DNA Day is one week away!

 

April 25th is DNA Day and companies usually offer sales on DNA test kits.

 

UPDATED: As of April 20th, all these sites are offering sales on their DNA tests (listed in order of sale announcement):

  • MyHeritageDNA

  • LivingDNA

  • 23andMe

  • Ancestry.com

  • FamilyTreeDNA

 
 

Here are my very biased DNA test comparisons with what I like and dislike about each test. Visit the ISOGG Wiki for less biased information.

 
 
 
 

MyHeritageDNA

 
MyHeritageDNA sale

Autosomal Test

Sale price$69 + shipping (at their site)

Sale price: $68 at Amazon.com and free shipping with Amazon prime

List price: $99

My Bias: My husband currently works for them. I prefer cheek swab tests to saliva tests. I have a free tree & records at their site because I’m LDS. They have a great business relationship with FTDNA, whom I respect a ton. I know what their upcoming products offer (see last paragraph of blog).

PROS

  • Cheek swab test
  • Chromosome mapping (free) allows you to triangulate relationships between a known ancestor and an unknown DNA match
  • DNA matches (you can’t see a Match’s MyHeritage tree unless you have a MyHeritage membership)
  • Ethnicity Estimates
  • They allow you to upload test results from other testing companies, including Ancestry, FTDNA, older versions of 23andMe
  • They allow you to download your MyHeritageDNA test results from their site
  • Includes chromosome segment information when you download your DNA so you can use it on DNAPainter and other third-party sites
  • They’re working to be able to compare the Illumina GSA chip used by 23andMe and Living DNA
  • I have 5,000 DNA matches on their site!

CONS

  • DNA matches (you can’t see a Match’s MyHeritage tree unless you have a MyHeritage membership)
  • Not as large a DNA database as Ancestry or 23andMe

 
 
 
 

LivingDNA

LivingDNA sale
 
Autosomal and some mtDNA, YDNA

Sale Price: $79.99 + shipping

List Price: $159.99

My bias: I’ve tested with LivingDNA and am waiting for the results. I’m heavily British/Welsh/Irish ancestry and want to see the county predictors.  I’ve heard criticism of the chip they use because it affects your ability to upload and compare this DNA test at other sites, etc.

PROS

  • Cheek swab test (Yay!)
  • Strong presence in the UK and if you have UK ancestry, they claim to be able to tell you which county your ancestors are from
  • DNA-Driven Family Tree in development
  • Can download your LivingDNA test results (but they use a different chip-see Cons)

CONS

  • No family trees
  • Use a different microchip and their results don’t compare as easily at other DNA sites
  • You’ll use GedMatch Genesis vs. GedMatch (the newest version of 23andMe uses this microchip as well)
  • Not as large a DNA database as other sites, < 1 million testers

 

AncestryDNA

Autosomal test

Sale Price: $59, ends April 29th

List price: $99

My Bias: They’re based in Utah. I have a free tree & records at their site because I’m LDS. My husband worked for Ancestry for ~ ten years & left on good terms & we have tons of friends who work for them. They face regular criticism for being quick to monetize things at the customer’s expense. I hate saliva tests.

PROS

  • DNA matches (you can’t see a Match’s Ancestry tree unless you have an Ancestry membership)
  • Ethnicity Estimates
  • DNA Migrations, they show the common migration patterns of your genetic communities
  • They allow you to download your AncestryDNA test results (does not include chromosome segment information, see Cons)
  • Largest testing database (~7 million tests), I have 50,000 DNA matches on their site!*

*Disclosure: I have more matches than most people I speak to. This is partially because I’m Mormon and Ancestry.com is based in Utah. Most Mormons and most Utahns test with Ancestry because they’re local-between endogamy and polygamy I’m related to a LOT of people.

