Best Ancestry DNA Test 2018 - Which Testing Kit is Best & How to Choose

Best DNA Test for Ancestry

How to Choose the DNA Testing Kit That's Best for You

For centuries, genealogists have relied on oral and written records to trace their family trees. But around the year 2000, the age of genealogical DNA testing was launched. This provided genealogists and family historians with an opportunity to use well-established scientific methods to prove relationships and ancestry.

Compared to paper records, which may be incomplete or inaccurate, DNA testing is precise.

But is it right for you?

And if so, which test is right for you? How do you take it? How much does it cost? Which company should you use?

Summary and our verdict:

Here are the best DNA tests

Updated: April 2018

If you've read all the DNA test reviews, and are still confused, read on. This guide will give you the answers you need to those and many more questions. But first, here's a comparison table of all the services mentioned in this article:

I've done the hard work...the best DNA tests for 2018

FamilyTree DNA

Ancestry.com

MyHeritage

23andMe

LivingDNA

Website

Our Rating

Price

Standard (Autosomal Test)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Y-DNA Test

Yes

No

No

Included

Included

mtDNA Test

Yes

No

No

Included

Included

Collection
Method

Cheek swab

Saliva

Cheek swab

Saliva

Cheek swab

Stores Results

25 years

Indefinitely

25 years

Indefinitely

Indefinitely

Chromosome
Browser

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Raw Data
Upload

Yes

No

Yes

No

Not yet

Database Size

850k

5 mil

1.1 mil

1 mil

None

Health Info

No

No

No

For extra fee

No

Geographic
Regions

24

150

42

31

80 - in depth for UK

Genealogical
Community

Yes

Yes

Yes

Limited

No

Contact Matches

Email

Anonymous email/ forums

Email

Limited

No

* Prices may vary; check websites for the latest prices before ordering. In addition to the cost of the test, most companies charge $10-12 for shipping. We earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post which help support this site.

* Prices may vary; check websites for the latest prices before ordering. In addition to the cost of the test, most companies charge $10-12 for shipping. We earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post which help support this site.

DNA Testing Buyer's Guide

What is DNA?

Before we jump into DNA testing, let’s talk about what DNA is.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is found in every living cell everywhere. It is a long chemical chain that tells our cells how to grow and act.

DNA is divided up into chromosomes, or major blocks, which are in turn divided into genes.

Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 in all) arranged in a double helix.

We each get 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father.

In humans, the 23rd chromosome is either an X-chromosome or a Y-chromosome, and determines if we are male or female.

Women have two X-chromosomes, while men have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome.

It may sound a little confusing, but this is important to understand, because there are different types of DNA testing.

Types of DNA Tests

There are three types of DNA tests used in genealogy.

Each one works a little differently, and tells you different things.

Naturally, that means that each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

Autosomal DNA Tests

Autosomal DNA is that DNA that does not contribute to gender; in other words, the first 22 pairs of chromosomes.

Because it does not rely on the 23rd chromosome, autosomal DNA tests can be done in both men and women with the same results.

What is an autosomal DNA test?

Autosomal DNA tests examine single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or the different “shapes” of individual nucleotides, small chunks of DNA.

Genealogical autosomal DNA tests examine about 700,000 SNPs to determine how closely related you are to someone else.

Remember that half our DNA comes from our father and half from our mother.

Going back in generations, that means that roughly one-fourth of our DNA comes from each of our grandparents, one-eighth from each of our great-grandparents, and so on.

The further you go back, the less DNA you have inherited from a particular ancestor, and the harder it is to prove that you are related.

So autosomal DNA tests are only useful for about four or five generations.

That means they could link you with relatives as distant as third or fourth cousins, but usually not more distant than that.

What It Tells You

The main use of autosomal DNA testing is to determine how closely related you are to someone else.

This can be very useful if you know very little about your parents or grandparents, and are having a hard time locating living relatives.

Many times, relatives located by the test are researching the same family lines as you, and you can share research with them.

Autosomal DNA can also provide an estimate of your ethnicity, or the regions of the world where your ancestors lived within the past few hundred years, or even a thousand or more, since people used to move a lot less often.

The companies that provide the testing divide the world up into 20 to 25 regions. They give an estimate of what percentage of your ancestry comes from each.

This can provide additional clues on where to be searching for more of your family history.

Every company that offers genealogical DNA testing offers autosomal DNA tests, though Living DNA and National Geographic only offer it bundled with the other two tests.

mtDNA Tests

Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is genetic material inside mitochondria, small components found inside every cell and which have their own separate DNA strands.

mtDNA is passed down exclusively from your mother.

Because mtDNA does not include a combination of DNA from both parents, it does not change with every generation.

In fact, mtDNA changes extremely slowly – it might remain exactly the same for dozens of generations!

How It Works

mtDNA testing ignores the main DNA in a cell, and looks just at the DNA of the mitochondria instead.

Among other things, that means the test only has to examine about 16,500 genetic base pairs, instead of the 3.2 billion base pairs found in our DNA.

The test normally looks at only specific portions of the mtDNA and compares them to established samples.

What It Tells You

mtDNA gives very precise and accurate ancestry results, but only for the maternal line.

That is, it tells you about your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, and so on, back through time.

But it can’t tell you about any of your other ancestors, such as your mother’s father or any of your father’s ancestors.

An mtDNA test will identify how closely related you are to a haplogroup.

A haplogroup is basically a group of people with a single common ancestor.

Historically, everyone living in the same region might belong to the same haplogroup, or very closely related ones.

This means that your haplogroup can identify where your maternal line originated.

It could also help you locate distant relatives, but some of them could be very distant.

In some cases, mtDNA can remain nearly identical for 50 generations or more.

While a perfect match means you are related, you might be 48th cousins!

The only company to offer individual mtDNA testing is FamilyTreeDNA. Living DNA and National Geographic bundle mtDNA testing with their autosomal DNA test.

Y-DNA Tests

The 23rd human chromosome has two versions, the X and the Y.

Women have two X-chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y.

Y-DNA tests examine only the Y-chromosome.

Because you can only get a Y-chromosome from your father, and he from his father, that means it tends to change very little over time.

How It Works

There are actually two sub-tests with Y-DNA testing.

The first is a short tandem repeat (STR) test. The STR test categorizes sections of the DNA according to how often a certain genetic pattern repeats.

The second is a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) test. It works the same way as in autosomal DNA testing, but it only tests about 30,000 SNPs instead of 700,000.

What It Tells You

The STR test produces a summary of your haplotype. This can be compared to someone else’s results to determine how far back your most recent common ancestor lived.

An STR test is often used to determine how closely two people with the same surname are related, if at all.

The SNP test is more detailed, and among other things assigns you to a haplogroup.

A haplogroup is a group of people with one common ancestor and who lived in one or more specific regions.

Both Y-chromosome tests can help you locate relatives.

But like mtDNA, because the Y-chromosome changes slowly, you might be related many generations back.

And because the Y-chromosome is only passed down through males, the test can only tell you about your direct paternal line.

The only company to offer individual Y-DNA testing is FamilyTreeDNA, which has three options depending on how detailed a test you want.

Y-DNA testing is especially useful for adoptees as well as jewish ancestry.

Living DNA and National Geographic bundle Y-DNA testing with their autosomal DNA tests, but provide less detailed results than FamilyTreeDNA.

Choosing The Test That’s Right For You

With three tests to choose from, how do you decide which is best for you?

It all depends on what you want to know.

Autosomal DNA

For most genealogists, the autosomal DNA test is the clear winner, and it is the one test that every testing company offers.

Because your autosomal DNA comes from all of your ancestors, this test is good for finding a range of ancestors and living relatives.

It can also provide you with reasonable estimates of the ethnicity of your ancestors, or the regions of the world where they lived.

The main drawback to autosomal DNA is that it gets so jumbled together after a few generations that it becomes unreliable the further you try to go back.

Most of the time, an autosomal DNA test is only useful for about five generations – that is, to your great-great-great-grandparents.

In terms of living relatives, that means it extends to your third cousins or maybe fourth cousins.

Still, combined with websites that let you connect with close matches, autosomal DNA can provide some great leads on finding others who are researching the same family tree as you.

mtDNA

Because mtDNA comes to you only from your mother, and from her mother, it only helps you trace one line.

You can use it to prove a common ancestor with someone else, but only in a direct maternal line.

It can, however, trace that line back a very long way – sometimes 10,000 years or more.

That can provide evidence that your mother’s maternal line came from a very specific region or ethnicity.

But it is less useful when finding living relatives.

The mtDNA test also tends to be more expensive.

Y-DNA

The Y-DNA test is sort of like the mtDNA test, but it follows a direct paternal line instead.

That means a Y-DNA test can tell you about your father’s father’s father’s father, and many generations before that, but not about any of your other ancestors.

Y-DNA is most useful if you want to prove a connection to a certain ancestor.

Say that you have a common surname, like Smith, and want to know if you are related to someone else named Smith.

A Y-DNA can prove (or disprove) that the two of you are related.

Like the mtDNA test, Y-DNA may let you trace a line back for dozens of generations.

It can also tell you the ethnicity or region of origin of your paternal line.

One major drawback to a Y-DNA test is that only males have Y-DNA, so only males can take the test.

However, a woman can still find Y-DNA results by having a close male relative take it for her, such as her brother, father, paternal uncle, or cousin by a paternal uncle (but not her son, since he got his Y-chromosome from his paternal line, not hers).

In the same way, you can trace other paternal lines by asking an appropriate family member to take the test and share the results with you.

Points of Origin and Ethnicity

All three of the DNA tests can provide you with information on where your ancestors lived.

But the information they provide varies from test to test.

  • Y-DNA and mtDNA tests will link you to very specific genetic lines, but keep in mind, they represent only a fraction of your family tree.
  • Autosomal DNA covers your entire family tree, but gets so mixed up after a few generations that it can only provide estimates.

The companies that provide DNA testing divide the world up into regions in different ways.

Most companies currently use 20-25 regions, but the number, location, and names of regions vary from company to company.

That means that two different testing companies may give you different ethnicity estimates for the exact same DNA.

As more and more data get collected, companies update their regions, too.

Some companies have had problems with their ethnicity estimates in the past. AncestryDNA, for example, used to be well-known for overestimating Scandinavian ancestry.

But the accuracy of estimates is constantly improving as more data are collected, and there’s no clear indication that one company is more accurate than the others.

When a company does improve its ethnicity estimates, your profile will automatically be updated, too. You won’t have to retake the test to get the new results, but you will have to visit their site. Chances are they will not email you with the update.

Regions Versus Countries

It’s important to keep in mind that any DNA test will give a region of origin, not a country.

That’s because countries have changed many times throughout human history, and even within your lifetime!

Consider the case of Alsace-Lorraine, a 5,600 square mile region on the border of France and Germany.

Before the 17th century, the area was entirely Germanic (even though Germany as a country didn’t exist at the time).

During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was annexed by France.

In 1871, following the Franco-Prussian War, it was annexed by Germany.

Following World War I, it was returned to France.

So how can you say if your ancestors from that area were German or French using only DNA?

You can’t.

You can only say that your ancestors came from that region.

And because of all the migration and intermarrying across borders, the results you get aren’t going to be that specific, anyway.

Chances are they’ll bundle Germany and France together, and simply tell you those ancestors came from continental western Europe.

Native American Ancestry

​Can DNA testing determine Native American ancestry?

Many people in the United States want to know if they have any Native American ancestry, and if so, from what tribes.

The good news is DNA testing can, in some cases, tell you if you have Native American ancestors.

An autosomal DNA test will provide an ethnicity report, but keep in mind it only goes back about five generations.

Y-DNA and mtDNA tests go back much further, but only in one single family line each.

The bad news is none of the tests can tell you what tribe your ancestors may have come from.

And none of them can be used as proof of ancestry when it comes to applying for tribal rolls.

The best any of them can say is the general region of North or South America where your ancestors likely lived.

See our complete guide to Native American DNA tests here.

Getting Started With a DNA Test

If you’ve read this far, then chances are you are seriously considering having a genealogical DNA test done.

But I’m sure you still have a lot of questions, such as which company is best, how much it costs, how long it takes, and more.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

How is the DNA Collected?

DNA is collected either with a cheek swab or a saliva sample, depending on which company you use.

For the most part, there’s no advantage to one method over the other.

However, if the person being tested is very young (too young to be told to spit in the cup) or very old (and can’t produce enough saliva), the cheek swab might be easier.

Right now, AncestryDNA and 23andMe use saliva samples; other companies use cheek swabs.

What Happens Next?

Once you’ve gathered your DNA sample, simply return it to the company for processing.

It will usually take six to ten weeks for your sample to be processed - but could take longer after the holidays since DNA tests are a popular gift.

Once your test is finished, you’ll be emailed with the results.

Depending on the company and the test, your results may include:

  • your raw data
  • ethnicity estimates
  • ways to contact potential relatives

How Much Does It Cost

Prices vary based on company and test.

Autosomal DNA tests by themselves usually run $79 to $99.

The only company to offer separate Y-DNA and mtDNA tests is Family Tree DNA, currently for $199 for the mtDNA test and $169 to $359 for Y-DNA tests depending on the number of markers tested.

National Geographic and Living DNA offer all three tests in one bundle for $150 to $159, which seems an incredible bargain. However, their Y-DNA and mtDNA results may be much less detailed than the individual tests from Family Tree DNA.

23andMe offers a combined genealogy and health report for a single fee.

Health reports can identify if you carry the genes for a few dozen different diseases or conditions, which could signal future health risks for you or your children.​

In addition to the cost of the test, most companies also charge $10 to $12 for shipping.

See the table for a full comparison.

Keep in mind that nearly all of these companies run sales from time to time, so if you’re willing to wait a month or two, you could save some money.

Buy It As A Gift

You can also buy any of these tests as a gift for other family members. Amazingly, you can even buy a test for your dog! (see our guide to dog DNA tests here)

This is a good way to increase accuracy by comparing results.

It also lets women use the Y-DNA test by having a male relative take it for them.

But before you spend your money, you should probably make sure the person you’re buying it for will actually take the test.

Choosing a Company

The number of options for genealogical DNA testing has increased over the years.

All of these sites offer autosomal DNA testing.

All of them will provide you with a geographical breakdown of where your ancestors lived.

Beyond that, each one has its pros and cons.

Here are the top six options, listed based on how useful overall I think they are for genealogists.


FamilyTreeDNA

The best overall for serious genealogists. One major perk is, even if you do get your testing done by a different company, FamilyTreeDNA lets you upload your raw data into their system as well. Read our full Family Tree DNA review.

Family Tree DNA Test Kit

Pros

  • Only company to offer all three tests individually
  • Stores results for a minimum of 25 years
  • Site has a very strong genealogical community and targeted DNA projects
  • Lets you email others with matching profiles
  • Allows free upload of raw data from tests run for other sites
  • Has a chromosome browser, which lets you compare two or more sets of DNA results to see how much overlap they have in common

Cons

  • Has a smaller database of people than sites like Ancestry (since it’s not as popular to the mass market), so you might miss some matches
  • Does not offer health-related testing

AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA is a great second choice when it comes to genealogical DNA testing. They have the most extensive database of DNA results for comparison and many other features for genealogists, but a few more drawbacks than Family Tree. Read our full AncestryDNA review.

Ancestry DNA Test Kit

Pros

  • Database of over six million sets of DNA results for comparison
  • 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

Cons

  • 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 the site to use their online family tree functionality
  • Does not allow raw data uploads from other sites

You don’t have to have an Ancestry subscription in order to take their test, but you do if you want to get the most benefits out of it (currently $20 to $45 per month, depending on the plan).

A subscription allows you to build a family tree, view the family tree's of your matches, and compare your tree with your match to find common ancestors. There are of course many other features on the research side of your genealogy.

Ancestry offers a 14 day free trial which you can get here.


MyHeritage DNA

MyHeritage is a long-established genealogical site, but they have only started offering DNA services very recently, so they have a ways to go to catch up to Family Tree and Ancestry. Read our full MyHeritage DNA review. Also check out our complete comparison of MyHeritage vs AncestryDNA.

MyHeritage DNA Test Kit

Pros

  • Largest database of global customers to be matched with
  • Link your DNA results to your online family tree
  • Contact matches for free
  • Allows free upload of raw data from other sites
  • Covers 42 ethnic regions

Cons

  • Relatively small (but rapidly growing) database compared to other sites. Currently 1.1 mil.

23andMe

23andMe is not as old as the other sites, but is by no means a bad choice, and offers some features that others don’t.

It is the only site that offers health-related DNA testing. Read our complete 23andMe review. Also check out our complete comparison of 23andMe vs AncestryDNA.

23andMe DNA Test Kit

Pros

  • Only site to offer health and wellness reports
  • Has a large database of more than one million results
  • Includes a chromosome browser for comparing results

Cons

  • Very limited genealogical community compared to other sites
  • Limited ability to contact matches
  • Does not allow upload of raw data from other sites
  • Health and wellness test is not part of the basic fee, it costs extra

Living DNA

The main advantage of Living DNA is that it breaks the world down into about 80 regions, compared to the 25-30 of other services.

That means that in theory it can help you narrow down your searches.

This is especially true if your ancestors came from the British Isles, as Living DNA breaks that tiny part of the world into 21 separate regions.

See our complete LivingDNA review.

Living DNA Test Kit

Pros

  • Divides the world into many more, smaller regions than other services
  • Has 21 regional categories for the British Isles alone, and 80 worldwide

Cons

  • No separate autosomal DNA only test, so highest overall price
  • No database or other way to find or contact matches

National Geographic Geno 2.0

While not covered in the charts above, we also wanted to give mention to Nat Geo.

The National Geographic Genographic Project is a non-profit scientific endeavor to analyze patterns in human DNA as it has moved and changed across the globe throughout history.

By itself, this site is not designed or particularly useful for genealogy.

Pros

  • Bundles all three tests at an affordable price
  • You’re helping a globally targeted scientific research effort

Cons

  • The Y-DNA test is more limited than the ones from Family Tree DNA
  • Does not offer a less expensive ‘autosomal DNA-only’ test
  • Can’t connect with other matches
  • Can’t upload raw data from other sites

Which Test Is Best For You?

The answer is, it depends on what you want. If you want to know which DNA test is best for genealogy, we recommend FamilyTreeDNA.

