The 5 Best DNA Tests for Ancestry in 2019 - 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: June 2019

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 2019



FamilyTree DNA




Our Rating


Standard (Autosomal Test)






Y-DNA Test




Basic haplogroup

Basic haplogroup

mtDNA Test




Basic haplogroup

Basic haplogroup



Cheek swab

Cheek swab


Cheek swab

Stores Results


25 years

25 years









Raw Data






Database Size

15 mil

1.4 mil


1 mil


Health Info


For extra fee


For extra fee







80 - in depth for UK







Contact Matches

Anonymous email/ forums





* 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.

Mitochondrial DNA Testing

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.


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.


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.


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


  • 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


  • 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.


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


  • 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


  • 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

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


  • 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


  • Relatively small (but rapidly growing) database compared to other sites. Currently 1.4 mil.


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


  • 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


  • 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


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


  • 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.


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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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?


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.

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Hi Mark, I’ve featured your post on my genealogy blog because it’s such a great overview. Glad to know about your site. Nancy


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?


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… Read more »

Mardia Bishp


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?



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!


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!


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?

Kelemoi Tedeneke


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,


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?


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

Bernadetta Mroz

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.


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 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 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… Read more »


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.

Margie Baker

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


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?


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.… Read more »

Diane Diaz

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.


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

Kimberlee D Ingraham

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

Andrea Zeason

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?


Hi Mark – Fantastic article. Thank you!
I’ve tested on 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!


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?


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… Read more »


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… Read more »

Tom Brannigan

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?

Mark Rowland

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.


Mike Thornton

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… Read more »


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?

John G

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.


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

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