23andMe vs Ancestry DNA (2020 UPDATE) Which Test is Better?

23andMe vs AncestryDNA

Sneak peak: 23andMe vs AncestryDNA

Here’s a quick comparison of how the two companies stack up. As you can see, they both have their strong points. (Updated January 2020)

Ancestry DNA23 and Me
Best for… (our verdict)
Genealogy, family history research, DNA matchesHealth screening, basic y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroup
See latest price
See latest price
Ethnicity Estimates and Regions
Yes (500+ regions)Yes (1,000+ regions)
Tests Offered
Autosomal (ethnicity)Bundled autosomal, broad YDNA/mtDNA haplogroup, health
Family Matching and Database Size
Yes (15 million)Yes (10 million)
Health Screening
Where to buy
Click hereClick here

Which DNA Test is Best and How to Choose

In a nutshell: Both tests are great for ethnicity results. Ancestry currently tests for 500+ regions, while 23andMe tests for 1,000+ regions.

Ancestry has a larger customer database (15 million) compared to 23andMe (10 million) so they will give you significantly more family matches who are interested in genealogy (check latest price).

23andMe will also give you basic haplogroup information, and can do genetic health screening for an additional fee (check latest price).

Prices tend to fluctuate so be sure to check the latest pricing in the links above.

More people are turning to genealogical DNA testing every day and for good reason – it appeals to anyone who wants to know more about their family history. With all these choices, it can be hard to know which company is right for you. In this article, we’ll compare two industry leaders head-to-head, 23andMe and AncestryDNA, to help you decide which one is best for you.


AncestryDNA is by far the most popular consumer DNA test. It has a massive database of 15 million customers who are potential DNA matches. This makes AncestryDNA incredibly useful for genealogical research.

  • Database of over 15 million customers for matching
  • Very strong genealogical community
  • Can connect with matches through anonymous email and message boards
  • Can link your DNA results to your online family tree
  • Stores your results indefinitely
  • No longer offers separate mtDNA or Y-DNA tests
  • Members can opt out of sharing their DNA results, so it may be harder to find and contact matches
  • Requires an ongoing subscription to view family trees of your matches
  • Does not allow raw data uploads from other sites

Click here to see latest pricing and promos or read our full AncestryDNA review.


  • Only site to offer health and wellness reports
  • Has a large database of more than 10 million customers
  • Includes a chromosome browser for comparing results
  • Very limited genealogical community compared to other sites
  • No Y-DNA or mtDNA matching
  • Does not allow upload of raw data from other sites
  • Health and wellness test is not part of the basic fee, it costs extra

Click here to see latest pricing and promos or read our full 23andMe review.

Buyer’s Guide

Now let’s take an in-depth look at each of those features, so you know exactly what we’re talking about, and can pick the best company for your needs (you can also check out our complete guide to DNA testing).

Ethnicity Estimates

The main result you’ll receive from both AncestryDNA and 23andMe is an ethnicity estimate.

This is a breakdown of what regions of the world your ancestors came from based on how your DNA compares to millions of other samples.

Each company breaks the world down into regions based on the DNA patterns that have historically been found there.

For example, the DNA typically found in Ireland is different from that found in Scandinavia or the Middle East.

By seeing how closely your DNA matches specific genetic markers from these areas, the testing companies can give you a guess as to how much of your DNA comes from each region.

At the moment, AncestryDNA breaks the world down into 500+ regions, while 23andMe uses 1,000+ regions.

It is important to keep in mind that these are only estimates, and the more specific you go, the lower the statistical confidence becomes.

So more regions isn’t always better.

These estimates are based on the most up to date research and algorithms, but every day researchers are learning more.

As more people get tested, the tests improve in accuracy.

Several years ago, for example, AncestryDNA’s test tended to overestimate a person’s Scandinavian heritage, a problem that they have since fixed.

AncestryDNA has a much larger customer database ( 15 million customers) from other people who have been tested, which means their results might be a little more accurate, but probably not enough to make a difference.

Ethnicity Estimates Winner: It’s a tie

Tests Offered

AncestryDNA only has one test available, which tests autosomal DNA.

