Best DNA Test 2020: FamilyTreeDNA vs 23andMe vs AncestryDNA vs MyHeritage DNA & More

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Can a little spit really tell you that you’ve got some Albert Einstein in your DNA or that your ancestors migrated from the Middle East 2,000 years ago?

Surely, you’ve heard about the craze over at-home DNA tests by now. Interested in digging deeper into your family heritage? Want to know what test to take? DNA testing is easier and more affordable than you might think and can lead to amazing revelations about who you are.

What can these tests tell you? You can learn about your family’s history going back many generations and find living family matches. They can also help you discover your ethnic origins from around the world. Some can even tell you health conditions you may be at a greater risk of developing. An ancestral DNA test may also inspire you to dig in deeper to your family tree with genealogical research.

Article Overview

Best DNA Test For Ancestry Winners

We chose our best DNA tests based on a number of factors, including the:

  • Types of tests they offer
  • DNA database size
  • Extent of ancestry information and matching relatives you can find from each test
  • Cost
  • Genealogy research tools

If you need to brush up on DNA and ancestry-related terms, jump to our DNA terminology section.

AncestryDNA Review


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AncestryDNA is part of the wildly popular genealogical company This company has really stepped up its game over the last several years, giving you an unparalleled ability to find familial matches as well as a breakdown of your ethnicity from 500+ regions across the globe.

AncestryDNA offers affordable pricing, an extremely active online community, a huge DNA ancestry database of over 10 million people and access to millions of family trees and billions of historical records via the Ancestry website. Their autosomal test analyzes more than 700,000 genetic markers to find your genetic matches.

AncestryDNA also gives you results on migration patterns from several areas around the world to post-colonial North America. This can help you better pinpoint where your recent ancestors lived in the U.S. and migrated from around the world.

Best For Identifying Genetic Matches

Far more people have tested with AncestryDNA than any other service — a whopping 10 million people. 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 your mother’s and father’s sides.



  • Competitive pricing for autosomal DNA test
  • Largest DNA database by far — 10+ million people
  • Provides ancestry ethnicity estimates for 500 global regions
  • CLIA and CAP certified laboratory (third-party lab)
  • Reliable security for DNA test samples and results
  • Excellent online community forums and customer service
  • Stores your DNA sample indefinitely
  • Can connect with genetic matches via anonymous email and message boards
  • Discover what your DNA tells you about 26 different physical traits (lactose intolerance, earlobe type, male hair loss, etc.)
  • Doesn’t offer separate Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
  • Can’t upload DNA data from other services
  • No chromosome browser available to compare shared chromosomal segments
  • Those tested must opt-in so that other users can see their results, meaning you may not be able to see all your matches


The following pricing is for Ancestry’s DNA test and results, including familial matches. If you want to link your results to your family tree or do other research on their website, you must have a paid subscription. See the latest subscription pricing.

  • $79 Autosomal DNA testing kit (saliva sample)
  • $14.99 AncestryDNA Traits (no additional DNA test needed)
  • $9.95 shipping
  • Results available in 6-8 weeks


AncestryDNA often has time-sensitive coupons including AncestryHealth®  on sale for $99* (originally $149) *Not available in NY, NJ or RI*, AncestryDNA® will be on sale for $59 and Ancestry® Gift Subscriptions will be 20% off. Offers valid through December 31, 2019. Click here to take advantage of these offers.

Read Our In-Depth AncestryDNA Review

FamilyTreeDNA Review


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FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) is the best DNA ancestry test if you’re committed to serious genealogy research. This company is the only service that offers all three types of tests separately: autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing. Their Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are much more in-depth than other companies’ maternal and paternal-line analysis. (Learn more about these different tests.)

Also, FTDNA is one of few services that offers a chromosomal browser, which allows you to compare your matching DNA segments (blocks) with each genetic match. You get the email addresses of your matches and can join targeted genealogical projects within their network. This is one of a few services that gives you the ability to transfer your data from other services to help you further your research.

You may have heard about FTDNA’s recent agreement to work with law enforcement to upload genetic files to help identify a perpetrator of a homicide, abduction or sexual assault, or ID the remains of a deceased individual. If this causes privacy concerns for you, FTDNA allows you to opt out of Law Enforcement Matching, so your DNA results on file will not be included in their searches.

Best For Advanced Genealogical Research

FTDNA gives you a list of all your genetic matches who share common ancestors from your maternal and paternal lines from the past 5 or so generations. You can even view, sort and compare individual DNA matches by parental lines and contact matches via email (if they’ve permitted access). Their separate mtDNA and Y-DNA tests give you uniquely specific analysis into your DNA, and their online resources are phenomenal.



