Updated: Nov 8, 2019
When someone is ready to jump into DNA testing, I often hear the question, “Which test is best?”
The answer? It depends on you.
Each DNA test on the market has its niche, and it’s important for would-be customers to have a clear understanding of what answers they are looking for and what each test has to offer. For example, if you’re interested in finding out where your ancestors come from or receiving FDA approved health information, 23andme is the best test for you. If you’re interested in focusing on your maternal line, or, as a man, want to track your father’s, you should look into the various offerings for mitochondrial and Y-DNA tests, respectively, at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA).
However, if you’re looking to find family members or confirm relationships, the AncestryDNA test is best for you. As of April 2018, AncestryDNA is reported to have over nine million customers. Through the sheer power of numbers, you are more likely to find family members if more people have tested. Furthermore, AncestryDNA also allows you to download your raw data and transfer it for free to other sites, such as FTDNA, GEDmatch, MyHeritage (which has its own test and now over 1 million customers), DNA.Land, and more. For these reasons, AncestryDNA is especially popular for adoptees or those searching for unknown biological family members.
Other highlights of AncestryDNA include the ability to see which matches you share with others, ethnicity estimates and migration patterns, and, if you also subscribe to Ancestry.com, the surnames and family trees added by your DNA matches. Creating your own tree and attaching your DNA to it also allows you to participate in other features of the site, such as Shared Ancestry Hints and DNA Circles, both which help you find ancestors and living relatives alike.
DNA testing for so-called genetic genealogy is the new frontier in family research, and it’s become an important tool for genealogists. Although many of these sites are user friendly, there is a definite learning curve. Terms like centimorgans (cMs), segment length, endogamy, X-DNA, first cousin twice removed, etc. can quickly overwhelm you and make your head spin.
If you are interested in taking a DNA test or have already taken one and need someone with experience tackling even the most challenging of DNA puzzles to get you started, support you, or even take over your search, please contact me for a free initial consultation.