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    What Does Raw DNA Data Look Like & How Can You Use It?

    The phrase “raw DNA” might sound a little strange; after all, what is raw DNA? This data is information about your genotype.

    More specifically, it lists out the SNPs of your DNA. SNPs represent a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide. This data is unique to you and your sample and comes in the form of a computer file. 

    Some people will choose to download their raw data from the testing company for a variety of reasons. If you’re concerned about privacy, downloading this information will allow you to delete it from the testing company.

    It can also allow you to seek an additional outside analysis of factors that the testing company may not have covered. Lastly, having a copy of this DNA ensures you have it with you in case other copies are damaged or lost. 

    What Is Raw DNA Data?

    Once you request a copy of your raw DNA, the testing company will return it to you in a document, likely an Excel document. It’ll probably look like a long list of confusing letters and numbers. 

    It might be possible for you to search for a specific variant. Certain variants are known to contain information regarding genetic diseases.

    Therefore, once you’re able to interpret what it means, you can potentially find the variant. In general, for the untrained person, raw DNA will require a trained specialist to understand it. 

    To really utilize your raw DNA in an effective manner, you’ll need to insert the information into a system that allows you to access a searchable database.  

    Third Party Interpretation

    A third party can essentially “read” your raw data and give you insights into how all those letters and numbers actually tell a pretty specific and interesting story about who you are. A third party trained in DNA analysis will take care of the work and cross-referencing in order to give you insights into your results. 

    If you seek out a third party for DNA analysis, be sure to be clear about your goals. Are you searching for specific insights into your health like a predisposition to certain diseases? Or do you simply want to connect with living family members and learn more about your ancestry and heritage? 

    Understanding what you want to learn from your genetics is the best way to ensure you get the most out of it. 

    Raw DNA And Privacy

    It’s important to remain cautious when sharing your DNA information with a third party. Be sure to understand exactly what they plan to do with the information, and who they might share that information with. 

    The best way to know what a testing company intends to do with your genetic information is to read the company’s privacy policy. In the policy, the company is required to spell out what happens to your DNA raw data and who might gain access to it. 

    Once you have this information, you can decide which testing company you feel most comfortable with using.

    Remember that it’s usually possible to delete your data from the company once you receive the results. You can do this by following its specific procedure and requirements. 

    How to Obtain Raw DNA

    Downloading your raw data will probably depend on that company’s specific procedure. Typically, you’ll log in to the company website, and under a “settings” tab, find an option to download your DNA. 

    If you’re unsure how to access this information, try the company’s online chat option, email, or simply give the support team a call. It should be a relatively short and easy process to obtain your data. 


    Genetic testing is exciting, and the journey can be full of insights you never imagined.

    Everything from health information to ethnicity can be accessed, which is why at-home DNA testing has become so popular with people wanting to learn more about themselves and their backgrounds. 

    Consider downloading a copy of your raw DNA for safekeeping. Having this file can empower you to protect your data’s privacy or simply seek out further analysis in the future.