Genealogy / Best DNA Test Kits

Best DNA Test Kits

How to Choose the DNA Testing Kit That’s Best for You
Marc McDermott

If you’ve read all the DNA test reviews, and are still confused, read on. What is the best DNA test? This guide will break down everything you need to know. But first, here’s a quick comparison of the best DNA testing kits:

Comparison of important features

AncestryDNA MyHeritage FamilyTree DNA 23andMe LivingDNA
Best for Genealogy, matches, ethnicity regions Global matches, tools for advanced genetic genealogy Distant ancestry, YDNA, mtDNA Genetic health testing British Isles ancestry
Price See latest price
See latest price
See latest price
See latest price
See latest price
Ethnicity results Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ethnic Regions 500+ 42 24 1,000+ 80 (in depth for UK)
Family Matching Yes Yes Yes Yes Limited
Database Size 15 million 3.8 million 1 million 10 million None
Y-DNA Test No No Yes Broad haplogroup, no matching Broad haplogroup, no matching
mtDNA Test No No Yes Broad haplogroup, no matching Broad haplogroup, no matching
Collection Method Saliva Cheek swab Cheek swab Saliva Cheek swab
Chromosome Browser No Yes Yes Yes No
Raw Data Upload No Yes Yes No Yes
Health Info No For extra fee No For extra fee No

Best DNA testing kits reviewed


The best testing kit for genealogy, AncestryDNA has the most extensive database (15 million customers) so you’ll find the most DNA matches there.

Ancestry DNA test kit

What we like:

  • Database of over 15 million customers for matching
  • Strong genealogical community
  • Connect with matches through anonymous email and message boards
  • Link your DNA results to your online family tree
  • No subscription required

What we don’t like

  • Viewing family trees of your matches requires a subscription
  • Does not allow raw data uploads from other sites

Read our complete AncestryDNA review.

Note that you do not have to have an Ancestry subscription in order to take their test or see your results. You also do not need a subscription to build your own family tree.

A subscription allows you to view genealogical records, 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. Get a 14-day free trial here.

MyHeritage DNA

The best DNA testing kit if you’re looking for matches outside the United States, MyHeritage has the largest database of international customers. They also offer some pretty neat tools such as auto clustering and a chromosome browser.

MyHeritage test kit

What we like:

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

What we don’t like

  • Relatively small (but rapidly growing) database compared to other sites. Currently 3.8 million

Read our complete MyHeritageDNA review.


23andMe is the best test kit for dedicated genetic testing for health. Since most people who test there aren’t as interested in family history or communicating with DNA matches as compared to sites like Ancestry, 23andMe would probably not be my first choice for genealogy.

23 and me DNA test kit

What we like:

  • The best company for health and wellness reports
  • Has a large database of more than 10 million customers
  • Includes a chromosome browser for comparing results

What we don’t like

  • Very limited genealogical community compared to other sites
  • No Y-DNA or mtDNA matching
  • Does not allow upload of raw data from other sites

Read our complete 23andMe review.

You may also be interested in our complete comparison of 23andMe vs Ancestry.


The best for distant ancestry (beyond 6-8 generations), and paternity testing. 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.


What we like:

  • Only company to offer all three tests separately
  • Only company to offer Y-DNA and mtDNA matching
  • Cheek swab DNA collection (much easier for babies and elderly)
  • 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 segment overlap
  • Surname, haplogroup and other group projects you can join

What we don’t like

  • 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
  • Very broad ethnicity regions

Read our complete FamilyTreeDNA review.

Living DNA

If you have any British or Irish ancestry, you’ll definitely want to do an ancestry test with LivingDNA. Based in the UK, LivingDNA specializes in “high definition” genetic testing in the British Isles and can narrow into the exact regions of your ancestry in the British Isles.

Because of the lack of a customer database (and matches), I would also test with another company in addition to LivingDNA.


What we like:

  • Divides the UK and Ireland into many more, smaller regions than other services

What we don’t like

  • No separate autosomal DNA only test, so highest overall price
  • Almost no database for matches

Read our complete LivingDNA review.

DNA testing buyer’s guide

In this guide:

Types of DNA tests

There are three main 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 (atDNA)

autosomal DNA inheritance chart
Autosomal DNA tests are the most popular and look at the DNA you inherited from every line in your family tree. This test provides an estimate of your ethnicity – or the regions of the world where your ancestors lived within the past few hundred years. This test also matches you with distant relatives.

Autosomal DNA (atDNA) is that DNA that does not contribute to gender; in other words, the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. It is inherited from both your maternal and paternal ancestors.

