Best DNA Test 2018: Family Tree DNA vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA vs MyHeritage DNA & More!

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A cheek swab to determine your ancestors? Is a little bit of spit all that’s keeping the world from knowing that you’ve got some Albert Einstein in your DNA? Stop the madness!

Jokes aside, you’ve heard all about the craze about at-home DNA tests, and you’re interested in digging deeper into your family heritage. But – you’re confused where to start? Don’t worry, we’re here to help you discover your past with affordable and easy at-home DNA tests.

Article Overview

Why Should I Get My DNA Tested?

When most of us think of DNA, we picture crime scenes from TV shows like “CSI” or a homicide trial in which DNA evidence convicts a killer. Forensic testing aside, there are also many practical applications for DNA testing. And more people are getting their DNA tested now than ever before, thanks to scientific advances and the growing popularity of at-home DNA testing kits.

What are some of the reasons for DNA testing? And just how does DNA testing work? We’ll help you unravel the mystery of DNA testing.

How Do DNA Tests Work?

DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, and everyone’s DNA is unique. Most DNA tests involve the collection of saliva from the inside of your cheek using a simple cotton swab. The swab then goes to the lab for analysis. Not every DNA test, however, is the same, and not every test’s design finds the same information from your DNA. It’s important to do your research about the type of test and the lab processing your DNA to make sure they’re testing your DNA for the specific information you’re looking for.

What Can DNA Tests Reveal?

Here are the major types of DNA testing. We often get asked which test is best for revealing what type of information. Every DNA testing company has its own unique strengths and thus the results are better for certain types of data.

Why Get a DNA Test?

DNA Ancestry Test

DNA testing for ancestry is growing in popularity as more and more people want to know about their family history. A DNA ethnicity test can help you discover your ethnic origins from around the world. And DNA testing for genealogy can also help you identify your ancestors and living cousins you never knew you had.

It’s important to note that as of today, the majority of DNA testing technology revolves around ancestry, so that’s the focus of this article. We’ll be updating and adding other DNA tests (like paternity, which is linked below) as the market evolves.

DNA Paternity Test

After ancestry, one of the more common types of DNA tests is a paternity test, which determines the biological link between a father and child. There’s even a non-invasive prenatal paternity test available now. Read our Paternity Test Comparison for the scoop.

DNA Health Testing

DNA testing for most medical and health-related purposes is still in its infancy. Always consult your physician about these types of tests.

Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk

Most people don’t need this type of DNA testing. But some people have a higher risk of developing specific types of cancers that tend to run in the family. In these cases, a physician may test your DNA to look for gene mutations that could indicate a higher risk.

One of the better-known examples is testing for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (breast cancer genes) in women whose mother and sister have had breast cancer.

We should note that in the case of genetic testing for a possible cancer risk, you’ll want to consult with your physician first. A lab tech usually administers this type of DNA test at your doctor’s office or hospital.

Genetic Testing for Carrier Status

Want to start a family, but you’re worried you may pass on an unwanted risk to your child? Some DNA tests can tell you if you’re a carrier for certain inherited conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, hereditary hearing loss. A positive match doesn’t mean your child will inherit the condition; it just lets you know whether you carry the gene.

Not all DNA tests are the same. A carrier status DNA test, for example, focuses on the specific markers known to be associated with certain inherited conditions. On the other hand, DNA genealogy tests focus on specific markers related to our ancestry.

Learn more in our Best DNA Testing for Health Reasons article.

DNA Test Comparison

Here’s a summary of our winners side-by-side so you can review and compare features against each other.

Family Tree DNA
Runner Up:
Ancestry DNA
Third Place:
Living DNAMyHeritage DNANational Geographic Geno 2.0
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
Read ReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReview
Test TypeCheek swabSaliva sampleSaliva sampleCheek swabCheek swabCheek swab
Best ForJewish HeritageAfrican HeritageAsian AreasBritish AncestorsFast ResultsAncient Ancestry
Database Size877,000+3 Million5 Millionn/a1 Million800,000
Results In4-10 Weeks6-8 Weeks6-8 Weeks10-12 Weeks3-4 Weeks8-10 Weeks
Autosomal DNACheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark

How Does at Home DNA Testing Work?

Home DNA tests (everything reviewed on this page) bring the lab to you without the intimidating equipment or crazy medical procedures. In a few simple steps, you can have your results back in no time from the comfort of your home.

Order Your KitStep 1: Order Your Kit

Depending on what you are looking to accomplish in the types of tests above, you’ll order your kit online from anywhere in the world (see below for our top picks).

It takes about a week to receive from the time you order. The package should arrive sealed so you can assure no one else has tampered with it.

Set Up Online ProfileStep 2: Set Up Online Profile

You might be anxious to get started in the sampling process, but first you’ll need to activate your kit online using a unique code provided to you.

This connects your name and contact info to your sample so you can track progress as it’s tested and view results. You’ll most likely sign a consent form and agree to their terms and conditions before getting started (for legal purposes).

Provide DNA SampleStep 3: Provide DNA Sample

Now for the fun part – providing your DNA sample! Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), Living DNA and MyHeritage DNA offer cheek swab tests. AncestryDNA and 23andMe tests require you to spit in a vial.

Either way, they recommend not eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum at least one hour before to ensure a good sample. Also wash your hands before opening the test tubes to ensure a good, clean sample.

Seal & ShipStep 4: Seal & Ship

Once your samples are complete and ready to go, seal the samples in the specimen bag, put them in the pre-paid mailing envelope, and drop the envelope in your mailbox.

Don’t forget to make sure your unique ID is on each sample so the labs have a way to track it back to your profile.

Step 5: Wait For Analysis

Wait For Analysis

In an age where we can get things instantaneous, you might be anxious to get results right away.

However, given the complexity of the process of analyzing your DNA and comparing your results to other samples, expect to wait anywhere from 4-10 weeks (depending on the company).

And if you’re curious where they are in the process, you can login to track their progress.

Step 6: View & Share Your Results

View & Share Your ResultsTo access your results, login to your online portal you created when you activated your kit (they do not mail them to you for privacy reasons). Once logged in you can view and analyze your DNA using percentages, maps and more (depending on which kit you went with).

This news story from CBS New York shows some shocking success stories about what people have recently been able to discover (or hope to uncover) thanks to at home DNA tests.

How Much Do DNA Tests Cost?

The cost varies on the type of kit you do and ranges anywhere from $79 to $300+ depending on the company. Some offer free shipping and others it’s an additional cost. But after the one-time fee to have your DNA analyzed you have access to your DNA records forever without paying a monthly fee.

From time to time, our top-ranked companies below will offer special discounts and promotions and we do our best to keep this page updated as frequently as possible whenever those sales happen so you can get the best price.

2018 Best DNA Test Winners

We chose our best DNA test for 2018 based on a number of factors, including: the types of tests they offer, DNA database size, the extent of ancestry information you can find from each test, cost, genealogy research tools and more. Read on to learn more about our top three, winners by category, and honorable mentions. Again, these companies mostly test for ancestry at this time because other aspects of DNA testing are not as evolved, so if you came here looking for the best DNA ancestry test, this list will serve your purpose.

1st | 2nd | 3rd | Jewish | Relatives | African | Asian | British | Fast Results | Ancient

Family Tree DNA Review


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Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) is the clear winner of best DNA ancestry test if you’re committed to serious genealogy research or if you want to learn as much as possible from your DNA testing. Family Tree DNA is the only service that offers all three types of tests separately: Autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, and the test is a simple cheek swab. The Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are much more in-depth than other companies’ analysis.

They also give you the ability to transfer your data from other services and store your results for 25 years. You get the email addresses of your matches and can join targeted genealogical projects within their network.

What’s missing? Although not related to ancestry, you don’t get medical-specific DNA results, like with 23andMe. But if your focus is on your family roots, FTDNA is the best way to go.

Best For Jewish Heritage & Ethnicity

Seeking to know more about your Jewish family and where they come from? Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) compares your autosomal DNA with 60+ reference populations around the world including Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. We also recommend Family Tree DNA’s Autosomal test as the best ways to dig deeper into your ethnic background.