FamilyTreeDNA

  • best overall for genealogists
  • best for connecting with genetic matches (AncestryDNA has a larger database, but more limited contact options). FTDNA is our pick for the best genetic testing.
  • only choice for in-depth Y-DNA testing

AncestryDNA and MyHeritage DNA

  • both excellent overall for genealogists
  • best choices for linking your DNA to your online family tree

23andMe

  • only choice for genetic health screening

Living DNA

  • best for narrowing down searches in the British Isles

FamilyTreeDNA and AncestryDNA

  • best if you are adopted and are trying to connect with biological relatives

​National Geographic

  • best if you want to contribute to the advancement of science (but then be sure to upload your raw data to FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage DNA to get the benefits of those sites)

Is It Worth It?

So is genealogical DNA testing right for you?

In the end, is it really worth the cost and bother?

Absolutely.

Even if genealogy is only an occasional hobby for you, these tests can provide you with some very enlightening insights into your family history.

And for the serious genealogist, it is getting to the point where they are nearly essential.

Genealogical DNA testing is finally accurate enough, inexpensive enough, and useful enough for connecting with your family. I recommend it to everyone interested in learning more about their roots.

External References & Citations

Mark Orwig
 

My name is Mark Orwig and I am obsessed with keeping my mind busy, keeping active, and staying healthy.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 489 comments
Adrienne - August 4, 2017

Thanks so much for this excellent article. Interesting and educational. I now know which test is right for me.

Reply
Danut - August 12, 2017

Thank you! This is very helpful.

Reply
John G - August 14, 2017

I found this page via a Google search for “which DNA test is best”. And I’m glad that I did, your review-preview of these services and companies really helped me understand the lay of the land, and some things about the options available to me. Solid information, and thank you for writing this. I feel less overwhelmed after having read your piece.

Reply
Leila - August 26, 2017

Thanks for the article. I’m adopted and want heritage info only (European, Native American, etc.). I do not want to locate anyone or upload the results for connections. What do you suggest?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - August 28, 2017

    Hi Leila. I would just get the basic autosomal test from whichever company is offering a promo at the time of your purchase. I recommend any company listed in this post. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Mike Thornton - August 31, 2017

Hello
You mentioned that Ancestry’s DNA test in the past had problems with overestimating Scandinavian Ancestry. Could that still be the case case? I am African American and from Kentucky, but Ancestry says I am 11% Scandinavian. In my family research I have discovered some Ancestors from the British Isles and Germany, but not from Scandinavia. Also my Heritage DNA says I am about 15% Iberian, and I have no known ancestors from Southern Europe. Both Ancestry and My heritage say I am about 73% African and about 26% European. Finally Ancestry says I am 1% Central Asian, but MY Heritage says I am 1 % Native American. Could it be that Ancestry is still overestimating Scandinavian ancestry and My Heritage is over estimating Iberian Ancestry? Also are Central Asian DNA and Native American DNA very similar? In my case Native American DNA would seem to be more plausible than Central Asian. Thanks for your time and consideration.
-Mike

Reply
    Mark Orwig - August 31, 2017

    Hey Mike. It’s hard to say but keep in mind that there is a huge length of time between your DNA results and your genealogy paper trail. So for example your English ancestors may have originally come from Scandinavia. I also have a long paper trail in England. But ancestry shows very little English DNA, and a lot of Scandinavian. The 1% results I would ignore.

    Reply
      Mary Austin - October 8, 2017

      What do you think of DNA.land and GEDmatch.com?

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - October 9, 2017

        Hi Mary. I haven’t used DNA.Land but GED Match is great. Note that GedMatch is not a testing provider. You get tested through a testing company then upload your results to GedMatch.

        Reply
Mark Rowland - September 3, 2017

Thanks for a VERY helpful comparison. Really usable information and differentiation. Because I have a particular interest/connections in UK, I’m attracted to the Living DNA product. Can/will I be able to upload LD data to My Heritage, where I’ve already purchased/registered their product, and where I expect my geneological data to ultimately reside (right now, it’s heavily weighted in Geni)???

Thanks again for a helpful post.

-Mark

Reply
    Mark Orwig - September 3, 2017

    Hi Mark. Thanks for your note. Yes, you can upload your Living DNA data to MyHeritage. Living DNA just added the ability to download your raw data a few months ago. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Tom Brannigan - September 3, 2017

It looks like I’m torn between FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA. Today Living DNA has an offer for $119 and FamilyTreeDNA is asking $169. FamilyTreeDNA seems to have more options for uploading and making contacts, but LivingDNA does have a stronger grouping for Ireland/Northern Ireland. What to do?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - September 3, 2017

    Hey Tom. If you have a lot of Irish in you, I’d probably go with LivingDNA. Can’t go wrong with either though.

    Reply
      Tom Brannigan - September 3, 2017

      Thanks Mark. What, if anything, do you know about the FamilyTreeDNA Surname Projects.

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - September 3, 2017

        Hey Tom. I believe FTDNA allows you to upload your raw DNA results in order to join surname projects (if you don’t do your test through them).

        Reply
Kate - September 3, 2017

Mark,
You offered a thorough review of information so that I could make an informed decision on which test would be best for me. That was helpful!
I went with My Heritage and got some surprising results. I thought I was mostly Italian because my mom thought she was 100%, but the test results say I am almost 50% Greek and my mom is only 15% Greek? Can that be right? We haven’t gotten by father’s results back yet, but I can’t imagine he has ANY Greek. I wonder if I should try a different test to compare results. Except if I got a very different result, how would I even know which was accurate?
Thanks for any insight you can offer!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - September 5, 2017

    Hi Kate! Yea that does sound a little strange. I would wait until you get your father’s results back. It sounds to me like the Greek and Italian genes were grouped together since they are so similar. I know AncestryDNA doesn’t even break out these two because they are so similar. The region is just called “Italian/Greek”.

    Reply
Lisa - September 5, 2017

Hi Mark, First of all thank you for writing just a great easy to follow and comparative article. I have been Googling for days now and only getting more confused. My daughter’s father passed away, his parents also, but they are suppose to be second generation 100% Italian (her grandfather) and 100% Albanian (her grandmother). She did the 23andme to find out more about her father, but as you know it is autosomal only and she cant really tell much about what regions were strongly from his side vs my side of family (although. She is not that interested in finding relatives, (that would only be a by product of the test). I’d like to help her out, there is really no one on her dads side to help. I do have a brother and he could do a test.. obviously doing the full boogie Family Tree autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA would tell her more about my lineage so by process of elimination we could figure out what was her fathers lineage on 23andme. But that is so expensive. I suppose if I just did the autosomal say on Family Tree (because we can upload her data there and do more by product relatives searching), we could still by process of elimination figure out what was more his side vs mine. However, I fear we won’t learn much as likely my side is “European” as well.
Her main results:
European 99.7%
Northwestern European 56.8%
British & Irish 16.5%
French & German 13.5%
Scandinavian 0.0%
Finnish 0.0%
Broadly Northwestern European 26.8%
Southern European 34.5%
Balkan 15.0%
Italian 6.4%
Iberian 0.9%
Sardinian 0.0%
Broadly Southern European 12.3%
Eastern European 1.4%
Ashkenazi Jewish 0.0%
Broadly European 6.9%

Any advice as to what to do please??? Bewildered, mom

Reply
    Mark Orwig - September 5, 2017

    Hi Lisa. It’s hard to do a process of elimination because your daughter would have inherited varying levels of DNA from you and her father. You could try looking at your matches though, and finding people who your daughter matches but you don’t. Chances are that person would be on her father’s side. Then you can look into their DNA and genealogical records for more clues. I’d also check out a site called Gedmatch.com where you can upload your DNA results. There are tutorial videos on youtube that show how to use the tool.

    Reply
      Lisa - September 6, 2017

      Thanks Mark, soooo do you recommend my brother doing a DNA test? If so which one? Or is there any value (for my daughters quest) in he or I doing one???

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - September 7, 2017

        Hi Lisa. I’m not sure your brother taking the test would help your daughter that much. It would certainly give her some more clues when matching living relatives. The best thing she could do is get a male relative on her father’s side to take a Y-DNA test. But you mentioned that might not be possible.

        Reply
Frances - September 7, 2017

Hi Mark, Thank you for the very helpful review. I have been watching documentaries over the past few years about the connection between humans and Neanderthals. Some genealogy TV shows (particularly in the UK) have given folks DNA test results that tell them whether they have Neanderthal DNA in their lineage. Do any of the tests you mention above give that information? Or any others on the general market?

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    Mark Orwig - September 7, 2017

    Hi Frances! I believe 23andme will estimate how much Neanderthal you are.

    Reply
Melissa - September 9, 2017

Hi Mark – Fantastic article. Thank you!
I’ve tested on Ancestry.com and 23andMe – trying to find biological father.
Is there a tutorial on how to navigate 23andMe?
Does one have to match each DNA strand to be related? This is confusing to me.

Thank you!

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Andrea Zeason - September 10, 2017

Hi Mark i am so confused the more i research, so my family tree is supposed to be mostly German and Italian with Irish English Norwegian Swedish at an eighth each, with that in mind which test would you recommended for me and from what I’m gathering is to have a complete view i need my brother to do a test as well? i have lost both of my beloved parents with the majority of German on moms side and the Italian on my dads side will my dna show my dads side in me?

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    Mark Orwig - September 11, 2017

    Hi Andrea. It sounds like you want to do the basic autosomal test. Any of the companies I list in this article will work for you. Getting your brother tested is not needed but could provide some additional clues in your genealogical research. You and your brother would have inherited different levels of DNA from your ancestors. An autosomal test will show the DNA that you inherited from both your parents. But keep in mind that just because your mother was say 100% Greek, that doesn’t mean your results will show that you’re 50% greek (even though you could be and your brother’s results could show 50% greek). The results show you how much DNA YOU inherited. Hope that makes sense!

    Reply
Kimberlee D Ingraham - September 10, 2017

So, if I wanted to find out more about my maternal grandfather’s ancestry, which test would you recommend?

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    Mark Orwig - September 11, 2017

    Hi Kimberlee. You would want to find a male descendant of your maternal grandfather such as your brother, cousin, uncle, etc. Then have them do a Y-DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA. If that’s not possible, just do a standard autosomal test with someone like Ancestry.com and use their large database to find matches so you can view their family trees. Hopefully you’ll be able to find a match on your maternal grandfather’s side but you’d need to do some genealogical research first to determine that. Hope this helps!

    Reply
      S Ross - December 11, 2017

      Am I misunderstanding this? In order to find out more about my maternal grandfather’s ancestry (I am female, btw,) and my maternal grandfather is deceased, as is his only son, my uncle… you say my male cousin would do? But not surely if he is the son of my aunt, right? His Y-dna wouldn’t pass down through her to him, would it?

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

        If your looking specifically for maternal grandfather’s roots, then one of his male descendants needs to take a yDNA test. An easy way to think of it is (in most cases) any male relative with the same surname as the line your researching is who you want to take the yDNA test. Your maternal grandfather -> your uncle (his son) -> your cousin (his son) would likely all have the same surname. Make sense?

        Reply
          Catherine - February 1, 2018

          Hi Mark,
          I’m also looking into my maternal grandfather. My mother was one of five children and there were two separate fathers. My mother’s paternity was always in question, but we have reason to believe her biological father was one of the two men my grandmother was involved with. The difficulty now is trying to find out for sure, if we can. Sadly my mother passed away in 2016, and both of the brothers who we believe she shared paternity with have also passed away. I have a male cousin who is the son of one of those brothers, myself and my own brother. Is there a way to find out if he is my maternal grandfather? Or will it only be possible to say so to a certain percentage? My brother and I, and my cousin are related through our maternal grandmother, so this would show up on tests if we compared them. It would be a shame if we couldn’t connect our grandfather more definitively. Of course, my cousin can follow the line Y my grandfather is part of, I guess the question is can my brother and I be linked to that in a genetic test?
          Many thanks,
          Catherine

          Reply
          Mark Orwig - February 9, 2018

          Hi Catherine. Two questions. First, do you know the general ethnicity of the 2 men in question? Meaning was one Italian and the other German? Second, does your cousin know which of the 2 men is his grandfather?

          Reply
Helen - September 12, 2017

Hi Mark

Thanks for the article. I am only interested in getting my ethnic mix. I am not interested in finding relatives or a family tree I simply want to find out what percentage and where. What company do you think is the best

Thanks so much

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    Mark Orwig - September 12, 2017

    Hi Helen. For a standard ethnicity test, you can’t go wrong with any of the companies I mentioned in this guide.

    Reply
Diane Diaz - September 13, 2017

I am perplexed on which test to do. My parent’s are 3rd cousins. Their father’s are first cousins. Which makes their father’s brothers. Now for another twist. My mother’s maternal grandfather & my father’s maternal great grandmother were also siblings. Which test should I do. I am going towards ancestry DNA. What do you advise me to do.

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    Mark Orwig - September 13, 2017

    Hi Diane. I would just get a standard autosomal test. Ancestry is definitely a great choice as are any of the companies in this guide. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Timothy - September 14, 2017

Hi Mark,

What an amazing article! Really! I have been looking through a lot of this over the past 6 months and, like everyone else here, it just gets more and more confusing. My partner is one of those people that goes out and just gets what he wants when he wants it, which makes Christmas presents quite difficult, so I was looking at getting one of these for him as his mother is Taiwanese and father (estranged) is Dutch. I just thought it’s one of those things that you don’t tend to get for yourself, so a nice present. A lot of people here are asking about European genealogy, but I was wondering if you know which would also have a good database (or that you could simply recommend) for Asian data?

Kind Regards,

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    Mark Orwig - September 14, 2017

    Thanks Timothy! I would probably go with Ancestry.com since they have the largest database. You can also upload your raw data to other sites like FTDNA to find matches in their databases as well. Hope this helps and good luck!

    Reply
Tawnya - September 15, 2017

I just jumped into this DNA madness trying to buy the right one for my husband’s birthday. It looks like full DNA results are cheapest through Nat Goegraphic, then can be up loaded to Family Tree for further evaluation, possibly at an additional fee. I went to National Geographic’s website to check reviews, which made me doubt the process of uploading Family Tree would happen. Have you had any feedback on this process? If the process does work, am I accessing properly that this is the best route for my money?

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Margie Baker - September 18, 2017

Hi Mark,
I just received my DNA results and am really shocked at the results. If I’m not completely happy with the results would it be worth the money to have it done again or is the first one enough?

Margaret A. Baker

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    Mark Orwig - September 18, 2017

    Hi Margaret. Which type of test did you do and with which company?

    Reply
Barbara - September 21, 2017

Mark, my deceased parents always identified as German ancestry but there has been a question of ancestors being Jewish. Will the DNA tests tell me If there is any Jewish ancestry in my DNA? Thank you for the excellent article.

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    Mark Orwig - September 22, 2017

    Hi Barbara. Yes it should pick up on that. FamilyTreeDNA has a strong database of Jewish ancestry so I would try that. Good luck!

    Reply
Robert - September 22, 2017

Hi Mark, I’m guessing the best DNA test would be a autosomal plus mtDNA test along with the Y-DNA and if so who would offer the best price for that complete test? And also some family members, my son and some cousins have already done the ancestry.com test and I thought it was pretty cool looking thru my sons webpage and recognizing cousins etc.. but thinking now that most family members have chosen ancestory.com I might be best to use them for just the autosomal test? And for middle east people like myself, half Armenian and half Jewish(I think)would a certain company give me better results, thanks and sorry for the rambling lol

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    Mark Orwig - September 22, 2017

    Hey Robert. I would look at the bundle deals from FamilyTreeDNA. Ancestry only offers autosomal test. If you go with FTDNA, you can ask your family members to upload their raw dna from ancestry to FamilyTreeDNA for free so you share results. Good luck!

    Reply
Bernadetta Mroz - September 23, 2017

Hi Mark, excellent article! Condense and to the point.
My origin is pure Slavic (or I might just think so). Family on both sides comes from what is now Ukraine and Lithuania, but then it was Poland. Do you know of the company that concentrates on regions of Central and East Europe? I was considering LivingDNA, or Nat Geo. What do you think?
I don’t care about locating any relatives. Just detailed geographic regions.

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    Mark Orwig - September 25, 2017

    Hi Bernadetta. Any of the companies listed in this guide will work well. But I might lean towards FTDNA.

    Reply
Mazin - September 25, 2017

Solid review. A very clear, step by step and systematic explanation. Thanks a lot man!

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Dean - September 26, 2017

curious if i take the test with my sister would it give us paternity tests. always been curious if we are for sure related. I am interested in finding out percentages of my ethnicity mostly. any advice?

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    Mark Orwig - September 27, 2017

    Hey Dean! You would have to have your father tested as well to determine paternity. Any of the companies listed in this article would show the paternal matching.

    Reply
Kelemoi Tedeneke - September 27, 2017

Hey,

This is amazing! So my paternal grandfather was never known to my dad. He was a soldier (likely Italian) living in Ethiopia during WWII. I know you went into detail about the Y-DNATIONAL tests but don’t want to lose out on the autosomal data from a larger pool from a more established company. Any suggestions?

Thanks again,
Kelemoi

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    Mark Orwig - September 27, 2017

    Hi Kelemoi. You’re probably best suited with an autosomal test from someone like AncestryDNA or FTNDA. You’ll have to rely on paper records and family trees of your DNA matches once you get the results in order to find your paternal grandfather. Good luck!

    Reply
Eliana - September 27, 2017

Hi Mark, excellent review! I’m still not sure about the best test for me because I’m Brazilian, and I’ve heard they usually don’t specify south or North American roots, just show as Native American.
Which one would you recommend?

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    Mark Orwig - October 2, 2017

    Hi Eliana. You’re right that currently a standard autosomal test will only specify that you’re native american. If you’re sure you don’t have any European roots, then an autosomal test probably won’t tell you much in terms of your ethnicity. The main benefit to you would be the cousin matching for your family tree efforts. If you really wanted to try getting a higher degree of specificity of your native roots, you might look into a YDNA or mtDNA test to determine your paternal or maternal haplogroup. For YDNA you’d need a male relative in your paternal line to take the test for you. Hope this helps!

    Reply
      Eliana - October 6, 2017

      Thank you so much, Mark! Your answer was very helpful, I appreciate it. Based on that, I decided on the Geno 2.0, for myself and for my daughter too, she is Brazilian/North American I’ll let you know the results, it should be interesting.

      Reply
Erika - September 28, 2017

Thanks for all the great info, Mark! I had no idea DNA testing was this complicated. I’m interested to get my results.
Three of my four grandparents are from the Portuguese Azores islands and the fourth is from mainland Portugal. Based on that would you think there would be an advantage to any one test over the others? Thanks for your input!

