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Cons of an Ancestry DNA Test?

Are you wondering if there are any downsides to the Ancestry DNA test?  In this post, I’ll talk about some of the cons of an Ancestry DNA test – including whether or not those mysterious ethnicity estimates are as accurate as we would hope they could be.

There were definitely some aspects of our testing experience that could be improved.  I’m sure Ancestry DNA (and the other testing companies) are working on improving their results and service, but I promised a fair review and I feel it is good to mention some of the less positive, or even disappointing aspects.  Most of the items that I will mention are not specific to Ancestry DNA – many of the testing companies struggle with similar challenges.

Note:  This post is a follow-up of sorts to a previous post, which is titled “A Complete Review of Ancestry DNA”.

I didn’t know my DNA doesn’t contain comprehensive information about my entire family

When I first did my test, I didn’t really understand how DNA was inherited.  I was wondering if my grandmother’s family had Native American roots, but I didn’t know that it would be possible for her to have Native American DNA and not pass it down to me.  In a sense, I was disappointed when I learned that my DNA only held a small, randomly selected portion of my entire family’s ancestry over the past several hundred years.  It’s not possible for us to share DNA with every single ancestor, which is why we only inherit a portion of each parent’s DNA each generation.  We’ll share DNA with many of our ancestors, but not all of them.

Some of the DNA regions are not as specific as I would like them to be

My husband was disappointed that his Native American ancestry was reported in a very general “Native American” category.  He thought it would have been nice to get a more detailed breakdown of where his indigenous ancestors might have lived over the past several hundred years.  Ancestry DNA has updated his results to include a more specific “Western and Central Mexico” sub-region, but we do hope that Ancestry spends more time and resources to drill this down even further, perhaps even including his results in Mexican migration groups, just like they do for the testers with primarily European immigrant ancestry.

My DNA results showed very general “Eastern Europe”, and it would be amazing to see that broken down into more specific regions, even countries.

Ancestry DNA does not offer a chromosome browser

When I was just getting started understanding my results, I wasn’t interested in a chromosome browser and didn’t know what I would even do with the information that I could learn from one.  To explain this to you, I’ll back up.  Ancestry can tell us that we are related to someone based on shared DNA segments.  We are able to see how many DNA segments we share with our match and how much total DNA we share.

A chromosome browser would allow us to see exactly where our matching segments are on each chromosome and how long they are.  This information is very helpful when you get into more advanced genetic genealogy.  I fully realize that most people will not be interested in getting this technical with their DNA results, which might be why Ancestry has chosen not to offer this type of feature – I get that!

The workaround for this is to download your Ancestry DNA results and upload it to another site that has this feature.  This has worked out well for me – I get the best of both worlds this way.

If I could start over, would I still choose Ancestry DNA?

Even though I have learned valuable information on some of the other DNA testing sites, if I were starting over today – even knowing what I know now-  I would still start my DNA testing adventure with Ancestry DNA.  I might have more realistic expectations of what I can actually learn from DNA testing, but I would still choose to do it.

The reasons I would stick with Ancestry DNA?

  • The vast number of DNA tests in their database give me the best matches
  • I can attach my results to my tree and find out if I have Shared Ancestor Hints and DNA Circles
  • They have interesting features along with the ethnicity estimates called “Migrations” and Genetic Communities, which allow me to understand how I might be connected to my matches and how my ancestors might have moved around the world
  • Ancestry DNA is very in-tune with what their users are looking for, and continuously test new features, improve their technology, and update results – even on tests like mine which were done years ago.


All in all, I feel like it was a great investment for our family.   I have a more accurate family tree built for future generations, and it is so fun to talk about our ethnicity results – it has turned into a very fun and exciting hobby for me.  If you decide to test, I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

If you want to do an Ancestry DNA test, consider using this link (I’ll get a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you – so thank you sincerely!) Discovery the story AncestryDNA® can tell

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