Full disclosure: I did my genealogy DNA test around three years ago, and I chose Ancestry DNA. I took advantage of the completely free service that Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) which allows you to transfer your Ancestry DNA raw DNA data file over to their site. This allows you to see DNA matches and ethnicity estimates without paying for the full DNA test. Since then, I have administered the kits of two family members testing with FTDNA.
There are several different companies that currently offer DNA tests for family tree/ancestry research. The major three are Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA, and 23 and Me. My Heritage also offers this test (along with several other companies), but they haven’t been doing it long, so I won’t address them (yet.).
Which DNA testing company should I use?
In order to decide which company to use, it’s important to know for sure what you are looking for. Are you looking for help to find ancestors a few generations back? Do you think you might have a long-lost sibling out there, and you’d like to try to make contact? Maybe you are adopted and want to find your biological family?
The best testing company for finding US relatives and ancestry
As of 2017, the best company for finding DNA matches and accessing their family tree, if they have one, is Ancestry DNA. I have used this test and website to verify certain lines of my family tree going back more than seven generations. Some of my family tree was very well-researched, but it was also neat to actually see scientific evidence that supported my tree being correct. Ancestry has a very big database of tests, and therefore can compare your DNA to that of millions of others. If you are looking for family, this is the place.
As of Christmas 2017, Ancestry DNA has sold more than 3.5 DNA kits! Those are a lot of possible relatives!
FTDNA is best for finding international matches
Family Tree DNA can provide you with DNA matches, ethnicity results, your mtDNA and Y-DNA haplogroup, depending on which test you decide to purchase. In addition, there is a very useful chromosome browser. These extras are helpful tools for more advanced users. My personal experience has led me to relatively close DNA matches on that website, but figuring out how they were related was much more difficult. The family trees that my matches (and the matches of the other people that I have tested) have are not as extensive and detailed as the family trees on Ancestry.
As an aside, I would add that Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) has a better international database than Ancestry or 23 and Me. So if your parents/grandparents are immigrants to the US from another country, you might be more likely to closer cousin matches and information about your roots on FTDNA than Ancestry. Ancestry DNA does sell kits in other countries, but it is currently less popular in some countries than FTDNA.
Whenever you do a DNA test, you have to have an open mind to whatever (and I mean WHATEVER) you find. DNA, unlike us mortal humans, will not lead you astray. So you can’t ignore what you DO find. I would not recommend doing a test unless you are willing to find something you are not looking for.
Have you done a DNA test yet? What do you think of it? Was it helpful for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by!