Database Sizes—September 2018 Update

Ancestry.com has finally updated their corporate page to say that their DNA database is “over 10 million people”.  Until this Labor Day weekend (Sep 3), the page said “almost 10 million”.  Based on past growth—they added 2 million testers between February and April 2018—they should have crossed the 10 million threshold back in May or June.  Why they haven’t promoted such a major milestone is anyone’s guess.

Regardless, I’m happy for any excuse to update the graph of autosomal DNA database sizes. “Over 10 million” is a geek’s nightmare of imprecision; it could mean anything from 10,000,001 to the entire human population.  For the graph, I used 10 million for AncestryDNA, even though I’m sure that’s an underestimate.  I also got an updated number from GEDmatch.

 

Based on past trajectories, there been an apparent slow-down at AncestryDNA.  If I extrapolate the growth rate from the previous two AncestryDNA reports (from February and April) to today, they should be at almost 12.8 million.  Perhaps their database really is nearly 13 million and their description of “over 10 million” is too modest.  Alternately, they may have experienced a real decrease in growth rate.  Without inside information, there’s no way to tell which is the case at the moment.

GEDmatch does seem to have experienced a real slow-down, however.  If the growth from February to May had continued, they would have about 1.2 million people today.  The official value is 1,080,000, or 10% less than expected.  Two possible explanations are that (1) the slow-down at AncestryDNA is real and is having downstream effects on GEDmatch, or (2) people are shying away from GEDmatch now that they know law enforcement is using the database for criminal investigations.  Of course, both possibilities may be at play or even other factors I haven’t considered.

I did similar calculations for each of the major databases and summarized the results in this table:

Company Estimated size Official size
AncestryDNA 12,777,778 > 10 million (Sep 2018)
23andMe 8,468,239 > 5 million (Feb 2018)
MyHeritage 1,739,130 1,400,000 (May 2018)
FTDNA 951,695 n.a.
GEDmatch 1,203,292 1,080,000 (Sep 2018)

It will be interesting to see whether these projections are accurate.

10 thoughts on “Database Sizes—September 2018 Update”

  1. If Ancestry has experienced a decrease in growth rate, that is not at all surprising.

    Ancestry has real negative press. Many customers are very unhappy and word of mouth is the best advertising, positive or negative; and in this case, negative.

    Their site and its navigation in the dna accounts is unruly and antiquated. It is like, “you have got to be kidding.” People are disinclined to pay subscriptions for that, especially younger people who on a daily basis work with technology and know its capabilities and what experienced programmers are capable of delivering.

    Subscriptions are their bread and butter, not testing. They probably do not make a penny from each test.

    I guess if they ever have a public offering, we can make money by selling short.
    We are the insiders with insider information. LOL

    Rome crumbled from within.

  2. This is very interesting information. While I knew that ancestry would probably have the largest DNA base, I was surprised the order of of the other companies. Pleasantly surprised at myheritage’s growth, probably due to the overseas customers. Thanks for giving us this info.

  3. MyHeritage seems to have just finally created profiles today for v5 23andMe transfers it had been sitting on for a long time. (I manage another user’s account.) This likely significantly added to the size of its database.

    1. Yes! They’ll be integrating the v5 kits into the database over the next few days. I’m trying to get an official number from them so I can update the graph.

  4. Good info.
    With FTDNA, is their long term viability at risk? It sounds harsh, but It just looks like they are becoming an also-ran in the DNA market and are becoming the “PALM” of this space. I still use them, but honestly can go weeks without taking a look on their site. I am more likely to login to MyHeritage / 23andME over FTDNA.

    Any thoughts?

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