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    Mark Orwig - October 2, 2017

    Hi Erika! It depends what you’re looking to discover. If you just want your personal ethnicity estimates, you’d get an autosomal test from any of the companies listed in this article. If you wanted something more in-depth for genealogical purposes like a YDNA or mtDNA test, check out FamilyTreeDNA. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Ali - September 29, 2017

Hi Mark,
My husband and I are planning to buy tests and Christmas present for my family (American) and his family (French). We’re not concerned with finding other family, more comparing our dna markers against each other and potentially seeing some fun facts that we have in common vs differences. What sort of test would you recommend best meets our needs? Thank you for your help!

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    Mark Orwig - October 2, 2017

    Hi Ali. Great idea! It sounds like you want the basic autosomal tests for ethnicity estimates. These will test all of your family lines. YDNA and mtDNA tests will only test your direct paternal or maternal lines. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Mardia Bishp - October 1, 2017

Mark,

Thanks for this great information. My mom is 87 and very excited about her family’s history. I gave her an Ancestry DNA kit last year and she was puzzled by the results because the majority of her ancestry was Scandinavian. I wanted to give her another kit so that she could compare the results. Is it best to go with the National Geographic in order to have the mtdna test included or purchase the mtdna test from Family Tree and upload her Ancestry data?

Thanks,
Mardia

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    Mark Orwig - October 2, 2017

    Hi Mardia. It depends on what you’re looking to find. If you just want to test her direct maternal line, then I’d get the mtDNA test. If you want to test all of her roots like you did with Ancestry, then you want an autosomal test. For either test I’d try FamilyTreeDNA. P.S. it’s a known concern that ancestryDNA tends to overestimate scandinavian heritage – especially if you have a lot of British isle roots.

    Reply
Erica - October 4, 2017

Hello Mark
This is the best review that I have found so far. Like most, I would like your suggestion though. I am adopted and would like to know more about my living relatives but also I am very intrigued about my ancestry. Everyone I knew growing up seemed to know these elaborate stories about their great,great,great, great… (you get the jist) and I never had anything like that. So although finding living relatives is interesting, I find the deeper ancestry even more interesting. I feel like the National Geographic would be the best for me and then upload to FTDNA to find family. Would you say that is a fairly good route as National Discovery is more on the pricey side, it is still more affordable for me than FTDNA and all my brothers have different dads than myself so having them take a test would be more beneficial for them rather than for me if I am understanding all of this correctly. Thank you for being so informative and willing to answer questions as well.

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    Mark Orwig - October 4, 2017

    Hi Erica! Thanks for your note. Ancestry.com might be your best bet for finding living relatives because they have the largest database. You can also upload your DNA to FTDNA for even more matches. For your deep ancestral roots, your only option is an mtDNA test through FTDNA since your brother’s all have different fathers. An mtDNA test will only show you the deep ancestral roots of your direct maternal line – so your birth mother’s mother’s etc. I think your best bet will be to just do the standard autosomal test at Ancestry, find family members and examine their online family trees. Good luck!

    Reply
James - October 4, 2017

Hi Mark, thanks for gathering all of this useful information! I have a couple of questions. My mother came from England and my father’s parents were from Sicily, so I know my basic roots. If I’m interested in knowing more details about where my ancestors came from which test would be most useful? Also, if my wife and I both get tested, would there be any reason for my sons to do so?

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    Mark Orwig - October 6, 2017

    Hey James. I would get a standard autosomal test for the whole family from either FamilyTreeDNA or Ancestry for the cousin matching aspect. Those two companies have the largest databases since they’re the most popular. You can then see everyone you’re related to, and view their family trees in order to get a better idea of your roots. Hope this makes sense!

    Reply
Nancy - October 6, 2017

Hi Mark, I’ve featured your post on my genealogy blog because it’s such a great overview. http://www.sassyjanegenealogy.com/choosing-the-best-dna-tests-for-genealogy Glad to know about your site. Nancy

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Dave - October 8, 2017

Mark, damn dude this site is awesome. I will definitely order one through your site. I wish all product review sites were like this one!

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Emma - October 8, 2017

Hey, Mark! Lots of information here but I do still have a question haha. Which one would you recommend for a Polynesian/Māori background? I remember reading somewhere that Ancestry doesn’t break down Polynesia and I’m not entirely sure which regions are included in every other site. I know my test will probably come back predominantly European due to my fathers side of the family being from Wales (him and his parents are from Wales but I’m not sure of anyone beyond them) but my mother would also like to do a DNA test and her side of the family is predominantly Polynesian with a British person every now and then.

Thank you!

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    Mark Orwig - October 8, 2017

    Hi Emma. If you and your mother are mostly interested in your maternal line, then I would do an mtDNA test with FamilyTreeDNA. You can also bundle it with the standard autosomal test which will test every line including the Polynesian. But the mtDNA test should show the origin of your maternal line. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Veronica Cameron - October 8, 2017

This was a thorough read! Thanks so much. You’ve helped me make my decision.

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Yanneka - October 8, 2017

Thanks so much, Mark, for your excellent, thorough, and clear article!
I still have two questions:
1) I learned that it is illegal in France and Germany to do DNA testing, unless ordered by the law courts. I am wondering how this affects DNA data base for those regions, and if there is a DNA testing company which may have more of a data base for those areas. My mother is from France, with generations on all sides of her known family living for centuries (at least based on paper and in cimeteries) as far back as 1400 in the Alps. I’ve received ethnicity percentage results from MyHeritage, which seemed plausible on my father’s side, but not at all on my mother’s. Would you recommend I test with a particular DNA company. I saw that MyHeritage and Ancestry.com do not test in those regions…possibly because it is illegal, or…?
2) I would love to research my father’s Y-DNA line, but my father is no longer alive, I have no brother, and I know of no cousin. If I manage to find a very distant cousin from my father’s earlier ancestor, would it be helpful at all?
Thank you so much,
Yanneka

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    Mark Orwig - October 9, 2017

    Hi Yanneka. Let me try to answer your questions. #1 I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking. The companies with the largest databases are ancestry.com and FTDNA. No company is going to be able to test for specific countries – only regions such as Western Europe. #2. Yes any male relative on your father’s paternal line can take a YDNA test for you. Hope this helps!

    Reply
AJ - October 10, 2017

Hi Mark,

Great article. I was looking for an in-depth report that is as specific as possible for determining ethnicity. I don’t care about finding living relatives or connections. As far as I know, my ancestors are all from the middle eastern or indus valley region. Will I be able to get more specific, and which test do you recommend?

Thanks!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - October 12, 2017

    Hi AJ. I would go with either FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage.

    Reply
Joff elliott - October 10, 2017

Mark,

I am an Australian and want to know if I have Scandinavian antecedents from many generations ago. Would an autosomal test be the way to go?
Believe the Scandinavian connection is through my mothers side of the family.
Thank you so much for this detailed and concise article
Which company’ would u recommend and which test would be suitable?
Many thanks
Jonathan

Reply
    Mark Orwig - October 12, 2017

    Hey Jonathan. If it’s only one line of ancestors and more than 5-6 generations ago, an autosomal test might not be the best option. If you think the roots are from your mother’s mother’s mother’s (etc) line, then an mtDNA test from FamilyTreeDNA is what you want. Or if you think they’re from your mother’s father’s father’s (etc) line, then a YDNA test from one of your male cousins is needed.

    Reply
Felicia - October 11, 2017

Thanks Mark. I wanted to find my roots. I was interested in DNA testing but that knowledge was confusing. Thank you for breaking all the essential information down (price, comparisons, pros/cons). It is now less stressful since I’ve read what you’ve researched. Now I feel confident in my decision and won’t have to spend hours navigating through other sites. Thanks again!

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Micheline Lee - October 12, 2017

Hi Mark, I’m new at this & recently obtained a DNA kit for myself & one of my sons through MyHeritage (not sure the type of testing), haven’t received the results yet. So grateful I found you, I had no idea of the different tests, Thanks for education. So now I’m confused & hope you can guide me in the right direction. I purchased 2 kits for my daughter-in-laws, so do I need to tests my other son & all my grandsons, or just The one son, since their both from same father? Also, my mother was born in Paris, France, came to USA after WWll, & she never spoke of her past; we know nothing of her family, except she was an only child. She married my Father, who has passed away along with his two brothers, and my brother is the only male alive on my fathers side, so should he get the YDNA test done since he’s the last male? I really want to know the heritage of both of my parents, & not sure how to start. I’m unable to tell my sons & grandsons anything about my family heritage and I hope you can get me started in the right direction, as I would also hope to locate a family member one day as I venture into my new hobby & passion. Thank you so much for educating me about genealogy. Micheline Lee

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    Mark Orwig - October 12, 2017

    Hi Micheline. MyHeritage currently only offers autosomal tests, so you ordered the right thing. I think your best bet is to start with just the autosomal tests, then maybe add the YDNA and mtDNA to further your research in the future. Remember that those tests only look at the origins of your direct paternal and maternal lines. The autosomal tests look at every line in your family. Re: autosomal testing of siblings with the same parents – while their results should (theoretically) be similar, they won’t be. Unless they are identical twins, the siblings would have inherited different levels of DNA through their parents. The more people you test, the more matches and connections you can make on your family tree. Hope this helps!

    Reply
      Micheline Lee - October 20, 2017

      Hi Mark
      Thanks for your response regarding testing both of my sons (both have same parents) with the autosomal DNA tests! As mentioned in my previous question to you; I’ve already tested one son through My Hertiage DNA. So, should I use a different company when testing my other son, or just use the extra autosomal DNA kit I have from Heritage or would it really make that much of a difference? Again thanks for your advice appreciate your help with this question!
      Sincerely
      Micheline Lee

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - October 20, 2017

        Hi Micheline. I would use the MyHeritage kit you already have. Once you have the results, you can always upload the raw data to FamilyTreeDNA to find more matches.

        Reply
Linda Goodnight - October 14, 2017

Hi Mark,

Thank you for this very comprehensive, clear breakdown. It’s the best I’ve found by far! One question I hope you can help with: I have daughters adopted from Ukraine who would love to find/connect with bio family. We’ve been able to find no one through regular means. Do the DNA sites you mention include only American DNA matches? Or do any of them include international data-bases? Thank you!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - October 16, 2017

    Hi Linda. I would test with FamilyTreeDNA for international matches.

    Reply
CW - October 23, 2017

I love your info, Mark, so maybe you can answer a question I have not been able to find the answer to. One of my brothers is very dark like my mother (eyes, hair and skin), but my other brother is very fair like my father (freckles and very light blue eyes). Will they show different results, assuming of course they are related.

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    Mark Orwig - October 25, 2017

    Hi CW. Their results should be very similar, but not identical. Only identical twins share the same DNA. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Olivia - October 24, 2017

Hey Mark,

Thanks so much for your detailed article!! I was thinking about having my mother and father both take a DNA test. Would it still be beneficial for me to take the test? Or perhaps have my father take it and me and by process of elimination I’ll know what traits are from my mother?

Last Q – we are 100% Polish (or so my parents claim). Do you now if any of the tests will get down to that detail or simply state “Eastern European”? Would love to hear your recommendation! I’m mainly looking for detailed ethnicity background info. Thank you so so much!!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - October 25, 2017

    Hi Olivia. I think you should also take the test since you’ll all get different results. None of the tests will get that detailed, so you’d have to use the trees of your matches to determine just how polish you are 🙂

    Reply
Xoli - October 26, 2017

Hi Mark, my name is Xoli from Africa. I like your article so much that I’m considering to get an autosomal DNA test. Thanks for such an informative article, keep up the good work!!!

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Rose - October 27, 2017

Hi Mark,

Thank you for the excellent breakdown of info and companies. Very helpful! And thank you for using correct terminology (data are). 🙂

I am interested in my ethnology and am looking for the autosomal DNA test with the finest scale regional breakdown that would apply to me. My father was 1st generation American of Lithuanian Jewish descent whose family made it out of Lithuania between WWI and WWII. We know less about my mother’s genealogy, who is also 1st generation American. Her father was French Canadian and was told he was also of Native American descent, and her mother was of Finnish and Swedish descent. I see that MyHeritageDNA has 42 regions, LivingDNA has 80 regions, but 21 are of the British Isles, from whence I am not descended, and Nat. Geo has 60 regions. I am interested in getting the most detail I can. I understanding I will not be able to determine Native American Tribe, but would like the most info about that available. Which of these test do you think will be my best choice? As a scientist, I am tempted to go with Nat. Geo for the added benefit of contributing to science.

Thanks so much for your time and insight.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - October 31, 2017

    Hi Rose. Nat GEO and MyHeritage will give you the most amount of detail.

    Reply
Paul L Doré - October 27, 2017

One last comment that I forgot. Why is HomeDNA not in the your list ?

I had never heard of them before this week. GenealogyBank had a special offer going that allowed me to upload my Ancestry Raw Data to them for 29 $ US.

I called them 3 times for assistance and info and the reponse wait time each time was less than a minute, helpful and courteous.

Their analysis is really interesting, and well presented. Unfortunately they were not taking MyHeritage DNA Raw Data so my wife’s second analysis couldn’t be processed.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - October 31, 2017

    Hey Paul. I’m not really familiar with HomeDNA so I can’t recommend them at this time.

    Reply
Claude - October 31, 2017

Hello Mark, great article xtrmely helpful. Got tested by MyHeritage and results were quite a surprise. Always believed I was a mix of Swiss, French and bit of north Italian… well with 41%english 21%irish 22%french 8%Italian etc. I do not know how I can come to this result since my family on mother and father side never left Switzerland. So I want to dig a little deeper with another test. Should it be Ancestry or LivingDNA.. ?? Thank you Mark

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Danette - November 2, 2017

Hello Mark,
I am Hispanic/Caribbean… which means I supposedly have Native American (specifically Taino Indian), African, and Spanish (European). 3 completely different places in the world. I am also a female and I’m having a hard time figuring out which DNA test to choose from. I’d like it to be as specific as possible because I want to know what percentage I am of each and I’m sure there will be other places my DNA comes from. I’m most interested in Nat Geo or Family Tree but Family Tree options are confusing as to which I should get. Which DNA test do you think fits what I’m looking for?

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Randy S. Scott - November 2, 2017

As an afro-amercian,this article gives me an unbiased view on DNA testing and the pros and cons.

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Jane - November 3, 2017

Thank you for this comprehensive explanation

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Kristin - November 4, 2017

Wonderful article! My question: My paper trails show mostly european and scandinavian ancestory, but I have recently come accross someone who seems to think my 3rd great grandfather was hispanic. I don’t see it in any physical traits with myself or other family members. I would like to prove (or disprove) this connection. I was thinking about AncestoryDNA, what is your expert opinion? Thank you, Kristin

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 8, 2017

    Hi Kristin. If you want to be certain, ask a male relative in the direct paternal line of your 3rd great grandfather to do a YDNA test with FamilyTreeDNA. If that’s not possible, then do an autosomal test with either Ancestry or FamilyTreeDNA for their large databases to try and find the Hispanic connection. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Paulo - November 4, 2017

Great article, Mark. I’ve been doing genealogical research for some time now, and would like to try one of these DNA testing sites. In your opinion, which one would provide the most comprehensive information?

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    Mark Orwig - November 8, 2017

    Hi Paulo. It depends. What are your goals?

    Reply
Vanida - November 4, 2017

Thank you for the great article but I’m still needing a little help to find the best Testing Service for me. I’m 100% Asian and I would like to find a Service that will help find the different countries my ancestors are from. My parents aren’t sure where their grandparents are from whether they’re Chinese, or Vietnamese. Which Service has the best results for knowing your different ethnicities instead of getting results that just tells me I’m 100% Southeast Asian. Thank you so much! Have a blessed day.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 8, 2017

    Hi Vanida. It sounds like you want to do YDNA and mtDNA testing. Autosomal will mostly give you info at the regional level. Use familytreeDNA.

    Reply
Jim Pap - November 5, 2017

Hello Mark!

I am interested only in finding my roots. Which of the companies are more accurate or detailed for ethnicity?

I know that any company can’t tell me from which specific country I am, but i want an information as close as it can be on that.

Which company do you suggest?

Thnaks!

Reply
SBF - November 5, 2017

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the informative article. I’ve done an autosomal with Ancestry.com and am considering the m and y tests (my brother would do that one). All 4 of my grandparents were European-born and came to the US in the 19-teens.

I’m looking for your advice on which company has the best international data base, for finding records, and finding living overseas relatives.

Would you suggest sticking with Ancestry (I’ll need to resubscribe and to World Explorer, which I haven’t yet checked out) – though Ancestry doesn’t do the m and y tests or download data from other companies? Or go with Family DNA and download my Ancestry data there?

Thanks!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 8, 2017

    For records, use Cyndis List as your guide. For living relatives, the more sites the better since different people are in different databases. I’d also upload your raw DNA to GedMatch.com for matches.

    Reply
Jane Crocker - November 7, 2017

Really a great site!You answered the questions I didn’t even know to ask!Thanks alot.

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sam - November 8, 2017

hi mark, i am from india, which test will be fine for me, just wanna check my root… pls guide… thnks…

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 8, 2017

    Any of these companies will work for you.

    Reply
Eric - November 8, 2017

Hi Mark,

I am from Africa. I believe most of these tests are best suited for people living in the western world or regions that kept a good record of their lineage. Also since most users will be from the western world (America, Europe), is there a better test for people from Africa?

Eric

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 10, 2017

    Hi Eric. Are you looking to find your ethnicity results or living relatives for genealogy purposes?

    Reply
Anne Kaufman - November 9, 2017

Hello Mark,
Thanks for your very informative descriptions of the various DNA tests and companies. I’m tracing my husband’s line and have gotten as far as his great-great-grandfather (four generations on his paternal line). That is where we are stuck. His 4th generation ancestor was born in Friesdorf, Germany in 1829 (no birth record or knowledge of his parents or siblings that we have found). The Y-DNA test appears be the best one to use but my husband thinks his ancestor may have Jewish roots (the spelling of his last name contains two sets of double consonants; although not uncommon to German last names). The double consonants were dropped after immigration and all ancestors including is this ancestor were practicing Christians. There is an ethnicity category of Ashkonazi Jew mentioned on some of the testing sites. Which company might give us the best information regarding this ethnicity? Thanks!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 10, 2017

    Hi Anne. I would definitely go with a yDNA test as well as an autosomal from FamilyTreeDNA. It’s possible the yDNA results might show matches of living relatives with the original surname.

    Reply
Graeme - November 10, 2017

Mark,
I notice that Family Tree DNA covers 24 Geographic Regions 24,My Heritage covers 42 areas and Nat Geo covers 60 areas.
On the surface it appears that I should go with Nat Geo as its information would be more detailed.Does this make sense?
Regards,
Graeme

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 10, 2017

    Hi Graeme. They are all great tests but I wouldn’t choose based on regions alone.