  • Competitive pricing for DNA Autosomal test
  • Only site to offer separate Autosomal DNA and in-depth Y-DNA and mtDNA testing kits and a good variety of bundled packages
  • Website supports targeted DNA genealogical projects
  • Stores your DNA sample for 25 years
  • Provides trusted privacy for your test sample
  • You receive email addresses for your genetic matches
  • Chromosome browser tool to compare shared chromosomal segments
  • Allows uploading of raw DNA results from 23andMe, AncestryDNA and Geno 2.0
  • Gives you raw data results, which you can upload to GEDmatch and other free genealogy research websites
  • Excellent online community forums and customer service
  • Provides ancestry ethnicity analysis
  • Database (877,000+ people) isn’t quite as extensive as other services
  • Doesn’t offer health-related DNA testing

Family Tree DNA Pricing

FTDNA offers several bundled packages in addition to the pricing below.

  • $89 Family Finder Autosomal DNA Kit (cheek swab), Results in 4-6 weeks
  • $79 mtDNA Plus DNA Kit, Results in 4-6 weeks
  • $199 mtDNA Full Sequence Kit, Results in 6-8 weeks
  • $169 Y37 Markers, Results in 8-10 weeks
  • $268 Y67 Markers, Results in 8-10 weeks
  • $359 Y111 Markers, Results in 8-10 weeks
  • $12.95 shipping
  • View all options

Family Tree DNA Coupon Code

Family Tree DNA often has time-sensitive coupons!

Read our in-depth FamilyTreeDNA Review

Ancestry DNA Review


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AncestryDNA, part of the wildly popular genealogical site, is our number two pick for best DNA ancestry test. The company offers affordable pricing, an extremely active online community, extensive DNA ancestry database and access to millions of family trees and billions of historical records via the Ancestry website. They analyze your simple saliva test at more than 700,000 genetic markers to find your genetic matches and give you a breakdown of your ethnicity.

AncestryDNA suspended its Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, however, so you don’t have the ability to drill down as deep into your genetic profile and ancestry as you can with FTDNA, which still offers those tests. AncestryDNA recently introduced a new tool, Genetic Communities, which focuses on post-colonial North America and helps you better pinpoint where your recent ancestors lived in the U.S. and migrated from around the world.

Best For Finding Relatives & African Heritage

AncestryDNA’s test identifies potential relatives through DNA matching. It compares your results to others who have taken the AncestryDNA test, and gives you a breakdown of your ethnicity.

You can also get these results from other tests, like FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), but we usually recommend AncestryDNA for this particular use because their DNA database is the largest (5 million people compared to less than 1 million with FTDNA). This means you’ll be more likely to find living relatives and shared ancestors. You can also use the website’s extensive historical ancestry records to try to trace your ancestors on you mother’s and father’s sides.

Wondering if you’re from a specific area of Africa, not just “West African” or “Sub-Saharan African”?’s DNA test could very well be worth your while for this as well. They test for more regions in Africa than other sites, including Africa North, Africa South-Central, Hunter-Gatherers, Africa Southeastern Bantu, Benin/Togo, Cameroon/Congo, Ivory Coast/Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal, as well as the Middle East.



  • Competitive pricing for Autosomal DNA test
  • Largest database — 3 million people
  • Reliable security for DNA test samples and results
  • Excellent online community forums and customer service
  • Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis
  • You can download your raw data results
  • Stores your DNA sample indefinitely
  • Can connect with genetic matches via anonymous email and message boards
  • Doesn’t offer separate Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
  • No targeted genealogical DNA projects available to join on website
  • Can’t upload raw DNA data from other services
  • No chromosome browser available to compare shared chromosomal segments
  • Doesn’t offer health-related DNA tests

Ancestry DNA Pricing

  • $99 Autosomal DNA testing kit (saliva sample)
  • $9.95 shipping
  • Results available in 6-8 weeks

Ancestry DNA Coupon

AncestryDNA often has time-sensitive coupons!

Read our in-depth AncestryDNA Review

23andMe Review


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23andMe comes in third as our best ancestry DNA testing company for the unique services they provide. 23andMe is your best bet if you want to trace your lineage and get health-related DNA results.

They offer two testing kit types — an Autosomal Ancestry test for $99 or a Health + Ancestry test for $199.

On the ancestry side, you’ll get three reports: ethnic composition, haplogroups and Neanderthal ancestry. 23andMe’s health results include three FDA-approved genetic health risk reports (late-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Hereditary Thrombophilia), 40 carrier status reports (whether you carry genes for certain health conditions), five wellness reports (lactose intolerance, for example), and more than a dozen trait reports (male bald spot, unibrow, etc.).

If you want to use your DNA results to help you trace your family tree, however, 23andMe’s research tools and genealogy community aren’t up to par with FamilyTreeDNA or

Best For Asian Areas

If you suspect you’re of Asian decent, we’d recommend 23andMe, as they have more specific regions within East Asia including Japanese, Korean, Yakut, Mongolian, Chinese, Broadly East Asian. FTDNA only tests for Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and AncestryDNA doesn’t get more specific than Asia East.



  • Large database of 2 million people
  • Offers some health-related DNA test results
  • Test samples and results are secure for privacy
  • Provides chromosome browser to compare shared chromosomal segments
  • Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis
  • Gives you raw data results
  • Stores your DNA sample
  • DNA autosomal test more expensive than our top two winners
  • Doesn’t offer separate, in-depth Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
  • No genealogical DNA projects available to join on website
  • Can’t upload raw DNA data from other services
  • Genealogical community forums are lacking compared to our top two choices
  • Harder to connect with genetic matches (they must approve sharing contact information, and members say many don’t)

23andMe Pricing

  • $99 – Ancestry DNA test (saliva sample)
  • $199 – Ancestry + Health DNA testing kit
  • $9.95 shipping via 23andMe website
  • Results available in 6-8 weeks
  • View all options

23andMe Coupon

23andMe occasionally has time-sensitive coupons!

Read our in-depth 23andMe Review

The Rest of the Pack

These may not be in the top 3 overall, but they are winners in their respective categories.

Living DNA | MyHeritage DNA | National Geographic Geno 2.0

Living DNA Review

Living DNA logo

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Living DNA, an England-based company that launched in early 2015, is a new addition to our reviews this year. They say they’re the “first truly global DNA test” because they break down ancestral origins across 80 worldwide regions (while other companies focus on an estimated 30 regions). Furthermore, they break down your roots across 21 regions in the British Isles.

If you already have a good idea that your roots are from the United Kingdom, Living DNA could be a great test for you to delve deeper into the region. Living DNA has partnered with several leading genomics, analytical, testing and research organizations, which lends them a lot of credit in our book. We’re keeping our eye on this relative newcomer to see how their reputation plays out.

Best DNA Test For British Ancestors

If you have Brit in your blood, Living DNA is your best choice for DNA testing. Based in the UK, their database is specifically geared toward the European and UK markets, making their results much more comprehensive in those regions.



  • Provides the widest geographical breakdown of your ethnicity of any at-home DNA test on the market
  • Excellent for a more in-depth British regional breakdown
  • Gives you raw data results
  • Good security and privacy policy
  • Shipping of kit (and return shipping) included in price
  • Doesn’t have its own database, so you can’t compare your results to others who’ve tested or find familial matches
  • No health-related DNA results
  • No genealogy research website resources, tools or community
  • No information on website about long-term DNA sample storage

Living DNA Pricing

  • Out of stock DNA testing kit
  • Free shipping
  • Results in 10-12 weeks

Living DNA Coupon

Living DNA occasionally has time-sensitive coupons.

Read our in-depth Living DNA Review

MyHeritage DNA Review

MyHeritage DNA logo

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MyHeritage is one of the most popular genealogy research and family tree websites in the world. In September 2016, they launched an autosomal DNA ancestry test at a competitive price. This DNA heritage test is similar to AncestryDNA, with slightly fewer ethnic regions identified. But MyHeritage has plans to expand their testing to 100 regions in the coming years.

Although the test is new, their testing lab holds top certification and accreditation from leading organizations. An advantage of MyHeritage DNA? You can import DNA testing results from competing companies to compare with their database.

The downside? While they have a massive database of family trees and active users, their database of DNA results is still in its early stages. But based on the popularity of this website, we anticipate their DNA database will grow quickly.

Best DNA Test For Fast Results

MyHeritage DNA typically gives you your results within 3-4 weeks, while most other testing kits take 6-8 weeks or longer.