This is the DNA passed down to you by all of your ancestors. It gets mixed together with each generation, so it can’t tell you much about your family farther back than about six to eight generations.

However, since that’s the limit that most genealogists can find a paper trail, that may be all you need for now.

23andMe offers a test bundle that not only includes autosomal DNA, but mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (YDNA) as well.

YDNA and mtDNA let you trace a single family line very far back into the past.

For YDNA, this is your direct paternal line; for mtDNA, it’s your direct maternal line.

By testing your mtDNA and YDNA, 23andMe can give you information about your haplogroups.

Your haplogroups can help you trace your family’s locations and migration routes far back into the past.

Unfortunately, the bundled test offered by 23andMe uses only very basic mtDNA and YDNA testing.

It will give you basic information, but there are better choices if that is your goal.

FamilyTreeDNA, for example, has mtDNA and YDNA tests that are much more thorough and therefore will provide you with more accurate and more useful results.

But they will cost you more, too.

23andMe also gives you the option of including health reports with your genealogical testing. See the Health Screening section below for more details.

Tests Offered Winner: 23andMe

Family/Cousin Matching

Probably the single biggest benefit of having genealogical DNA testing done is to connect with your living relatives.

Chances are you know your aunts, uncles, and first cousins, but a lot of us have never met our second cousins and may have no clue how many third or fourth cousins we have out there or who they are.

Getting a DNA test done can tell you exactly that.

Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA provide you with ways to connect with your cousins and other living relatives.

Naturally, they can only connect you to other people who have been tested, so you won’t find all of them, but you’ve got an excellent chance to find a bunch.

For both 23andMe and AncestryDNA, letting relatives find and connect with you is optional.

You have to agree to share your results before anyone can find you, or before you can find anyone else.

This may sound a bit scary, but keep in mind two things.

First, these companies aren’t going to give your info out to everyone, only to people who are a close genetic match.

Second, the only information you’re actually sharing is your contact information, specifically your email address.

Other folks don’t see anything but how to contact you, and how you are related.

While both companies offer this service, AncestryDNA is much better when it comes to connecting with family members.

Ancestry is all about genealogy, and the people who use it want to know more about their relatives and ancestors.

Anyone who gets tested through AncestryDNA is likely to want to share their results and will welcome hearing from you.

On the other hand, many of the people who get tested through 23andMe are doing it because of the medical screening more so than the genealogical aspects.

That means they are much less likely to be interested in sharing their info or even replying to messages.

AncestryDNA has tested a lot more people so far, too, 15 million compared to 10 million through 23andMe.

Naturally, the more people who have been tested, the more likely you are to find a match.

That means you can expect to find more relatives through AncestryDNA than through 23andMe.

Ancestry also lets you connect your DNA to your online family tree, and helps you search possible matches from millions of other family trees.

23andMe doesn’t have online family trees, which can make it tougher to work out exactly how you might be related to your genetic matches.

Family/Cousin Matching Winner: AncestryDNA

Raw Data Download

The results you see on the 23andMe and AncestryDNA websites are summaries of your test and how your results compare to other people.

Most of the time that means you aren’t looking at the actual results.

That’s actually a good thing, because your full results, or raw data, is a table that contains over 700,000 pieces of information.

Even though your raw data isn’t likely to make any sense to you at all, both companies give you the option of downloading it.


Because then you can upload it to other sites if you want.

As we mentioned above, if you test through 23andMe, your options for connecting your results to genealogical research may be limited.

But downloading the raw data from your DNA test can help you get around that.

You can then take that raw data to another website that offers the genealogy tools that 23andMe doesn’t.

FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, for example, let you upload your raw DNA data from other sites.

That means you can use all of the incredible tools that other companies offer, in addition to your results and tools from 23andMe or AncestryDNA.

Another useful site is GEDmatch, a free site which has powerful tools to link your DNA results to your family tree.

The site uses raw DNA that customers export from every major testing company on the market today.

Both Ancestry and 23andMe allow you to download your raw DNA.

It’s important to note that only your autosomal DNA raw data can be transferred to other sites.

The YDNA and mtDNA results from 23andMe can’t be transferred, since other sites either don’t use them or test them differently.