  • Competitive pricing for DNA autosomal test and frequent promotions
  • Only site to offer separate autosomal DNA and in-depth Y-DNA and mtDNA testing kits and a good variety of bundled packages
  • Provides ethnicity estimates for 24 global regions
  • In-house laboratory certified by CLIA and accredited by CAP
  • Stores your DNA sample for 25 years
  • Strict privacy policy
  • 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, MyHeritage and NatGeo Geno 2.0
  • Excellent online community forums and customer service
  • Database (1+ million people) isn’t quite as extensive as other services


FTDNA delivers results in 4-8 weeks. All tests are a cheek swab.

  • $79 Family Finder Autosomal DNA Kit
  • $89 mtDNA Plus DNA Kit
  • $199 mtDNA Full Sequence Kit
  • $169 Y-37 Markers
  • $268 Y-67 Markers
  • $359 Y-111 Markers
  • $649 Big Y-700
  • $9.95 shipping
  • View all options


Family Tree DNA often has time-sensitive coupons! They are also having a Thanksgiving sale, offering up to 40 percent off its kits: Family Finder ($59 instead of $79), Y-DNA for paternal ancestry ($99 instead of $169) and mtDNA for maternal ancestry ($139 instead of $199). Click here to take advantage of these limited time deals.

Read Our In-Depth FamilyTreeDNA Review

23andMe Review


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23andMe is your best bet if you want to trace your lineage and get disease-risk and carrier-status 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 reports on your ethnic composition, haplogroups and Neanderthal ancestry. 23andMe also provides you an anonymous report of where your current genetic matches live in the world, and you can opt-in to their DNA Relatives tool to find, connect and message those who share DNA with you. 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

23andMe is the only direct-to-consumer genetic test that has FDA approval for 10+ genetic health risks, including late-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Hereditary Thrombophilia and most recently Type 2 Diabetes and three genetic variants found on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes known to be associated with a higher risk for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

Other health results include 40+ FDA-approved carrier status reports (whether you carry genes for certain health conditions), 5 wellness reports (lactose intolerance, for example) and 25 trait reports (male bald spot, unibrow, etc.).

Best For General Ancestry & Disease Risk Screening

If you want to learn where your ancestors lived around the world and, at the same time, gain insights into your health and risk for certain diseases, 23andMe’s Ancestry + Health test is the way to go.



  • Only at-home DNA test to offer FDA-approved health screenings
  • Large DNA database of 5+ million people
  • Provides your ethnicity breakdown from 1,000+ global regions
  • CLIA and CAP certified laboratory (third-party lab)
  • Test samples and results are secure for privacy
  • Provides chromosome browser to compare shared chromosomal segments
  • Stores your DNA sample
  • 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
  • Users have to opt-in to allow others to even see that they’re a genetic match (members say many don’t, making it more difficult to identify and connect with living relatives)


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


Ancestry + Traits service, which features a DNA relative finder and family tree builder, is $79 — down from $99. Its Health + Ancestry service, which includes carrier status reports and health predisposition reports, is $99 — down from $199.  Click here to take advantage of these limited time deals.

Read Our In-Depth 23andMe Review

DNA Test For Ancestry Comparison Table

 1st: Ancestry DNA2nd: Family Tree DNA3rd: 23andMeAfrican AncestryGPS Origins by HomeDNALiving DNAMyHeritage DNAVitagene
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteView on AmazonVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
Test TypeSaliva sampleCheek swabSaliva sampleCheek swabCheek swabCheek swabCheek swabCheek swab
Best ForIdentifying RelativesAdvanced Genealogical Research & Identifying RelativesDisease Risk Screening & Ethnicity EstimatesAncient African AncestryEarly Migratory PatternsAdding DNA to Your Online Family Tree
Database Size10+ Million1+ Million5+ Million30,000+n/an/a1.4+ Millionn/a
Find Familial MatchesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Ethnic Geographical Regions500+241,000+n/an/a804225
Price$79$79-$649$99 or $199$299$89.99$99$79$79
Results In6-8 Weeks4-8 Weeks6-8 Weeks6+ Weeks6 Weeks10-12 Weeks3-4 Weeks4-6 Weeks
Autosomal DNACheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
In-depth mtDNACheckmarkMaternal haplogroup results onlyMaternal haplogroup results onlyMaternal haplogroup results onlyMaternal haplogroup results only
In-depth Y-ChromosomeCheckmarkPaternal haplogroup results onlyPaternal haplogroup results onlyPaternal haplogroup results onlyPaternal haplogroup results only

The Rest Of The Pack

These may not be in the top 3, but some may give you insights you may not find in our top winners.

African Ancestry | GPS Origins by HomeDNA | Living DNA | MyHeritage DNA | National Geographic Geno 2.0| Vitagene Health+Ancestry

African Ancestry Review

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African Ancestry was launched in 2003, and since that time, it has partnered with historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and other geneticists to build the largest collection of African lineages in the world, including over 30,000 indigenous African DNA profiles.

This company offers separate mtDNA and Y-DNA tests but no autosomal test. African Ancestry says they can trace your roots back to a specific present-day African country, but that’s a somewhat problematic claim. Given the science they use and the limits of DNA ancestry testing in general, what they can do is determine a likely estimate of broad genetic matches “based on the frequency of identical and closely related haplotypes,” according to their website. They also provide broad results from other continents.

Best DNA Test To Discover Ancient African Roots

Do you want to know which specific area, or perhaps even tribe, in Africa your ancestors hailed from? If you know (or highly suspect) that you are of African descent, African Ancestry traces your African roots from 500 – 2,000 years ago.



  • World’s largest database of African lineages
  • Traces your African roots back 2,000 years to specific areas and ethnic groups of origin
  • You can upload your mtDNA and Y-DNA test results from FamilyTreeDNA if you have African ancestry (fee for running your results through their algorithm)
  • Active online community
  • They don’t share your sample or results with third parties
  • They destroy your sample once it’s been tested (good for people concerned with privacy)
  • Very expensive
  • DNA database is too small for entirely accurate results — their website states “Company does not warrant that a Report will be accurate or complete.”
  • Can’t identify unknown living relatives or individual ancestors
  • No information on lab accreditation
  • No sample storage option
  • Few genealogical resources on website


  • $299 MatriClan™ Test Kit
  • $299 PatriClan™ Test Kit
  • $680 Family Celebration Package, includes one mtDNA kit, one Y-DNA kit, t-shirts, certificates
  • Free shipping
  • Results available in 6+ weeks
  • View all options

GPS Origins By HomeDNA Review

HomeDNA logo

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GPS Origins test by HomeDNA uses a unique ancestral tracking technique that breaks down your gene pool and family migration patterns. Their in-house and highly-accredited laboratory, DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC), tests 800,000 autosomal genetic markers and analyzes 1,000+ reference populations and 40+ gene pools to tell you where your ancestors moved over hundreds of years starting roughly 1,000 years ago.

Although their GPS Origins test kit is expensive, HomeDNA allows you to upload your results from 23andMe,, the FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder or National Geographic Geno 2.0 for HomeDNA’s unique analysis for a $39 fee. HomeDNA also provides special editions of their GPS Origins test.

  • The African Edition autosomal test analyzes 11 African–specific gene pools and ancestry markers from more than 100 African populations. You receive your African ethnicity in percentages and can see your ancestors’ migration routes going as far back as 2,000 years, along with anthropological stories explaining the movement of your DNA over time.
  • The Asian Edition test analyzes 17 Asian gene pools and goes back 2,000 years, with date stamps and geographic coordinates.

Best For Early Migratory Patterns

Want to know where your early ancestors originated from and migrated to over hundreds of years? The GPS Origins tests give you basic migratory patterns within certain areas of the globe starting as early as 2,000 years ago based on your genetically-matched haplogroups.



  • Approach and results are unique with GPS Origins test
  • Provides historical write-ups of specific migratory patterns
  • DNA lab is highly accredited
  • Strict privacy policy
  • Special African and Asian GPS Origins editions
  • You can have your raw DNA from other companies analyzed by HomeDNA for $39
  • Charitable support for the Innocence Project
  • Customers report helpful support reps
  • GPS Origins test kit is expensive compared to most other DNA ancestry tests
  • No familial matches — can’t identify living relatives or individual ancestors
  • Separate maternal and paternal line tests are very limited in what they can tell you (unlike FTDNA’s Y-DNA and mtDNA tests)
  • No chromosome browser
  • No information about sample storage on website
  • Website lacks online community and supplemental resources


  • $89.99 for GPS Origins® test (cheek swab)
  • $39 to upload your results from the FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder, 23andMe, or National Geographic Geno 2.0
  • Results available in 4-6 weeks

Read Our In-Depth HomeDNA Review

Living DNA Review

Living DNA logo

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England-based Living DNA launched in early 2015. At the time, they claimed to be the “first truly global DNA test” because they broke down ancestral origins across 80 worldwide regions. AncestryDNA and 23andMe, however, have put that claim to rest as both sites have seriously improved their regional ethnicity analysis. Living DNA does still have the edge on British ancestry — they break down your roots across 21 specific 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 credibility in our book. We’re keeping our eye on this relative newcomer to see how their reputation develops.

Best For British Heritage

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 populations, making their results more comprehensive in those regions.