  • Competitive pricing for Autosomal DNA test
  • Reliable security for DNA test samples and results
  • DNA database of more than 1 million people
  • Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis
  • Can upload raw DNA data from other services and gives you raw data results from your MyHeritageDNA test
  • Good online community forums and customer service
  • No separate Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
  • Doesn’t offer targeted genealogical DNA projects available to join on website
  • Doesn’t provide health-related DNA test
  • No information on website about long-term DNA sample storage

MyHeritage Pricing

  • $68.00 Autosomal DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
  • Free shipping
  • Results in 3-4 weeks

Read our in-depth MyHeritage DNA Review

National Geographic Geno 2.0 Review

National Geographic Genoproject logo

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The Geno 2.0 Next Generation DNA testing kit is best for people who want to trace their roots all the way back to ancient origins (even to Neanderthals). The test is part of the National Geographic Genographic Project, a scientific effort to analyze historic patterns in human DNA across the globe.

How does it work? You purchase and submit your simple cheek swab test, their lab runs its newest advanced DNA testing, which identifies thousands of mtDNA markers for direct maternal lineage, examines Y-DNA markers for direct paternal ancestry and analyzes more than 750,000 other ancestry-informative markers to reveal your ancestry’s regional affiliations.

The Geno 2.0 Next Gen test is expensive, and their database is relatively small which limits your research abilities. But the great thing about this test is that FTDNA allows you to upload your Geno 2.0 results into their database for free, so you can find your relatives and get additional insight on your ancestral origins. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re contributing to a global historical genomic project.

The Geno 2.0 project was started in part by the folks at Family Tree DNA, our top pick for best ancestry DNA kit, and the samples are processed by the Genomics Research Center which is operated by Gene by Gene, Ltd., Family Tree DNA’s parent company.

Best DNA Test For Ancient Ancestry

The Geno 2.0 test allows you to trace your roots back hundreds or thousands of years and gives you their ancient migration patterns across countries and continents around the globe.



  • Offers autosomal and full mtDNA testing (but limited Y-DNA)
  • Test samples saved securely for privacy
  • Contributing to a globally targeted genealogical DNA project
  • Excellent online community forums and customer service
  • Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis
  • Gives you raw data results
  • DNA test is expensive
  • Smaller database at 800,000 (but you can upload to FTDNA)
  • Can’t upload raw DNA data from other services
  • No chromosome browser
  • No website support for connecting with genetic matches

National Geographic Geno 2.0 Pricing

  • $149.95 DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
  • Free shipping
  • Results available in 8-10 weeks

What Does That Mean? DNA Test Terminology

Before we delve into the types of DNA tests (and our winners), we’re going to give you a quick break-down of the terms you’ll run into so you can understand what we’re talking about!

What Is DNA?

DNADNA stands for “deoxyribonucleic acid,” and everyone’s DNA is unique to the individual. More than 99 percent of your DNA is the same as everyone else’s in the world. But there are small groups of sections across each person’s genome that differ (these variations make you the unique person you are).

What Is a DNA Test?

DNA analysis looks at small sections of DNA, called “markers,” to create your DNA profile —  a unique genetic fingerprint. Not every DNA test, however, is the same, and not every test’s design finds the same information from your DNA.

What Are Genetic Markers?

genetic marker is a DNA sequence with a known location on a chromosome. Scientists use genetic markers to identify cells, individuals, populations, etc.

What Does Autosomal Mean?

Autosomal refers to a chromosome that is not a sex chromosome. People have 22 pairs of autosomes in each cell, as well as 2 sex chromosomes (X & Y in a male and X & X in a female).

What Is Shared DNA?

Two people who share identical segments of DNA share a recent common ancestor. The relationship between relatives (siblings, cousins, etc.) depends on the length and number of these identical segments.

What Is Deep Ancestry?

Deep ancestry is based on either mitochondrial DNA (maternal, or coming from your mother’s side) or Y-chromosome DNA (paternal, or coming from your father’s side), and it shows a single line of descent. It’s often referred to as a direct maternal line or direct paternal line, going back hundreds to thousands of years.

What Does Haplogroup Mean?

haplogroup is a genetic population (group of people) who share a common ancestor on the direct paternal or maternal line.

What Is Y-Haplogroup, E3a, Q3, etc.?

Each haplogroup is assigned its own group “name,” which consists of a letter of the alphabet followed by more specific refinements indicated by additional number and letter combinations.

A Guide to Types of DNA Tests

Now that you have a better understanding of the scientific part, let’s define the various types of tests, what to look for and who can take each one. It’s important to do your research about the type of test to make sure they’re testing your DNA for the specific information you’re looking for.

Recent Ancestry: Autosomal DNA Test

An autosomal DNA test for ethnic origin matches your DNA with population samples and studies from across the globe. When you get your DNA test results back, you’ll get a report that gives you a mixture of percentages. These are your unique percentages of where your ancestors lived in defined geographical regions, i.e. 82% British Isles, 10% Eastern European, 2% Native American and so on.

Autosomal DNA Test relationshipAutosomal DNA tests trace back anywhere from five to ten generations on both your mother and father’s sides of the family.

Each company’s ethnicity report differs slightly by their defined global regions, how they present their data to you, and the number of population studies they use in their analysis.

Your percentages can also differ slightly because of each lab’s unique testing methods. Some autosomal tests also look at parts of your DNA going back even further.

  • Who Can Take The Test: Males and females.
  • What it Tests For: Autosomal DNA testing matches with other individuals based on a certain amount of shared DNA.
  • What it Can Reveal: Testing can’t predict exact relationships, but you can expect to find matches as far out as 5th cousins and in some cases even further. Tests analyze shared DNA and give you your matches as well as how much DNA you have in common. Autosomal tests also identify your ethnic origins from around the world.
  • How Far Back Are Results: Autosomal DNA tests trace back anywhere from five to ten generations on both your mother and father’s sides of the family.

Example: An autosomal DNA test for ethnic origin matches your DNA with population samples and studies from across the globe. When you get your DNA test results back, you’ll get a report that gives you a mixture of percentages. These are your unique percentages of where your ancestors lived in defined geographical regions, i.e. 82% British Isles, 10% Eastern European, 2% Native American and so on.

NOTE: Each company’s ethnicity report differs slightly by their defined global regions, how they present their data to you, and the number of population studies they use in their analysis. Your percentages can also differ slightly because of each lab’s unique testing methods.

Ancient Ancestry & Haplogroups: Y-DNA and Mitochondrial DNA Tests

Autosomal DNA tests look at chromosomes 1-22 that you’ve inherited from both your parents. The Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tests can tell you where your ancestors from your direct paternal line and maternal line lived thousands of years ago. For the stone age aficionados among you, some tests can even tell you how much Neanderthal DNA you have!

Mitochondrial DNA Testing (mtDNA)

Mitochondrial DNA Test relationshipBoth males and females can take an mtDNA test, which reveals your direct maternal line ancestry. MtDNA is passed down from mother to child each generation.

All humans trace back to Mitochondrial Eve, who lived in Africa an estimated 200,000 years ago. Over time, her descendants broke out into different branches called haplogroups, and an mtDNA test can predict your mtDNA haplogroup.

  • Who Can Take The Test: Males and females.
  • What it Tests For: mtDNA tests along the direct maternal line, examining genetic markers on your mtDNA, which is passed down from mother to child each generation.
  • What it Can Reveal: Your direct maternal deep ancestry and which haplogroup you belong to.
  • How Far Back Are Results: All humans descended from Mitochondrial Eve, who lived an estimated 200,000 years ago in Africa. Her descendants are organized into different branches called haplogroups. mtDNA test results predict your mtDNA haplogroup.

Y Chromosome DNA Testing (Y-DNA)  Y111

Only males carry the Y-chromosome, so women won’t benefit from taking this test. A Y-DNA test traces direct male-line ancestry — son to father to grandfather and so on.

Women can learn something from this test by having a brother, father, paternal grandfather, paternal uncle or a male cousin (your father’s brother’s son) take a test for you.

Y Chromosome DNA Testing relationshipThis test can tell you which Y-haplogroup you belong to if you’re male. Your Y-DNA haplogroup reflects the ancient ancestry of your paternal line.

Some haplogroups indicate clear ethnic groups. For example, the Y-haplogroup E3a is the most common among African Americans, and Y-haplogroup Q3 solely includes Native American populations.

