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I manage a number of DNA profiles (for related individuals) across a number of sites:

  • FamilyTreeDNA (5 profiles)
  • MyHeritage (5 profiles)
  • LivingDNA (2 profiles which will increase to 5 in the near future)
  • Ancestry (1 profile)
  • 23andMe (1 profile)
  • Gedmatch (5 profiles)

Each profile has a plethora of matches at each site; some of these overlap because the match also has their profile at multiple sites. Some of the matches have been correlated with an MRCA; some have not (yet). (There are also sets of significant 'negative' results -- profiles that could be expected to match under some scenarios and don't).

And I also have a couple of totally unrelated profiles that I manage as a favour to people who tested at my behest but turned out not to be related.

I want to establish a method of working (including record keeping) that allows me to work across the multiple sites to assess likely connections -- if Profile A on site X matches profile B, and B also tested at site Y and matches profile C who hasn't tested at X but did test at Z and matches profile D there... and the matching chromosome segments all overlap...

I'm aware of the product Genome Mate Pro but I want to understand the possible (and best?) ways of working before grabbing a tool which may or may not be the right solution. (Although I don't discount using a tool that's "good enough" and adjusting my method of working to match the tool, you first have to be able to assess whether something is "good enough").

So: What are the key requirements and considerations for a process or tool(set) to support working with multiple profiles, multiple matches, multiple sites? (I am not looking for a software recommendation, but for guidance on requirements and process that may lead to a software selection or to something else).

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    I see you've got caught in the infinite vortex of DNA Analysis that sucks up 100% of your free time. – lkessler Dec 9 '18 at 15:18
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    @lkessler yes, we're approaching the heat death of the universe as we all spiral into the DNA void... However, what is this concept you mention: 'free time'? – ColeValleyGirl Dec 9 '18 at 15:22
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    I'm not sure about Living DNA but all the others can and should go on Gedmatch. I find that the best place to do things centrally. I realize that's not always possible because your matches may not agree to upload there (or may not even answer you). But it's a start. All of your profiles should be there. – Cyn Dec 10 '18 at 4:24
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The science/art of DNA analysis is still in its infancy. It's only been the last couple of years that the number of people who have tested have reached the magic number where birth family can be found and people can be identified (e.g. criminals) from their DNA.

New tools are being developed as we speak, with such innovations as DNA Painter, the Leeds Method, and Auto Clustering (e.g. at Genetic Affairs) and many others all first appearing in 2018.

Because of that, and the expectation of new tools in the next couple of years that will again change the way we do our DNA analysis, I recommend you stay very flexible and do not yet commit to a specific method of working.

Some people love Genome Mate Pro, but I currently don't see that the tangible benefits you get from it are worth the effort and time to learn it and get your data into it. I have attempted several times to try to use and understand it.

But yes, you must be organized with your DNA data. What I do and what I recommend is to have a DNA subdirectory in your genealogy folder. Under that, have a folder for each DNA company you have worked with, e.g.:

enter image description here

Within each of the company folders, add a folder for yourself and for each person you have a profile for. In their directory, keep their raw data, downloads and all your discoveries pertaining to them.

Until that magical tool comes along that ties all this amass of data together for you, you'll have to keep what would amount to a manually-created index / cheat sheet so that you can remember what is important.

You can do that in a spreadsheet or in some note taking utility. I prefer OneNote and maintain one page with all the DNA notes I want to keep.

e.g. I have a section to summarize my known relatives at each testing site:

enter image description here

I will include my known relationship with these people, the ancestral surname in common, haplogroup information, important triangulations and anything else that may tie things together.

For AncestryDNA and MyHeritage as well as Geni and Family Search, I also have an index of the family trees that my DNA relatives (and others) maintain. And I add a hyperlink so that I can easily get to that tree, e.g.:

enter image description here

Remember the goal of DNA for genealogists is to add new people and branches to our genealogy research. The goal is not to perfectly document every connection every DNA relative has with every other. So I wouldn't get too hung up on trying to organize all of this to perfection. Stay simple and flexible for now. It should not take very long to set up and should be very easy to maintain and make changes to. Above all, make sure it is useful to you.

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