  • Excellent for a more in-depth British regional breakdown (80 regions alone in Britain)
  • Traces your maternal and paternal lines back and gives you your haplogroups
  • Good security and privacy policy
  • Gives you raw DNA results that you can upload to some other sites like GEDMatch
  • 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 (but they recently launched a public beta version of family matching)
  • Lab is located in the UK, which doesn’t hold the same certification standards as in the U.S.
  • Can’t upload raw DNA data from other services
  • No chromosome browser
  • Very limited website resources, tools or community
  • No information on website about long-term DNA sample storage


  • $99 DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
  • Free shipping
  • Results in 10-12 weeks


Living DNA occasionally has time-sensitive coupons including a Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday sale DNA tests start at only $49 for a limited time. Use this link to save (no code needed).

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 fewer ethnic regions identified.

Although the test is relatively new compared to the top 3 services, their database has grown to 1.4+ million people, and they use FTDNA’s highly-accredited testing lab. An advantage of MyHeritage DNA? You can import DNA testing results from competing companies to compare with their database for free. Most other services (except FTDNA) either don’t give you this option or charge you a fee.

Best For Enhancing Your Online Family Tree

With more than 3.3 billion people in family trees and 103+ billion users worldwide, MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and related services are among the best online. How do you benefit from connecting your DNA to your family tree? DNA results can prove or disprove documented family tree connections. Family trees are also vital for understanding the relationship path to DNA matches.



  • Competitive pricing for autosomal DNA test
  • DNA database of 1.4+ million people
  • Provides ancestry ethnicity estimates for 42 global regions
  • CLIA and CAP certified laboratory (they use FTDNA’s lab)
  • Reliable security for DNA test samples and results
  • Can import raw DNA data from any service that uses GEDCOM or autosomal test
  • New chromosome browser
  • They store your DNA sample indefinitely, or you can request to have it destroyed
  • Good online community forums and customer service
  • Additional fee to use their family tree and genealogical services
  • No separate Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
  • Doesn’t offer targeted genealogical DNA projects available to join on website


  • $79 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 Genographic project logo

Geno 2.0 DNA Ancestry kits are no longer available for purchase since  the public participation phase of the National Geographic Genographic project ended in late May 2019. According to their website, if you already purchased a kit, you may still send it in for processing “in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of sale.” They also say that customers will still be able to access their test results online until the end of 2020.

Vitagene Health+Ancestry Review

Vitagene Health+Ancestry logo

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Vitagene Health + Ancestry by HomeDNA is a combined autosomal DNA test that analyzes your ethnic ancestry and several health traits from one single cheek swab. Its approach is similar to AncestryDNA’s test but with noticeable limitations.

There isn’t much to get excited about with Vitagene’s test. Their ancestry analysis only gives you ethnicity results for 25 regions around the world with percentage breakdowns — you can get these results and more (e.g., familial matches) from AncestryDNA, 23andMe and other ancestry tests.

Vigagene also looks at specific genes related to vitamin deficiencies and common sensitivities, like gluten or lactose intolerance, as well as several other physical and wellness traits (AncestryDNA’s test now does this, too). Finally, there’s an online questionnaire, where you provide secure and confidential information about your medical history and lifestyle.

They claim they can then use the results of their DNA test and your medical history to develop a personalized plan for exercise, diet and supplement recommendations. But here’s where there’s a problem — they take the results too far. No published scientific studies show that genetic tests can give you useful and actionable information about boosting your wellness through diet and exercise solely based on your genetic profile. 



  • Ethnicity breakdown across 25 global regions
  • DNA lab is highly accredited (same lab as GPS Origins)
  • Strict privacy policy and they destroy your sample once it’s tested
  • You can have your raw DNA from other companies analyzed for $49
  • Quicker results than many other companies
  • Good online resources
  • Customers report helpful support reps
  • No familial matches — can’t identify living relatives or individual ancestors
  • Doesn’t offer separate mtDNA or Y-DNA tests (can’t learn about maternal or paternal lines)
  • Website lacks online community


  • Health Report + Ancestry: $79
  • Premium Report: $99
  • Vitality Bundle + Free DNA Test: $209
  • View all options
  • Free shipping
  • Results in 4-6 weeks

Vitagene occasionally has time-sensitive coupons including a DNA Day sale. Now through April 26th Vitagene is offering customers 20% off. Click here to take advantage of this limited time deal.

Read Our In-Depth Vitagene Review

Take An Ancestry Tour To Your Heartland

Go Ahead Tours logo

Visit Go Ahead Tours

EF Go Ahead Tours, in partnership with, is now offering special Ancestry Tours where you can uncover your family story on one-of-a-kind genealogy tours to six different regions in Europe, including Germany, Scotland, two in Ireland and two in Italy.

Each trip includes an AncestryDNA kit and pre-trip family history review. Then, when you’re at your destination, an Ancestry genealogist will accompany your tour group to answer questions about your heritage. EF Go Ahead Tours offers travel planning, handpicked hotels, authentic cuisine, guided sightseeing and an expert tour director in all of its tour packages.

