August 8, 2019
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The Best DNA Report Format: Is There One?

DNA reports and files come in many formats. This article discusses various formats, their benefits, and which formats are the best.
Tomohiro Takano

If you are interested in DNA testing and are trying to figure out which companies have the best report format this is a great place to start. You might also be interested in which raw DNA data file formats are the best for uploading your genetic data to a third-party analysis site. You can find that and more below!

DNA Report Formats

After you use your DNA swabs and submit it to your DNA testing service, you typically have to wait between a few weeks and a few months to receive your DNA test results. Results can come in many forms. Below are the most common report formats you will receive.

The Online Platform

Most major DNA testing companies, such as 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and, post their reports in an online format. All you have to do to access your report is log into your account. The report typically details whatever traits you have paid to have analyzed, and is often broken into different sections based on what genetic markers are found.

So, if you are looking for your biological father, go to the section on DNA matches. If you want to analyze your DNA sequence, use the Chromosome Browser. If you want to see what your genetic data says about your health, find the section on health-related traits. The exact format of each report will be slightly different, so you may have to use the FAQ section of your DNA testing company’s website to find answers to specific problems.

Reports Over Snail-Mail

Some companies, unfortunately, still deliver results through the mail. This is good in some cases, such as paternity test results which you may want to remain offline and inaccessible. However, for doing genetic genealogy research or finding your haplogroup, the process is much easier if you have access to an electronic report and the ability to download a raw DNA data file. So, unless you are concerned about keeping your results completely private, you should opt for a company which provides an online platform for analyzing your report.

DNA File Formats and Uploading DNA Data

Many companies also offer the ability to explore your test results by downloading your DNA data file. This file comes in many different formats, based on the company. However, the largest and most popular DNA testing companies are starting to define the format of raw DNA data files. Therefore, most of the third-party companies which can analyze DNA files will accept almost any genetic file you can receive. 

While the format may differ slightly, third-party companies have an incentive to be compatible with any file, so they can get more users. Sites like Promethease and GEDmatch are compatible with almost all of the most recent file types, though they do have some older file types that their services may not be compatible with. Luckily, most DNA testing companies allow you to download the most recent file type simply by logging into your account. This ensures that you will be able to use third-party testing services even if you originally tested your DNA years ago.

Where to Use a Raw DNA Data File

There are many sites which offer users the ability to reanalyze their DNA sequence. Some of them are even free! After sending in your DNA sample and receiving your results, simply log into your account at the homepage of the genetic testing service you used. Navigate to the DNA download page and download the file to your desktop. The companies below will allow you to upload the file, regardless of its format. If the DNA test report file is in the wrong format, the site will notify you and allow you to try again with a different file. 

Since the vast majority of DNA testing companies are measuring SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms), these files are largely the same and the raw data can easily be interpreted by the software. These sites commonly take data from 23andMe, FTDNA, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and other large testing companies for additional DNA analysis.

To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"

Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO