Best DNA Ancestry Test 2017

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Best DNA Ancestry Test 2017

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Best DNA Ancestry Test 2017: 23andMe vs Ancestry vs FTDNA vs Geno 2.0
Sally Jones
March 6, 2017

Who are you? Where did your ancestors come from? Do you have relatives that you never knew existed? These are some of life’s biggest mysteries, and thanks to scientific breakthroughs over the last few years, you can now fill in more of your ancestry puzzle than ever before. Yes, we’re talking about the magic of DNA testing, which has added an exciting element to tracing your family’s roots. How? Through a home DNA test that you can order ., easily administer yourself and send in to get your individual genealogy DNA tested. Here, we examine just what these at home DNA tests involve, the kind of information you can learn, and which is the best DNA ancestry test for your personal needs.

What Exactly is a DNA Ancestry Test?

When you order a home DNA ancestry test, typically you’ll get either a cheek swab or saliva test, which are both easy to follow and submit to the lab (they give you a sample container in each kit). What’s more important than how you administer the test is the part of your DNA that’s being examined by the lab. Each service we review here offers something a little different. Here’s a breakdown of the three types of genealogy DNA testing.

Autosomal DNA Testing

The main focus of autosomal DNA testing is to find matches with other individuals based on a certain amount of shared DNA. Testing can’t predict exact relationships, but you can expect to find matches as far out as 5th cousins and in some cases even further. Sites like AncestryDNA analyze shared DNA and give you your matches as well as how much DNA you have in common.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Testing

mtDNA tests both males and females along their direct maternal line, examining genetic markers on your mtDNA, which is passed down from mother to child each generation. This testing reveals your direct maternal deep ancestry and which haplogroup you belong to. All humans descend from Mitochondrial Eve, who lived an estimated 200,000 years ago in Africa. Her descendants are organized into different branches called haplogroups. mtDNA test results predict your mtDNA haplogroup.

Y Chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) Testing

Only males can take a Y-DNA test (you might recall from biology class that women don’t have a Y-chromosome). The Y-DNA test traces direct male-line ancestry — the majority of the Y-chromosome is transmitted from father to son with very little change. 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. Most testing companies will provide this information. While females can’t be Y-DNA tested, you can have your brother, father, paternal grandfather, paternal uncle or paternal uncle’s son (your cousin) take a test for you.

Benefit of mtDNA and Y-DNA Testing

You can do a deep dive into your ancestors (we’re talking thousands of years back), which you can’t do with Autosomal DNA testing. All services we review here include DNA testing for ethnicity, so you can get a clearer picture of where in the world your ancestors originated. The world is separated into about 25 different regions, and you’ll get an approximate percentage of your inherited DNA from each region.

Best DNA Ancestry Test Winners

We chose our best DNA ancestry test winners for 2017 based on a number of factors, including: the types of tests they offer, DNA database size, the extent of ancestry information you can find from each test, cost, genealogy research tools and more. And now, on to our genetic testing reviews!


#1 Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) is the clear winner of best DNA ancestry test if you’re committed to serious genealogy research or if you want to learn as much as possible from your DNA testing. Family Tree DNA is the only service that offers all three types of test: Autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, and the test is a simple cheek swab. They also give you the ability to transfer your data from other services and store your results for 25 years. You get the email addresses of your matches and can join targeted genealogical projects within their network. What’s missing? Although not related to ancestry, you don’t get medical-specific DNA results, like with 23andMe. But if your focus is on your family roots, FTDNA is the best way to go.

Pros

    Competitive pricing for DNA Autosomal test
    Only site to offer Autosomal DNA, Y-DNA and mtDNA testing kits and a good variety of bundled packages
    Website supports targeted DNA genealogical projects
    Stores your DNA sample for 25 years
    Provides trusted privacy for your test sample
    You receive email addresses for your genetic matches
    Chromosome browser tool to compare shared chromosomal segments
    Allows uploading of raw DNA results from 23andMe, Ancestry DNA and Geno 2.0
    Excellent . community forums and customer service
    Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis

Cons

    Database (844,000+ people) isn’t quite as extensive as other services
    Doesn’t offer health-related DNA testing

Pricing

FTDNA offers several bundled packages in addition to the pricing below.
    $79 Family Finder Autosomal DNA Kit (cheek swab)
    $79 mtDNA Plus DNA Kit
    $199 mtDNA Full Sequence Kit
    $169 Y37 Markers
    $268 Y67 Markers
    $359 Y111 Markers
    $12.95 shipping

Coupon Code

Family Tree DNA often has time sensitive coupons, find and share them here!


#2 AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA, part of the wildly popular genealogical site Ancestry.com, is our number two pick for best DNA ancestry test. The company offers affordable pricing, an extremely active . community, extensive DNA ancestry database and access to millions of family trees and billions of historical records via the Ancestry website. They analyze your simple saliva test at more than 700,000 genetic markers to find your genetic matches and give you a breakdown of your ethnicity. AncestryDNA suspended its Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, however, so you don’t have the ability to drill down as deep into your genetic profile and ancestry as you can with FTDNA, which still offers those tests.

Pros

    Competitive pricing for Autosomal DNA test
    Largest database — 2 million people
    Reliable security for DNA test samples and results
    Excellent . community forums and customer service
    Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis
    Stores your DNA sample indefinitely
    Can connect with genetic matches via anonymous email and Ancestry.com message boards

Cons

    Doesn’t offer separate Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
    No targeted genealogical DNA projects available to join on website
    Can’t upload raw DNA data from other services
    No chromosome browser available to compare shared chromosomal segments
    Doesn’t offer health-related DNA tests

Pricing

    $99 DNA testing kit (saliva sample)
    $9.95 shipping
    Results available in 6-8 weeks


#3 23andMe

23andMe comes in third as our best ancestry DNA testing company for the unique services they provide. 23andMe is your best bet if you want to trace your lineage and get health-related 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 three reports: ethnic composition, haplogroups and Neanderthal ancestry. 23andMe’s health results include 35 carrier status reports (whether you carry genes for certain health conditions), five wellness reports (lactose intolerance, for example), and more than a dozen trait reports (male bald spot, unibrow, etc.). 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 Ancestry.com.
Pros

    Large database of 1 million people
    Offers some health-related DNA test results
    Test samples and results are secure for privacy
    Provides chromosome browser to compare shared chromosomal segments
    Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis
    Stores your DNA sample

Cons

    DNA autosomal test more expensive than our top two winners
    Doesn’t offer 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
    Harder to connect with genetic matches (they must approve sharing contact information, and members say many don’t)

Pricing

    $99 Ancestry DNA test (saliva sample)
    $199 Ancestry + Health DNA testing kit
    $9.95 shipping via 23andMe website
    Results available in 6-8 weeks


What Other DNA Ancestry Tests Should You Consider? Below are some other DNA tests we’ve reviewed for you to consider.

Living DNA

Living DNA, an England-based company that launched in early 2015, is a new addition to our reviews this year. They say they’re the “first truly global DNA test” because they break down ancestral origins across 80 worldwide regions (while other companies focus on an estimated 30 regions). Furthermore, they break down your roots across 21 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 credit in our book. We’re keeping our eye on this relative newcomer to see how their reputation plays out.

Pros

    Provides the widest geographical breakdown of your ethnicity of any at-home DNA test on the market
    Excellent for a more in-depth British regional breakdown
    Gives you raw data results, which you can upload to several free genealogy research websites
    Good security and privacy policy

Cons

    Expensive
    Doesn’t have its own database, so you can’t compare your results to others who’ve tested or find familial matches
    No health-related DNA results
    No genealogy research website resources, tools or community
    No information on website about long-term DNA sample storage

Pricing

    $159 DNA testing kit
    Free shipping
    Results in 10-12 weeks


MyHeritage DNA

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. Their test is similar to AncestryDNA, with slightly fewer ethnic regions identified. But MyHeritage has plans to expand their testing to 100 regions in the coming years. Although the test is new, their testing lab holds top certification and accreditation from leading organizations. An advantage of MyHeritage DNA? You can import DNA testing results from competing companies to compare with their database. The downside? While they have a massive database of family trees and active users, their database of DNA results is still in its early stages. But based on the popularity of this website, we anticipate their DNA database will grow quickly.

Pros

    Competitive pricing for Autosomal DNA test
    Reliable security for DNA test samples and results
    Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis
    Can upload raw DNA data from other services
    Good . community forums and customer service

Cons

    No separate Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
    Doesn’t offer targeted genealogical DNA projects available to join on website
    DNA testing database too small (for now)
    Doesn’t provide health-related DNA test
    No information on website about long-term DNA sample storage

Pricing

    $79 Autosomal DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
    $10 shipping
    Results in 3-4 weeks


National Geographic Geno 2.0

The Geno 2.0 Next Generation DNA testing kit is best for people who want to trace their roots all the way back to ancient origins (even to Neanderthals). The test is part of the National Geographic Genographic Project, a scientific effort to analyze historic patterns in human DNA across the globe. How does it work? You purchase and submit your simple cheek swab test, their lab runs its newest advanced DNA testing, which identifies thousands of mtDNA markers for direct maternal lineage, examines Y-DNA markers for direct paternal ancestry and analyzes more than 750,000 other ancestry-informative markers to reveal your ancestry’s regional affiliations. The Geno 2.0 Next Gen test is expensive, and their database is relatively small which limits your research abilities. But the great thing about this test is that FTDNA allows you to upload your Geno 2.0 results into their database for free, so you can find your relatives and get additional insight on your ancestral origins. And you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re contributing to a global historical genomic project.

Pros

    Offers autosomal and full mtDNA testing (but limited Y-DNA)
    Test samples saved securely for privacy
    Contributing to a globally targeted genealogical DNA project
    Excellent . community forums and customer service
    Provides biogeographical ancestry analysis

Cons

    DNA test is expensive
    Smaller database at 800,000 (but you can upload to FTDNA)
    Can’t upload raw DNA data from other services
    No chromosome browser
    No website support for connecting with genetic matches

Pricing

    $149.95 DNA testing kit (cheek swab)
    Free shipping
    Results available in 8-10 weeks


Is Your DNA Ancestry Sample Protected?

Yes. The testing services reviewed here all have strict privacy policies in place to protect your DNA sample from being misused — you can find these policies on their websites. And 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.

A Big Piece of Our Collective Human History

Whether you’re searching for living relatives or want to know where your ancestors originated from, a DNA ancestry test is a fun way to find out more about what made you who you are. With nearly three million genetic ancestry profiles conducted since genetic genealogy became commercially available in 2000 and a growing interest in DNA ancestry, we can all learn more about our shared human evolution. If you’re not already researching genealogy ., you may want to check out our Best . Genealogy Software comparison article for our recommendations.
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