EF Go Ahead Tours’ all-inclusive ancestry trips are from 10-14 days and start at approximately $3,300 per person.


Go Ahead Tours offers $200 off your first trip with them just by signing up for their email list! Click here to get started.

Other Types Of At-Home DNA Tests

DNA Paternity Test

Historically one of the more common types of DNA tests, a paternity test 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

At-home DNA testing for most medical and health-related purposes is still in its infancy, but scientists are making advances every day. It’s always a good idea to talk with your physician and/or a genetic counselor before deciding whether to test yourself. A counselor can also help you decipher the results.

Check out our article on DNA Testing For Health Reasons to see which at-home tests are legit.

Note: Keep in mind, these tests analyze your genetic makeup to see if you’ve inherited genes that could make you more likely to develop a certain condition. But they can’t predict whether you’ll actually get that disease (or even your chances of getting it).

Genetic Testing For Cancer Risk

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.

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 or 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.

Pet DNA Testing

Why should your pets be left out of the family tree fun? You can now test dog DNA with Embark, a top-rated company that can help you find your dog’s breed makeup and identify many health markers. Your cat can get in on the genealogical action too, with the reputable cat DNA company, Basepaws.

Statistics & Facts About DNA Tests

Here are some recent stats and fun facts related to DNA and its growing popularity.

  • As of early 2019, more than 26 million consumers have taken DNA tests with commercial DNA kits.1
  • More people took DNA tests in 2018 than all previous years combined. 1
  • If DNA test trends continue, there could be 100 million people’s genetic info in commercial databases by 2021.1
  • Privacy is the #1 concern people have about DNA tests. 2
  • 40% of surveyed travelers reported that they want to take, or have taken, a trip inspired by their DNA test results. 3
  • A California-based travel agency Authentic Vacations booked $1.5 million in Ancestry tours in 2018 (nearly double compared to 2017).3
  • Music sharing service Spotify has teamed up with Ancestry to provide musical DNA playlists inspired by your test results. Since launching in September 2018, more than 10,000 people have signed up for a custom playlist.4
  • According to Google Trends, West Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont are the states most interested in DNA kits in the past 5 years (since April 2014). 5

How Does At-Home DNA Testing Work?

Order Your Kit graphic Step 1: Order Your Kit

Order your kit online from anywhere in the world. It takes about a week to receive the kit. The package should arrive sealed, so you are certain it has not been tampered with.

Set Up Online Profile graphic Step 2: Set Up Your Online Profile

You’ll need to activate your kit online using a unique code provided to you. This connects your name and contact details to your sample so you can track progress as it’s tested and later view results. You’ll most likely sign a consent form and agree to the company’s legal terms and conditions before getting started.

Provide DNA Sample graphicStep 3: Provide A DNA Sample

Now for the fun part — providing your DNA sample! Most tests offer cheek swab tests. AncestryDNA, 23andMe and NatGeo Geno 2.0 tests require you to spit in a vial.

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

Seal & Ship graphic Step 4: Seal & Ship Your Sample

Once your samples are complete and ready to go, seal the samples in the specimen bag, place them in the provided mailing envelope and drop it in your mailbox for delivery. 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 graphic

In an age where we can get most things instantly, you might be anxious to get results right away. But, how long does a DNA test take to come back? 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.

Step 6: View & Share Your Results

View & Share Your Results graphicTo access your results, sign in to the online portal using the login you created when you activated your kit (results will not be mailed to you for privacy reasons). Once logged in, you can view and analyze your DNA in more detail using the provided percentages, maps and more depending on which kit you chose.

Types Of DNA Tests For Ancestry: Autosomal, mtDNA & Y-DNA

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 kind of test to make sure you’re testing your DNA for the specific information you’re looking for.

Autosomal DNA Test

Autosomal DNA Test relationship graphic Autosomal DNA tests look at chromosomes 1-22 that you’ve inherited from both your parents. Don’t know much about your grandparents or other relatives? Autosomal DNA testing can determine how closely related you are to other individuals.

  • Who Can Take The Test: Males and females.
  • What It Tests For: Autosomal DNA testing matches you with other individuals based on a certain amount of shared DNA.
  • What It Can Reveal: 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 give you estimates of your ethnic origins from around the world.
  • How Far Back Are Results: Autosomal DNA tests trace back anywhere from 5 to 10 generations on both your mother’s and father’s sides of the family.

What Are Ethnicity Estimates?

Autosomal DNA tests match 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 (ethnicity estimates). 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 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 because of each lab’s unique testing methods. Some autosomal tests also look at parts of your DNA going back even further.

mtDNA Test

Mitochondrial DNA Test relationship graphicA mitochondrial (mtDNA) test traces your mother-line ancestry using the DNA in your mitochondria. mtDNA is passed down unchanged by every mother to all her children, both male and female.

  • 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.

Y-DNA Test

Y Chromosome DNA Testing relationship graphicThe Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) test traces direct male-line ancestry — grandfather to father to son and so on. The Y-chromosome passes down each generation virtually unchanged. Since females don’t carry the Y-chromosome, they can’t take this test. Females, however, 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.

  • Who Can Take The Test: Males only (because women don’t have a Y-chromosome).
  • What It Tests For: The Y-DNA test traces direct male-line ancestry. 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.
  • How Far Back Are Results: Like mtDNA tests, Y-DNA tests can go back hundreds of thousands of years.

Other Terminology & FAQs

What Is DNA?

DNA graphic DNA stands for “deoxyribonucleic acid,” and everyone’s DNA is unique to the individual. More than 99% 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?

A 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 (maternal) DNA or Y-chromosome (paternal) DNA, 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?

A 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. 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 Accurate Is DNA Testing For Ancestry?

DNA testing for forensic purposes, paternity and ancestry are 99.9% accurate. This DNA accuracy level for ancestry pertains to matching relatives, not for ethnicity results.

What About DNA Testing Privacy?

Are my DNA sample and results 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 Or Siblings 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 (even twins!). So, if you want the most complete results, everyone in the family should test.

Why Did My Sibling (& Even My Twin) Get Different Results From Mine?

Every person gets half of their DNA from their mother and half from their father. But what ends up in each half differs for each sibling. For example, you could’ve inherited more of your mother’s Asian DNA, and your brother got more of your mother’s European DNA. The same goes for the DNA you inherit from your father.

Can DNA Tests Tell Me What Countries My Ancestors Lived In?

In most cases no, although some (like AncestryDNA and 23andMe) will break them down to very specific regions. Be wary of these specific breakdowns because they’re typically based on very small population samples, so the results aren’t representative of a large enough population sample to make them highly valid (see below for more detailed info).

How Accurate Are DNA Ethnicity Tests?

DNA ethnicity results are the least reliable part of DNA tests, but the science behind this testing is improving. AncestryDNA and 23andMe have recently dramatically expanded the number of global regions they identify in your ethnic mix, but drilling down to specific countries is complicated and problematic. Why? There are two major reasons:

  1. Each company that offers ethnicity tests uses groups of reference populations to compare your results and place you in an ethnic group. Results, however, can vary widely based on which and how many of these reference populations a certain company uses.
  2. Over the course of hundreds and thousands of years, there has been a great deal of intermixing of populations, particularly in Europe. Let’s use warfare as a good example. Wars cause invasions, which in turn change country borders and cause the mixing of disparate populations. Refugees migrated to different parts of their continent, further mixing people of different ethnic regions.

Because of these factors, you can see why your ethnicity results are just estimates. The better testing companies, however, give you confidence levels for each of your ethnic percentage results, so you get a better idea of how “accurate” your results are.

How Accurate Is DNA Testing For Health Reasons?

The lines are a bit more blurry when it comes to DNA testing for disease risk (i.e., 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 certain cancers, Parkinson’s Disease, Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Celiac Disease and other hereditary conditions. Learn more in our article about 23andMe and other DNA tests for health reasons.

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, FamilyTreeDNA and other services. 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 6 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. While we don’t recommend that you make your name or any of your information public, not sharing will limit much of what you can do with the website.

DNA Test Myths vs Facts

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

DNA 101 Infographic

Infographic: DNA Tests

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

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, 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.

What do you hope to discover via DNA testing?

Sources: International Society of Genetic Genealogy, [1] MIT Technology Review, [2] Mashable, [3] New York Times, [4] Quartz , [5] Google Trends (2014-2019)

About The Author:

Sally holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in anthropology from James Madison University. She went on to pursue a master’s in journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An international traveler since she was under 10 years old, Sally loves exploring the world’s mysteries first-hand. Her favorite destinations? Greece, the British Virgin Islands and NYC.

She also spent much of her career in health sciences communications and has enjoyed working with and learning from some of the world’s leading academic scientists in genetics, global health, addiction research and other fields.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.
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.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

Leave a Reply

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Hazel Kaplan
Hello Sally:

I hope you keep this site active for many years because it is the best information source for its kind.

I have a problem and am very upset about the DNA test I have taken from AncestryDNA:

Example 1: It shows that I am 48% from Caucasia, but there are 50 Ethnic Groups in Caucasia: Armenians are completely different than Georgians, which one I am from?

Example 2: It shows that I am 36% from Persia, but Persia also included in Caucasia, and it also has many different Ethnic Groups.