    Reply
viktoriya - November 10, 2017

Hi, thanks for the article this helps in my choice. I want to take one of these tests so much,trouble is that i think companies like ancestry and 23andme will lable me as “Broadly Eastern European”. I’m a Ukranian Sval and I’m looking for the best kit for me. I think that companies that are more specific in thier findings of Y DNA and M DNA would be better. Any advice?

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    Mark Orwig - November 12, 2017

    Hi Viktoriya. Yes mtDNA and yDNA would be more specific for your ancient origins, but remember they only test one line of your tree each (see our infographic above). Testing with someone like ancestry.com though would allow you to be matched with a huge database of living relatives. Some will have family trees uploaded to their profiles and you can trace your family back to specific countries using their records.

    Reply
Joan - November 11, 2017

Hi Mark, Very Interesting article and advice! Thank you! I am just generally interested in DNA testing and genealogy/ancestry. Thought I should start with my 91 year old mother. Was thinking of just getting an autosomal test for her, but wondering if I should spring for more details just in case I really want to get into this? She is the last of her siblings. I do have one full brother and one full sister surviving, and well as some first male cousins.

I don’t suppose DNA samples are kept….

Thank you for taking the time to advise. Joan

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    Mark Orwig - November 12, 2017

    Hi Joan. I would test with FamilyTreeDNA because I believe they retain your samples in case you want to upgrade to another test in the future – such as mtDNA.

    Reply
Thomas - November 11, 2017

Hi Mark, thanks for this review article! I’m Dutch and already know my Y is I-M253 (family member tested FTDNA Y12…). Do you know one of the cheaper tests (Living, 23) provide more details on subclades? Otherwise I could just take an even cheaper autosomal only test (sorry, Dutch 😅). Thanks!

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    Mark Orwig - November 12, 2017

    Hey Thomas. I believe FamilyTreeDNA is the only company that offers detailed, subclade reporting. LivingDNA and 23andMe only report on the broader haplogroup.

    Reply
Darlene - November 11, 2017

Hi Mark,
Thanks for the informative article. I am planning to get my kids ( 2 boys & 1 girl )
DNA test for Christmas, all have same parents. My question is, should I get 1 son the YDNA test, 1 son the autosomal test and my daughter the mtDNA? Would this help them cover more accurate ethnicity?
Thank you,
Darlene

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 12, 2017

    Hi Darlene. Great gift idea! Getting each of the tests won’t really give you a more accurate ethnicity result. The yDNA test will only test your husband’s direct line and the mtDNA will only test your direct line. I think it’s a great idea to do that, however just know that it won’t make the autosomal results any more ‘statistically relevant’.

    Reply
T - November 11, 2017

I have blanks on both sides of my family tree (paternal grandfather was adopted, and maternal grandfather may be an unknown person), so if I understand your article correctly, I can only discover my full heritage (what comes from each side) by doing all three tests (the autosomal, the M one and the F one). Expensive, unfortunately. I am seeking heritages first, and discovering any living relatives as more of a bonus.

The problem is, I am female. It appears I can only get my father’s lineage information if my brother gets tested (our father and grandfather is gone). First, do you recommend the FamilyTree package which includes Family Finder, Y67 and MTFullSequence, over any other companies or vs individual tests? (On my brother, that is.)

Secondly, if my brother has all those tests done, that will answer everything in terms of me, as well right? Because we have the same lineage? So it would be redundant for me to do any tests, correct?

Lastly, with these tests done on my brother, is there any real advantage for me to have my mother also take a separate test? I would think the 3 tests my brother will take covers it all.

Thank you so much for your article, and I am very hopeful that you will reply back to me soon! I would love to do this before Christmas.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 12, 2017

    Hi T. If you’re just looking for your overall ethnicity, you really only need a basic autosomal test. The mtDNA and yDNA tests only test individual lines of your tree. See our infographic above. If you wanted those, I would definitely use FamilyTreeDNA as they provide the most detailed info. If you have your brother take all 3 tests, you’ll get your yDNA results and the mtDNA would be the same as if you took the test. The autosomal will be slightly different, but very close. Only identical twins carry the exact same DNA so you and your brother would have inherited different levels of DNA from your parents. On your last question, your mother could certainly take an autosomal test. She cannot take a yDNA test, but if she has a brother then it would be useful to trace her paternal line. mtDNA for your mother would be pointless if you or your brother take it as the result would be the same. Hope this helps! I would go back and reference the infographic at the top of this page which helps illustrate what I’m talking about.

    Reply
Michele McBrayer - November 12, 2017

Wow Mark thank you so much, wish all sites were as informative and unbiased as yours when I do research. Good on ya!!!!!

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Susanne - November 13, 2017

This was an excellent article. I do have a question though. I’m mostly curious what countries my DNA represents. Also my grandfather was adopted? But as far as I know from what I’m told by my parents I’m half Finn half Swede. I’m just wondering if a dna test will break that down anymore or not?

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    Mark Orwig - November 14, 2017

    Hi Susanne. A DNA test alone won’t break down exact countries. For that you need to combine the test with some genealogy. I’d test with Ancestry for their database size so you can see the family trees of your matches. Also was it your paternal grandfather that was adopted?

    Reply
      Susanne - November 18, 2017

      Yes, my paternal grandfather was adopted. I know his biological last name, he is 100% Swedish and born in the US. My cousin had started to do some research into my grandfather’s biological family some years ago but I don’t think she got very far.

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

        If you have any living male descendants of your biological grandfather, you can buy a yDNA test for them to learn more about that direct paternal line.

        Reply
De'Arna - November 13, 2017

Hi Mark

I hope you can direct me and help me choice the right DNA test. I know very little about my mother and nothing about my father. I feel like I fell to the earth alone. I have zero information to share. I would like to find out who and where my father comes from. Is this something you can help me with. I really want to take a test but I want to take the right one.

Thanks for your help
D

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 14, 2017

    Hi De’Arna. I think I would just do a basic autosomal test to start, probably with ancestry.com for their large database of people you can be matched with. Then maybe get a subscription to do some deeper research to find the paper trail of your parents. You can also use FamilySearch for research.

    I’m not sure yDNA or mtDNA tests are what you want since they only look at direct paternal and maternal lines (your father’s father’s father etc and your mother’s mother’s mother etc).

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
John - November 13, 2017

Mark,

You may want to update at least a couple things from the past couple years.
1) Ancestry’s DB is now at what, 6 million rather than 2 million?
2) Not all Geno 2.0 Next Generation testers can transfer data to FTDNA. The more recent US kits are done by Helix now. Non-US kits are still Gene-By-Gene. You can see this when you go to the site to order and choose your country.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 14, 2017

    Thanks John. Good catch on the Helix change from Nat Geo. I just confirmed with FTDNA that they can’t accept transfers from Helix 🙁

    Reply
Lisa - November 16, 2017

Hi mark,
Your article is very helpful but still not sure which site would best suit my situation. I was hoping you would be able to direct me in choosing the right test for my situation. My maternal grandparents were gypsies. I was told that they were Russian, Hungarian, polish and maybe some Jewish. My father was from Sicily. My mother had a so. That she gave up for adoption 50 years ago that would be nice if we could possibly find. Is there a test that could not only validate heritage and region but be more specific and possibly link my brother?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Lisa. I think I would go with ancestryDNA since they have the largest database. So the test will give ethnicity estimates, and also link you with cousins who have taken the test. Then hopefully you track down your brother by connecting with your matches. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Jen - November 16, 2017

Hi! What a great article! I am searching for a gift for my mom. She’s most interested in learning where her family is from, not so much identifying and finding anyone. Her background she believes is primarily in Europe. I am concerned some of the companies may not do deep dives into Europe but more so in the US. Which company would you recommend I use? Thanks in advance!

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    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Jen! I would go with FamilyTreeDNA.

    Reply
MARCIA - November 17, 2017

If you’re an adopted female; know some about your mother’s origins, but nothing of your father’s, but want to know as much as possible about both birth parent, which company and test within that company do you suggest. Keep in mind this particular person was raised in Scotland.

Thank you!

Marcia

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Marcia. I think I would do both an autosomal and mtDNA test with FamilyTreeDNA. When you get your autosomal results, you can potentially be matched with someone on FTDNA that’s on your birth father’s side who has already taken a yDNA test. Might be tricky though. But the autosomal test is a must-have. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Beth - November 18, 2017

Hi Mark,
Thanks for all the great info. Can you give me a recommendation on which kit would be best? I’m adopted and would like to find relatives in Europe and go back as far as possible to find my roots. My biological parents are both either first generation or second generation Americans. I have a birth brother who is willing to do the testing too, so we can test for yDNA. But, I’m not sure if just doing the autosomal test will give the results I’m looking for. I was thinking of either FTDNA or 23andme. With FTDNA I’m concerned about the compatibility with databases. Can you help me to determine the best option?

Thank you!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Beth. I would do the bundle deal at FTDNA for all 3 tests – autosomal, mtDNA and yDNA (for your brother). 23andme won’t help you much with your goals.

    Reply
Maego - November 18, 2017

Want “Best Bang for the Buck” testing @ Family Tree DNA. Looking to make this our “Family” Christmas Gift this year.

Available test subjects:

1. Me: Female (No spouse or Children😥
2. My Brother
3. My Brothers Spouse
4. My Nephew
5. My Niece

Would like as much detail as possible for individuals listed as well as for immediate siblings of My Brother’s Spouse. What is/are best testing options at least cost?

Would having only My Nephew “Bundle Tested” for Autosomal + Y-DNA + mtDNA tell each of us the most about our ancestry for the least $’s?
Any help much appreciated.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Maego. For the most info, go with the bundle deals at FTDNA.

    Reply
Constance - November 19, 2017

Dear Mark,
Thank you for writing the article, I am still not sure which test to go with, I am looking to find any living relatives I am not aware of, but also I would like to see where my ancestors came from as far back as possible. I would like to see the migration of my ancestors and also to see if I am related to any historical persons. Can you recommend any test? I guess I would like to find out as much as I can. 🙂
Thanks
Constance

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Constance. I would probably go with AncestryDNA since they have the largest database of people to be matched with. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Gaetana - November 19, 2017

Hi Mark. Great article. Thanks! I want to buy a kit for me and my 4 sons for Christmas. It’s basically just for our fun. Which kit would you recommend I purchase?

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Sue Smith - November 19, 2017

Hello,
Thanks for the informative website. My husband is adopted. I’m planning to get testing for him as a gift to find out about his background and to be able to identify/contact possible relatives. I am wondering which is the best site to use. From what I’ve read here I am thinking about Ancestry.com but I really didn’t want to pay a monthly fee, I just want the info from a one time test. What do you recommend? Thanks. (Although we don’t know, but he looks like he might have Irish heritage)
Sue

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Sue. I’d go with ancestry since they have the largest database. You only need a subscription of you want to contact your matches or view their family trees. But you can always just sign up for 1 month – it’s pretty inexpensive.

    Reply
Donna - November 19, 2017

Hi Mark, just a question please. My Dad who has been passed away since June 1998, used to tell us throughout our childhood that we were Native American. My Mom whom recently passed on September 2017, also stated Native American on her Mom’s side, whom also passed away years ago. Since there’s so much Native American running through our family line, which DNA test do you recommend?
So Much Appreciated Thanks

Reply
Sue - November 20, 2017

Hi Mark

I’m very confused. I was born in NZ but have English, Scottish and Polish/German ancestry. I had an autosomal test done with My Heritage and the results were weird! The English and Celtic showed up, but so did some Finnish and Norwegian. Well I guess that possibly the Scandinavian results would be way back when they probably invaded Scotland, that’s the only link I can figure there. However NO Polish/German DNA came up at all but instead 17% Greek turned up. There has never been any Greek in any of my families so I am wondering, is it possible that Greek DNA is similar to Polish/German and been labelled as such? Wondering also whether to get another test done with another company. Would appreciate your thoughts please.
Sue

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Sue. That is weird because usually Greece and Italy are grouped together as being very different from Western/Eastern DNA. If you were 17% Greek, that means that one of your great grandpaents was close to 100% Greek. So if that’s not the case, I would try testing with another company to compare the results. Try the autosomal test from FTDNA.

    Reply
      Sue - November 23, 2017

      Thanks Mark. I’m glad you thought it weird too. I will definitely try FTDNA. I have researched my families back to around the 1600s and my great grandparents hark from : – 4 from England with their ancestors all from England. 3 came from Scotland with their ancestors all from Scotland. And one from Germany whose older siblings plus parents and ancestors all from Poland. Something has gone awry somewhere so it will be interesting to see what FTDNA comes up with.

      Reply
Angela - November 20, 2017

Hi Mark,
Thank you so much for the valuable information but I am still a bit confused. I would like to buy a kit for my stepsister who’s known heritage is Native American, German and British. I think a simple test that would reveal her ancestry and regions for both maternal and paternal linage would be best. Which would you recommend for this? I would really appreciate any and all help with this purchase.
Thank you!
Angela

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Angela. If you just want a simple test, get an autosomal test from either FTDNA or Ancestry.

    Reply
Katie - November 20, 2017

Hi Mark. Thanks for all the info. This was a very good read! I wonder if I am thinking correctly with what I want for my daughter. She is 13 and interested in ethnicity, and I want to get her a DNA kit for Christmas. I’m not interested in finding family members or having to pay a monthly fee to get the full potential of my data. I just want something that gives a good breakdown on where her family is from. I wondered about 23andme. Would I have her get a test and her dad as well to get the best results. Would all three of us bring the best results? Whether super accurate or not, we have NO paper trail of our background, I have no idea, but I think she wants to be able to see that is a certain percentage this and a certain percentage that. And maybe the most detailed of those items. Thoughts/suggestions?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Katie. For the most accurate ethnicity results, go with FTDNA. You don’t have to test anyone else really, but more is always better.

    Reply
Nicole - November 21, 2017

Hi Mark,

I want to gift my husband a DNA test. I am so thankful for your article, as it’s the most clear and informative. However, I am still a newbie and wanted to know what you would suggest for my husband. He has never met his father and is unsure of his ethnicity. His mother is African American but his family has told him his father’s name and given him a description that possibly matches someone of Hispanic ethnicity with bright red hair…again, this is only a guess. We are not so interested in finding his father(though this is not out of the question); as we are in knowing if he has any Hispanic roots. Thanks for your time.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Nicole. I would probably go with a basic autosomal test from FamilyTreeDNA.

    Reply
Becky - November 21, 2017

Thanks for all the research on dna test. I still am not sure which test to get for me and my son. We did one and it showed Asian heritage, no specific German heritage which I know I have from genololgy on my family side. My son is supposed to be Native American and Irish but this did not show up. Which test do you feel would be the best for us to find out what all are ethinicities are.? We are just curious.
Thanks for your help. Becky

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 22, 2017

    Hi Becky. I’d go with FTDNA for the most accurate estimates.

    Reply
Aaron - November 22, 2017

Thanks so much for the info! If I was looking only to do an autosomal test, Do you think purchasing from Ancestry then transfering the raw data to familytreedna and myheritage would be the best solution, since id get analysis from 3 companies for the price of one?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 24, 2017

    Hey Aaron. Yes you can certainly do that, but you won’t get the full effect of buying the tests separately since all 3 companies use different testing methods.

    Reply
Julie - November 23, 2017

Thank you for this easy to read review. Our 11 year old daughter was adopted and is curious about her ethnicity, we have no information to give her and I have been trying to decide for over a month now which to buy. In particular, we want privacy now as she is a minor but want to give her options later down the road to connect with birth relatives. After reading your review we decided to go with Family Tree DNA. We are excited for her!

Reply
Eva - November 23, 2017

Hi Mark,

This is an excellent article. My father is deceased and has no male siblings and no male children. Is it possible to trace my paternal line through my sons? Also, I am african-american women and would like to trace my family tree as far back as possible and confirm/deny some of the oral family history that has been passed down about my ethnicity. Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
Eva

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 24, 2017

    Hi Eva. No you cannot trace your paternal YDNA through your sons since you don’t have the Y chromosome as a female and therefore did not pass to your sons. Sounds like your only option would be to track down a living cousin in your father’s line. Until then, I’d get an autosomal and mtDNA bundle from FTDNA. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Ron Macdonald - November 23, 2017

Hi Mark
Thanks for a great explanation. I am researching my family tree back to 12th century but the tree follows the male line for several generations and then crosses over to the female line before resuming with male ancestors. Can you recommend the best company and test for that particular scenario?

Thanks

Ron

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 24, 2017

    Hey Ron. Not sure I completely understand your scenario but if you’re going back that far then you’re talking about yDNA and mtDNA tests. So I’d look at FTDNA.

    Reply
Matt P - November 23, 2017

Hello Mark,

Thank you all of this amazing information! I’d like to buy a kit for my wife for Christmas and hope you might give me a recommendation based on her needs:

She doesn’t want to connect with people, she only wants to know her true heritage. However, the Native American possibility is on her Father’s side.

23andMe is offering $49.99 if you buy 2 kits today equaling $100. I could get one for her, one for her Father.

If I went with FTDNA it would cost $129 for the Y-DNA and $169 for the mt-DNA for a total of about $300.

I don’t mind spending the extra money but I don’t want to spend it unnecessarily either if the 23andMe test would be sufficient for her needs.

Thank you again for the help.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 24, 2017

    Hey Matt. If you want to confirm the native american heritage on her father’s side, then get a YDNA test from FTNDA for her father to take. Also get the basic autosomal for your wife. The pricing is pretty cheap today (black friday).

    Reply
Nancy Van Wieren - November 23, 2017

Hi Mark,
My Daughter recently lost her father at 58 to cancer. Everyone from his side of the family has died from cancer. My side is a history of anorisms which she now gets a ultrasound every year for this issue. What company would you recommend for a health check in regards to cancer or would the test not be helpful in this area.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 24, 2017

    Hi Nancy. Sorry to hear of your loss. 23andMe is the only company that tests for health conditions, however they do not test for cancer.

    Reply
Joe - November 23, 2017

Hi Mark

Many thanks for the detailed and nicely written comparison!

I was looking at getting an AncestryDNA test done and both my parents are also interested in doing it. I was wondering though, is there any benefit in me taking the test when both of them are?

Thanks for your help!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 24, 2017

    Hey Joe. Absolutely! You all inherited different levels of DNA from your parents, so the results should vary slightly. Also the more people you test, the more matches you’ll get!

