MyHeritage Matching

MyHeritage has made substantial gains since this review was published.
Please see the links at the end of this post for updated information.

MyHeritage is getting some well-deserved positive press lately as one of the newest entries in the genealogical DNA testing market. After more than a decade hosting family trees and providing subscription-based access to genealogy records, the company launched its own autosomal DNA testing and matching service in November 2016. The test in normally US $99, with frequent sales. (Please see here for current pricing.)


The MyHeritage Database

Their database of tested individuals is small—approximately 50,000 according to the ISOGG wiki—but growing rapidly. I had 95 matches on 30 May, 2017, and 129 by 17 July. Based on those numbers, their database is expanding by about 22% per month. That’s faster than AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or Family Tree DNA!

One reason for this rapid growth is their free upload program:  if you’ve already done an autosomal DNA test at any of the Big Three companies (AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or Family Tree DNA), you can transfer your raw data file into MyHeritage’s database without charge. My parents recently agreed to let me upload their data into MyHeritage’s system; they each had ethnicity estimates within 3 days and lists of matching relatives within 9 days. My mother has 233 matches and my father has 13. You can find out more about the upload program here.

The free transfer program isn’t the only explanation for the rapid growth at MyHeritage. Their database also contains a substantial percentage of people who haven’t tested anywhere else. Of the 37 matches who have responded to my messages, 13 say that they have tested only at MyHeritage. That’s 35%!

Although the majority of matches to my parents and I are from the USA, we also have quite a few from Canada and a smattering from Australia, Germany, Great Britain, and Ireland.


Communication at MyHeritage

I’m also impressed by the response rate of my matches at MyHeritage.  Of 125 matches whom I had messaged by 20 July, 37 have replied, or nearly 3 in 10. And an astounding 71% of my matches have trees of two or more people. The engagement rate of MyHeritage’s customers right now is quite high.

A downside of MyHeritage’s messaging system is that you can contact to 20 new matches per day without a subscription. And after 5 outgoing messages, you must enter a “captcha” code for each additional message to send it.

These limits do not seem to apply to matches with whom you’ve already communicated.


MyHeritage Matching Tools

MyHeritage has clearly paid attention to what the genetic genealogy community wants in a DNA testing company. As with their competition, they offer “ethnicity estimates”, which I reviewed here when they were first made available to users who had transferred raw data into their database. Like the other companies, their ethnicity estimates are hit-or-miss.

For DNA matches, the listing includes name, age bracket, country, estimated relationship, whether they have a family tree and how big it is, and three measures of DNA match quality: amount of shared DNA (in percent and cM), the number of shared segments, and the size in centimorgans of the longest segment. The latter are all important when gauging our matches, and at MyHeritage you don’t have to go looking for them.


My favorite feature of MyHeritage’s matching is their presentation of shared matches. (Shared matches are people who match both you and a selected relatives. In the screenshot below, I’m looking at the match information for Arlene; Philip, Gordon, and Roger match both me and Arlene, so they are shared matches.) What I love about the shared matches at MyHeritage is that they show us not only the estimated relationship and shared DNA amount to ourselves but also to the match we’re reviewing (in this case, Arlene).


This shared match information allows you to cluster your DNA relatives into family groups and narrow down the connection. It is similar to the Relatives in Common tool at 23andMe and much better than the Shared Matches tool at AncestryDNA and the In Common With tool at Family Tree DNA, neither of which tells you how much DNA your shared matches have in common with the selected person.

Similarly, MyHeritage shows you a direct comparison of your estimated ethnicity percentages versus those of your DNA match. 23andMe also provides this level of information. AncestryDNA only lists the ethnicities of your DNA matches (without percentages), and Family Tree DNA does not report ethnicity information for your matches.


MyHeritage does not currently have a chromosome browser, although one is expected in future updates.


MyHeritage’s Matching Algorithm

The biggest weakness of MyHeritage’s current DNA offering is their matching algorithm. What I mean by that is the computer program they use to decide how much DNA someone shares with you. I gauged their matching two different ways. First, I looked at how their matching compares with matching at other sites. Second, I compared my matches at MyHeritage with those of my parents.


MyHeritage Matching Compared with Other Databases

My top two matches at MyHeritage (other than my parents) are both genealogy buffs who are in all of the other databases. One is a 1C1R to myself and the other is a 2C1R. The table below compares their matching statistics to me across the different genealogical sites.


MyHeritage does a pretty poor job of matching to my 1C1R, failing to find eight segments and 81.5 cM relative to GEDmatch. That amount of shared DNA (260 cM) would strongly favor a prediction of 2C over 1C1R.  Their algorithm worked better for my 2C1R, with one extra segment than GEDmatch and nearly identical centimorgan estimates. For both relatives, MyHeritage’s estimate of largest segment size was similar to the other companies.