Example 3: This is also very interesting to me: Although it is not shown that I have any connection with Greece, 98% of my 4th Cousins are Greeks…:)

I am willing to take another test, of course with another company, if you could advise me one, please. I really, really have to know who I am…:)

Thank you for your time and efforts,


Diana Hires
You have, in the costs for Ancestry failed to mention the cost of a smiannual or annual membership for Ancestry. You cannot use any of the research features unless you purchase the membership. They are encouraging purchase kits for additional relatives but each relative has to purchase a membership and enter a from scratch family tree in order to get full benefits of the software. Perhaps they will be encouraged to fix this problem in future. Comments on the internet at BBB (Better Business Bureau) and Yahoo! indicate that Ancestry has a problem with their automatic renewal where people state that Ancestry makes it hard or impossible to opt out of a renewal and that customer service is poor. As a subscriber for over ten years, I believe the posters since I have had problems with auto renewal and management of additional DNA accounts. While Ancestry may be the best choice for avid genealogists, it is pricey unless discounted, difficult for beginning genealogists and hard to reach when there is a problem. This begs the question “Are you sponsored or affiliated with Ancestry?”
Hi Sally,
I have already done 23andMe. I like it a lot and I am learning more every time I explore results or my 1000+ living DNA relatives. My one issue is that it combines all UK and Irish descent into one statistic. I would like to find out my percentage breakdowns of Irish, Scottish, and English heritage. Is there another site that identifies these more specifically?
Kathleen Cole
Thank you for all the information, but it’s all a bit overwhelming. I have a written family tree, for the most part, and some previous ancestors researched some members of my family all the way back to the 1100’s. But there are still a lot of gaps. I’m not that interested in finding family members, but I AM interested in finding where in Europe most of my ancestors came from (I know I am Dutch and German, but what else?) There is also a bit question if my father’s family has Native American in it; according to family “legend”, we are Choctaw and Comanche. I realize these DNA test kits can’t break down individual tribes, but which kit would be the best for 1) finding out exactly where all in Europe all my ancestors come from, and; 2) am I part Native American? thank you so much!
Need clarification on number in the databases – your chart comparing the companies has different numbers than the text
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Sorry for the confusion it should be correct now!
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Sally, for Mother’s Day we’re wanting to get my mother-in-law an ancestry test. We plan on going with FTDNA but they offer tons of tests. Do you recommend one over the other?
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 (Admin)
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 (Admin)
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 (Admin)
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 (Admin)
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 (Admin)
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.

“Doesn’t offer health-related DNA tests” sounds like FDA-legalese aka a misnomer, all these raw files must contain the same data that when uploaded to 3rd parties reveal health information if that site is equipped to decode the raw file and has reports to show the health data.
Cybele Moon
Hi Sally – oh boy my results from Family tree vs Ancestry differed wildly!! with a low confidence of 2% “Caucasus” in Ancestry I got 24% “middle Eastern” in FTdna.
FTdna : Ancestry
British Isles 30% British Isles 21%, Ireland 12%
Western & Central Europe 46% Western Europe 14%
Middle East- 24% Italian/Greek 48%
Scandinavia 2%
Caucasus 2%

Ancestry says I am 98% European where FTdna say 76% European.
I have yet to do 23&me. But not sure anymore of the accuracy.

So very strange. But I do know Scots and Irish in family and also Southern Italy on father’s side..

Moon. That is my concern..All companies have the same data with differing results…… AND each has its own data base. I wonder if there is an organization that keeps a master data base. If I bought a product from each of the providers, even if they were close in analysis, I’m not sure I would get any more information than one of them …
Hi Sue, what test would you recommend I take if I want to learn more about what indigenous group I come from? My parents are from Mexico State and I would love to learn the specific tribe I come from. Are there any tests that are more specific for Mexico’s indigenous groups? Thank you in advance for your help.
Brian Tomasio
Hi Nancy, for what its worth, i found this company provides just what you are looking for! Good luck!
Hi Sally, my grandmother has been traced back to 1600’s in U.S. What should I use to trace her roots which may be English. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions ~ Sue
Hi! Sally I got my results from AncestryDNA and from my hermitage both are different. Ancestry :62 % Native American, 25% Iberian peninsula. My Hermitage: 90% Native American, 7 % North and west Europe. To me is look to different why?
Kaitlyn Johns
Hi Sally. I’m looking for which test would be best for my mother. We don’t really care about finding relatives or anything like that, we are more interested in knowing what parts of the world her ancestors are from. Her family has been in America since the early 1600’s, but it has also migrated with nearly every generation, married in a lot of different people, and had minimal formal education so we’ve never had many clues to go on. Which tests are going to give us the most comprehensive information about where she is from? Thanks.
Hi Sally,

I am adopted and know very little of my family history. I do know that both my parents were French Canadians and so I assume that my roots could be traced back to France. Beyond that I don’t know much else. I’m also interested in any information about RH- blood type. Both my parents passed away (I did get to connect with my dad and some siblings). I only have 2 brothers (only can locate 1 of them) as I would like to know my dad’s genetic history. Which test would you recommend I take?