CONS

  • Saliva test (I beyond hate this type of test-you hold a container and spend at least 5 minutes trying to fill the vial with spit)
  • No chromosome mapping feature
  • No chromosome segment information provided with downloaded Ancestry DNA files (for some third-party sites, you’ll have to upload to FTDNA, MyHeritage, or GedMatch to get your segment info, then you can use this info at those sites, or download from those sites and upload to yet another third-party site/app like DNAPainter, etc)
  • DNA matches (you can’t see a Match’s Ancestry tree unless you have an Ancestry membership)
  • They don’t allow you to upload test results from other sites

 
 
 
 

23andMe

23andMe DNA tests image
 
Autosomal test with some mtDNA and YDNA results (read the explanation at 23andMe)

Sale Price: $69 Ancestry Service test, $139 Health + Ancestry Service

List Price:  $99 for their Ancestry Service test

$199 for a Health + Ancestry Service test

My Bias: I’m annoyed they use a saliva test. I personally find it confusing and borderline deceptive that their box says “Ancestry” in Ancestry.com’s green logo color. Their current test uses a different chip and this affects your ability to upload and compare this DNA test at third-party sites, etc. I want the Health results because I come from a religion and area that intermarries for religious reasons (endogamy) More human disease genes have been discovered in Utah than in any other place in the world” and a religion that used to practice plural marriage (polygamy). Those that still practice polygamy (no longer members of the LDS church) are facing terrible genetic problems. I’ve tested with 23andMe and am waiting for my results.

PROS

  • They offer some FDA approved health results, the only company of those listed here that does this
  • They will let you upgrade from the “Ancestry” test to the “Ancestry + Health” without submitting a new sample (costs $100 to get the “Health” results)
  • Free chromosome mapping with anyone who “opts in” to data sharing (see below)
  • Includes chromosome segment information (this helps you “triangulate” matches and use sites like DNAPainterYourDNAFamily, DNA Land, etc)
  • They allow you to download your 23andMe test results (but they use a different chip-see Cons)
  • One of the larger DNA testing databases

CONS

  •  Saliva test (similar to Ancestry-don’t buy it for an elderly person unless you first make sure they can spit that much and are willing to spit for five minutes)
  • No family trees
  • Like Ancestry, they don’t allow you to upload test results from other sites
  • Other testers must “opt in” to data sharing for you to see if your chromosome segments match theirs
  • They use a different microchip now and their results don’t compare perfectly to other tests
  • At GedMatch you’ll upload to GedMatch Genesis (LivingDNA uses a similar chip)

 
 
 
 

FamilyTreeDNA

Image of FTDNA tests
 
Autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA

Sale Price: $49 for their autosomal test (FamilyFinder); $139 and up for Y-DNA; $149 for mtDNA

List Price: $79 for their autosomal test (FamilyFinder)

$199 for mtDNA tests

$169 and up for YDNA tests

My bias: I’ve tested with FTDNA but am waiting for my FTDNA results. I really like FTDNA because they’ve been in the business from the start and whenever I meet FTDNA representatives they seem like absolute straight shooters who are in it for the science. I’ve tested with FTDNA and am waiting for my results, but have uploaded my MyHeritageDNA test to FTDNA.

PROS

  • Cheek swab test (LOVE)
  • Many surname groups and projects you can join to help trace your family
  • Free Chromosome mapping
  • They allow you to download your FTDNA results from their site
  • Downloaded DNA includes segment information which makes it useful at third-party sites (DNA Painter, DNA Genealogy Experiment, DNADNA, DNA Land, YourDNAFamily, etc)
  • They allow you to upload test results from other sites
  • Largest offering of DNA test types
  • Will store your test sample so you can request an additional test at a later date if you don’t want to spend a ton of money up front

CONS

  • No family trees
  • Not as large a DNA database as Ancestry or 23andMe (I have 4,000 DNA matches at FTDNA with my uploaded MyHeritageDNA test results)

 

 

 

 

Summary of what I like about each test/company

 
Test with MyHeritage if you only need an autosomal test, if you want free chromosome mapping, have a tree at their site; if you have or will buy a paid membership for tree+records; if you want the chip that most third-party sites can easily upload results from; if you have any Jewish ancestry (they have the best Jewish DNA breakdowns), or if you’re concerned about a future paywall they may enforce that currently allows uploaded DNA results from other test sites to benefit from some enhanced DNA matching features at MyHeritage; and lastly, test with MyHeritage if you have a tree at Geni or FamilySearch-see “One last consideration” below.

