If you are anything like me, “free” is probably your favorite F-word.
With the free websites and free resources below, you can begin a journey of discovery into your genetic history! These sites and resources utilize a free or “freemium” business model. This means that they give away some or all of their products to entice customers to subscribe or buy into their other products.
Luckily for you, the consumer, there are so many sites giving away free information right now that you can actually get a fairly comprehensive analysis of your DNA ancestry without spending a dime!
First Things First…
Unfortunately, there are no companies that will just give you a free ancestry DNA test kit. To our knowledge, there is only one way to get a free DNA test and it is a long shot. There are many groups and families that are leveraging genetic data to produce accurate and extensive family trees.
Some of these groups are willing to pay for your DNA analysis if you have the right last name! You can check the following page to see if you have a lucky last name:
Not on the list? That’s okay. But, in order to use the sites below, you will need raw DNA data from one of the major DNA testing companies. We suggest MyHeritage because they have a good reputation, solid value, and a large historical records database. You can see our full review of MyHeritage if you would like to know more!
Another good choice is AncestryDNA. While they provide less health information compared to MyHeritage, they do have the world’s largest DNA database. This means that they can match you to the most specific ethnic regions and the highest number of potential DNA matches. You can check out our full review of Ancestry on this page.
You can also choose almost any of the other major DNA testing companies such as 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, or LivingDNA. Just make sure that the company you select allows you to download your raw DNA data. Then, make sure that the free services you are interested in using will take raw data from that company. We researched the compatibility of all of the free resources below!
Got Your Raw DNA Data? Let’s get started!
In this section, we will look at all of the free resources available on the web to help someone explore their family history. While there are other tools that can analyze health and physical traits, these sites specialize in genetic genealogy information. As we analyze each service, we will look at what they do, how each service works, and the raw DNA data compatibility for each service. Check it out!
Many folks who have received ancestry DNA testing simply want a second opinion or another set of eyes to examine their DNA results. Sometimes this is because their ethnicity estimate does not match their oral or written family history. These users should look into DNA.land.
This company was started by professors from Columbia who have developed a fairly unique business model. They harvest raw DNA data from their users, aggregate and anonymize the data, then sell that data to researchers. But, because the company does not actually offer the initial DNA test kit, these services are free!
Simply go to DNA.land in your browser and sign up. The site will ask you to upload your raw DNA data and provide you with a number of reports. One of the reports will detail your ancestry information and give you insights into your ethnicity breakdown. This company utilizes its own reference population to compare your data with, so you should expect some differences between DNA.land and the company you initially tested with. However, any similarities between the two analyses will give you more confidence about what your ethnic makeup is.
- Genes for Good
GEDmatch is by far one of the coolest genetic genealogy tools on the web. But, it is also one of the least user-friendly platforms. The site has tools that can analyze relationships between two samples, match you with people you are related to, and has a number of tools for analyzing your genealogy. You can see a 3-D chromosome browser, use tools that analyze your parent’s DNA, and get tools that can narrow down your search results using DNA from another family member. That’s a lot of power for free!
Plus, if you choose to upgrade to their “Tier 1” subscription plan for $10/month, you will get access to a number of even more powerful tools to find your family. These tools are highly technical, and they are typically only used by genetic genealogists. While you will definitely have to do some research to figure out the right use of each tool, this site can really help you dig deep into your family history.
If you have a little time to try it out, start with this video from GEDmatch:
Most Other Companies
Genetic Affairs offers some very cool (and free!) tools for creating and analyzing a family tree. Genetic Affairs does something fairly unique (and very technical) in a simple and user-friendly way. Unlike GEDmatch, Genetic Affairs has automized many of the tasks on its site. That means all you have to do is sign up, connect your data, and let the program work!
There are 3 basic tools available on the site. AutoScan will actively monitor your DNA testing company account, and notify you if any new matches are found. AutoTree will take your genetic data and DNA matches from your DNA testing company and they will create an estimate of your family tree. AutoCluster is a tool that can measure the DNA relationships between all of your matches and organize the information into a simple chart that shows different branches of your family. You can see the function of this amazing tool here:
Genetic Affairs works on a “token” system. After you register, you will be given 200 free tokens. This is more than enough to do several of the above analyses. Plus, if you want more tokens after you run out of free tokens, you can purchase more tokens for a fairly cheap price (about $0.01 per token). The cluster analysis above only costs 25 tokens or about 25 cents! So, you could potentially get several of these analyses for free with your 200 starting tokens.
Like Genetic Affairs, DNA Painter focuses mainly on DNA visualization. If you have ever tried to be a genetic genealogist, you know that oftentimes the problem is not a lack of data, but far too much data! DNA Painter offers a number of tools to help you better understand and visualize that data.
The site offers a number of free tools to help you analyze different relationships that DNA testing companies have found. For example, with the free Shared cM Tool, you can easily predict the relationship you have with a DNA match based on the amount of DNA that you share. Other tools include cluster analysis and a tool you can use to create a theoretical family tree to see if it matches your DNA analysis. This can help you research and theorize about your family tree!
The site also offers a subscription package for people who want to dive deep into their family tree and genealogy using family tree software and chromosome mapping. These tools offer powerful visualization that can really help you parse apart the massive amounts of data out there.
All sites and DNA data
Check for other DNA matches!
Many people searching for free DNA ancestry resources are simply looking for DNA matches. In other words, they simply want to find any living relatives they have. This is also a great strategy for building your family tree because people often keep oral and written histories of their families that may help you better understand your family!
The following sites allow you to upload your raw DNA data to search their database for DNA matches. With this free service, you will likely find many of your living relatives regardless of the DNA testing service they choose. Check them out:
Powerful Sites Less than $20
While the best things in life may be free, in some cases a little money goes a long way. If you have already received a genetic genealogy analysis, but still want to learn more, the sites below can give you tons of information for very cheap! Check them out!
- Promethease – $12 / test
- Promethease.com is called a “literature retrieval service” because the company analyses the genetic variants you have, then connects you directly to the scientific literature covering the genetic variants you carry. While this is an enormously powerful tool for medical research, the site can also analyze your haplogroup.
- Haplogroups are ancient divisions of humans as they migrated out of Africa. The variants that identify haplogroups are typically located on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-DNA passed down from your mother and father, respectively. These lines of inheritance are more-or-less straight connections to ancient groups of humans. With Promethease, you can find out which haplogroups you belong to which can give you a lot of information about your ancient family!
- DNA2Tree – This smartphone app is a simple way to get a cluster analysis based on your AncestryDNA results. The app can load data straight from Ancestry.com, and it can produce a number of visualizations including cluster analysis. You can also build a family tree and find common ancestors between you and your DNA matches. While this is a cool product, it is not the cheapest. At $20 per month, you might be better off with Genetic Affairs or GEDmatch.
- DNAgedcom.com – A GEDCOM file is different from a DNA test file. GEDCOM is an acronym for Genealogical Data Communication. Instead of storing all of the genetic variants that were tested in a digital file, a GEDCOM file stores information from a family tree. With sites like Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com, you should be able to download this file. With DNAgedcom.com, you can analyze your GEDCOM file and compare it to other GEDCOM files.
While some of the tools that they offer are free, the powerful GWorks software to analyze GEDCOM files requires a small subscription fee that can change depending on the tools you want. This product is typically only suitable for advanced users, but the site does offer a number of tutorials if you are brave and want to try it out for yourself!