GEDmatch is a free online DNA service that allows users to compare their DNA sequences to other members. Most users join the site to connect with other DNA relatives, although the site also has ethnicity and genetic genealogy features.
The founders, Curtis Rogers and John Olson, created GEDmatch to give users one platform that accepts all major types of DNA tests. They wanted to solve the limitations presented by just using one DNA testing company to find DNA relatives. The genetic database has helped over 10,000 adoptees find and reunite with their parents.
New users can quickly set up a new account and upload their raw DNA data to GEDmatch. Privacy options allow you to find and connect with other users without giving out too much personal information. You can also choose if you want law enforcement to have access to your DNA file.
Verogen is a forensic genomics firm that acquired GEDmatch in 2019. The new owners plan to keep GEDmatch available for DNA matching, but may also eventually focus more on law enforcement matching. GEDmatch is the DNA database responsible for identifying the infamous Golden State Killer. While this new ownership provides an advantage for law enforcement, users must assess the personal risk of allowing outside organizations to potentially access their unique DNA data.
Keep reading our GEDmatch review to learn more about the pros and cons of uploading your DNA to the GEDmatch database.
Setting up a free account through GEDmatch only takes a few minutes. Fill in your name, email address, optional alias, and password. The alias keeps your name private behind a unique username. You will receive an email confirmation code to complete your DNA profile registration. Then you can upload a raw DNA data file containing your autosomal DNA code. GEDmatch gives you detailed instructions for uploading your DNA. You will need to classify where you got the DNA. For example, you may be uploading DNA for yourself, a minor, a relative, a deceased person, etc.
Before uploading someone else’s DNA, be sure to check that you have his or her permission. After you select your privacy options, you can upload your data. The upload could take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. You can start searching for DNA matches once your DNA file has been processed which could take up to 48 hours.
Users can pay a small subscription fee for access to more DNA relative results. The “Tier 1” features are only available to paying members. These features include a list of 100,000 matched DNA kits compared to 3,000 in the free version. You will also see a small picture of your segment matches for all the DNA kit comparisons. With this information, you can build your own family tree.
One of the major benefits of using GEDmatch is its compatibility with major DNA testing companies. If you are interested in finding more DNA relatives, you can upload your raw DNA file to GEDmatch. The company accepts files from different DNA testing companies including 23andMe, Ancestry DNA, MyHeritage, Family tree DNA (ftDNA), Living DNA, and Genes for Good.
However, you are encouraged to opt-in to law enforcement matching unless you have specific reasons to opt-out. GEDmatch gives you full ownership over your DNA file even after you upload the information. You can always choose to delete your DNA data permanently off the site.
You can start comparing your DNA data with other users once your DNA has finished processing. However, some functions will take a few days to activate. With one-on-one DNA comparison, you can get an exact breakdown of how closely your DNA results match with another user.
The Genesis system identifies other users with similar DNA patterns. The list of matches will contain information about the kit number, username, email, largest segment, an estimate of generations apart, total cM, overlap, date compared, and testing company. The generations apart will tell you if this individual is a close or distant relative. The overlap gives you a number of compared SNPs. Some comparisons will be more accurate than others depending on where you got your DNA test analyzed compared to other users. You can also test to see how related your parents are to one another. Once you have found a DNA match, you can email or contact the person depending on what personal information they provided.
The GEDmatch platform is not as user friendly compared to other online DNA services, especially when it comes to its Admixture feature. GEDmatch Admixture is used to look at your ancestry by comparing your DNA data file to a GEDmatch project. The dataset results from Admixture can be difficult to interpret especially for those who are new to DNA evaluations. Using a different site or tool for ancestry would be much more beneficial to most users. However, GEDmatch is fully capable of helping you accomplish your goal of connecting with DNA relatives.
In 2020, GEDmatch experienced two security breaches that allowed all profiles to be used for law enforcement matching regardless of privacy preferences. The potential for outside companies and agencies to access a genetic database is an ongoing concern for many individuals. Users need to understand the risk before uploading DNA information to any DNA testing service and the potential for a data breach.
GEDmatch does not offer any DNA testing kits through the company. You have to submit a DNA sample and obtain a raw DNA file from one of the major companies before trying GEDmatch. Most companies offer their own version of DNA matching and relative finder. People who have received a DNA test kit through another company and found the information they are searching for may not find GEDmatch useful.
Best Company has not received enough GEDmatch reviews to make a final recommendation. Customers should consider choosing a different genetics company with an established customer recommendation.