Raw Data Download Winner: It’s a tie

Health Screening

23andMe has one unique feature that no other genealogical DNA testing company offers.

It gives you the option of getting a health screening done based on your DNA. The health screening costs more, but it could be worth it.

When you get a health screening done through 23andMe, you will receive a set of four reports: carrier status reports, trait reports, wellness reports, and genetic health risk reports.

Keep in mind that your genes influence your health, but in most cases, they don’t guarantee it.

You can use the 23andMe health screening as a starting point to find out more about your health risks, but you should never rely on them for health advice or guidance.

Always be sure to consult a qualified healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions.

Carrier Status Reports

Every person carries two types of genes, dominant and recessive.

Our dominant genes are more obvious because they are the ones that affect our appearance and health.

Recessive genes are genes that are not active in you, but which can be passed down to your children.

The health screening checks for conditions such as Sickle Cell Anemia, Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, and about 40 other genetic diseases and disorders.

Traits Reports

Our DNA directly affects not only our health but our appearance. You may already have a good idea what your traits are, but there could be a few surprises.

Cheek dimples, freckles, hair curliness, male pattern baldness, and eye color are all controlled by our DNA, along with many other traits.

The Trait Reports from 23andMe can help you predict your future appearance and that of your children.

Wellness Reports

Wellness is a general measure of how you compare to other people in several areas of health, such as how deeply or well you are likely to sleep, if you are lactose intolerant, if you tend to run a little lighter or heavier than average, and so on.

It’s important not to focus too much on the wellness reports, though.

Other factors, including stress, exercise, and diet, are going to have a greater impact on your overall health than these parts of your DNA.

Health Risk Reports

Based on certain hereditary traits, you may be more prone to some disorders and diseases than most people.

Your health risk report could tell you if you are more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease, age-related eyesight issues, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, or other diseases.

Early detection goes a long way towards preventing and treating all of these, so your health risk reports can tell you what to look for.

Your reports can be a good resource to start a discussion with your physician.

Health Screening Winner: 23andMe


Picking a winner on price is tough because it all comes down to which features are most important to you.

23andMe’s basic test is more expensive but includes basic mtDNA and YDNA haplogroup information. There’s also an extra fee if you want the health screening.

AncestryDNA offers less expensive autosomal DNA tests but does not have options for mtDNA, YDNA, or health screenings.

To get the most out of Ancestry, such as to connect your results to a family tree, you also have to maintain a paid subscription to Ancestry.

With 23andMe, you only pay for the test. There’s no subscription required since there’s no option to create a tree or access genealogical records. Your genealogy options are limited with 23andMe unless you transfer your raw data to another website.

Both sites frequently offer sales or discounts, so be sure to visit them both to find the latest prices.

Price Winner: It depends

Our Final Verdict

Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA can be incredibly useful in expanding your family history research.

Both of these DNA tests have solid reputations and are backed by solid science. And both are just as good when it comes to ethnicity estimates and the ability to download your raw test results.

If you want to find your broad YDNA and mtDNA haplogroups, or if a genetic health screening is important to you, 23andMe is the clear winner.

AncestryDNA doesn’t offer either of these services. If you want to find more detailed YDNA and mtDNA haplogroups, then FamilyTreeDNA is your choice.

But if your main goal is genealogy, and you want to connect with cousins and other relatives, or to link your DNA results to your family tree, AncestryDNA has a much larger database and more tools to help you out.

Decide on your main goal, what you really want to get out of DNA testing, and that will tell you which company is best for you.

In a nutshell: Both tests are great for ethnicity results. Ancestry will give you significantly more family matches who are interested in genealogy (check latest price).

23andMe will also give you basic haplogroup information, and can do genetic health screening for an additional fee (check latest price).

Prices tend to fluctuate so be sure to check the latest pricing in the links above.

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Jesus Zuniga

I am only interested in knowing who my ancestors are and where I come from. It sounds that AncestryDNA and 23andMe are equally good for this purpose. Is this so?


23 and Me says that they are updating their regions soon to 120 more places. I haven’t gotten that info yet but supposedly people that sent in dna samples after Feb 2018 will be the first to get new regions and older subscribers will get updated reports soon.