Sue Williams
Hi, I’ve tested my elderly parents with 23andMe and am considering other companies for them. I understand that it would be good to test a maternal uncle. Would there be any need to test siblings for ancestry since I have tested my parents? Thanks.
Hi Sally, I have read your article and looked through the different websites but wanted to ask your advice. My dad passed and I have two full brothers and one half brother. I am interested in getting info on both health and ancestry and possible relatives. Would you suggest I do 23andMe first then upload the raw data to another source? What would you do to get the most info without having to pay for all the various options? Thanks!
Hi Sally,
I tried to look through prior comments to see if a similar question, but to my knowledge, I don’t see one.

I was wondering which kit you would recommend for my parents and myself. We moved to the US from Egypt when I was a toddler and as far as have known the vast majority of our ancestors were Egyptian. I believe we have some Moroccan on my Father’s side and Turkish on my Mother’s. But being from that region, I’m concerned that the results might be too vague/inconclusive. I saw a couple of question from people asking about Jewish descent and saw that you mentioned another Jewish database. We’re not Jewish, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t have any Jewish blood. But considering all the of the various races and such that have been in Egypt, it just seems that some kits are better suited for people from certain regions.

I’m mostly interested in tracing our lineage and not so much the health-related information. Based on your piece, I’ve been considering FamilyTree and 23andMe, but was hoping you’d be so kind to share your thoughts.

You should add TellMeGen to your comparison:

I think your PROS and CONS are only based in FTDNA options. There are a lot of things you doesn’t said.

We never knew the identity of my grandfather’s father, and we were unable to obtain my father’s DNA before he passed. If I do an Autosomal DNA test would that help me trace possible ancestors on my father’s/grandfather’s side of the family? If so what service do you recommend? Is there a company who can do DNA testing on personal items?
I ‘m pretty use I’m at a dead end as my father was an only son and I have two sisters. So there is no hope of tracking my “y” connection. I’m 75 years old.
Hi Sally, Any recommendations on best test for identifying African roots? The ultimate goal is know what African region my family comes from and then visit. Also, father’s family has been in the US for generations and mother’s family from the Caribbean. Thank you!
Not sure if someone else mentioned, but I believe 23andMe does include the Y-DNA and MtDNA testing, as I received both Paternal and Maternal Haplogroup information from the testing. After all, it wouldn’t be 23 chromosomes if it wasn’t included.
In order to maximize the amount of information that can be gathered from DNA testing but also have a larger comparative database, can a brother be tested through one company in order to do the Y-DNA, and then a female sibling tested via another company? If so, can you make a recommendation? Or is it recommended to stay within one company?
Liz Tipps
I have taken the Ancestry DNA test and it shows I am 78% Great Britain and 9% Scandinavian. Would your tests go back further or pinpoint more exact ancestry? I’m interested in what regions we come from and also how far I can go back in the past with where I came from
If I am simply looking for genealogical information (my family has been in the US for over 200 years), which test/company would you recommend? Supposedly, the lineage dates back to England, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Germany… true “mutt”.
Hey Sally, thanks for doing the comparisons and still answering people who have questions and concerns!

I’m Asian (Taiwanese, with family coming from China) and I was wondering which test is best for myself? I was also curious about my health, but heard 23andme isn’t the way it used to be after the FDA cracked down on them and the best way to go is just with Ancestry or FTDNA and upload the results on Promethease for a small fee.

What are your recommendations for my situation? Thanks again for all that you do!

Hi Sally, I would like to ask what test you think would be best for me, at least to start with. I would like to find out a more definitive area my ancestors came from in Europe plus the migration pattern to US. Do any test narrow the search enough to a precise region say in the UK which is where I think were from? Not really worried about the medical part of DNA testing. Also do the test show mothers side fathers side DNA branch seperate or would they have to be tested themselves? Thanks
My brother recently took the autosomal test with Ancestry DNA. I am interested in taking the mitDNA with another company but am uncertain about taking the autosomal test. We have the same parents so would not our autosomal results be the same?
Krystal Leigh Nicht
This review states that 23&Me doesn’t offer mitochondrial or Y chromosome analysis…but I think that they do. It clearly states on their website that they use mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome to determine the haplogroup.
My wife is adopted, dark hair, brown eyes and olivish skin about 30 years old and although she doesn’t care to make any connections with biological “matches” she would like to have an idea of ethnic/country/region origin, as much as possible anyway and if possible any medical predisposed type of information. Do you have any recommendations or direction on this?
Hello Sally, I have alwa