For more distant matches, MyHeritage has similar woes. Excluding my parents and the two cousins mentioned above, I have 33 matches at MyHeritage whom I know are in at least one other database. On average, MyHeritage predicts that they share 27.2 cM more than the same people at GEDmatch (n = 31 comparisons), 32.4 cM more than at 23andMe (n = 21), 18.1 cM more than at Family Tree DNA (n = 24), and 32.8 cM more than at AncestryDNA (n = 25). Worse, of those 33 matches, 11 of them do not match me at all in the other database(s), although MyHeritage predicts those 11 as sharing between 16.7 cM and 46.9 cM. The 46.9-cM match tells me that he is at GEDmatch, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and AncestryDNA, yet he matches me only at MyHeritage.


MyHeritage Matching Comparing Parents and Child

I have 129 matches at MyHeritage other than my parents. Because all of my DNA was inherited from one of them or the other, all of my DNA matches should also match at least one of my parents. Of the 129, two match my father, 49 match my mother, and 78 do not match either parent. In other words, at least 60% of my matches at MyHeritage are either false positives for me or false negatives for my parents. Of course, it’s possible that even more of my matches are false positives, but without a chromosome browser, I can’t tell.

Some of my false matches share substantial amounts of DNA with me. Arlene, the example I used above, is estimated to match me on 85.0 cM, with a largest segment of 19.6 cM. If you scroll up and look at the screenshot again, you’ll notice that her shared matches do not include one of my parents. And of the three shared matches shown in that earlier screenshot (Philip, Gordon, and Roger), only one matches a parent, my mother.

At the moment, even largest segment size is not a good metric for filtering the real matches from the false ones. Philip (a shared match with Arlene), shares a total of 78.5 cM with me and a largest segment of 45.7 cM, yet he does not match my mother at all.

On the other hand, these false matches aren’t completely random; based on their surnames or those in their trees, they are all Acadian, as is my mother. And all Acadians are related.  All of us, even if we don’t share measurable DNA. MyHeritage is clearly on to something, although their matching algorithm needs a lot of refinement. For that reason, it would be unwise to write off MyHeritage completely.



The best strategy (still) would be to test at either AncestryDNA (if you prioritize genealogical tools) or 23andMe (if you prioritize health information), then upload your raw data into MyHeritage’s database while the transfers are still free. (You can transfer those data into GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA for free, as well.) Given how much effort MyHeritage has put into providing tools that genealogists want in a DNA test, I am confident that they will refine their matching algorithm. Hopefully, the more people in their database, the sooner they will update their algorithm and the more accurate those changes will be.


Additional Reading

31 thoughts on “MyHeritage Matching”

  1. I did a comparison of my matches with those of my parents. I have 25 matches at MyHeritage. I share one match with my mum and five matches with my dad. That means that 76% of my matches at MyHeritage are either false positives or false negatives.

  2. Not loving MyHeritage either.

    I’ve uploaded my DNA and can only find matches to five relatives (total) on that web site, whereas the same DNA file uploaded to shows at least 30+ matches to tests, on the first screen alone.

    I can’t find any answers on-line to try to help solve this problem. Can anyone help?

    In addition, when I’ve tried to contact about this, and some other administrative issues on their site, they haven’t responded. I have no idea if my questions have been logged, or are just floating in the ether.

    1. That’s interesting. I have 165 matches at MyHeritage and only 10 “H” kits in my one-to-many at GEDmatch.

      As for help, I’m afraid there isn’t much we can do done right now. MyHeritage needs to improve their matching algorithm and grow their database. In the meantime, it’s worth considering the free upload on the off chance that we’ll find legitimate matches there who haven’t tested elsewhere.


    1. If this person matches you at MyHeritage, I would want to compare to this person at another site before I came to a conclusion about the relationship. In some cases, MyHeritage isn’t finding all of the matching DNA, meaning this guy could also be a half sibling. Has he tested elsewhere? Can you get him to transfer to GEDmatch? If not, I suggest you wait until after the New Year and check this match again. MyHeritage is planning to revamp their matching algorithm in the coming weeks, so hopefully we’ll have a much better estimate of how much DNA you share with this person then.

        1. Have you checked how much DNA you share with this person now that MyHeritage has updated their matching algorithm?

    2. The answer is often not pretty. Family secrets! Some guy knocked up your grandmother, and your grandfather fathered kids like he was george washington, the father of our country, without claiming any of them. In their defense, they thought they would die in WW2. Yes, our generation is not the first generation with drama. Now, you’ve got two grandkids whom share that 17% of dna from having the same grandfather, without knowing they are related, and living states or countries apart. Of course there are other ways, but this is the occams razor of answers.

  4. In the 60’s, I was told there were family secrets. I knew I was adopted, but I also found out my grandfather was adopted, as was my mother. While I thought the amount of baby passing was staggering in my family, how do we know it is more or less then today? With religious rules, etc, there might be lots of these buried secrets out there. dna might be throwing facts in your face. I am not blood related to my grandmother. Nothing shocking, that secret I have not figured out. Perhaps my grandfather was married before her, but there is a missing link. Adding to the confusion, is the records fire in NJ.

    1. DNA can solve family secrets. The flip side, of course, it that it can reveal secrets some people might have preferred not to know about. Everyone should be aware of that risk before they agree to be in the matching databases.

