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Which DNA Test Should You Take?

Are you trying to decide which DNA test you should take?  There are several big DNA testing companies and while they all offer a similar service, each company does have something special to offer.  In this post, I’ll talk about the major advantages of testing with each company – this will help you decide which DNA testing company is the best for your needs.  As a bonus, I’ll give you my recommend DNA testing strategy.

This post addresses autosomal DNA testing, the only type of DNA test offered by Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, Living DNA, and My Heritage DNA.  Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) also offers autosomal DNA testing, but they also provide additional DNA tests.  FTDNA calls their autosomal DNA test the “Family Finder” test.

So, how do you choose between all of these companies?  Read on, my friend.

Advantages of testing with My Heritage DNA

My Heritage is a relative newcomer in the DNA testing industry, but they are very experienced proving family tree research and genealogical services.  This puts them in a great position to understand exactly what someone researching their family tree will need from a DNA test.  The My Heritage DNA database is quickly growing in size, and what I love about my My Heritage DNA results is that they make it very easy to understand how I might be connected to my DNA matches.  They also have a very large international customer base, so if you are looking for overseas family, this is a great choice.

You can get a My Heritage DNA kit using the link below:

Advantages of testing with Ancestry DNA

Ancestry DNA is in the unique position of having the largest commercial database of DNA testers and the largest collection of online family trees in the United States.  I first built my family tree on Ancestry, and I was able to connect my tree with my DNA results after I did my test.  Ancestry has Shared Ancestor Hints, DNA Circles, and a few other great features that make it easy to use my DNA results to extend my family tree.  Ancestry DNA is the best company to use for people who are looking for living DNA relatives, simply because of the size of their database – which continues to grow.

You can get an Ancestry DNA kit using the following link (I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you):

Advantages of testing with Living DNA

Living DNA does not currently offer DNA matching, but they are planning on rolling out this feature this summer (2018).  The primary advantage of testing with Living DNA is that it is a UK company that has significant experience with people with British ancestry, and can offer very reliable ethnicity results for this population.  They have only recently expanded into the American market, however, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their tests measure up for people from more diverse backgrounds.  They also provide you with your maternal and paternal (males only) haplogroups, including in the cost of the autosomal test.

Are you interested in being on the leading edge of Living DNA’s expansion into the American market and DNA matching?  You can get your kit using the link below.  It’s an affiliate link, and I get a very small commission which doesn’t affect your price at all – so thank you:

Advantages of testing with Family Tree DNA

The best reason to do a DNA test with Family Tree DNA is that they offer multiple types of DNA testing and you can manage all of your test results from within the same dashboard.  The chromosome browser is also very easy to use, you can build a family tree on the site, link your matches to your tree, and access your family’s ancient origins (via the Ancient Origins estimate – good only for people with primarily European background).  They also have a decent-sized database of international and US DNA testers.

Do you want to get a FTDNA kit?  You can order one through the link below – I’ll get a very small commission at no extra cost to you, so thank you!:

Advantages of testing with 23 and Me

If you are interested in your health information more than family history, 23 and Me is a good choice.  They offer family matching, and do have a pretty big database of testers.  Their results include a chromosome browser, which is helpful in determining your relationship with DNA matches.   The primary advantage of testing with 23 and Me, however, is the access to certain health information contained in your DNA.

Do you think you want to test with 23 and Me?  You can order your kit below:

Recommended DNA testing strategy

What I generally recommend to my readers is to do their initial test with Ancestry DNA, and transfer their DNA results to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) for free, and then pay $19 to completely unlock their results at FTDNA.  Then, they can also transfer their results for free to My Heritage DNA, Living DNA, and Gedmatch.  Finally, if their budget allows for it, they can test with 23 and Me.  In my experience, this is the best way to get the most “bang” for the DNA testing buck (or best return on investment).

To summarize:

1.  Do a test with Ancestry DNA

2.  Once your results come back, download your raw data and upload it to FTDNA, and pay $19 to unlock all features on your account

3.  Upload your DNA to My Heritage DNA, Gedmatch, and Living DNA

4.  If possible, do an additional test with 23 and Me

If you follow this strategy, you’ll get access to the biggest DNA testing database (Ancestry DNA), additional DNA matches and chromosome browsers on My Heritage and FTDNA, as well as additional perspective on your family’s ethnicity background with Living DNA.  At Gedmatch, you’ll be able to learn a little more about your ancestry, find even more new matches, and with a little practice, do some pretty cool DNA analysis.

Note:  I do not recommend testing with any DNA testing company that I don’t specifically mention in this post.  There are several companies trying to gain a foothold in the industry, but I recommend testing with an established company with a proven track record.


I hope that this post has given you some insight on the most popular DNA testing companies, and helped you come to a concrete decision about the plan you’ll follow for your DNA testing adventure.  I’ve had a great time with my results, and I hope you enjoy yours, too.  If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or would like to share your own experience with DNA testing, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by!

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