  • Who Can Take The Test: Males only (because women don’t have a Y-chromosome). While females can’t be Y-DNA tested, they can have a brother, father, paternal grandfather, paternal uncle or paternal uncle’s son (their cousin) take a test for them.
  • What it Tests For: The Y-DNA test traces direct male-line ancestry — the majority of the Y-chromosome is transmitted from father to son with very little change. Each male’s Y-DNA test results are compared to other males’ results to find out their most recent common ancestor (MRCA) in their direct patrilineal lines.
  • What it Can Reveal: This test can tell you which Y-haplogroup you belong to if you’re male. Your Y-DNA haplogroup reflects the ancient ancestry of your paternal line. Some haplogroups indicate clear ethnic groups. For example, the Y-haplogroup E3a is the most common among African Americans, and Y-haplogroup Q3 solely includes Native American populations.
  • How Far Back Are Results: Like mtDNA tests, Y-DNA tests can go back hundreds of thousands of years.

Video: Types of DNA Tests

Still a bit confused? This short video breaks down the types of DNA tests in a nutshell for you.

Don’t Miss GEDmatch on Your DNA Quest is a free website, where you can upload raw autosomal DNA results and your match lists from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and MyHeritage DNA. In GEDmatch you can compare your DNA results with the results of all other GEDmatch users who’ve made their results public, regardless of what company they used to obtain autosomal DNA results. GEDmatch can help you:

  • Identify cousins and share research efforts for matching relatives.
  • Identify what portions of your DNA came from each parent if you and one (or both) of your parents have their DNA tested.
  • Potentially get more detailed ethnicity breakdowns. GEDmatch has six different options for displaying more detailed ethnicity, with many breakdowns under each option.

How Does GEDmatch Protect Your Privacy?

GEDmatch requires you to provide your email address and the exact name you used with your testing company, but you don’t have to make your name or any of your information public — but that limits much of what you can do with the website.

Infographic: DNA Tests

Here’s an infographic that summarizes DNA tests in a nutshell.

Infographic: DNA Tests

To share this DNA heritage test infographic on your site, simply copy and paste the code below:

DNA Test FAQ’s

Here are some additional questions we get asked regularly.

What About DNA Testing Privacy?

Are my DNA samples protected? We see this question often. What do companies do with your results and private information? The best testing sites don’t share your DNA results with insurance companies or other third parties. We recommend you read each company’s privacy policy before ordering a test if you’re concerned about your results ending up in the wrong hands.

In 2008, the U.S. passed the Genetic Information and Non-Discrimination Act to protect citizens from having their genetic information used against them for health insurance or employment purposes.

Do My Parents Need To Take a DNA Test For My Results To Be Accurate?

It depends on what type of information you’re looking for. It’s not necessary if you just want general ethnicity results. An autosomal DNA test will tell you what’s been passed down through your mother and/or father’s blood line, so save yourself the money!

But keep in mind, each person inherits different percentages of each parent’s DNA, and every person is different. So if you want the most complete results, everyone in the family should test.

Can DNA Tests Tell Me What Countries my Ancestors Lived in?

In most cases no. Most ethnicity breakdowns involve broader regions, rather than specific countries.

Which DNA Test Offers The Best Bang For The Buck?

 Family Tree DNA has the lowest autosomal test price tag.

Can I Transfer DNA Test Results From One Company to Another?

You can’t upload other companies’ DNA test results to either or 23andMe; however Family Tree DNA does allow you to upload results from AncestryDNA, 23andMe and Geno 2.0 to match your results to their DNA database.

My Heritage also accepts other results, but their database isn’t as sophisticated or comprehensive. There are also a few free sites where you can upload your raw data results to help you match your DNA to others. The most popular is

Do DNA Test Companies Share my Results With Researchers or Third Parties?

The best testing sites don’t share your DNA results with third parties. But as with most things in life, we urge you to read their policies carefully before proceeding.

How Accurate Is an Ancestry DNA Test?

DNA testing for forensic purposes, paternity and ancestry are 99.9% accurate. The lines are a bit more blurry when it comes to DNA testing for disease risk (ie. health).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal organizations want the public to be aware that many companies are prematurely marketing genetic tests for disease risk with limited scientific backing. Many of these tests may not provide valid or useful results. Why? Researchers have yet to identify a large part of the genetic makeup with most diseases.

23andMe, however, is one company that has received FDA approval for a few of its health-related DNA tests. You can discover your genetic disease risk for Parkinson’s Disease, Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Celiac Disease and three other hereditary conditions. Learn more in our article about 23andMe and other DNA testing for health reasons.

Learn More About Our Human History and How You Fit In!

Whether you’re searching for living relatives or want to know where your ancestors originated from, a DNA ancestry test is a fun way to find out more about what made you who you are.

If you’re not already researching genealogy online, you may want to check out our Best Online Genealogy Software  comparison article for our recommendations.

Check out our At Home Paternity Test Review to learn more about legal paternity tests, prenatal paternity tests, a host of relationship tests (sibling, grandparent, maternity, etc.), and more. You’ll find features, pricing, and pros and cons.

We tried to answer all your questions but if there’s something we neglected to cover, feel free to ask us below in the comments or in our Reader Questions.

What do you hope to discover via DNA testing?

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.
An international traveler since she was under 10 years old, Sally loves exploring the world’s mysteries first hand. Her favorite destinations? Greece and the British Virgin Islands. She grew up learning to question, explore, and discover new things and ideas — it’s probably why she went into journalism as a career! She loves what the Internet has brought to research and exploration, but she still hits the ground to travel whenever she gets the chance.

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470 Comments on "Best DNA Test 2018: Family Tree DNA vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA vs MyHeritage DNA & More!"

newest oldest most voted
Cathy Grigsby
I have been raising my grand daughter basically her entire life. She will be 18 this year. Her mother has left her with me. I told her she loves you so much she knew you would be safer with me.
Her mother will not give us any information about her father or does not know. Her mom has married twice, divorced twice, has a 1/2 brother, and now has taken off again to another state to live with another man.
Which of the services would be the best one to use? Considering, we not only want her heritage and medical information, we also hopefully someday will meet the rest of her family.
This will be my birthday gift to her this year. I can’t imagine any better gift this kid deserves. No one should feel unwanted.
Cathy Grigsby
Mercedes J Pena
Ms Jones, based on your article I would need to take the Ancestry test to find family, 23 & me to get more in-depth health info, National Geographic to find migration patterns/halogroup, & I can share my Ancestry results with Family tree but I would still have to take their mt test to have “full” access & accuracy on their site. Plus, their mt is more “in-depth” than anyone else. Is all this right? I am mid-30’s Puerto Rican female born in NYC. Currently live in the Southern US/Central time zone. I want to find family, get health info, know what areas ancestors may have lived/came from, & if I can trace my roots back to “Eve.” I watch “Who do you think you are?” & “Finding your roots.” One actress could trace her family line back to “Eve” = Noah’s Ark, not Adam & Eve. Also, my significant other is interested in doing this too. He is young-30’s male from California. Since male, he would do y test, not mt. His father is supposed to be: Irish/Italian. His mother is mixed with White/Japanese/Mexican. Her mother, his maternal grandmother is: 100% Japanese but married an American who was part Mexican. So, we both want to know EVERYTHING but don’t want to take every test available if it’s redundant, like testing the same thing, or can be shared/transferred with other company testing websites. Please advise if I’ve understood correctly & narrowed it down to the 4 swab/saliva tests we should purchase. Thank you!
I know who my mother was but not my biological father (I am female). There are are no KNOWN siblings. I have a half brother on my mothers side. Is there any dna test to give me information on my biological father?
Tammy James
Hello, I am interested in finding out our ancestry for 8 people in my family, then I would like to do the dna health for 3 of us (23 and me). Should we do them all from the same company for better accuracy? Also, we are of middle east decent/Europe/poss native American, which test would you recommend. Would the 23 and me be accurate and give us enough information?
Will you be reviewing the site anytime soon?
Daniella R
I have a general question in regards to DNA testing – I’ve noticed that all these genetic test products have flooded the market in the past decade. What scientific progress has suddenly made all this possible – was it the sequencing of the human genome?
Alex Schenker
Hi Daniella! I’m answering this on behalf of Sally, here’s her response:

You are correct! Scientists have made a lot of progress in sequencing the human genome through the Human Genome Project and other research over the last decade. What they’ve discovered makes DNA testing more accurate than ever before — and more discoveries are made every day!