  5. Attempting to contact matches without a subscription works about 2% of the time for me…I’ve only ever been able to contact 3 of the matches I’ve ever tried to message over the past year or so!! Most of the time (like just a few moments ago), I get the “Learn more about Premium” trying to get me to subscribe!

    1. I think they’re experimenting with different subscription models for their business, so some people are on one “plan” (able to contact matches) and others are on another “plan” (unable to contact), and they’re comparing revenue behind the scenes.

    2. Several people are reporting that they can message their matches from a computer but not from a tablet. If you’re on a tablet, you might try again from a desktop.

  6. I did my mom’s Dna through MyHeritage, after doing FamilyTreeDna. Then I also tested her on Ancestry & 23AndMe. I thought the percentages of Ethnicity were more correct on MyHeritage. I also transferred my raw data on myself from 23AndMe. I still thought the percentages were more correct then Ancestry. My only complaint is, I paid a monthly basic membership (for like 6 mo- for my mother) well they applied it to me, instead of my mom, then THEY CONTINUED TO DRAW MORE MONEY FROM MY ACCOUNT $133! the next month! When I only paid a flat fee upfront! So I had had to go to the bank & have them take it off, cause I didn’t authorize it! Then I was building my moms tree, & it stopped me & said I couldnt add anymore on basic account. Again, they applied the money from MY credit card to my account, when it was clearly for my mother. Then when I tried to call them; NOBODY & I MEAN NOBODY IS ABLE TO REACH THEM! THERE IS LITERALLY NO CUSTOMER SERVICE AT ALL! The family tree & membership is a sham/ there is some type of SCAM going on with their membership fees. (I liked the DNA testing results & matches) but am using Ancestry to search for documents & build her Tree.

    1. I’ve heard similar complaints about them auto-renewing subscriptions against the wishes of their users. They do have phone customer service. Have you tried that?

  7. I currently have 1,196 DNA matches on MyHeritage and am waiting for DNA testing results to come back from a half-uncle on my mother’s side and a half-brother on my father’s side. I’m adopted and have just traced my biological father’s family, so we’ve got our fingers crossed that the results back up my research. In addition to my own lovely family, I may have just grown three half-brothers, three sisters-in-law, seven nephews and niece, a few uncles and aunts and countless cousins. Mind-boggling! Top tip is, if you are adopted, do keep your family in the loop. You may come across all sorts of surprises so it’s better to get their support in advance rather than landing them with a real humdinger of a “guess what I just found out”. I’m so lucky that everyone is really excited for me 🙂

  8. Are the matches accurate at a close relationship? Can they be relied upon?

    I am an adoptee searching for my biological father. My Ancestry test brought up relatives as close as 2nd cousins from my father’s side…I have a 1st cousin match who is my b. mother’s maternal uncle…my Great Uncle.

    I uploaded my raw DNA to MyHeritage and…lo and behold, a half-sibling/aunt match showed up. She is related to one of my Ancestry 2nd cousin matches…and we were able to pinpoint that her now deceased brother is likely my father.

    But now I’m wondering if the match is accurate? This aunt’s sister also tested and she did come up as a match to me, but with somewhat less shared DNA. She still shows as an aunt, but her dna is distant enough to also include grandparent, etc.

    At that close of a relationship (aunt), can we reliably say MyHeritage is accurate?

    1. MyHeritage has overhauled their matching algorithm since this post was published, and their matching is much more accurate than it was then. So, yes, you can rely on these close matches to your aunts. Congratulations on identifying your biological father!

      1. Thank you! I just met with the entire clan a week and a half ago for a giant Christmas reunion! I met my paternal grandmother, 7 of 8 surviving aunts/uncles (my father was one of 10), a half brother and a half sister.

        And, the physical resemblance between myself and this family is incredible, lol. I look just like my father. <3 What a blessing this journey has been

  9. I have uploaded mine and my father’s DNA from I have a problem in that my father is showing as matches to my mother’s side. I know for a fact he is not related to my cousin’s daughter and on myheritage is showing them as a match. I deleted his DNA from my account and made a new account and it is still showing the same. Why is this? It doesn’t seem very reliable to me.

    1. There are two likely possibilities. First, is it possible you accidentally swapped your data file with your father’s, such that the data under his name at MyHeritage is really yours? Recall that the files you downloaded from Ancestry did not have names associated with them, so it’s easy to confuse them. Second, how much DNA does his kit share with your cousin’s daughter? (Is it your first cousin’s daughter?) If it’s a small amount, it could be a distant connection through the daughter’s other parent.

      1. Thank you for the quick reply. I’ve looked at it again to answer your questions. I somehow have uploaded my DNA awhile ago so I have 2 accounts. I show self between the 2 so I know it’s mine. My father shows Father to both so I know it’s his. I thought about my cousin’s daughter’s father’s side which I know nothing about but my father is showing share matches with my cousin’s daughter that are on my mother’s Swedish side which I know there is no relation.
        My cousin’s daughter shows as 2.2% shared DNA 10 shared segments 59.3cM as the longest. That’s just 1% less than is known half great niece and the same amount of segments and length.
        I am going to try downloading my father’s from ancestry again and re-upload it to myheritage.

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