    Reply
Melanie - November 24, 2017

Hello there!! I’ve just started doing research into my whole family tree. I really want to know where I come from more exactly since I was told German and Scottish on my father’s side. But, have no idea whatsoever on my mother’s side. My dad and mom is wanting to be tested for each of their family lineage. So, would it be worth me also taking an autosomal test like family tree dna or ancestry dna? If so which one is recommended? I would like preferably to start from great-grandparents and hopefully go beyond my 3x great-grandparents. I’m sorry for all the rambling confusion lol :/ Thanks!!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 27, 2017

    Hi Melanie. The more people you test is always better. I’d go with an autosomal from FTDNA.

    Reply
Vas - November 24, 2017

Mark, Nice simple break down, +1 for visuals 🙂
I was surprised how recent this post is (usually I find random old blogs from simple search) and also that you actually respond to comments!!!
Read entire post and didn’t find anything that would suggest one way or the other for me.
So I am from Moldova between Ukraine and Romania -former USSR (only giving that to locate the region). Language my parents speak is a dialect of Turkish (both, moms and dads family), I am interested to know more of background. Is there any company that is better to use that maybe has more details on that region or breaks that region into smaller regions to yield more details for me?
Its probably best to get autosomal DNA test for recent history and Y-DNA test for deeper look in time.
Is there any company that breaks down differences between my mom and my dad in more details? or is Autosomal test pretty much same, doesn’t matter by which company it is administered?
On my wife’s side I am interested to find history or origin or maybe even relatives of her gray grandpa, According to stories he came to a village and changed his last name to what we currently know it, and nobody knows who he was or from where exactly. That was in Ukraine or Russian. Any suggestions on which test to take or which company for a more focused results?
Thank you !!! Happy after thanks giving 🙂

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 27, 2017

    Hi Vas. MyHeritage and LivingDNA will give you the most regions for autosomal testing. On your wife’s side, I’d recommend her taking an autosomal test with Ancestry.com for it’s database size, then doing some genealogical research to find more info on her great grandfather. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Bonnie - November 24, 2017

My sister and I both have the same parents. Would our results be identical ?

I understand the results are online…I’ve never seen them so not sure how it looks….I am assuming as more people
take tests…the links to blood line are automatically updated.

Also….because there are so many DNA tests out there… it would seem you’d be missing blood line links
if blood relatives took a different test than yourself… Am I reasoning correctly ?

Thank you.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 27, 2017

    Hi Bonnie. Your results would not be identical, but pretty similar. Only identical twins would have the same results. Both you and your sister would have inherited different levels of DNA from your parents. Re: missing blood line links. Some companies (such as FTDNA) allow you to upload your raw dna to their sites for a small fee to match people in their database. You should also check out GedMatch.com for this.

    Reply
Bonnie - November 25, 2017

Two questions;

1. would two female siblings with the same parents have identical results ? We are both thinking of doing the test but maybe
one of us should do a different test…

2. do the results go into one very large database and shared by all the various DNA tests by different companies ? Otherwise…. relatives may
have taken a different test and therefore not be shown in the test you take ??

Thank you.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 27, 2017

    Hi Bonnie. 1. No but they should be similar. Only identical twins would have the exact same results. 2. No they do not. But some companies allow you to upload your raw dna to utilize their database. You can also upload to a site called GedMatch.com which is a great free tool.

    Reply
Susan Puddifer - November 25, 2017

Hi, according to family records, we are from English. Scottish and German stock. However. rumour has it that there may be an ancestor or two with Australian Aborigine background. Given that Aust Aborigine is classified as caucasian and originating from probably the Dravidians of India, would any of these be able to provide enough detail?

Thank you

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 28, 2017

    Hi Susan. Not without some genealogy work. I think the only way you could do this if you could figure out which line has the Aust Aborigine, then do either a yDNA or mtDNA test on a living relative in that paternal or maternal line. A basic autosomal test though will not give you what you’re looking for but could get you started with the genealogy work you’ll need to do.

    Reply
Beth - November 25, 2017

I am currently waiting on my results from 23andme. This has been so helpful to me. Easy to read, easy to understand. Thanks for your work in putting this together. I have read, loved, saved and shared.

Reply
Sonya - November 25, 2017

Why isn’t Helix included in the comparison? I was looking at their website and they look like another good option, but I would feel better considering them if they here reviewed too.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 28, 2017

    Hi Sonya. I haven’t used them yet but I plan to. I’ll update this guide if I think it’s appropriate.

    Reply
Jacqueline - November 25, 2017

Great article! I am a little confused on which test would be best for me. I am female and from the Caribbean. My dad is 1/2 European – his mother is from Scotland and Malta and his dad is of African descent. My mother is 1/2 Indian ( from India) and 1/2 African descent. I am interested in the most comprehensive ethnicity test as well as in the future to start to trace our family genealogy. Would having my parents also take the test help? I was thinking of getting them kits as well and what kits should they get?

My daughter would like a kit as well. Their dad is 1/2 Puerto Rican( father) and 1/2 Spaniard (mother). I have a son also who test as well.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - November 29, 2017

    Hi Jacqueline. I would go with autosomal tests from FamilyTreeDNA. Budget permitting, yDNA and mtDNA tests for your parents might also be a good idea if you want to get serious about your genealogy.

    Reply
Beth - November 26, 2017

Hi Mark, Thank you for a great explanation of DNA testing. I started reading a different site than yours and got so confused I almost gave up. Thankfully, I found you. I am a beginner and am interested in finding out what parts of the world my family is from. I’ve always been told I am a part German and part English and that’s all my family knows. If I understand you correctly the best kit to go with for me would be FTDNA. If that’s not correct, would you please let me know. Thanks again for a great article.

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    Mark Orwig - November 29, 2017

    Thanks Beth! Yes, FTDNA is my top choice.

    Reply
Maria - November 26, 2017

Hi! Thank you so much for all the great advice. I am German/Polish (through dad) and Ashkenazic Jewish (on my mom’s side). My husband is a native Peruvian mestizo. I want to get as detailed a picture as I can for each of us so that my daughter can better understand her history. What would you recommend? Should my husband and I go through the same company given our different backgrounds or are some companies better for one ethnic group vs another? Any assistance would be much appreciated.

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    Mark Orwig - November 29, 2017

    Hi Maria. I would say both of you go through FamilyTreeDNA.

    Reply
Meredith - November 26, 2017

If we test our daughter, is it necessary for us (her parents) to be tested too? Will her results go back as far as ours? In other words, would it be redundant if we tested too? 😁

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    Mark Orwig - November 29, 2017

    Hi Meredith. Everyone inherits different amounts of DNA from their parents. Also the results for the parents will go back an extra generation so it could potentially pick up something not found with your daughter (most companies will only report on ethnicity above 1% for a given region).

    Reply
Deron - November 26, 2017

HI Mark, as the others have said, you have a great site. My son (9) wants to get DNA test done (he is very interested in his ancestors). My wife is Peruvian with confirmed relatives from Italy but also Incan blood. I’ve been concerned that the database(s) don’t include some specific information on South America. Would one test be better than the other for South American lines? Thanks in advance.

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    Mark Orwig - November 29, 2017

    Hi Deron. I would do an autosomal test from FTDNA. And if you think your wife’s Incan roots are on her direct maternal line, then your son can also get an mtDNA test which would confirm it better than the basic autosomal test. Hope this helps!

    Reply
DEON ZACKERY - November 26, 2017

Hello Mark. I want to do more than 1 test. I have ordered the Ancestry test. I want to find out as much as I can about my geneology as possible. Is the Autosmol the way to go or should I order another?

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    Mark Orwig - November 28, 2017

    Hey Deon. I would also try FTDNA. You can get an autosomal, yDNA and mtDNA test bundle.

    Reply
Susan L Kimmel - November 26, 2017

Hi Mark–
I’m still trying to take advantage of the sales this weekend and buying Xmas/Hanukkah gifts. I am planning a roots trip next summer and would like to learn more about my deceased father’s family origins. He was born in Leeds and grew up in Glasgow before moving to NYC but the family is probably Ashkenazi. One cousin pointed out there is a town (region?) in Afghanistan named “Landay” but that seems to be a spelling fluke. Is the autosomal test sufficient to get ethnic origins if I don’t really care about family members? Should I try to get a cousin to do a FamilyTree y DNA test or would the Living Tree DNA be worthwhile since the cousin is a son of one of my father’s brothers. Also, how do I get him to share the information with me without being intrusive?
My son’s girlfriend is African-American and has said that she’s envious of people who know more about their family origins. Would Ancestry be the best bet for her?
Thanks for your advice! I hope to hear from you soon!
Susan

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Susan. If you wan’t to know about your father’s direct paternal line, then you need a male descendant on that line to take a yDNA test for you. Re: your son’s girlfriend, it would depend on what exactly she’s looking for…

    Reply
Carole - November 26, 2017

My daughter is adopted from Russia. Best test?

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    Mark Orwig - November 28, 2017

    Any of the companies listed here will work for her.

    Reply
Tyler - November 26, 2017

Hi Mark, thanks for the info. Is the raw data given by each company different or just interpreted differently based on the control samples available?

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    Mark Orwig - November 28, 2017

    Hey Tyler. Good question. I never thought about it. I would think it’s all the same. The varying results from the companies has more to do with their sample populations and how they calculate your ethnicity based on that.

    Reply
      Dan - December 3, 2017

      Hi Mark, do you know if all of the companies allow you to download the raw data?

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

        Hi Dan. Yes I believe you can. But not every company allows you to upload.

        Reply
Rochelle - November 27, 2017

What is your opinion about Vitagene.com? It looks like you can upload DNA results from other sites too.
Thanks for any insight
Rochelle

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    Mark Orwig - November 28, 2017

    Hi Rochelle. Sorry but I’ve never used them. I’ll look into them some more.

    Reply
Lou - November 27, 2017

Hi Mark,
Great comparison! My siblings and I are going to get our mom the 23andMe test to find out her lineage as we know very little about and it seems like 23andMe is a little bit more in depth (with the mtDNA testing). We are still trying to figure out a way to convince our grandfather to take the test as well since he is the only living male relative we have contact with on my moms side. I imagine he would have to take a separate test? We live in different countries.
On another note, I wondered if I took the test to try to find out more about my fathers side of the family, what’s the furthest a male cousin can be to get the yDNA info?
My father passed away and I don’t have a brother, uncle or direct male cousins, but I seem to have a few distant male cousins (grandsons sons of my grandmother’s male cousin, more precisely these boys are the sons of his daughter). Sorry if it’s getting annoy confusing here…
Best
Lou

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Lou. Yes only one test per person. It doesn’t really matter what cousin takes the YDNA test, as long as you share the same male relative on the paternal line you want to test.

    Reply
Fred T - November 27, 2017

Mark:
What do you know about”HomeDNA.com”
There has been numerous emails from them recently. Should I consider that site?
Thank You

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    Mark Orwig - November 28, 2017

    Hey Fred. I’ve never used them so I can’t say. It doesn’t too sophisticated though from what I can see from the outside looking in.

    Reply
Carol - November 27, 2017

Great article. My sister & I are identical twins. What differing results or finds could we expect if one participated in FamilyTree DNA and the other in Ancestry? Thank you.

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Carol. The ethnicity estimates will be slightly different and the matches you get will also be different.

    Reply
Kim - November 27, 2017

Hello,
What testing company provides the most detail on middle east ethnicity? (Persian, Turkish, Azerbaijan) We’re not looking for cousins, just ethnic region.
Thanks

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Kim. Any of these companies will work for you but I’ve heard 23andMe is good for the middle east. Whichever company you choose, be sure to upload your results to GedMatch for additional analysis.

    Reply
AB - November 27, 2017

Hi Mark,

Any thoughts on East African heritage? It looks like none of the circles cover Ethiopia?

AB

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Any of these companies will work for you Be sure to upload your results to GedMatch for additional analysis.

    Reply
Joanna - November 28, 2017

We adopted our daughter from China so we have zero info on either father or mother. We are interested in knowing her background and finding living relative would be awesome but wee doubt that would happen. Do you have a suggestion – I was leaning toward Family Tree DNA or 23 and Me (basically to possibly add the Health assessment) Thanks in advance.

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Joanna. I would test with Ancestry for it’s database size but then also upload your results to GedMatch to find matches from other testing companies such as FTDNA and 23andMe.

    Reply
Karen - November 28, 2017

Hi Mark,

After my paternal grandmother died, we learned that her father (our great-grandfather) was not her birth father. Her mother, our great-grandmother, delivered her in Scotland. She was in the employ of the royal family of England at the time. The story we only know parts of is that our genetic great-grandfather was a member of the royal family. We only surmise this by a line in our grandmother’s diary. She was not told of her past until well into adulthood by the father who raised her. She has volumes of diaries. After his visit, she only talked about some shocking news from him. A later volume she wrote after watching the Queen on TV when visiting the US. She wrote that it was “hard to believe that they were related.” She kept all this to herself, never even sharing it with her children.

So, of course, we would love to know if there is a way to find out if this is true genetically. Unfortunately, we have lost the important players. My grandmother, born in 1906, passed away in her 90’s. She had three children. My father and one of his sisters have passed, but the third child, my aunt, is still alive and would love to know the truth. My aunt would be willing to do the test too if that would help. My father had four children, one being a son. But, if I understand what your site explained, the Y chromosome test would only follow the paternal line so no help. My aunt has two kids, one a son, but again no help.

Sorry for the long story. Is there a record of Royal Family DNA somewhere? What would be our best way to go? FTDNA…Ancestry…Living DNA?? My mother’s ancestry and of both her parents are of Scottish descent as well. My grandfather’s family was originally was Switzerland. So, we’re dealing with a lot of European background.

Who should take the test? We’re all willing. I look forward to your response. Thanks.

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Karen. Sorry for the delay. That’s an amazing story. Let me give it some thought and I’ll get back to you.

    Reply
      Karen Mattingly - December 28, 2017

      Thanks for replying, I didn’t think you would. My brother already had purchased an Ancestry kit, so because of the locale, I chose to try Living DNA first. If you suggest another, I might get that for my aunt and have her try that. None of us are getting any younger. We are assuming this “coupling” was not of my great grandmother’s choice. If you saw the picture of who we were told was the Y in the equation and compared it to a picture of my father, you would be amazed. I’ll let you know what we learn in a few months. Thanks for your article.

      Reply
Helen - November 28, 2017

Hi Mark,

what would be the best company to use for ethnic geography info and possible relative connections? I’m adopted and know very little about my bio fathers side of my family? New to all of this. thanks for your recommendations!

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Helen. I’d go with Ancestry.com for the database size.

    Reply
Cody Jackson - November 28, 2017

I just read you blog and there is a lot of information, thanks. I was looking for the most complete family tree possible, However, I like the idea of the YDNA and mtdna tests. I would just like the most information possible. What is the best?

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hey Cody. Get the bundle deal from FTDNA for all 3 tests.

    Reply
Paula Fluehe - November 28, 2017

Mark, thanks for your reasearch it was very helpful. I have a question, my father is deceased and he had no brothers. My brother is deceased would his son be able to give a DNA sample to do the yDNA testing to look at my fathers line?

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Paula. Yes your nephew would be able to take the yDNA for you since he is a male descendant of your paternal line.

    Reply
Eve - November 28, 2017

Thanks for all of the research and information. It is very helpful.
I’m still feeling overwhelmed with the choices.
My son does not have contact with his father and has very limited information on his fathers family. Only tidbits of what I remember but his father had stopped speaking to his family for years. I’d like to provide my son with some information about his paternal genetic makeup and the possibility of connecting with relatives when he’s a little older.
Do these companies keep customers updated with changes and matches for several years.
You say ancestryDNA no longer offers separate yDNA. Does that mean that they don’t so it’s at almost or it’s an extra fee.
Would you recommend he gets one with yDNA?
Initially I was going to go with 23andme but I’m so confused I don’t know what to choose for him.

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Eve. Ancestry does not offer yDNA testing. And yDNA will only trace one single line – his direct paternal line. If you want a more complete makeup of his ancestry and connect with matches, get a basic autosomal test from either FTDNA or Ancestry.

    Reply
Marji Weber - November 28, 2017

Oh, Mark, it’s very late here (2AM) and I’m almost 70 and I’m SO tired of reading everything…I like the looks of Family Tree DNA for the information, and maybe when I can afford it I can do the mitochondrial DNA part, that would be so interesting. But, I do have an Ancestry tree, and one with Family Search, Fold 3, all owned by the Mormon Church by the way, as well as My Heritage, and heaven only knows where else. If I get the Family Tree DNA test, which is the cheapest for me, can I import the data into Ancestry? Or Family Search? Ancestry gets more traffic, I can’t afford to pay them, but our library has a subscription and I could go there and do research. Pretty far, but still, free is free. So, do you know where I could import the information to actually use it? Or does Family Tree actually have a site where you could make a, well, family tree and I’m missing it? I’m up far too late, here, and I’m too old for this. Thanks for your help, looks like you’re still up. Marji

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Marji. No you cannot import to Ancestry I’m afraid. But you can import to GedMatch.com for free.

    Reply
Wesley Pinedo - November 28, 2017

Mark,
Thanks for all the information which will guide me to do my search. I have one question associated with Native American from South America. I immigrated from Peru in 1977 and my children are 1st generation American. Would I have luck with any of these DNA test to learn more specific if I have South American Native blood? Or would it just be a general Native American result if any? Also how would I start an online research of my ancestors from Latin America? Any advise or help would be appreciated.

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Carol - November 29, 2017

Hi Mark,
My sister and I are identical twins. I like that FTDNA doesn’t require a monthly subscription and plan on using them. Would you recommend my sister for Ancestry for as another resource of information? It’s interesting that our matches will be nearly identical and that we can use our ‘individual’ results to our advantage to gather as much information as possible about ‘us’. Although we’re mostly interested in our father’s side, I think we’ll have to get my Dad’s brother or his son to test to get more information as far as geographical regions. Thanks! Carol

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Carol. Yes, that’s a great idea. AncestryDNA will give you more matches than FTDNA.

    Reply
Linda atrchi - November 29, 2017

Mark Thank you for your informationon DNA. I now Cavan understand so much better. I am just starting out.My question is Both My parents are deceased they are 1st Generation Americans with all their Family From Ireland.I know nothing about my Maternal or Paternal Grandfathers, they passed before I was born. One is from Belfast Northern Ireland all others from west Of Ireland. My Mother met my Father at her Sisters wedding, my Father is the Brother of the sister who got married. So my cousins and I have the same Family blood members on both sides. If my male cousin takes the test he gets both sides , if I take the test I only get my maternal side,is this correct? So if he takes the test he will get paternal and maternal back rounds . Should I still take the test?which is best? Thank you , sorry for the confusion.