Jane M
Thanks for this comprehensive DNA test review Sally, I am very curious to know my ethnicity since I have darker skin and am adopted. Will be so nice to have some answers now that I’ve wondered about for so long!
Corey D Shaw
Hi. I purchased the National Geographic Geno2.0 (Helix). When trying to transfer the kit into the FamilyTreeDNA website, it showed a notice that it was not accepting transfers from Helix. It appears that the U.S. is left out of this partnership deal, because it uses Helix to do the DNA testing. Does anyone know if this is temporary or if I can upload the raw data into FamilyTreeDNA?
Monica Deel
Hi! I was hoping you might help. Both of my parents are living and I want to test both their DNA before mine. My Dad side has deep American Indian heritage. Based on my research I want to do FTDNA for both of my parents. Should I have my Dad do both FTDNA Y-DNA and MT-DNA since his Indian is on his mother’s side (my Grandmother) and have my Mother do just the MT-DNA?

In the future I want to test myself and my husband. Should we plan to test the same way? FTDNA Y-DNA and MT-DNA for my husband and just MT-DNA for me?

I would like to feel confident before ordering all these very expensive tests.

Thank you, Monica

Steve M.
I have twin grandsons from a failed relationship of my daughters. I have been trying to trace their paternal genealogy, but their father and paternal grandfather are unwilling to provide me with any family information. Which dna test would give me the best results to trace the boys family tree without their help?
Margaret Ann Dunn Jones
Hi Sally,
I have hit two brick walls in my family research. My paternal wall stops at the second generation. My maternal wall stops at the third generation. What DNA test do you believe might be beneficial to my efforts?
Thank you for your time.
George W. Jones, III
Hello Sally,
I have traced my maternal side of “the tree” over 30 generations. However, I am stuck at three generations of my paternal “Jones” side of the tree. Might you offer your opinion as to the best DNA program to follow?
Respectfully yours.
Pat Nelson
From what my mother remembered and what a cousin found doing genealogy half a century ago, I am mostly descended from all the British Isles. One outlier comes from my maternal grandmother who said that her grandmother had been a slave who was freed by her grandfather when he returned from the Civil War. The grandmother had died in childbirth delivering my grandmother’s mother. I would very much like to know as much about my ancestry as possible, but I have no living paternal relatives. I do, however, have a son whose father was second-generation Swedish.
With all that possible mixture, what would be the best testing company? And would having my son also tested be helpful?
I did the Ancestry dna test and was highly disappointed and frustrated. My paternal grandfather was 100% Cherokee and not a single drop of Indian showed up in my test. I contacted Ancestry about it and they said that even though I have it in me, it doesn’t always show up on the test. They tried explaining it to me in a way of if your dad has green eyes that doesn’t mean your eyes will be green. Which doesn’t really make sense to me. DNA is DNA, so I don’t get why it doesn’t show up. I kind of said to my mom in a half joking way that if she had an “affair with the milkman”, now would be the time to tell me. Of course nothing like that is really true, but it makes me wonder…..I have also been in contact with a cousin on my dad’s said, and she said her daughter took the same test and got the same results I did. My grandfather is listed on the Dawes rolls also. I don’t know if you have an explanation for me. I feel like I was conned out of money for a test that obviously not 100% accurate. But I was wondering if I did another company’s test, would I get the same results? I wanted to try the 23andme for the health aspect of it too. Any advice?
You are not alone. There are not enough dna samples of native americans in any companies data base to give you a result of any accuracy.
Hi Sally, Which ancestry dna testing company(s) might have a large sample size (and perhaps better accuracy) for estimating Native American percentage that you might recommend? I took the AncestryDNA and was overall pleased with results, but felt the Native American results should have included my Asian percentage. Thanks for the great article and suggestions!
Hi Sally,
thank-you for all of the information. there is a lot to choose from. From what I know I have both English/Scottish and Eastern European/Ukrainian in me. My husband swears he is of Viking Blood and has English/Scottish in him. Any thoughts on what would be the best tests? Thank-you.
I am so glad you shared the best ancestry tests of 2017. It’s something that I always wanted to find out and now seems the best time to do it. The data centers must be so filled with tons of genome information. I would to learn more about human history and genealogy in general.
I am wondering which test kit is most appropriate for someone wanting to investigate their English/Scottish/Norwegian heritage?
Carol Kirk
Hi Sally….I want to find out about both my paternal and maternal ancestors. Will the Autosomal give me the connections to the past? I should have ties to western Europe and the British Isles.
Larry T.
Hi Sally. I am Acadian/Cajun. I’ve traced both my maternal and paternal sides back to around 1560 France. Is doing a DNA test worthwhile for me? If so, which test? What knowledge could I gain? Thanks!
I want to order my kit through Family Tree DNA but am not sure which one. I am interested in getting my father’s and my mother’s heritage as well, so I was thinking about buying the mtFull sequence and the family finder. Has anyone ordered those and if yes, were you satisfied with the information? Thank you.
I have always thought my family was from Europe but I recently found out that I have some cousins who are native American. I wonder what other surprises are out there! Which test kit should I try that specializes in Native American ancestors?
Can anyone share firsthand their experience with Family Tree DNA vs Others?
Sadie Cornelius
I’ve used LivingDNA and had an overall good experience, the results were easy to understand and no real big surprises as far as my ancestry. Kit arrived quickly and results took a couple months, but that’s on par with the length of time it takes for the other tests. Read my full LivingDNA review to learn more.
Correction from mgm previous post…. I am thinking an dna and family tree dna test might be best.
Hi Sally,
I am interested in doing a DNA test on my family and am open to doing two separate ones. One on my mother, and one on my father. Both of my parents are African American. I have tried to trace where I come from beyond America and always find myself reaching a dead end. I am thinking I should do an ancestry dna testing and then a 23andMe. However, one worry of mine is that I might run into either one not being specific enough. What do you suggest? Thanks for your time!


Hi Sally,

My ancestors moved from Central Asia to Anatolia hundred of years ago.
I am an Uyghur but i don’t know wich test i should take.
What do you suggest?

Hi Sally. I’m from argentina and I know my ancestors are all from Italy and Spain. But my husband is quite a mix: we believe he has native Chilean ancestors plus Denmark or Nordic ones from her mum side and French-basque ancestors from his dad side (despite having a very African surname that we believe is the result of a mispelled translation when the Basque family emigrate to South America).
Which company would you recommend for him and for me (maybe two different ones?) to find out more of our origins, especially his? I would like to get the most details as possible. Thank you!
Hi, is there a DNA testing for people that live in Italy to connect to Italian ancestors?
Kathy Schnell
Hello Sally. My grandson will be on 14 September 16. For some reason he would like to know his DNA. I would like to purchase a kit that would be able to give us some medical information about him as well. His father was supposedly conceived by a sperm donor who is unnamed. My grandson is on the high-functioning Autism spectrum and I would really like to get a better idea of what he has to look forward to in the future. He has wanted to be a ‘soldier’ for as long as I can remember but was told because of his Autism, he is not able to join the service. I would really like to get as much information as possible for a reasonable price. I am disabled so on a fixed income. I would like to give him his test for his birthday. Which do you suggest?
FTDNA is not currently compatible with Helix version of the NatGeo DNA tests. I tried last night. Also, NatGeo is now over 840k people.
In 2016 i did a Ancestry DNA test that said i was 90% English. I am almost positive I am 40% German. I would like to do a test with someone else what do you suggest ?
Hi Sally,
congrats on the excellent work putting all this information in a more compact way. It’s still a lot to figure out, but it’s good.
As far as I can tell, all my ancestors are born and bred in the North of Portugal.
Would you have any suggestion on a suitable test/company?
Do all of these companies tell you: from your mother’s side, the results are X; from your father’s side, the results are Y, etc.?

Thanks and Regards

Hi There,
Can you suggest which company and test can give the best data focused and concentrating on Northen Italy and southern France when I know my ancestry Going back 3 generations and are all from the same region?
I’d like information where my early ancestors came from prior to explain physical characteristics. I considered ancestry but they group Greek and Italian together. which does not bode well from those in northern Italy the alpine region bordering France, Austria and Switzerland. BTW I live in Australia.


I know I have a lot of Slavic (and probably even some central Asian and Caucasus) roots, which DNA Test would be the best for me to break it more down?
Hi, I recently used AncestryDNA and had somewhat surprising results. I’m now considering to purchase another test but 23&me, my first choice, is expensive and My Heritage seems to be less accurate than AncestryDNA, is there an alternative? And would even be worth it? Would the results be similar or differ wildly?
hi all my ancestors i knoww of aree from the balkans (southern europe) which test would you recommend?
Hi! I am half Japanese and half British. I was wondering which kit option would be best to get in depth information of my ethnic background? I am also curious about health related testing.

