10
Apr

Ancestry DNA vs. Family Tree DNA – A Review

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There are several different companies that currently offer DNA tests for family tree/ancestry research. The major four are Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA, 23 and Me, and My Heritage DNA.  In this post, I’ll make a comparison between Family Tree DNA vs. Ancestry DNA.

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. Many people decide to do a DNA test directly with Family Tree DNA, however.

Since then, I have administered the kits of two family members testing directly with FTDNA. I’ve learned a lot about my family history, and feel like I am in a good position to tell you what to expect with each company.

Should I test with Ancestry DNA or Family Tree DNA?

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?

Many people decide to do a DNA test to learn more about their ethnicity, in the form of an ethnicity estimate, as it is known on Ancestry DNA. The ethnicity estimate is called “myOrigins” on FTDNA. 

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Ethnicity estimates are great fun, are easy to share with family, and can give you some insight into where you ancestors may have lived many generations ago.

Below, you can see my Ancestry DNA ethnicity estimate. You can see the main regions that show up in my DNA, as well as specific migrations:

Mercedes Brons Ancestry DNA results

The image below shows my myOrigins estimate from Family Tree DNA. This is the expanded view where you can see every region that my DNA was tested for:

The best testing company for finding US relatives and ancestry

As of 2019, 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 the accuracy of my tree.  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, Ancestry DNA is the place to be.

As of June 2019, Ancestry DNA has sold more than 15 million 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 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.

You can upload your test results from Ancestry DNA and Family Tree DNA to other sites

No matter which company you decide to test with, you can currently transfer your DNA data to My Heritage DNA and Gedmatch to get more matches, a “second opinion” ethnicity estimate, and learn even more about your family’s roots. 

I have done this with kits that I manage at Family Tree DNA and Ancestry DNA, and I highly recommend it.

Are you ready to choose your DNA test?

If you are pretty sure which test you would like to start with, you can use the links below. 

If you order your DNA test using any of the following links, I might receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps me support the writing and DNA education that I do on this website – thank you so much!

Conclusion

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. 

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!

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Ancestry DNA vs. Family Tree DNA
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Ancestry DNA vs. Family Tree DNA
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Are you deciding between Ancestry DNA vs Family Tree DNA? Don't know which one to use? Find out the advantages and disadvantages of each here.
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Who Are You Made Of
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