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Linda. What are you looking for find out? General heritage info? If so then just take an autosomal test which will tell you both sides.

    Reply
Kevin Smith - November 30, 2017

Hi Mark,

This is a really great site which explains things really well so thank you. I want to get my wife an autosomal test as she has always wanted to know a bit more about her origins. She was born in Turkey and we think she has some Bulgarian and German roots. Which of the companies would provide the greatest granularity for that region?

Many thanks
Kevin

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hey Kevin. None of the tests will show exact countries – only regions. I would try AncestryDNA.

    Reply
Shane Barnett - November 30, 2017

Thank you for a great article Mark. The way you explained everything was extremely informative. As someone that never met his father and only knew his last name, McGonnigal, I have always been curious about where that side of my bloodline might have come from. I clicked from your site (you deserve a kick back for your efforts) and purchased two sets of LivingDNA’s tests with the nice looking coffee table books. Again thank you.

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Lisa Martin - November 30, 2017

Mr. Orwig, I cannot thank you enough for doing this article! I’m not that great when it comes to researching things but I wanted to know more about this whole DNA buzz. My husband is adopted and my birth dad left when I was a baby so we are very interested in doing DNA testing. Your article answered every question without me needing to jump all over the internet and losing my mind and becoming more confused. We are going to do the autosomal testing and we know this because of the information you were so kind to put together. Thank you again Mr. Orwig and Merry Christmas.

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ChanTlalok Rain Castro - November 30, 2017

Thanks Mark, cousin, ahoo=blessings/Lipan Apache Tu’sis band

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Katrina - December 1, 2017

Hi Mark, thanks for this excellent and detailed analysis, it definitely has helped me narrow down my choices.

I am by genealogy supposed to be about 1/2 English, as well as some parts Irish and Scottish, but none of those ancestors emigrated to the US fewer than 5 generations ago.

Do you think it would be worth it to go with the ‘Living DNA’ test, which is supposed to be able to pinpoint British Isles ancestry with extreme geographical accuracy, or would it no longer be able to separate out DNA that has been combined over so many generations?

Thanks again for your efforts, and for your time with my enquiry.

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Katrina. If you are half english, then LivingDNA would likely be your best bet.

    Reply
Doug Mahan - December 1, 2017

Thank you for the very informative article, but I’d like to respectfully disagree with your choice of FTDNA as the best pick for genealogists. If anyone is trying to choose a site for an autosomal dna test, I believe Ancestry.com is the obvious choice. First and foremost, anyone who tests at Ancestry can upload their results to FTDNA and other sites for free, so even those who prefer FTDNA should test at Ancestry and have full access to both sites. Second, the size of the database at Ancestry is enormously larger than that of FTDNA. I have approximately 50,000 cousin matches at Ancestry and only roughly 1,100 at FTDNA and only 64 at MyHeritage. Third, Ancestry offers leaf hints, dna circles, sourced records and links to other member’s trees all of which are a great aid for genealogists and are not offered by FTDNA. I have been using Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA, and MyHeritage for several years and I would not consider purchasing an autosomal dna test from anyone other than Ancestry.com. My advice to anyone wanting to purchase an autosomal dna test is to test at Ancestry and upload your results, for free, to FTDNA, MyHeritage and most importantly Gedmatch.com. Ancestry.com certainly has room for improvement, but for now it is easily the best place for autosomal testing.
I do completely agree with your conclusion that Family Tree DNA is the best site for Ydna and Mtdna testing.

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Thanks Doug for the feedback. I’ve found FTDNA autosomal tests to be the most accurate on the market. One thing to keep in mind is that FTDNA uses different lab testing methods so the results should not be the same if you just import your AncestryDNA.

    Reply
Phil - December 1, 2017

Mark,
I’ve had throat cancer and the radiation treatment killed all my saliva glands in my mouth. So, would the swab still work…or what company approach would be the best to use?
Thanks Mark.

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Phil. You may want to go with FTDNA which utilizes a cheek swab instead of saliva. But I would call them just to be sure.

    Reply
Teresa - December 2, 2017

Trying to decide on which tests to buy for the most complete info for both my husband, me and our 3 boys. We are mostly interested in ancestry and not so much looking for relatives.

My husband’s maternal grandmother was supposedly a full breed Cherokee Indian. However, my husband’s brother tested his DNA (not sure which company he used) a few years ago and his results did not show any American Indian DNA. Their father was mostly Irish. Wondering which test would be most accurate for my husband. His mother is not alive.

My parents are both living. My mother’s parents were from Eastern Europe (Jewish). My father’s father was from Panama (supposedly originally from Spain, also Jewish) and his mother was from a Carribian isalnd (also Jewish). Who would be best to test? Both of my parents or me? I have only sisters. I have 3 sons who could also get testing. Which test is best for my side of the family?

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Teresa. If your husband’s maternal grandmother was 100% Native American then any of the companies listed here would pick up on that. For both you and your husband, go with FTDNA autosomal tests. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Krystal - December 2, 2017

The info was great, overwhelming a bit, and a lot to Consider. I think I need a chart, a list of the company’s you pick and what they offer. Easier comparing on a graph of some sort.
So my siblings and I are wondering if we take the same test from the same company would they read the same?
Thanks

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Krystal. Only identical siblings will have the same DNA results since you all inherited different levels of DNA from your parents.

    Reply
Sion - December 2, 2017

Hi Mark,

Great article…..and I assume you know that your surname originates from the Slate Quarrying regions of North Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿, Especially a village called Bethesda.

Can you tell me if both my sister and I used the Ancestry test…..should the autosomnal results provide the same Ethnicity or not…..would appreciate your advice.

Sion Llewelyn

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Scion. You and your sister would have slightly different results since you both inherited different levels of DNA from your parents.

    Reply
Liz - December 3, 2017

Thanks for the amount of detail that you provide. So helpful. My mom’s parents were both Polish and lived in Poland. However, I’m mostly curious to find out about my Mongolian ancestry through her, her mother and maternal grandmother.
For fun I want to guess what I think you would advise: do the autosomal and mtDNA test with FTDNA?
Now seriously, what’s the best testing choice? Again thank you so much for your research and for helping us lay people slog through the morass of information out there.

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Liz. Yes mtDNA and automomal bundle from FTDNA would be best.

    Reply
Dan - December 3, 2017

Mark,

You might want to update your table, Ancestry are saying they cover 150 regions.

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Thanks Dan! These companies keep adding more regions it’s hard to keep up!

    Reply
Elyse - December 4, 2017

Hello Mark – Thank you so much for this informative article. I guess from reading others, I am lucky – yours was the first article I have read and will not be reading any further!

I do need a little further clarification though – I am looking at getting tests for my parents for Christmas. Our family is very interested in genealogy and want to research as far back as possible – we have accounts through FamilySearch.org and ancestry.com. My grandparents on both sides are deceased and I have one brother. What tests should I get? I am leaning toward FTDNA site, but am unsure if just the autosomal would be sufficient and if I should just do the autosomal now and then do the yDNA and/or mtDNA at a later time or do it all at one time?

What are your thoughts / opinions and why?

THANKS!

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    Mark Orwig - December 4, 2017

    Hi Elyse. If you’re really into genealogy I would get all the tests from FTDNA, but also the autosomal from Ancestry so you can utilize their huge database of matches. I’d also look into Gedmatch. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Christina - December 4, 2017

Hi Mark!

Thank you for doing such a detailed and helpful comparison between all these choices – it is definitely overwhelming with the number of choices out there, and your explanation was very helpful in narrowing down the choices.

Could I please kindly ask – I’m pretty sure I’m 100% Asian, as my parents are both Taiwanese. I’m interested in doing the dna testing just for fun and for my curiosity in terms of possible regions and ethnicity differences in my heritage – like say Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc. Is there one that’s particularly good for that? I think I’m hesitating between Family Tree and Ancestry.com.

Thank you so much in advance for all your help!

Christina

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Christina. Unfortunately the tests by themselves will not tell you specific countries. For that you’ll need to combine the test with some genealogy research.

    Reply
Christy - December 6, 2017

I would like a test to show me what my ancestry make up is and don’t know which one I should use. (?%of English, %Dutch etc)I read that I should go with one that had drs looking at tests (and not to use just the most bought, since that doesn’t determine the best choice.) I forgot how it was stated. But I don’t know how to find out how tests are decided. I would like accuracy over guessing and one that covers more areas of world. Can you guide me in a direction? Your article was helpful to start me out on types but still unsure

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Zee - December 6, 2017

Thank for this article it was extremely informative. Reading about all the different DNA testing kits starts to get confusing after awhile. I’m trying to narrow down my choices as to which one I should order for my mother for Christmas who doesn’t know her biological father. Just wanted her to get more insight on where her fathers side may have came from. Which one would you suggest?

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Zee. Does your mother have any living biological male siblings or cousins who descend from her father?

    Reply
Mary - December 7, 2017

Great article. If my brother and I take the tests, will it differentiate between full and half siblings? Thanks.
Mary

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Rose - December 8, 2017

Hi Mark,
Thank you for doing all the hard work for us, but I’m still confused 🙁 on which one to buy. I’m getting this for my mother for Christmas. I know we are European and I would like to buy a test that has a broader breakdown and more of what I know we currently are which is Irish, English, Welsh, Portuguese and Sicilian. Mom Say’s grandma was Native American and I would like a test that goes into detail with native American. Can you recommend a site that can tell us what kind of Native we are as well if we are? Also If my Mom does this test does this mean my Mom and I are the same genetics? Do we need separate tests? My Mom says were the same genes but I think not entirely and I need to do a test as well. Thank you very much.

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Rose. You and your mother will have different results. It’s always best to test as many people as possible. For native american questions I’d read this article first: https://www.smarterhobby.com/genealogy/native-american-dna-test/.

    Reply
      Rose - December 15, 2017

      Thank you so much Mark! You must be some kind of genius if you can understand everything in that link. I couldn’t even get through the reading! Haha OK, so I’m gonna try again… Forget the Native American. If the test could say we are some form of Native great, If not I don’t need any specifics. I’d kind of prefer just pretending we’re Native even if were not. 🙂 In that case what test do you recommend? I know Were Irish, English, Welsh, Portuguese, Italian.

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - December 16, 2017

        If the native roots are less than 4-5 generations back, then any of the basic autosomal tests should pick up on it.

        Reply
Linda - December 8, 2017

Hi Mark,

Would testing my mother’s DNA give me additional information from my DNA results? I heard that her maternal grandmother was part Spaniard and part Asian, although it did not show up in my results.

Thank you!

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Linda. Yes it would give you additional results since you’re going back a generation.

    Reply
Valerie Caye - December 8, 2017

Wow. Thanks for all this great info. I didn’t realize there was so many DNA tests. Can’t wait to get started!

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Ginny Proffit - December 8, 2017

Hi, I am interested in a test, just don’t know which company would be best. I have O negative blood and am interested in where there is a concentration of this blood type and how it traveled across the globe. Which test and company would I use?

Thank you,
Ginny

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Ginny. I don’t have an answer for you but I don’t think a DNA test is needed for this. I’d do some research.

    Reply
Natalia - December 9, 2017

Hi! Your article was incredibly useful, yet I’m still debating which test to get. I was born in the States, but my parents were not. My mother was born in Poland, while my father is from Guatemala. My mother is convinced she’s 100% Polish, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Ashkenazi Jewish. My father, on the other hand, is much more complex, as his last name is Italian from his father’s side, (his grandfather was from Italy) and his mother’s last name is Spanish (no clue how far back that goes). We’re guessing he and I must have some indigenous based on physical features and just knowledge of Guatemalan history and Spanish colonization. As you can see, there’s a lot to cover. I’m glad for the knowledge I have, but would really benefit from knowing general percentages, haplogroups, and specifics. Although my mother could have other roots, they seem all fairly centered around Eastern Europe, so I am more curious to know what I’ve received from my father’s side. Which test(s) would you recommend, and from where? Thank you, and I apologize for all the lengthiness of this comment!

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Natalia! I’d go with FTDNA for your testing. Are your parents still alive? Who will be taking the tests?

    Reply
Melissa - December 9, 2017

Hi Mark!

I’m look at getting a test for my dad for Christmas as his family has a “story” about where they came from but I’m not sure if it’s just a story or if we can prove it. In a nutshell the story goes my great great grandfather came over to Ellis Island alone from Germany and since he was alone he took the “surname” of the family in front of him which would make him seem Irish as it’s a very traditional Irish last name. His father past away when he was in high school & was an only child. His father’s father was also an only child and then his dad would have been the person who migrated over. We don’t know if he has any family left but wondered if there were some people we didn’t even know about since his dad past away fairly young. I was leaning toward 23 & me to get the most bang for my buck as I thought he could learn about his health if his roots didn’t trace too much as I’m just not sure how much I can learn with what I know. I’m also not opposed to trying one test one year and a different one next year too but wanted to get your advice.

Thank you in advance for your help!
Melissa

Reply
    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Melissa. Thats a great story! I’m a bit confused. Does your father have any male siblings or cousins?

    Reply
      Melissa - December 14, 2017

      Great question, he has a brother but they are not really close and barely talk so I don’t think I could get any information from him or have him take the test. I do know that he did not have any kids or at least we don’t know of any nor did he get married to our knowledge either. My dad’s dad was an only child so I don’t know of any cousins from his paternal side and I believe his father’s father was an only child too. Does that help answer your question? Sorry it’s so confusing.

      Thank you again for all your help!!!!

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - December 16, 2017

        Ok so I think if you’re goal is to locate family members you don’t know about, then go with AncestryDNA since they have the largest database.

        Reply
Liz - December 9, 2017

Hi Mark,

I am so glad to have found your site, very informative! So after reading everything, I figured Family Tree DNA would be best for us to try. Health info is interesting and I may delve into that as well, but right now it’s a genealogy quest we are on. My dad has always thought that both of his parents were 100% Irish, but we’re really not sure, and of course no idea what part of Ireland, and that would be fun to research. My mother unfortunately has passed on, but we think her mother was Italian and her father French, but not really sure. My question is, what types of tests should I get for dad and I? The full sequence tests are very expensive. Do we both need those? My goal is to get as detailed reports as possible, for our origins, as well as ability to connect with relatives whether they’re here in the USA or in Ireland, France, Italy, wherever. I think it would be fun to find distant cousins! There are no other siblings to ask, so it’s just a daughter and her dad doing the tests, but I can’t really afford $442.00 test for dad along with a $218.00 test for me, for goodness sakes. Are those really the best informative detailed bundled tests to get? If so, I will have to save some more money, give dad a gift first and do my own later. What would you recommend? Thank you so much for your help, very much appreciated! Liz

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Liz. Yes I’d go with FTDNA for the most detail. You can start with the basic autosomal test, then upgrade later to other tests if you want. They can store your sample for future testing should you decide to do it so you don’t have to pay all at once. Eventually you will probably want the mtDNA test and your father the mtDNA + yDNA. Good luck!

    Reply
Bert - December 10, 2017

Hey
I’m Swedish. My last name is very rare and can be traced until around 1600 in Sweden but some rumors say it could come from a different place. Which test would be best for me? I want to know if I ancestors from other countries in Europe and that kind of stuff.

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Bert. I’d get both an autosomal and yDNA test from FamilyTreeDNA.

    Reply
Carolyn - December 10, 2017

Hey there! My son is very interested in doing some testing to see what our background really is! I’m a little confused about whether to get a test with the mothers back ground or fathers background. What do you recommend for basic heritage. I think we are really a Heinz 57!!

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Carolyn. For basic heritage info on both sides, you just need an autosomal test. Any of the companies listed here will be great.

    Reply
KBD - December 10, 2017

Thank you for a really thorough review! Our families are from India/Pakistan with likely Aryan roots. Which test would have better coverage/detail of ethnic mix from that region? Not looking to connect, just look at ethnicity. Thanks so much!

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    None of the tests will identify specific countries. For that you’ll need to combine your tests with genealogy research.

    Reply
John - December 10, 2017

My sister did a National Geographic Geon 2.0 kit, and we found out that our Dutch mother was 69% Scandinavian, and 20% Irish / British. Can we Say Viking? I understand that if we wish to have a better idea of my father’s ancestry / genealogy, I need to do a test. Do I need to do a basic Y test family-tree-dna/ test(FTDNA), or would the Nat Geo test be sufficient? PS. I really appreciate the wealth of information and comparison that your article gives to a geek like me!

JOhn

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi John. The Nat Geo test will be fine for you. Reason you have to take it is because your sister doesn’t have a Y Chromosome which represents your father’s direct paternal line.

    Reply
      John - December 12, 2017

      Thanks so much for your reply. If I plug in the Nat Geo info into FTDNA, will the results be as “good” as if I did the FTDNA Y67? If my wife plugs in her Nat Geo info into FTDNA, how does one get information about relatives, etc once one transfers the Nat Geo information?

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - December 16, 2017

        Hi John. I’m not positive you can transfer from Nat Geo anymore because they changed their testing partner recently. I’d give FTDNA a call to confirm.

        Reply
Luke - December 11, 2017

Thank you as well for writing this article. Thank you too for taking the time to answer all these questions.

Like many others on here, I’m a bit torn between which test and company to choose. I’m not interested in connecting to relatives or determining a genetic link to a specific person. I mainly want to find my ethnicity. However I’m also interested in the health genealogy. My family is pretty healthy with very little disease and age-related maladies, but I thought it may be good to know for sure what to watch out for.

Additonally my maternal side seems to be pretty “pure” while my paternal side seems to be more mixed, so I’m thinking if there are some uncertainties in the results of the autosomal test then I could use the other testing methods on one or both of the maternal/paternal lines. However those according to you are considerably more expensive, so I would only want these separate from autosomal just in case.

That being said, which company and testing method would you recommend I go with? Again, autosomal with health genealogy for the sole sake of finding ethnic background and health tendencies with separate maternal/paternal line tests (sorry can’t remember technical names) as a possible option later.

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Luke. I’d probably go with the 23andMe test that offers health screening.

    Reply
      Luke - December 18, 2017

      Will that come up with the optional maternal/paternal tests? And I believe you said in the article the autosomal tests are all the same excellent quality, correct?

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

        Yes ydna and mtdna are included in 23andme but the results for those are broad and not nearly as detailed as you would get with a company like FTDNA.

        Reply
Josh - December 11, 2017

Hello and thank you for your article! I simply want to know what the heck I am with as much detail as possible lol! Pretty sure my dad’s side comes from eastern europe (but where specifically I don’t know) and my mother’s side comes from western europe with a high likelihood of that being ireland. Which would you recommend for the most detail in this regard?

