Sunday, November 27, 2016

What is AncestryDNA Helper

Those of you who have read this blog for a while and have done a DNA test at AncestryDNA are probably wondering what AncestryDNA Helper is and if you should be using it.

Maybe. It's not for the faint of heart.

If you are comfortable working with spreadsheets, do look into it. If you have more than one DNA test that you manage at Ancestry, it definitely holds potential for you. If you are willing and able to dig deep into the data and follow advice from the online group and from me, then go for it.

The AncestryDNA Helper is an extension for the Chrome browser. When I first installed it, it had fairly major problems, so I uninstalled it. It came up on a blog I follow earlier in 2016 and so I tried it again. It still has problems, but with nine DNA tests in my account, I decided to work with it since I have the technical ability to deal with the data.

The Helper will scan all your matches and all the ancestors that you can are able to view in their trees. It puts all that information into a database on your computer. The data holds a lot of power and potential, but getting to it and using it is where you may become frustrated.

Assuming you want to check it out, install the Chrome browser if you have not done so. Then add the AncestryDNA Helper extension from the Chrome Store.

Once installed, when you bring up the DNA test results, you will see new buttons. Your main page will add the following section near the top. Before you can do anything with the data, it has to be scanned into the database. Expect to spend about an hour for every 20 pages of matches.

There is documentation at Before you do anything, do go read that page and download and read the PDF that is linked near the bottom of that page.

If you decide to explore this tool, be sure to join the Yahoo Group where the discussion of issues and solutions takes place. It's a moderated list and many of my messages seem to get dropped, probably due to ending up in the moderator's spam folder. If it happens to you, don't feel alone.

Let me know if you join the journey and have questions. I'll do my best to help.


  1. Ancestry updated their DNA page and now the AncestryDNA Helper is not usable. The compare and scan buttons don't even appear. I have tried the refresh buttons but no use. Do you have any advice.

    1. John, It is definitely broken and, not being a web programmer, it is not something I know how to fix. I have to trust that Jeff will fix it. In the meanwhile, I'll share some new queries.