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

What is an atDNA test?

atDNA tests are by far the most popular for consumers. This is the test that gives you ethnicity estimates as well as family matches.

This test examines single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or the different “shapes” of individual nucleotides, small chunks of DNA.

Genealogical atDNA 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. These percentages are never exact since DNA inheritance and recombination is completely random.

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 6-8 generations.

What It Tells You

Most people who do an autosomal test do so for ethnicity estimates. Autosomal tests will give you a set of ethnicity results based on how your DNA compares to reference populations created by the testing company.

For genealogical purposes, the main use of autosomal DNA testing is to find relatives and determine how closely related you are to someone else.

This can be especially 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.

Every company mentioned in this guide offers autosomal DNA tests. Again, it is by far the most popular test for consumers.

Mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA)

mitochondrial dna inheritance
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down from a mother to all her children (both male and female) and examines your direct maternal line only. Like Y-DNA, mtDNA changes very slowly over time so you can trace maternal lines back thousands of years. This test should not be confused with X-DNA analysis.

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 females. Both males and females inherit their mtDNA from their mothers, therefore anyone can take this test.

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

While autosomal DNA testing looks at the 22 pairs of autosomes inside the cell nucleus, mtDNA testing looks at the DNA inside the mitochondria which exists outside the cell nucleus.

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.

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 also 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 (thousands of years).

In some cases, mtDNA can remain nearly identical for 50 generations or more. This makes it difficult to use mtDNA matching for genealogical purposes. A perfect match means you are related, but you might be 48th cousins!

The only company to offer individual mtDNA kits is FamilyTreeDNALiving DNA  and 23andMe bundle very basic mtDNA testing with their autosomal DNA test.

Y-DNA tests

Y-DNA inheritance
Y-DNA Tests look at the Y-chromosome (only found in males) which is passed from father to son and changes very little over time. This allows you to trace the direct line back thousands of years. Females don’t have a Y-chromosome so they cannot take this test. However, they can ask a male relative (i.e. brother, father, uncle, etc.) to take the test for them.

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 testing kits examine only the Y-chromosome, therefore only males can take this test. If you’re a woman who wants to test your father’s Y-DNA male line, you’ll need to test your father, uncle, brother, male cousin, etc. Basically any male on your direct paternal line. Testing the oldest generation possible is always best.

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 might have 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. Although Y-DNA tests are much more useful for genealogy than mtDNA.

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 kits is FamilyTreeDNA, which has three options depending on how detailed a test you want.

Y-DNA testing is especially useful for adoptees. It’s also a great ancestry test if you think you have jewish ancestry.

Living DNA and 23andMe bundles very basic Y-DNA testing with their autosomal DNA tests, but provide much less detailed results than FamilyTreeDNA.

Choosing the test that’s best 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 people, 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 6-8 generations.

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 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.

Ethnicity testing

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 testing is what’s used for ethnicity testing of your entire family tree.

The companies that provide DNA testing divide the world up into regions in different ways. Each company has different ways of doing this.

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

As more and more genetic data is 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 genetic 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 typically 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.

Read our full guide to testing for Native American ancestry.

Which test is best for you?

It depends on your goals…

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

About the Author

Comments (835)

  1. John

    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!


    • Marc McDermott

      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.

      • John

        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?

        • Marc McDermott

          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.

  2. KBD

    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!

    • Marc McDermott

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

  3. Carolyn

    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!!

    • Marc McDermott

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

  4. Bert

    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.

    • Marc McDermott

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

  5. Liz

    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

    • Marc McDermott

      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!

  6. Melissa

    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!

    • Marc McDermott

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

      • Melissa

        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!!!!

        • Marc McDermott

          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.

  7. Natalia

    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!

    • Marc McDermott

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

  8. Ginny Proffit

    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,

    • Marc McDermott

      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.

  9. Valerie Caye

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

  10. Linda

    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!

    • Marc McDermott

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

  11. Rose

    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.

      • Rose

        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.

        • Marc McDermott

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

  12. Mary

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

  13. Zee

    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?

    • Marc McDermott

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

  14. Christy

    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

    • Marc McDermott

      Go with FTDNA.

  15. Christina

    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

    Thank you so much in advance for all your help!


    • Marc McDermott

      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.

  16. Elyse

    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 and 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?


    • Marc McDermott

      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!

      • Elyse

        Thank you so much!

  17. Dan


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

    • Marc McDermott

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

  18. Liz

    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.

    • Marc McDermott

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

  19. Sion

    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

    • Marc McDermott

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

  20. Krystal

    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?

    • Marc McDermott

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

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