Thank you!


I have Germanic (northern European) roots on my father’s side but on my mother’s side Southern European and probably even Sephardic roots. Neanderthal on both sides too. What website/kit should I opt for?




What website/kit offers most detailed information in one test? Presence of Neanderthal DNA should be included too



Rosemarie Cola
Hi Sally I was wondering would any of these tests help me find family members. I was adopted at the age of one and don’t know anything about my family. I am all by myself now other than my husband and I thought maybe I should connect with family members if I can find them. I know where I was born, possibly my parents were from Italy and Norway and I may have my birth mothers name. If these test are a waste of time, I would be thankful if you tell me, or could you direct me to the best one for me
Hello Rosemarie, I too was adopted and by birth name was Rosemarie! I assumed the surname was that of my birth mother so back in 1995 I called information (back when you dialed 1+ area code + 555-1212) and had located and spoke to her before my birth state had gotten permission from her to “release” my sealed records! Also located my birth father…all round it was the most perfect outcome…REGARDING YOUR QUESTION ABOUT FINDING COUSINS. I tested my DNA, both my birth parents and my husband and mother-in-law using AncestryDNA…while each has close cousin matches the one that surprised me the most was my husbands. His dad passed in 2013, both my husband’s family is from Ohio, but they moved to California before he was born & never knew any cousins or aunts & uncles. His dad had eleven siblings too!

As soon as his results came in a FIRST COUSIN ON HIS PATERNAL SIDE contacted me and sent some great pics and told me my husband has had a 1st cousin (one of her brothers) living about 60 miles south of us for years! IMO, unless you came from parents who had a very small extended family, you are likely to find a few close matches. Another thing is that families don’t know exactly who they are genetically. My husband thought he was 100% German because that’s where both sides of his family know they came from…but his and his mother’s largest ethnicity is Norwegian! We do know her family came from North East Germany, and the town her family was from is now in Poland! There second most abundant ethnicity is EAST and not West European…Germany is considered WEST European. Through deduction of my husband’s DNA compared to his moms, and that surname being decidedly “German,” his father probably was 25-50% German descent.

Finally, as a fellow adopted child, make sure you are ready for really bad as well as amazingly good news. My brother and sister, are also adopted though different blood. I found my sister’s blood family immediately, the information operator gave me the phone number of her 95 yr-old maternal grandmother who answered the phone! Sadly my sister’s birth mother had died suddenly, of a brain aneurysm while talking to one of her daughter’s (my sister’s half sister) in the kitchen. Literally dropped dead mid-sentence…It was difficult to break this news to my little sister (she had just turned 31 when I found this info).

I wish you the best!

Hi Sally–this is all so great! I could really use your opinion here. I was born in Brazil (North, border of Amazon) and I know I have Sephardic jew in me from my paternal and maternal grandfathers (Morocco & Iberian peninsula). I feel pretty confident in assuming my grandmothers from both sides have a native background, given the history of my region, their complexion, among other physical features. My maternal grandmother passed away very young, and we have lost all contact with that side of the family. And with moving to the US as a young child, I feel like I never came to know as much of my family across all lines.

I have purchased kits for 23andme ancestryDNA, but as I read through your article and comments, I started doubting whether I should have tried other routes–like My Family Tree. Which test is best for determining backgrounds for South American natives and Sephardic Jews?

Also, I know as far as a family tree database, My Heritage DNA tends to have more information on surnames in my line (seems to be more popular in Brazil). Would you say that test is worth doing or should I just access their database based on the information I gather from my tests?

And to be clear, my focus is to get as narrow of a region/ethnicity result as possible and to connect with possible relatives.



My father and I both recently took FTDNA’s family finder and it said he was 85 percent European ( 35% West European and 50% South EasternEuropean ) which was not a surprise. What was a surprise was he came back 15% Sephardic Jewish.

Oddly – my results came back vastly different which is somewhat of a concern to me. I came back 32% European ( 23% South East Europe, 3% West European and 6% East European) What is really strange is I came back 52% Ashkenazi Jewish ( a complete surprise to me) with no traces at all of the Sephardic that my fathers results showed. I also came back 12% Middle Eastern ( 7% Asia Minor and 5% Western Middle East) another surprise. My mother believes she’s half Italian and half Polish – results still pending ( but has no idea about any Middle Eastern or Jewish roots)

Additionally – he nor any of my known family members are showing up as matches in the family finder tool- which obviously is a cause for concern to me. If you look at photos, I look just like my father and other relatives as well.

Assuming I inherited DNA from both parents – and without jumping to the worst of conclusions ( you can imagine what’s going through my head now) – shouldn’t I be at least half of everything he’s showing ? Why would there be no Sephardic showing up and shouldn’t my European percentage be much higher given his results?

What are the chances they mixed up my results with someone else’s at FTDNA? Trying to understand the possibilities here…

Kit McKeon
I understand that some of the DNA tests will sell their results. Is this true and do you know which ones- I would not want to use one of those.
Zubin Shah Salim
Hello Sally: I come from an Persian ( Iranian) ethnicity. Which testing service would give me more detailed and accurate results ? Please suggest. Thank you in advance.
I am interested to find out not only my roots, but also if I am related (percent DNA match) with somebody else. Can this be done if we both perform the testing? What DNA test kit is more appropriate for this? We both are believed to be Ashkenazi Jews. Thank you!
I did a test with MyHeritage and am what i mostly assumed i was from stories told as a kid. However no Indian as I’ve been told. Will doing a test with 23and me give me different results? Has anyone done multiple testing and gotten different results?
Hi Veena, I recently did a test with MyHeritage, and 100% disagree with the results. I am positive I am of American Indian and German heritage, but not one bit of that appeared on the test results. The customer service representative told me if I was expecting to see results based on grandparents, that was not possible because we don’t get any DNA from our grandparents. What?????????
Freda Leung
Hi Sally: I am a female and i have 6 sisters. I live in Canada. My father passed away 30 years ago and have no paternal relatives whatsoever. My mother is still alive, she is Han Chinese and i have quite many maternal relatives. I have lived as a Chinese all my life, until lately, i suspect my dad could be a Tibetan. I have just ordered 23andMe a few days ago, now that i think about it, which dna testing company is best to pinpoint whether i am half-Tibetan and to connect with potential relatives from father’s side?
I took the 23andMe test and after about 5 weeks they contacted me to say that my test sample failed due to non enough DNA in my saliva. I just recently resubmitted another sample. However I’m concerned that I may fail this test as well. From what I have read the swab test seems to be better for collecting more concentrated DNA.

My reasons for doing the DNA tests are not for heritage but rather to look for genetic mutations which blood DNA already revealed. This is why my doctor told me to use 23andMe. Can you recommend a lab that will do a swab test that will also be more health-related if 23andMe fails again?

Thank you for your help in this matter it is greatly appreciated.

My mother, who was born and raised in Germany by parents who were both German, was told she has “gypsy” roots. Which test would get some information for her regarding this?
Dear Sally,

Do any of the tests distinguish Sami ancestry from other Scandinavian ancestry?

I had my brother’ Familytree Y-DNA’ tested last year to find our fathers surname as we suspect he was Not born as a ‘Mulford ‘ the surname he used when marrying our mother in New Zealand 1945. Our father died 1961 and no record of him or parents exist. He had no contact with any family while married to our mother and results from Y-DNA have found no matches to the Mulford name but 90 matches to various others all different surnames 4 or more generations back, it is a very difficult site for a greenie to understand, not what I thought I was buying when first contacting Family tree, was given the hope that we could confirm or be given close matches to our biological father, where to from here ? Incidentally this test cost over $400.00 US “
Sara Van Wey
Hi Sally,

I just got my Autosomal results back from Family Tree DNA and I got 85% British Isles. I’m still awaiting my mtDNA, but I was wondering which service (if any) you could recommend to break down the British Isles result? Is there a way to find out how much is British, Scottish, and Irish? Or is British Isles about as narrowed down as you can get?

Also, my last name is Dutch, but I didn’t see much show up in The Netherlands area on my Ethnicity Map. As far as historical borders, what region would normally determine Dutch ancestry?

