Must-Have Tools for FTDNA Users: Gedmatch

Between the recent windfall of free and reduced-price transfers from Ancestry, and the end of the year holiday sale, the FTDNA database is now estimated to contain about 565,000 customers.  The December 2014 sale is reputed to have sold in the neighborhood of 10,000 kits, and the first few months of 2015 should see many of us enjoying a bumper crop of new matches.

The Iowa DNA Project has already begun to see members who purchased kits at the beginning of the December sale start to receive their Family Finder results.   Most of our members have already begun to lay the groundwork to make the most of their new results.  With the basics already been covered, results in and raw data available, it is time to consider using essential and powerful free third party tools.

Get Your Name Out There

As you become more familiar with the world of genetic genealogy, you will begin hearing the term ‘Gedmatch‘.   Gedmatch is a website run by volunteers who allow users to freely upload, analyze and compare raw data.  The obvious advantage of this service is that it is available to all customers of the ‘Big 3’: FTDNA, Ancestry and 23 and Me.  So, if you have tested with FTDNA, you can still scoop up additional matches with cousins who have tested with other companies and have also uploaded their data to Gedmatch.

To take advantage of this opportunity, download your raw data, go to the Welcome Page at FTDNA and scroll down to the Family Finder Section.

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Once you are on the ‘Raw Data’ page, you must download TWO FILES:

  • Build 36 Raw Autosomal Raw Data
  • Build 36 X Chromosome Raw Data

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Both Build 36 files must be downloaded from FTDNA and then uploaded to Gedmatch one at a time for the raw data to be processed.  After you have registered at Gedmatch, log in and upload your data from your Gedmatch Home page.  Click the link and upload your Autosomal DNA, or Family Finder file FIRST.  Then click the second link and upload your X file.

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It usually takes about two days for raw data to be processed, or ‘tokenized’ by Gedmatch.  During times of heavy usage it may take longer.  Once your raw data is tokenized you may run it against the entire Gedmatch database by using the One To Many matches utility.  The results will include up to 1500 potentially new matches. In the meantime, you can experiment with various tools, including a wide variety of specialized admixture, or ancestry tools.

Gedmatch is extremely popular with the genetic genealogy community and there is a wealth of information to help you navigate its complexities.  Detailed tutorials and information can be found here under the Gedmatch section.  A series of tutorials to help you learn more about various Gedmatch tools is available here. Gedmatch’s services are free but donations are strongly encouraged and will not only help support the growing infrastructure and hardworking volunteers but also give you access to an advanced set of genetic genealogy tools.


14 thoughts on “Must-Have Tools for FTDNA Users: Gedmatch

    • Glad to be of help! If your kit successfully tokenized there is no need to delete Build 37 uploads. As I understand it there are compatibility issues with Build 37 and they aren’t always able to process them.


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  2. Thanks for the helpful info on uploading to Gedmatch. I’m a 23andMe customer but was recently asked to help an elderly relative with their ftdna upload. I said yes, thinking it would be as easy as 23andMe had been – it’s not! I got to ‘download raw data’ on his account and there were 4 choices of files to choose from! Perplexed, I thought oh well 36 must be females and 37 must be males – it’s not! Had to search on google to discover that 36 is just an older version file. Not sure why the older version is still on there to confuse folks? …. OK, so 37 and 37X are needed (why is the X in a seperate file?? on 23andMe there is only one csv file of raw data) so after a cup of tea and a lie down I tried to download the file …. again more confusion. My computer couldn’t recognise the file type Gzip so wouldn’t download it or save it. I’ve called my brother to come over and help. Hopefully we’ll get the next step of uploading sorted before midnight ……

    I’m sure there’s a moral to this tale 🙂
    Nadine Tankey


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  4. Can someone please help me with this issue? When I try to download Build 36 my computer says: This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.


  5. I would like to know if family tree dna results can be transferred to If I want to find out my mother’s mother’s side of the family


  6. I tested with ancestry and I need to know what to do with the raw data it comes in a zip file so I down loaded it twice one is still Ip the other is in what looks like a word note pad doc. Either way I can’t upload to GEDmatch because it’s not in the correct type of file ! Can anyone tell me what to do? Thanks


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