data, 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 Genesis 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 that with conduct a DNA analysis based on your genetic data for free, and several that provide DNA matching. Many of these companies offer a 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
10. DNA Fit
So, Should You Use GEDmatch to Explore Your Genealogy?
In the growing world of genealogy and ancestry research, GEDmatch has really set itself apart from other online tools. The platform offers a number of features that simply aren’t found anywhere else. This could be a good thing, if you’re looking to take advantage of those more in-depth features. But it could also lead to frustration and an incomplete picture if you’re not comfortable navigating their software.
GEDmatch’s unique features include a chromosome browser that will let you review your 46 chromosomes, analyze your family tree, use a family finder tool to find family members, and view your admixture, which is similar to an ethnicity estimate. Keep in mind that other GEDmatch users can also find your data and compare theirs with yours. Another feature is the subscription “Tier 1” that they offer for $10/month. The subscription opens up additional tools within GEDmatch that will let you get even more advanced in your research. For example, if you also have your parents’ DNA, you can use a phasing tool to separate your maternal and paternal autosomal DNA. If that doesn’t sound fun to you, then GEDmatch might not be your ideal ancestry research site! In short, GEDmatch’s advanced settings and in-depth tools are custom made for professional genealogy researchers - as well as those hoping to become one for themselves or their family.
While many of GEDmatch’s research tools aren’t found on other sites you might have heard of, such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA, those sites will have their own tools and features that GEDmatch doesn’t support. It’s important to do your research before, well, you do your research! Know what you’re looking to get out of digging into your ancestry to make sure you find the site that will help you get there.
If you’re looking for GEDmatch reviews to understand what other genealogy enthusiasts have to say about their experiences with the site, you can find them online. Searching Gedmatch in Reddit or Wikipedia, for example, will turn up GEDmatch user reviews, user tips, and other information that can help you decide if GEDmatch is something you’d like to check out.
In our own GEDmatch review, we discovered a few pros and cons of this particular ancestry site, including:
- Advanced features that give you a deeper understanding of your DNA
- Accepts raw data uploads from tests you’ve taken elsewhere
- The ability to find family members by searching others’ data
- Makes for an excellent secondary source of ancestry information
- Some privacy concerns, as your data is visible to others (although you can toggle this in the settings)
- A steeper learning curve for users than other sites
- Does not provide its own DNA testing kit
And if you’re wondering about GEDmatch vs. Ancestry, note that GEDmatch’s software is more complicated than Ancestry’s, but this also means you’ll have access to tools on GEDmatch that Ancestry doesn’t provide.
Remember: knowing what’s most important to you when conducting ancestry research will help you explore your options and find the right ones for your search. Already have your raw DNA ready to be analyzed? Get started for free using Genomelink today, and see where your ancestry will take you.
To find out more, go to the updated list of uploading websites here!