Thanks so much,

Sara Van Wey

Steve Richards
23&Me DOES do Y and mtDNA testing!
Hi Sally. I descend in a direct male line from a man “Phillip” born in 1786 and I am in contact with another man (Ian) who descends in a direct male line from another man “William” born in 1773. I believe that Phillip and William were brothers that would make me and the man I am communicating with 5th cousins. There is circumstantial evidence that Phillip and William were brothers but no direct evidence. Ian has had a MyHeritage DNA test done and I am awaiting my Ancestry DNA results. Can I compare Ancestry and My Heritage results to confirm or disprove a relationship between William/Phillip. What other approaches can I take?
I’m disappointed that this comparison completely overlooks the services provided by African Ancestry. As a black person, I’m keenly interested in reasonably detailed reports. E.g., “Mandinka” instead of just “West African” or “Sub-Saharan African.” While African Ancestry promises this degree of detail, their costs are dramatically higher than the others listed here. I’d love to be able to evaluate whether I can achieve similarly detailed results from any of the other providers. Using the content on the respective sites, it’s also difficult to compare African Ancestry’s “PatriClan” product to what I think is its FTDNA peer “Y-DNA.” While I understand that their titular focus on African ancestry may not appeal to the broadest customer base, it would be great to see an update here that evaluates the quality of their product. As it is, it appears that I may need to do a combination of multiple tests from multiple providers to get the clearest sense of my heritage. Help! 🙂
Melanie Seago
My son in law has been told that he has a great great grandmother that was full blooded Cherokee. She was never on the Dawes rolls. What test would be best for him to look for Native American ancestry?
Hello! My husband and I have VERY different ethnicity backgrounds. I have French Acadian with primarily all over European. He has primarily African American/Native American. His great grandmother is the Native American link and she is still living. How do we go about discovering her specific Native American heritage? Should we test her and ours seperately? Which tests should we get? I really appreciate the help!!
Hi there

For someone looking to research their European ancestry, which is the best test? I was considering 23andMe and the FTDNA full bells and whistles (since I am male), to get the best combined results – would this be reasonable? How thorough a breakdown of European ancestries do these companies give? The appeal of their combination is that it will also provide health screening.

A relative asked , since her father has passed, but was cremated, are there any DNA Test Kits that could perform a test from cremated remains?
Hi – just thought you might want to know that you can’t actually transfer to FTDNA from NatGeo anymore. I tried and got a message saying they could not accept results from Helix kits and there are many forum comments confirming this. Apparently it’s a new development, possibly within the last few days :-/
Sadie Cornelius
Maggie, good to know thanks for letting us know! We’ll look into it and update the article accordingly if need be. Appreciate you sharing!
Hi Sally, thanks for the good research. I am not interested on finding relatives or health. What is the best test for ethnicity? I grew up in Colombia, my ancestors were mostly European (Spain, France, Britain) but I would like to confirm this and also see if I have any Native American from South America genes. What would be the best test for this?
Hi, Sally- I’m interested in health-related DNA kits. I already tried 23 and me, and was rejected twice for having low DNA in my saliva. So I guess I’m also looking for a kit that offers something other than providing a saliva sample. Any suggestions?
Since you hold on to the DNA for 25 years, can you pay for additional tests later?
Is there any value in purchasing the Y111 test from FTDNA for both me and my father? Theoretically if I take the test myself, would it tell me everything about my fathers paternal line ? (Provided my parents didn’t take home the wrong baby from the hospital)
Everyone is leaving out Vitagene. They do Health and Ancestry for $99 and their ancestry goes back past 1000 years. Located in the United States San Francisco, California.
Sadie Cornelius
Jol, thanks for letting us know! We’ll check them out and be sure to add to our list to consider adding during our next audit!
Camille Renee Moore

My maternal aunt is the family historian, but since she’s been ill (dementia), all of the research has stopped. Plus, her work has vanished from 2 moves, so all the work must be started again. Do I need find names to enter into a database? Is my DNA enough? Also, as the descendant of African slaves/Indigenous peoples/slave masters, I’m curious as to my specific ethnic makeup. Which DNA testing service provides the most detailed breakdown? Any help in both matters would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!

I just ordered a FTDNA automosal test for myself. My dad does not know who his real father is. He knows his mom. What is the best route trying to fill that spot with not knowing who my fathers father is? Should I have my dad buy a kit from FTDNA?
Sally – I would like to have testing done but do not want the testing company to provide my address to others who may have a connection to me. Can that be done with any of the recommended testers and how do I make that request? Thank you.
uncertain ancestry
Hi Sally Jones! What would you recommended for someone with suspected East Asian ancestry, who wants a specific Asian breakdown (or at the very least, to confirm Asian ancestry)? (No interest in medical history, cousin finders, etc.). Thank you!
I got tested via 23andMe and uploaded the raw dna data to FTDNA. My ancestry composition is different on both sites. Which interpretation should I consider to be accurate. [One site has me as 100% European; the other 87% European and 13% Sephardite – diaspora]
Mike Miller
Thank you for all the helpful information you provide! My wife and I have a somewhat similar genealogical problem of trying to identify a male ancestor why fathered a child out of wedlock, shamed the family and his identity was concealed. Let’s use my case as the example: My Paternal G-Grandfather is an “X” or a “?” on my family tree. He fathered my grandfather, born 1878, in a small, isolated area in the foothills of the southern Appalachians. We suspect he was from this community, perhaps a married man and/or relative.

For situations like ours, is there a defined process, maybe a formula of sorts, to “solve for X?” Using DNA, genealogical and historic resource data, has anyone developed a process, checklist or a dichotomous key of sorts that one can follow to make a best guess(es) estimate of who the “X” or “?” might be? Perhaps a way to use DNA matches that do not fit with any other known paternal lines to narrow the list of suspects or point toward a particular surname?

Edie Lukens
We are trying to determine if my husband’s family is Dutch or German. Can these tests determine this?
thanks to my niece who does our family genealogy, i have all that info but i am more concerned with potential health issues. which dna program do you recommend i buy. thanks
Hi Sally, I have a special needs son that wouldn’t be able to spit in a vial. Is FT the only one that does a cheek swab? Thank You
Just with regards to LivingDNA. In the cons it is listed as expensive. How did you come to that conclusion? No other DNA company comes even close to what you get for that price – which includes yDNA, mtDNA and autosomal results. Also, they have always said they will provide their own database.
teresa smith
What do you suggest for someone, myself, who is adopted and knows nothing of biological parents?
My sister and I are interested in buying tests for ourselves as well as our father (for the Y elements), but are getting stuck on the choices – FTDNA has the mtDNA that we are interested in, but it seems like to get any ethnicity breakdown we have to bundle with the family finder, and then it is like 3x the price… Do you know if this is true? (The company’s office hours are closed until Monday!) We are not interested in finding specific family connections through this testing – we are mostly interested in the wheres and whens that are in our DNA. Any helpful thoughts on this? Thank you!
Jens Lipponer
It would be interesting to find out more. Apparently church records for my family name in Wartau St Gallen (CH) go back to 1570 as earlier records were destroyed during the 30 years war. That’s what I have found out so far…. Hopefully the database here will be big enough to trace a bit further.
West African
I am from West Africa, particularly from Nigeria, but have lived in the United States for the past decade and a half. I have some really light-skinned relatives on both sides of my family and wonder if I might have some distant Arab forebears since my part of Nigeria was on the famous Trans-Saharan trade route that connected the Arab/Berber world and sub-Saharan Africa. But my hunch could be entirely misplaced since Africa is home to a multiplicity of native skin types. My question is: do any of these services have enough information about West Africa and the Middle East to give me a sense of my ancestral provenance? In your responses to previous questions, you said something to the effect that the gene pool from where these services draw are mostly European. (I am sorry if I mischaracterized you). Would it be worth the investment to order an ancestry test, given that there might be little or no helpful information that can give insights into my ancestral origins? Which service would you recommend? Thanks for your time and help!
My father recently died but gave me a swab sample. What’s my best option for testing that would give me the most data? I’m active on Ancestry and FT. I understand there are sites you can run the DNA data through to get medical info after the test. I am at a dead end for his family tree. But he also had atypical dementia that I might want to know more about someday.
Also, I wonder if you might add some info about the security of genetic info. Some rewrites of Trumpcare will penalize people with genetic issues. The 2008 act doesn’t seem to be able to protect against this. I’m hesitant to link up DNA with my real name and tree while this is all so fuzzy, legally.
Cherrie Williams
I would like to purchase a DNA Test for my daughters birthday. Her father, who has passed, father was not known. Her father was told his father was Italian, but we have no proof of that. Which of the Company’s testing would give us the best results to find out what nationality she is?
I am teaching an Ethnic Studies class next year and wanted to do something that would really get my students interested in their history. I am going to try and get all of my students a test, but want to know which one would fit best for our purposes. The biggest thing I am looking for is ethnicity percentages and the most detailed regional explanations, to give my students a starting point. I need to make sure that once I have ordered the tests that I will not have to pay a monthly fee to access results, because I will not be able to afford that. I am leaning towards myheritage because the turnaround time appears to be the fastest, and that is also important because I want to get going on this right away at the beginning of the year and don’t want to have to wait 2 or 3 months for the results
Hi Sally! So I recently tested with, and found out I am 20% Western European. If I want to get more specific results for my western European heritage, what testing kit would you recommend? I am more interested in ethnicity than anything else. Thanks!
Kimberly Perricone
Hi Sally… I know my question is going to seem very weird and different from the rest of the questions that I’ve seen. I am Rh negative and from what I’ve read The ancestral lineage is not traceable. Which test would you recommend for me to do because I’m not sure if blood type truly does make a difference.
Hello Sally,