Mike Leymaster

I subscribed to both Ancestry and 23 and Me, both of which provided similar information, with an exception. Ancestry identified both first cousins and second cousins previously unknown to me as my father was adopted. However, the first cousins identified through Ancestry were listed as second cousins on 23 and Me and second cousins listed as first cousins. How can I determine which of these results is the correct result. The information I was able to gain through probate court adoption records supports the accuracy of the familial link. I’d like to know if which of two brothers was my… Read more »

Edwin East

One test said I was a percentage of Nigerian, British and Native American. Another said said something completely different. Who do I believe?


If I have no clue who my fathers name is or his last name, what would you suggest? Ancestry or 23??

Hector Goodman

Hi Mark,

Your review is very well done, and clearly I want to choose between Family Tree and 23 and me, the first one because of the informations that I want to know about my antecessors, and 23 and me because of the health part. So you think that 23 and me health test worth it?


Does 23&Me basically follow one’s mother DNA or both parental sides equally?

will campbell

Hi Mark,

My wife is from Eastern Europe. She wants to find out more about her ancestry and heritage as her parents and grandparents are deceased. She thinks she has gypsy ancestry but also possibly tartar ancestry from Crimea. She is from Ukraine. Which test would you recommend.

Thank you,



Hold up, never mind my last comment! I just scrolled through the existing comments and found your response to the same questions. Thanks!

Kim smith

Im still unsure which test to take. I just want to know details of what region of theworld we come from & follow that lineage back to specific people if possible. I actually do know my 1st thru 4th cousins on my dads side, but not very many of my mother’s side, which is where the red hair & freckles come from.. Which test would you recommend? Thank you in advance.

Marcia Bryan

My brother just sent off his sample for Ancestry DNA. How much difference would you expect for me if I sent a sample? I was thinking of using 23andMe for comparison. I was going to wait to hear his results.

Jack M

Thank you for the great comparisons. I’m trying to figure which one to try and I’m leaning toward the 23 and me for the health reason. I noticed on the sneak peak comparison at the top of the page, 23 and me vs. Ancestry , it shows Ancestry ethnicity estimates were 150 regions while 23 and Me listed 31. But, during the comparison later in the article it states Ancestry DNA with 26 regions and 23 and Me with 31 regions. I’m curious which is the accurate number. I thought Ancestry had more regions.
Thank you for your great comparison.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. I recently sent in a kit to Ancestry as it was a gift. My brother had done the same 2 years ago. 3 out 4 of our grandparents actually came here from England so we were pretty sure of our results. My brothers showed 48% Great Britain and a collection of other Western European influences. Mine however came up 30% Norweigian, 17% Ireland and 9% Great Britain. What a shocker. I have a twin sister. Here is the corker. Supposedly we are identical. However, we do not look alike and we understand that 20%… Read more »


Hi Mark,

I’ve already done an AncestryDNA test and have my results, I was hoping to do a 23andme test just to back these up and see which ethnic groups my parents come from individually…do you think this is worthwhile? I’d love to find out traits also but I really don’t want to know anything about being predisposed to any diseases etc. (I’d think about it way too much and freak myself out).

Beth L Parentice

Thank you Mark. I greatly appreciate the thorough research you have done and the easy to read assessment of each product. You have helped me immensely in making an informed decision.


Which one would you suggest I go forward with? I am searching for my biological father, I only know his full name, date of birth, and birth place. Would either of these help me find any relatives from my father’s side too?

Jim luckett

Thanks for doing this. Your info on Ancestry membership seemed likely to give the wrong impression. I have an Ancestry membership and I don’t always pay. When I have time for genealogical research I pay my $20 for that month and when I don’t have time, I suspend my paid membership, sometimes for a year at a time. When I am not paying, I still have full access to my DNA results and my family tree, and anything I have saved to it. All I lose during a month when I am not paying is access to their research tools.… Read more »

Eric M


Very good report, I wish I had seen this before I took the 23 and me test. I am trying to find more information on my ethnic heritage and origins. The result from the test generated by timeline has a 60 year gap (1810 to 1870). Are there any recommended test to enhance and “find” that gap? Or can you recommend any additional test take? On my mother side according to oral histories, denoted a stronger native american heritage…


Hi and thank you for the comparisons. Which company tells me exactly which country my family is from? For example, I don’t want to simply see “east Asia” I would wanna see “Korea, Japan, etc”. I already bought and sent in my sample to 23 & Me and am currently waiting for my results but now I worry I may have chosen the wrong company.