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hey Josh. I’d get the basic autosomal test from FamilyTreeDNA

    Reply
Debra - December 11, 2017

Since my father is deceased and my sister and I want to know if we have the same biological father, what DNA test will be right for us?

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Debra. I’d go with basic autosomal tests from either FTDNA or Ancestry.

    Reply
Kim Kleeman - December 12, 2017

I could never pin my parents/grandparents down for information on my an ancestry. Maybe English, Irish, Native North American or ???
Which would be best for info paternal AND maternal? Or a combination with a male sibling? Thank you very much.

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    Mark Orwig - December 12, 2017

    Hi Kim. Try the autosomal test from FTDNA.

    Reply
Ralph Bailey - December 13, 2017

Awesome site….but of course I have a question.
Pop’s father was orphaned (during the flu epidemic early 1917/18) and only remembers a nice dark haired lady taking him to the orphanage telling him he would be living there from now on. Pop knows more about his mother (family was all from Lithuania) but has been disconnected from that family when he was a young man and the women from that line that he knew are passed away with a loss of his cousins (only one other had a child and pop is an only child – he’s 85).
He has been watching PBS Finding Your Roots and has for the first time decided he would like to try find his roots and connect with others that he might be related too — especially finding out more about his fathers lineage. He was believed to have come from England.
Having read your site/comments I would do both of the paternal & maternal tests – and would appreciate your suggestion. (by the way your family tree link is not working)
I appreciate your suggestions. Trish for pop.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - December 16, 2017

    Hi Ralph. I would definitely go with FTDNA. Get one of the bundle deals for all 3 tests. Good luck!

    Reply
Sarah April - December 13, 2017

Hi..l am of mixed race black and white and know nothing of my black biological father. Since l don’t know any male siblings to contact from his side to take the yDNA test is there any way to get any info on my paternal side or am l only left with the basic DNA autosomal test of where my roots come from??

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    Mark Orwig - December 16, 2017

    Hi Sarah. I assume you don’t have any brothers either? If not then your only option for yDNA is to find a male cousin on the direct paternal line. If you don’t know any, take an autosomal test with Ancestry to potentially locate some. You can also upload your results to FTDNA and if you’re super lucky, could find a male cousin on your direct paternal line whose already taken a ydna test. Hope that helps!

    Reply
Donna - December 14, 2017

Hi, Mark…….I was wondering if I could get your advice on which kit you think might be best for my Dad (I’ve been thinking about getting him one for Christmas). His mother, my grandmother, was adopted at birth and basically the family knows absolutely nothing of her heritage. Which kit do you think would be best to find the best information about his mother?

Thanks in advance!

Reply
    Mark Orwig - December 16, 2017

    Hi Donna. Are you looking to find his mother’s family or just basic heritage info?

    Reply
      Donna - December 21, 2017

      I think my Dad would just like to know some basic info about his mother’s heritage.

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - January 2, 2018

        Gotcha. I’d have him take an mtDNA test from FTDNA which would track his direct maternal line.

        Reply
Rhonda Wells - December 14, 2017

Mark,
Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this information. It was extremely helpful and saved me a lot of time! Happy Holidays to you!

Reply
Sarah - December 15, 2017

Hello,
This is a great article. I was wondering….If just receiving the autosomal dna test, are the companies results the same? Is it better to have the autosomal DNA test without the mtDNA or Y-DNA? Also looking at your comparison chart, it looks like the best bang is with 23 and me as they test for DNA in all 3 areas and have a large database, not as big as ancestory.com. I could then download the raw DNA results to 23 and me. I noticed on your chart also that the database is listed as none for the LivingDNA site, is that right? Thanks in advance for your feedback

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    Mark Orwig - December 16, 2017

    Hi Sarah. No the results will not be the same between companies. It all depends on what your goals are. If you want to find and connect with family members, then 23andMe is not recommended.

    Reply
Sandy - December 16, 2017

Thank you for sharing so much useful & informative information in one place.

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Michele - December 17, 2017

Thank you Mark! Having all this information delivered so well is very much appreciated. Today my son asked for 23andMe for a Christmas gift. His father was adopted and has never been interested in finding his biological parents. My mother was from Costa Rica so he knows he’s got that in his mix. My father was Irish American. After reading your article, it looks like FTDNA might be the better choice starting with the basic test. He turns 20 in February so I might get the yDNA for him later. What do you think?
Thank you!

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    Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

    Hi Michele. Yes if you want to find his father’s biological parents, a yDNA test from FTDNA is what you want. I would also do the autosomal test with FTDNA or Ancestry – not 23andMe. Good luck!

    Reply
      Michele - January 24, 2018

      I got my son the autosomal test for Christmas and my brother and sister upgraded his kit to add yDNA. His results should come in the middle of February which will be like a birthday present. He is very excited!

      Reply
Mike - December 17, 2017

Hi Mark, thanks for your article – would be able to help me. My father was adopted, I am an only child and sadly neither of my parents are with us anymore. I’m after the best test(s) that will tell me most accurately where in the world my parents come from. My second question is if there are any other tests than help me know of genetic conditions. Thanks in advance for helping me, Mike

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    Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

    Hi Mike. I would do the 23andMe autosomal + health test. The autosomal test will also give you general haplogroup info for your ydna and mtdna which will tell you generally where each of your parents come from. For more detailed info of your ydna and mtdna though, I would test with FTDNA. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Michelle - December 17, 2017

Thank you. After 20 years (on and off) of researching the family history, LivingDNA it is. You have really helped.

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Camilla nielsdn - December 17, 2017

Hey I have wanted a DNA test for a very long time now, some years ago, I found out that my grandfather’s father was not biological, my grandmother on my dads side was adopted. My grandmother was very dark (dark eyes and brown almost black hair) which of the suggested tests would be the best. I do not need to find relatives. I’m only curious about whether I’m 100% Danish or not

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    Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

    Hi Camilla. FTDNA will be the most accurate, however it will not tell you if you’re Danish. No test will tell you a country. But it will tell you if you’re 100% Scandinavian.

    Reply
Nancy - December 18, 2017

Your article is very helpful. I did the Family Tree DNA and it was very accurate. Except it says I am 5% Middle Eastern- Israel. Does that means I have a ancestor from there? I do have a 4th great grandmother with a first name that is Arab and don’t know where she was from.

Thank you, Nancy

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    Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

    Hi Nancy. Yes that’s probably the connection. Generally speaking, if your 4x great grandmother was 100% Arab, and she was the only middle eastern blood you have, then the DNA report would show around 6.25% middle eastern (50% diluted by half for 4 generations).

    Reply
      Nancy - December 21, 2017

      Thank you for your respond. It is worth joining Family Tree DNA Surname, Lineage and Geographical Projects? or allow genetic matches? I thought it would give me clues who some of my ancestors are, I’m concerned about my privacy.

      I did the Family Tree DNA and the Ancestry DNA. Don’t they ask for a feedback and ask what I think of my results?

      Thank you, Nancy

      Reply
        Mark Orwig - January 2, 2018

        Yes, I would definitely join the FTDNA projects – they can be super helpful.

        Reply
Jeff - December 18, 2017

Hi Mark,

My elderly mom wants to confirm where she is from (Spanish, French, German etc) and wants me to order her an DNA test. Her parents died when she was very young. She does not own a computer and does not live near me. Would it be better if I took the test and told her the results? Would I basically have the same results as if she took the test? Would Family DNA be over kill and just do Ancestry DNA or would I have to do Family DNA to have the mtDNA done to achieve the results my mom is looking to confirm. Neither one of us is interested in using it to connect with any new or additional family members. Thanks

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    Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

    Hey Jeff. The tests won’t tell you which countries she’s from, just regions. I would have her take the test. For the most accurate results, I’d do the autosomal test with FTDNA.

    Reply
alexis espinosa - December 19, 2017

Hi Mark.

Both my grandparents came to US from Cuba. I would like to know a detailed history of origin, region, ethnicity, maybe past relatives – from both parents. How detailed is the autosomal testing compared to the mtDNA in regards to that information? What information can mtdna/ychromosome give me that autosomal cannot?

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    Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

    YDNA and mtDNA is essentially the ancient origins of your direct paternal and maternal lines. But it sounds to me you need to combine an autosomal test with some genealogy research using Ancestry.com then maybe test your ydna and mtdna down the road with FTDNA.

    Reply
Marie - December 19, 2017

Thanks for your article! I’m purchasing this as a gift for my parents who have limited knowledge on navigating computers. Is one company more user-friendly for seniors?

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Marlena - December 19, 2017

Hi Mark,

Do you have any information about GPS Origins DNA? My sister picked this one but I am thinking of Ancestry for me. Also, do these tests really determine percentage of Neanderthal? Just wondering how an Autosomal DNA test can really go back that far. Thank you.

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    Mark Orwig - December 20, 2017

    Hi sorry but I’ve never used GPS Origins DNA. An autosomal test will not tell you if you’re a Neanderthal since they only go back 4-5 generations. But the 23andMe autosomal test also tests your ydna and mtdna broadly and would show it.

    Reply
Nancy - December 22, 2017

I would like to order a dna test for my Father but Ancestry.com only let you order a test for yourself or a child, not for a parent. Will Family Tree let you order a test for a parent after you did your own test? My father is almost 100 percent German and like to find out how much German he really is.

Nancy

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    Mark Orwig - January 2, 2018

    Yes I believe so but I’d double check with the company.

    Reply
henri - December 23, 2017

Hi Mark,
Thanks for taking the time to do this research and make it available to all of us.
Please forgive me simple (and maybe ignorant question), but I think I’m interested in getting all 3 tests done. But as a male, will they be able to do the Y test with my sample? or does the Y test need to be done with my daughter? to see where my mom (who is deceased) came from.
Thanks!
Henri

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    Mark Orwig - January 2, 2018

    YDNA will not track your mother. You’ll need and mtDNA test for that.

    Reply
Mary. DeForest - December 24, 2017

Hi, great article. I’m Black Irish, but no living male relatives for DNA-war. I’m curious about The Spanish Armada, if I’m really Black? How Black-sub Saharan Black or Moor – Arab? Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

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Brett - December 24, 2017

Being attached to the Mormon church once, I saw to try FamilySearch.org. I was able to find all 4 grandparents, and wham, my tree loaded up like crazy. A couple of things that MIGHT matter:

– Account is free
– Strong family past affiliation with the Mormon church may help, not sure
– You can only search for deceased relatives for privacy reasons, as I understood it
– Doesn’t a ton of info to find a relative, a first and last name, birth/death years or spouse info, did it for me

Reply
Gari - December 25, 2017

Mark,

What a fantastic review on all 6 companies! I personally used Ancestry.com recently. I got my results from AncestryDNA, and although I feel like my results were somewhat narrow and expected (66% Asia East, 34% Polynesia; Born in the Philippines), I feel like I didn’t really gain anything from it. I read that autosomal DNA is 98% for your DNA, shows more of a broad ethnicity estimate, and it’s not as “helpful” individually as the Y-DNA and mtDNA appears. I’m very interested in getting a new test from FamilyTreeDNA and seeing my results! Thanks for the very informative reviews, and Merry Christmas!

Reply
Sharon - December 26, 2017

This was so incredibly helpful. I am very interested in 23 and me for the health but I’m also interested in my history. I believe I have decided to get both 23 and Me and FamilyTreeDNA.

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Lee - December 30, 2017

Hi Mark,
Thank you so much for your very informative comparison of the DNA tests!
My father has passed, but his 90 year old brother thinks it would be fun to take a DNA test and find out whatever interesting information results.
Once the DNA sample has been taken, can further tests be requested from that sample in the future by authorized relatives? (or do the different companies vary?) We can’t afford all the tests now, but would like to know about dad & uncle’s YDNA and MtDNA haplogroups at some point in the future, too.

So I’m trying to figure out which test to order for my uncle that would be fun for him to learn about now, and also leave the most options open in the future, as there are no male children or cousins. Do you have any thoughts that might help aim me?

Thank you so much for your assistance!
Miss Lee

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 2, 2018

    I’d test with FTDNA. I’d confirm with them that you can order/upgrade on behalf of your uncle though since I’m not sure about that.

    Reply
Lee - December 30, 2017

Oops – followup to question posted a few minutes ago 🙂 After thinking about my uncle, I think he’d get the biggest kick out of knowing his ethnicity/regions, not finding cousins, so much…
Miss Lee

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Heather Hayes - December 31, 2017

Hi, Mark.

National Geo’s test, Geno 2.0 Next Generation Genographic Helix DNA Ancestry Kit, usually sellsfor $199.00. Now on sale for $69.95 (that’s a huge discount!). It has everything I am interested in, except the possibility of contacting possible relatives.

It seems to have have some deal with Family Tree where one can upload data to FT’s website (not sure if I’m expressing this correctly), but does that mean that one can then use FT’s resources to contact relatives? This is so confusing, and it is not stated clearly anywhere.

If not, what would you recommend? I’m interested in ancient migratory info, possibility of Native American connections, Neanderthal DNA, more recent ancestral groups, and contacting possible relatives.

Thanks.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 2, 2018

    FTDNA does not allow uploads of Nat Geo tests that used Helix. They used to allow Nat Geo transfers because they used to be the testing partner of Nat Geo. But Nat Geo now uses Helix to test. I’d test with FTDNA.

    Reply
Nancy - December 31, 2017

I have taken the DNA test from Family tree and Ancestry.com and I was happy with the results from Family tree but I have to retake the test twice so far from Ancestry.com. It is unusual to retake the test? I thought about cancesing the test from Ancestry.com, but don’t know how.

Nancy

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Karen - January 2, 2018

My daughter is adopted and supposedly part American Indian. Is there one test you would recommend over others? Eventually we may want to locate biological family as well.

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Mark Orwig - January 2, 2018

Absolutely. But if you don’t know the surname of your biological father, it might take some digging around and genealogy work.

Reply
Michael - January 4, 2018

Hi Mark,

Great article and thanks for the research! I’m African-American and Panamanian, dad is from New Orleans and mom is from Panama both black. I’m interested in learning about where my family originated, what company do you recommend and how accurate will it let me know where both my parents came from. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 12, 2018

    I’d do a bundled test at FTDNA for all 3 tests.

    Reply
Rebecca - January 5, 2018

Hi Mark,

Is there a website where I can enter Y-DNA results and get any interesting data from it? Like where the male line came from?

Rebecca

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    Mark Orwig - January 12, 2018

    Who did you test with? The info should be with your results.

    Reply
L.J. (Lynda) Bishop - January 5, 2018

Hi Mark, I found this so informative that I copied, pasted and printed it. I hope that’s okay. I need to print it off so it is easier for me to read.

L.J. Bishop

Reply
Elizabeth - January 5, 2018

I recently took the DNA test from Ancestry.com and had a BIG shock. I discovered that the man I thought was my biological father was not! My parents were divorced when I was a baby and I was not brought up by this man. My immediate family consisted of my mother and my godparents. My godfather was actually my biological father and he was a wonderful man. My baby book indicates that my mother did not know that my godfather was actually my father. Would it be worth it to take additional DNA tests or is the one I took pretty conclusive? Also, what would the reason be why the DNA test found no “cousins” at all from my mother’s side? Thanks.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 12, 2018

    How did you conclude this? Was your godfather and the person you thought was your father also tested?

    Reply
Athenos - January 6, 2018

Mark,
Thank you for this very informative article.

One thing I would like to know is who owns the DNA after a sample is submitted? How much control do I have over the DNA sample? Am I, essentially, selling my DNA, to be used in anyway the DNA company sees fit, for a report? Since I am my DNA, does that mean that I am “owned”?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 12, 2018

    You have to read the terms and conditions of the company you choose.

    Reply
teri - January 6, 2018

hi
Great web site!! thanks
I’m not clear on if Family DNA can test father’s DNA through the mother?
Seems that the only the males can be tested to get the paternal line?
Thanks

Reply
Sui - January 6, 2018

Hi Mark,
my siblings and I are considering to take a genealogy test but we can’t decide which one. We are mostly interested about our ancestors like thousand of years ago. We have heard lots of legends that were passed from generation to generation that we come from Africa and we would love to prove that. We were thinking that Nat. Geo. test would work the best for us. What do you think? I would be very happy if you would help us to decide!
Thank you very much,
Sui

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 12, 2018

    Try the ydna and mtdna testing with FTDNA

    Reply
Kelsey - January 6, 2018

Mark,
I am interested in simply just finding out my hertiage. Nothing fancy just want to gift the test to my mom and dad so they can find out information and my sister an I can find some information. I’m leaning towars FTDNA but not positive. I do not want to pay a monthly subscription. Any ideas what would be best?

Reply
Melissa - January 9, 2018

Hi Mark,

I recently took the AncestryDNA test. It came back that I was part Scandinavian that I never knew about. I also read on your site that they had emphasized how much some people actually were. What would be the other best test to take because my history is basically Ireland and Germany (Or so I thought) I already have a membership on Ancestry and I’m not so much looking to connect on another site (at least not at this time)

Reply
Cornelis - January 9, 2018

HI Mark, after so many years, I’m still looking for my biological father. I have 3 options where he came from: Utrecht (HOLLAND), Stettin (now POLAND) or Graz (AUSTRIA). Which of above tests/companies could deliver the best answer?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    I’d do a ydna test with FTDNA and maybe an autosomal with ancestry for matches.

    Reply
Gord Breese - January 9, 2018

Mark,

First, great online resource…I wish I had found this before I ordered 2 kits from 23andme.com for my wife and I. We’ve just sent the test in and are looking forward to the results. Question; which other test vendor would you recommend for someone like us…we’ve already purchased from 23andme and are looking for other insights especially on connecting with extended family members sourced through a DNA community? Thoughts?

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    For matches and connecting with others, Ancestry is the best option hands down.

    Reply
Kristi - January 10, 2018

Hi Mark, I am new at all this genealogy stuff! I started about a year ago and I’ve had a subscription with Ancestry. My focus right now is my maternal grandfather’s line. My grandfather was 1st generation Italian in this country and tracing his line has been a little complex due to the name changes and the way I understand women did their last names following marriage. I am also thinking I will test my brother and my mother for more results. So my question is which test/tests would you recommend I use to get the best results on my maternal grandfathers line?

Thanks!
Kristi

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    If you want to test a paternal line only, you need a ydna test from a male descendant. so you would need to test a cousin of your maternal grandfather. if that’s not possible then you can do an autosomal test with ancestry for their matches. with some genealogical research you should be able to identify matches on the line you’re looking at.