I would like to find information about my fathers side of my family and also possibly find any living relatives. My father, who is deceased, was adopted by his step father and knew nothing about his biological father. If my half brother (we have the same father) does the Y-DNA test, how accurate would his paternal results be for me? And is this the best test to consider? Will I get any paternal information from the Autosomal or mtDNA tests that I can take? From reading your article and all the comments , it’s my understanding that FTDNA and the Ancestry DNA will give basically the same results, is this correct? Thanks for your help with this and your great article!

James Whitaker
Hi Sally,
My great grandmother’s father on my father’s side is unknown but I do know she was from Wales as she came here in 1895.
My father is still alive and I had him do ancestry’s DNA test already.
What other service and /or test can you recommend to help me use genealogy DNA testing to find out more as to who my great grandmother’s father was? I would get my dad to take the test to help close the generation gap. I’d like to get the test right due to my dad’s age plus there are so many levels of testing. Please help.
Hello Sally,

My wife and mother don’t know who their father is and I wanted to get them a birthday gift and get them the best dna test to find their father? Which test would be best for them to find their father if they only know who their mother is?

Hello! I’m from Spain although many many times in my life people had asked me if I got asian family (which I don’t know so far). I was wondering if a simple Family Finder Autosomal would be enough (and which company is the best) or if I need the mtDNA (and which company is the best). I’d really would like to know more about my ethnicity (if I have a part from caucasian) and as close as the country were comes from if it’s possible. Thanks so so much.
Hello Sally Jones- I just ordered the 23andMe test because I know my mother’s(deceased) history but my father is estranged. He says that he’s Indian but I have never seen him. I have a son, should I get my son to take the Y-DNA test to find out more about my father? I have no one else to find out information on my biological father.

Also, I’m wondering if I ordered the correct test? I have an Ancestry membership(family tree) account. Can I link/uploade my 23andMe results to find living relatives in

Thanks in advance.

Kathryn James
Tam, I believe by testing your son, the test would follow your son’s father back, not your father. You would have to have a Brother, or some other male directly associated with your family before your son was born. The test on your son would only go back on your female side as well. Maybe Sally Jones can shine some more light on this.
Deborah Schmidt
Hi Sally, I recently returned from Budapest and am planning to pursue my family’s history and possible lost relatives. My focus is two-fold: First, to discover from where members of my mother’s side of the family originated (a guide suggested that many Hungarians originated in Mongolia) and second, to discover any far-flung relatives. Most of the family of my grandmother’s generation died in the Holocaust (she was one of the few to emigrate before the war) but I’d love to know if anyone in her extended family survived. I would like to start with one DNA ancestry test and then perhaps a second one, depending on the information I’m able to discover. I’m not so much interested in health information and any information I’d get regarding my father’s side of the family would be “bonus.” I would love to have your opinion as to the best test with which to begin. Obviously, I’m a rookie at this. Thank you!
I just received my National Geographic Geno 2.0 (Helix) results, which includes ancestry by region. Does the test provide sufficiently more regional detail to be worth a second test?
I am interested in a test that gives me the most complete view of my geographical origins as far back as possible, including possble Neanderthal. I am female, does this give me a disadvantage?
Hi, I am 9th generation American, and I can trace most of that back myself, but I want to know what was Before that. Can I find out about ancestry through, say, 2000 years? Thanks!
Canadian Cousin
Hi Sally,

Although I’ve been researching my family history for approximately 20 years, I’ve only just ordered my first DNA test. I decided to go with Living DNA and was surprised to see that you called their test expensive – while US$159 might be costly for autosomal DNA testing, the fact that they include mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA tests in the same package makes it something of a bargain, in my opinion. Were you just referring to the fact that the initial cost is higher than their competitors, or do you think that the additional tests aren’t quite the deal they appear to be?

The other main attraction for me was the more detailed geographic breakdown, expecially for UK ancestors – my paternal ancestry is 100% English (at least for the past 5 to 8 generations), while my maternal ancestry is 100% Irish (last 3 to 5 generations). One thing that I haven’t bee able to figure out is how Living DNA’s Y-chromosome test compares with those offered by FTDNA. The latter advertises Y-tests covering 37, 67 and 111 markers, while Living DNA’s chip tests over 22,000 Y-markers – I’m pretty sure that they’re talking about 2 different things, and that Living DNA’s test isn’t actually that much more detailed. Do you have any idea how they might actually compare or can you suggest anywhere that I might find that information?

In any event, I enjoyed your article and will be interested in seeing if Living DNA makes its way into the top 3 for 2018. Best regards!

Sadie Cornelius
LivingDNA has lowered their price to $119 for all 3 tests making it a great value especially for those who are interested in their UK heritage specifically. For that reason we have updated the article to remove “expensive” as a con accordingly with the new cost.
joyce Adams (Furczyk)
Which test will give you both mother and father ancestors, will you be able to trace each separately?
Which test provides the best breakdown by country? I’m a mixed breed and would like to know exactly what % is German, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, etc. I really don’t care about tracing my path from Africa, which is gonna be that same for most Europeans.
I am interested in doing this for health reasons for my husband. Which test would give me the best of both worlds?
I’ve heard there is some sort of commonality with around 16 million people alive today that can all be traced to one man in central Asia (maybe Genghis Khan, though no way to know as no genetic information on him). Is there a test that would show if I have this relationship? Thanks!
Hi I was wondering what test would be best to find out about health, like what kind of things I could get and pass down to my kids ?? Thank u
Hello Sally. I am adopted and am on a search to find my biological family. I took the AncestryDNA test and discovered a possible 1/2 sister who was also adopted. Beyond this DNA test, neither of us have any information about our biological families. We both have uploaded our DNA into myHeritage, GEDmatch, and FTDNA. By doing this, I have found a potential 2nd cousin that we both share. We are considering taking another DNA test just to be sure. What would you recommend. The potenital 2nd cousin took her test through 23andMe. Thanks for any help or advise you can provide.
Sue Page
Hi Sally. My adopted son does not know what his background heritage is. His biological parents had big issues and we aren’t really looking for relationships but want to know about ” what” he is.. as he is asked and obviously bi or multiracial. What test would be best for ethnic background and do you have the right to NOT include your information to be contacted by possible other family members.
OK. Y markers. I gpot those 15 years ago from Gnome. BUT, no one ever explained the significance of the markers, other than they somehow represented mutations?
I had National Geographic perform Y and MtDNA tests done about 15 years ago. The product is basically a Haplogroup for Y and a Haplogroup for MtDna. Punching these into Google, shows the current distribution of those Haplogroups. I do not really see 23 and Me or Ancestry or FTDNA providing anymore info other than comparing with their respective data bases. . Am I missing something? One disappointment in Genographics is that there is/was no one to talk to RE the meaning of the test data. ALSO, IF A full sequence is done, is there a company that can interpret the sequence. One company indicated that they can provide 32 panels..whatever that means. Anyhow, not understanding the products fully or their duplicity I’m left to view the data as merely ancestral connections.
i had it verified today by support from one of the top 10 testing groups, that in fact, all raw files from all competitors contain similar data incl mutations aka ‘health’ even if they dont offer any tests on their sites to read/decode/report any of it, so the truth is ‘all raw files have mutation/health data’ embedded in them and you can take any of them over to 3rd party reporting sites to unpack that data.

please add ‘gene by gene’ to an updated comparison, they are $79. presales support at familytree and gene by gene are very responsive which i can’t say for 23andme which is extremely poor.