I’m adopted and interested in possibly finding relatives. I have first and last names of my biological parents…. no much else. Which one is best? Thank you.


Thanks for this. Two questions:
1) If you know a bit about your ancestry,, wouldn’t 23 and me be the better choice. Also I’m from the UK and so following my tree back is much easier than for Americans. My grandfather, a scholar who traced us back to the 9 th century.
2) How accurate are the health prognoses? Does 23 and me have statistics to show this accuracy?


I didn’t see a mention but you can take your raw data from a DNA test and for $5 upload it to Prometheus and get the results you’d get for the health screening $100+ test from 23 and me. Also 23 and me new tests can’t be imported to other sites (although if it’s taken from older tests 2017 and earlier it can).


Very thorough and helpful report. You completely answered my questions about which to choose. Thank you for the detail.

Jim T

Adopted. Health questions at physicals, applications, etc. are unknown. Blindsided by diabetes, hearing loss, arthritis, and a few others. Glad to have this technology. Bought both. 23andMe for planning out my health and preventing what comes next. AncestryDNA, as I have no clue where I came from. Adoption records still sealed.

Jo Ann Cooper

Which program is best if you’re adopted. I don’t know any history.

Michael J

Thanks very much for this clear and useful comparison, which has let me determine which is the best choice for me.

Stephen Flowers

Mark, Has 23 & me changed it’s methods in the last year or so? I was at a workshop in2016 and thought they said that used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and searched only(?) your maternal lineage. Did I misunderstand them or have they changed to autosomal DNA testing on their basic test?

Ed britt


My daughter and I are just trying to understand where we come from. I believe it it is Scottish and English, and she thinks there my be Native American on her Moms side.
Which one would provide the best results?

Thanks in advance,


Bonnie Salerno

Hi Mark, read your piece above and thank you.
We don’t do much online and just really wanted to know
what nationality we were. I think just Ancestry.com would
do right?
If you can answer that would be great. Thank you.


Thanks for the info! Very helpful

One question, if I already tested with Ancestry, would I gain anything extra by testing with 23andme as well? I’m only interested in ethnicity estimates, not family trees or health screenings.


Hi Mark, thank you for all of this information! My father was adopted so finding out what his background & health screening is very important to me. My mother-in-law has been doing ancestry.com for ages & I have a very detailed report of ancestors going back 8 generations (biological on my Mom’s side as well as my Dad’s adopted families side) that she has compiled over the years. I am inclined to go with 23andMe. Do you agree given my needs? I’m actually tempted to do both – but…

Dotti Herdman

Thanks,Mark, your info was succinct and even-handed and answered many of my questions.


Nice clear informative writing. Congratulations, its not easy.

Deborah A Harris

Can you take your raw data from 23andme and use it on ancestry?

Barbara Barr

Thanks Mark! I have a question for you. My mother was adopted. I am now 66 years old. How can I find more specific information about her family tree when she didn’t know either of her parents?

Gayle A

Great article – lots of concise information for making your decision. It definitely helped in making my decision! Thank you, Mark


Hi Mark – great distillations.
If one already has Ancestry.com with one person’s DNA by ancestry.com, can you think of how to input any mDNA or yDNA data from twenty-three/me’s DNA analysis?

Kathryn Lindquist

Thank you, Mark! I appreciate your clear, concise, and information packed summary!

Jeannette Wynne

Thank you for this informative article. It answered a lot of questions I had.

Lorese Walton

You could do a couple of random DNA searches on a monthly basis, or you could search for people by request. Just make sure you know the people searches aren’t to cause harm to any one.


Thank-you for the comprehensive review/comparison of the 3 DNA testing sites. It was written clearly and concisely which assisted in making my choice on which one was pertinent to my demand.