    Reply
Nicole - January 11, 2018

i was looking to purchase a DNA test for my father. He has been doing Genealogy for decades. He has been able to trace his family back to the mid 1600’s. All living in the same region of Sicily that he was born in. Would any of these test further back than that. I don’t want a test that states that he is 100% Mediterranean. We already know that.

Reply
    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    I would get him a YDNA test from FTDNA.

    Reply
Mike - January 11, 2018

Both my children are adopted from the Moscow region of Russia. we adopted both of them as infants, what do we stand to gain by doing the DNA tests?

Thanks!

Reply
Lynda Bowman - January 11, 2018

Hi Mark,
I have read through many of the comments left by others who have visited your site and found them most helpful. But I have a question. I am an only child and have done quite a bit of genealogy research on our Mayflower family line that I hope will verify my research on my ancestor John Howland. In addition, his wife Elizabeth Tilley and her family line I will be working on soon, and hope the test will back up our relationship. According to a male cousin we are also descended from Charlemagne, and that research will be in the future. Would it be best for my cousin to take the test or me? And which test offered by
Family Finder DNA should I use to help verify these lines?

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    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    Hi Lynda. ydna or mtdna dna tests only trace direct paternal and maternal lines. so you have to test a living descendant of whatever paternal/maternal line you’re researching. so unless your direct paternal/maternal lines track to the mayflower line, you’ll have to test someone else in your family. Make sense?

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Sandy 01/12/2018 - January 12, 2018

I am female and adopted. Rather than pay for separate autosomal and Mt DNA tests I was thinking of ordering national geographic bundled testing for $99.00 and then can upload raw data to Family Tree DNA and/or My Heritage DNA to get the benefits of those sights. This seems the most economical but at the same time I am wanting to obtain the most information. Your thoughts please.
Excellant article. Thank you.

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    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    It depends on what you’re looking for. Just ethnicity results? Or are you trying to find biological family members?

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Lorrie Scott - January 14, 2018

I’m soon to do a talk about the results from my DNA test, and why I took it. I highly recommend AncestryDNA. I found thousands of relatives an both sides of my famioy, but one very important person, my biological father. I’m 65 next week! I gave up years ago. I have also uploaded raw data to GedMatch, free of charge, for relatives who have taken various tests, have data compared.

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Sophie - January 15, 2018

Thanks for this wonderfully thorough review! I am from New Zealand and interested mainly in my ethnicity about 3-4 generations back on my grandmother’s side. I have an inkling I may have some Māori heritage. I note Ancestry DNA can narrow down Pacific Islander, however, I would be interested to know if there were any other companies that offer a more specific analysis of this region.

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Janice - January 17, 2018

I want to find out area of origin for my mother and father. We beleive that dad’s folks are from Wales and France. Mother’s is Irish and English. Probably 7 generations ago. Which test is best?

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    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    When you say origin, you mean ancient origin or recent?

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Trebor - January 17, 2018

Is there any test that specifically calls out Spain? I am not sure if I am just Italian or also Spanish.

If not, which tests show the Iberian Peninsula as a whole?

Thank you.

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    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    No not spain, but Iberian. Any of the autosomal tests will work.

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William A Click - January 17, 2018

Thanks much for your article. I’m a adopted child. Found my birth parents in 1981. Have been doing research on my natural family for 36 years now. My problem is I can’t find anything on my grandfather’s line. My grandfather’s last name Rodgers but unfortunately the Rodgers family spelled it both ways Rodgers and Rogers. So would the Y DNA help me find there point of origin? Thank you for your time.

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    Mark Orwig - January 24, 2018

    Is your Rodgers grandfather your paternal or maternal grandfather?

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Suzanne Benson - January 26, 2018

Where does National Geographic Geno project fit into your research?

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    Mark Orwig - February 8, 2018

    There’s a section in this article about nat geo.

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PJ - January 27, 2018

Mark…
Thank you for your review of these DNA kits, however, I decided to go with CRI Genetics after I read how it’s ranked with two of those listed here. My question… I want to get results to identify an important person on my maternal side. How do I get to his DNA? The line goes from me to my mother to her father to his mother to her father, who was a grand duke. Nothing showed up on AncestryDNA. On the CRI site, I order another autosomal test as well as maternal and famous people’s tests. I will be taking these tests as soon as I receive them.

The maternal test is useless because it branches to mother’s mother instead of her father. My brother could take the paternal test, but it would highlight my father’s line, which isn’t a consideration. My maternal 1st cousin who carries the last name will follow my great-grandfather instead of his wife, who is the daughter of the grand duke. Any thoughts?

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    Mark Orwig - February 9, 2018

    Just figure out where that person is in your tree, then follow his/her direct maternal/paternal lines down to a living person. That’s who you need to test.

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Janet Balch - January 28, 2018

Very informative article. My father is 83, an only child, has only two children, both female. YDNA would be my choice, correct?

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Julie - February 1, 2018

You said you have to pay a subscription to use the Ancestry DNA online family tree functionality – is that just for that particular function or do you have to always pay an ongoing subscription? thank you

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    Mark Orwig - February 8, 2018

    You can create a tree for free on ancestry. They just won’t show you hints on the free plan.

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Helen M - February 3, 2018

Hi,
Thanks for all the great info. I am wondering if you can help me decide on the best way forward in my goal of tracking and connecting with my mother’s side of the family.
She was was born in England and adopted. Via 23andMe I found one 2nd cousin but would love to find more and closer relatives… From your info it seems Living DNA has the most detailed info for the UK, but with AncestryDNA’s >5M database, presumably I’d be more likely to find and connect with relatives there. But with the mtDNA tests included in Family TreeDNA, is that a better bet? I know I could do all of them but have a bit of a budget restraint.
Thanks in advance for any feedback.
H

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    Mark Orwig - February 9, 2018

    I’d go with Ancestry for the database size no question.

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Jimmie - February 5, 2018

Hi Mark,
I have read your article twice. I understand one of the tests shows only the ancestry on the maternal side. But which one, or is there one, that shows ancestry on father’s side?
I am not really interested (I don’t think, ha) in making contact with anyone, but want to know where both sides of family came from, etc. Thank you.

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    Mark Orwig - February 8, 2018

    YDNA will test just your direct paternal line.

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Allen Dunn - February 8, 2018

Any relation to David Orwig from Milton , Pennsylvania?

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farzana - February 8, 2018

hi,

very good breakdown and review of the different options. i am south asian and we moved to the US when i was elementary age. I am very much intrigued with both my maternal and paternal side, what ancestry kit would you recommend that would be most useful? thank you!

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Jim - February 9, 2018

Thanks you. Great article.

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Susan Benda - February 9, 2018

My great grandfather worked on our family pedigree and i have a copy of s well researched tree. It extends to my 10th paternal grandfather for our English family’s name. On one of the maternal lines, it goes to the Alsace region and they were French Huguenots. My maternal side was Irish with only 3 generations documented. I am wondering if any of the researchers would actually want my DNA to further their research and data base?
Susan Bryan

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    Mark Orwig - April 2, 2018

    Hi Susan. They might. Try contacting them.

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Deena - February 10, 2018

Hello Mark. Thank you for your write up. My father and I are considering DNA testing to find out if we may have a Jewish heritage. He thinks we may be descendants from German Jews on his father’s side. Which test would you recommend each of us take? I was leaning towards the YDNA for him and maybe Ancestry or My Heritage for me. Your thoughts? Thank you for your help.

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Liz - February 10, 2018

Thanks for the summary- very helpful:-) Question- if I have 2 sons and 1 takes the mtDNA and 1 takes the YDNA test, then they can both use the info from bth tests, correct? Thanks

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    Mark Orwig - April 2, 2018

    Yes. But I think you’re better off just testing 1 of them so you can bundle pricing to save a few bucks. Results should be the same.

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Ellen - February 11, 2018

Thank you for the in depth review.
I have been trying to determine which test might be the best for me.
This article really helped.

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Ellen Kinnear - February 12, 2018

Hi Mark,
Second reading of your article before I decide on the test.
I am interested in confirming my biological father. My father’s brother, my Uncle is still living and is 96.

Which test would you recommend?
Thanks,Ellen

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    Mark Orwig - April 2, 2018

    Hi Ellen. I need more info. Do you have a brother or male cousins on your father’s line?

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Marcelle - February 18, 2018

Hi Mark,

I have just read your article and was really pleased with it. I have a problem now. My father passed away several years ago and I want to know his background. This is the problem, he was adopted, he did find some of his relatives, however, none of them are now living and none of his kids are boys, he had 3 girls. What can I do to find out where he was from. He always told us girls that his relatives stole their way to America on a ship to out run the police in France for horse stealing. He was always joking so we don’t know whether it was true or not.

We would just like to know which DNA test(S) and which company you think I should use to try and find anything out.

Thank you

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    Mark Orwig - March 4, 2018

    Hi Marcelle. Just so I understand, there are no living descendants of his birth father?

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Mario Ramirez - February 19, 2018

Hi, Im adopted and I am looking for my father. I don’t know his name or anything about him.Would the YDNA test help if I don’t know his name or anything?
And what will the results show me? Do the results show other males that I could be possibly related to and could reach out to and ask if they may know who my father is ?

Thank you !

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    Mark Orwig - March 4, 2018

    Hi Mario. The YDNA will be very helpful to determine your birth father’s surname. I’d also test with Ancestry to find your close matches with the surname you found in the YDNA test. Then you can start to piece together who your father was.

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john - February 22, 2018

hi, we have limited information on our ancestry previous to the second world war. which test gives the most comprehensive and specific results for tracing our possibly russian/ukranian family tree? cheers john

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    Mark Orwig - April 2, 2018

    Hi John. I’d say Ancestry.com since they have the largest database of matches who you can connect with.

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Ron - February 23, 2018

Thanks Mark, great article.

Seeing as Ancestry has by far the largest database, does it make sense to order the Autosomal Test from them and then upload the results to FamilyTree? It would only cost a little more than ordering directly from FamilyTree and I would get the benefits of both databases plus the option of FamilyTree’s Y-DNA and mtDNA tests.

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    Mark Orwig - March 4, 2018

    Makes sense but I dont think you can order the additional tests with a transfer. Has to do with the testing chip they use in the lab.

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Solveig Smith - March 5, 2018

Thanks for an incredible helpful article and for for answers u give!
So here’s my story.
I’m from Finland and would like to find out my roots on my mothers side!
My maternal grandmother had 4 daughters ,all by a different man!
Times were different back then , specially if u were employed at a big house as a maid!
My mother was born 1904 and the oldest of the siblings.
So which of the sites would be most helpful to me!
Thanking u in advance !
Solveig

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Hi Solveig. What information are you trying to find out on your maternal side?

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Kirsten - March 6, 2018

I love your article. I want your opinion. I want to know both my maternal and paternal geanology. I do not have any siblings that share the same Mom and Dad (all half or step) as me. I would love to know health information as well but I want a good priced, accurate, geanology screening for both my Maternal and Paternal sides. What do you recommend? Thank you!!

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Hi Kristen. Your only option is the Health + Ancestry test at 23andMe.

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steve - March 7, 2018

Thanks Mark,
Very informative article. I’m a high school genetics teacher and would love to find a way to incorporate this technology into the curriculum for interested students at the beginning of each semester. Do you believe that this would be worthwhile and doable? If so, which of the sites would you recommend for this purpose and have you heard of them giving a group rate before? If there was a lot of interest, this could get really expensive really quickly.

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Hey Steve. Great idea! I’m sure you could work out a group rate if you contacted any of the companies on this page.

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Todd - March 8, 2018

I am looking just to find out where my relatives came from and looking for the most accurate one for that. I am not looking to find out about relatives just what countries I most likely came from which test would be best for that ?

Thank You

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Hey Todd. Any of the autosomal tests will do.

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Angela - March 11, 2018

I was the first in my family to take a DNA test and I used 23 and me with the health option.
I am purchasing a test for my mother, as a gift. She is terminal and I feel it would be a nice legacy for her to leave this information.
My question: is there any benefit for her to use the same or a different company? I don’t believe that she needs the health portion, because of her age (79) and condition.
One thing I noticed with my test was that I had only DNA matches with individuals residing in the US and Canada. Was thinking that since I am mostly European, it might benefit to try ancestery.com, due to the number of users and potential contacts in Europe.

Any thoughts and insights are greatly appreciated!

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    Mark Orwig - April 2, 2018

    Hi Angela. The biggest benefit for her to use a different company would be to get more matches. If European matches is what you’re after, I’d take a look at MyHeritage. I believe that have the biggest customer database for European matches.

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Kay - March 12, 2018

Hello Mark,

Wonderful article! Actually helped me make my decision to use Family Tree DNA for my dad. Wondering if you might have some insight. My dad was contacted by a woman who believes my dad is her father due to ancestry dna results saying my dad’s uncle is her great uncle. To confirm my dad had her upload her raw data to Family Tree to compare. FTDNA says she is my dad’s 3rd to 5th cousin with a Shared Centimorgans(cM): 100 And Longest Block(cM): 15. Do you have any insight into these results and accuracy.

Thank you!

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    Mark Orwig - April 2, 2018

    I can’t say for sure, but only having 100 shared CM is way too low for a father daughter relationship. Typically a parent/child will share over 3,000 CM. I share 3500 CM with my dad. Ancestry also reports on shared CM. Click on any DNA match, then where it lists ‘Confidence’ at the top, click on the little information icon and it will tell you the amount of shared CM. Hope this helps!

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Dan Appel - March 16, 2018

Mark,

Are most people as surprised as I was by the results? I ordered a kit from My Heritage DNA and everyone in my family was shocked by the results. My paternal grandfather’s family came from Germany and the name is a German/Jewish one – at one time, apparently, the name Appel was quite common around the Heidelberg area, but before all of the Jewish persecution apparently had the suffix of baum, berg, stein, etc. None of that showed up on the result. My father’s mother’s family was as Scottish as you can get yet none of that showed up. My mother’s father came from Poland with a very Polish name (Jurczyk) yet none of that shows up; and her mother’s family all shows up on all of her geneological family material as English. This is what I ended up with:

Europe
98.7%
North and West Europe
98.7%
North and West European
94.9%
Finnish
3.8%
Africa
1.3%
West Africa
1.3%
Nigerian
1.3%
Dan Appel
100.0%

My sons, who are both physicians say I got taken and that this can’t be correct. In order to try to figure this out, I have ordered both 23andMe and Ancestry kits (sent the 23andMe kit off today). If they come back the same as My Heritage I guess we will have to live with the results but they are so far removed from all family history (especially the Finnish and Nigerian (I don’t care about the African blood, am just confused by it) that my family and I are doubting the results. Are we wrong? Or are we missing something? Also, if the answers come back different from the other two tests, which of the three do we trust, or do we somehow try to trust all of them.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Dan

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Hey Dan. It sounds like a case where the algorithm wasn’t confident enough to predict those more specific regions. I’m curious to know what the other companies say since they all use different algos. Keep us updated.

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Peggy - March 18, 2018

This has been so helpful for someone relatively new to genealogy and especially DNA testing. Thank You!

If my brother is tested does that mean that the test will show my grandmother’s paternal line or only our father’s line?

What about my mothers paternal line which I need to work on yet?

Otherwise, as I’m understanding it, the closest I can come to finding some “proof” of relationship to an early male ancestor in my grandmother’s line is to have an autosomal test?

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Hi Peggy. Are you referring to a YDNA test?

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Aigul - March 20, 2018

Hi Mark, so interesting, thank you for this article. I would like to buy dna kit as a gift to my husband’s BD. He doesn’t need to find any relatives matches, he would just like to know the ethnic groups, regions etc. You mentioned that autosomal test from any od above companies would work well. Could you please advice which one gives more presentable results? By ‘presentable’ I mean – information is given in a very understandable way for non-pro reader; has enough illustration to demonstrate the regions etc.

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Eva Lyn - March 22, 2018

Hello Mark,

What test would you recommend for an African American seeking the most detailed and accurate genetic information? I’d like to know the regions in Africa. Thanks.

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    I’d go with either Ancestry or MyHeritage

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Shiran Eliyahu - March 24, 2018

Hello Mark,

Thank you for this extremely thorough review.
I have also reviewed your article of finding Jewish ancestry.

I am Jewish – Saphardic on my mother’s side, Mizrachi on my father’s side. I do know their families might have migrated between countries quite a bit but we’re always Jewish.

I am interested in finding my most detailed origin from around the world. Allocating relatives might be nice but is really not my main aim.

Which test would you recommend?
(For example on FT website – the example on their home page just shows *jewish* without a breakdown to Saphardic, Ashkenazi etc. and if that is indeed the cases it kind of misses the point for me…)

Also, would you know by any chance if any of those companies deliver to Israel?

Many thanks and appreciate your help!
Shiran

Many thanks,
Shiran

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Hi Shiran. FTDNA breaks out both Sephardic and Ashkenazi. But MyHeritage now has the most regions for Jewish ancestry and delivers to Israel. They’re actually based out of Israel.

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Kennedy - March 25, 2018

Hello,
Thank you for writing this post. It helps alot. I still would like some advice regarding which test to buy. I am adopted so I know nothing of my family’s history. I am looking for the most accurate test to learn everything about my family’s history. Which test do you recommend?

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    I typically recommend Ancestry.com for adoptees.

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Ellen - March 28, 2018

Hi Mark, What do you think of “geneaologyBank”. I’m thinking of uploading my raw dna data from Ancestry.com
to GenealogyBank. Would I get more information than I got from Ancesgtry.com?
and thanks for this website!
Ellen

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    I’ve actually never used that site so I can’t comment.

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Diana - March 28, 2018

Mark,
Thank you very much for such detailed article. It is very helpful indeed!
I would like to buy DNA Test for Ancestry as a gift for my husband. After reading you article I thought that AncestryDNA is the one he needs, due to it’s wide region scope and database. Unfortunately AncestryDNA do not ship the kit to Israel. In this case, which provider would you suggest?
Thank you in advance.

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    Mark Orwig - March 28, 2018

    Take a look at MyHeritage. They are actually based in Israel.

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CHRISTOPHER KAISER - March 29, 2018

For those of us whose ancestors immigrated from overseas (German, Czech, and Ukraine in my case) in the 19th century (3-5 generations ago), the difficulty in choosing is that Family Tree has better depth than autosomal DNA services, but My Heritage seems to have more data from other countries. I could not figure that out based on the info given here (or did I miss something?).

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    Mark Orwig - April 2, 2018

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘better depth’. But yes you are correct about MyHeritage and their European customers. One of the reasons I don’t mention it here is that MyHeritage is still relatively new and rapidly growing. I plan on adding a row to the comparison table that covers database sizes of overseas customers.

    Reply

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