Test with LivingDNA if you have strong UK heritage/ancestry. They’re working in other regions as well, but currently, their strength is the UK. They have a DNA-Driven Family Tree in the works that may be helpful. Be mindful: You won’t find it as easy to compare your LivingDNA test results with results from other genetic tests, so if you test with them, understand the test may have limitations at other sites.

Test with Ancestry if you only need an autosomal test; if you want the chip that most third-party sites can easily upload results from; if you have a tree at their site; if you have or will buy a paid membership for tree+records; if Migration patterns are important to you; if you have Mormon/LDS ancestry; if you need your DNA to be in the largest DNA database today. Ancestry has created an exclusive database. By not accepting test results from any other site, and advertising heavily, they’ve created the largest DNA database. If you want to see your DNA matches at Ancestry, the only guaranteed way to do that is to use an AncestryDNA test. How to get around it: You can encourage anyone who tests at Ancestry to download their Ancestry results and then upload them to MyHeritage, FTDNA, LivingDNA, GedMatch and other third-party sites, but most people don’t care enough or will ever get around to doing that. Ancestry hasn’t announced any plans to add a chromosome browser to their site, despite repeated customer requests. So if you test here, be the one who downloads your data and uploads it to a site where you can use chromosome mapping to triangulate DNA matches.

Test with 23andMe if you want free chromosome mapping; if you want the ability to upgrade to Health results without taking a new test; if you want an FDA approved DNA test for certain genetic health risks and your genetic carrier status. 23andMe, like Ancestry, has created an exclusive database. By not accepting test results from any other site, and advertising heavily, they’ve created the second largest DNA database. Unlike Ancestry, they show you your chromosome segment information but you can only compare this to other 23andMe “matches” if they “opt in” and permit comparison. They allow you to download your 23andMe DNA and it includes segment information, but be mindful, because they use a different chip, you may not find it as easy to compare your 23andMe test results with results from other genetic tests, so if you test with them, understand the test may have limitations at other sites.

Test with FTDNA if you want free chromosome mapping; if you want to join surname groups and projects and work with educated players in the industry; if you want the chip that most third-party sites can easily upload results from. They offer the most comprehensive mtDNA and YDNA tests. They’ll store your sample and you can pay at a later date to have that sample tested for mtDNA, or various YDNA tests.

Caveat: Genealogical DNA testers may be disappointed to hear a large percentage of people who take DNA tests aren’t that intrigued by genealogy and aren’t heavily invested in contacting matches. Of my 50,000 matches at Ancestry.com, I’ve been contacted by exactly one DNA Match. Most people test to learn their ethnicity and that’s it. Ancestry estimates only 5% of their customers care about “chromosome mapping” and that’s why they don’t provide it. If you really want to use DNA for genealogy or are desperate to find family, you’ll have to be proactive and upload your test results to as many sites as will accept it; join DNA groups on Facebook, join third-party sites like GedMatch, etc, and interact with people. There’s something for everyone in the DNA world. If your “tribe” isn’t participating on the site where you tested, upload your results elsewhere or test at another company. I’ve had a lot of fun with chromosome mapping features, especially with my husband’s family because they’ve tested enough family they can triangulate matches. I also enjoy chatting on DNA Facebook groups and have found their resources and tips very helpful.

 
Image of The Big Tree from MyHeritage presentation at RootsTech 2018

One last consideration for DNA Testing (from RootsTech in February 2018)
 
If you’re testing for genealogical purposes, I’ll expound on this another time, MyHeritage recently announced two upcoming features that may be game changers for genealogy research.

First, they announced FamilySearch Tree Sync. They’ll allow members to sync their MyHeritage tree to FamilySearch’s free tree AND sync FamilySearch’s free tree to their private MyHeritage tree WITH the ability to accept any results from the FamilySearch tree or keep some of the FamilySearch tree (which is a community tree) off the MyHeritage tree. This allows you to use record matching at both sites to build your privately controlled tree at MyHeritage.

Second, and this is mind-boggling to me, they announced their Theory of Family Relativity. This is a feature that uses DNA and paper records on their site, as well as MyHeritage, Geni and FamilySearch tree data, to graph your likely connection to a MyHeritage DNA Match. (Around the 34:44:00 minute mark on their YouTube video, but start at 33:00:00 for the full explanation.) No other site has this technology; it’s truly groundbreaking. Best in your testing decisions!
 

 

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