5 Best DNA Test Kits (2019 UPDATE) Read This BEFORE You Buy

Best DNA Test for Ancestry

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

Here are the best DNA tests

Updated: November 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 test kits for 2019

AncestryDNAMyHeritageFamilyTree DNA23andMeLivingDNA
WebsiteView WebsiteView WebsiteView WebsiteView WebsiteView Website
Best forGenealogy, matches, ethnicity regions (view website)Global matches, tools for advanced genetic genealogy (view website)Distant ancestry, YDNA, mtDNA (view website)Genetic health testing (view website)British Isles ancestry (view website)
PriceSee latest price
(see promo)
See latest price
See latest price
(see promo)
See latest price
(see promo)
See latest price
Ethnicity resultsYesYesYesYesYes
Ethnic Regions (click for more detail)500+42241,000+80 (in depth for UK)
Family MatchingYesYesYesYesLimited
Database Size15 million1.4 million850k1 millionNone
Y-DNA TestNoNoYesBroad haplogroup, no matchingBroad haplogroup, no matching
mtDNA TestNoNoYesBroad haplogroup, no matchingBroad haplogroup, no matching
Collection MethodSalivaCheek swabCheek swabSalivaCheek swab
Chromosome BrowserNoYesYesYesNo
Raw Data UploadNoYesYesNoYes
Health InfoNoFor extra feeNoFor extra feeNo

* 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

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?

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 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

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 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 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. 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, 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 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 mitochondrial DNA kits is FamilyTreeDNALiving DNA  and 23andMe bundle very basic 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 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 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 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 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 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.

An autosomal DNA test will provide an ethnicity report, but keep in mind it only goes back about 6-8 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, nor can they 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.

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 DNA kit 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 tube) or very old (and can’t produce enough saliva), the cheek swab might be easier.

Right now, the AncestryDNA and 23andMe DNA test kits 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 test results.

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

  • your raw data
  • ethnicity estimates
  • lists of potential relatives

How Much Does It Cost

Prices vary based on company and test.

Autosomal DNA tests by themselves usually run $69 to $99.

The only company to offer separate Y-DNA and mtDNA tests is Family Tree DNA. These tests will cost you a few hundred dollars, depending on the number of markers tested.

As mentioned above, LivingDNA and 23andMe bundle in basic Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. But they only test a limited number of markers, and do not provide any matching. They really only give you haplogroup information.

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 at the top of this page for a full comparison.

Buy It As A Gift

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

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

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

Choosing a Company

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

All of these testing kits 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 five biggest companies, listed based on how useful overall I think they are for genealogy.


AncestryDNA is the best choice when it comes to genealogy. They have the most extensive database of DNA results for comparison and many other features for genealogists. Read our full AncestryDNA review.

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

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.

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

MyHeritage DNA

MyHeritage is a great choice if you’re looking for matches outside the United States. They seem to have the biggest database of international customers. They also offer some pretty neat tools such as auto clustering and a chromosome browser.

Read our full MyHeritage DNA review. Also, check out our complete comparison of MyHeritage vs AncestryDNA.

MyHeritage DNA Test Kit
  • 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
  • Relatively small (but rapidly growing) database compared to other sites. Currently 1.4 million


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. Read our full Family Tree DNA review.

), 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. Read our full Family Tree DNA review.

Family Tree DNA Test Kit
  • Only company to offer all three tests individually
  • 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
  • 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


In terms of genealogy, 23andMe would not be my first choice. The main advantage of 23andMe is health testing which means that most people who test there aren’t as interested in family history or communicating with matches as compared to sites like Ancestry.

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 Ancestry.

23andMe DNA Test Kit
  • Only site to offer health and wellness reports
  • Has a large database of more than 1 million customers
  • Includes a chromosome browser for comparing results
  • Very limited genealogical community compared to other sites
  • No Y-DNA or mtDNA matching
  • Does not allow upload of raw data from other sites
  • Health and wellness test is not part of the basic fee, it costs extra

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” DNA 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.

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 (in depth for UK) worldwide
  • No separate autosomal DNA only test, so highest overall price
  • Very limited customer database

Which Test Is Best For You?

It depends on your goals…

Here are the best DNA tests

Updated: November 2019

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

Updated November 15, 2019

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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?


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… Read more »


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!



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!


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!!


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.


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… Read more »


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… Read more »


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… Read more »

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,

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!


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!


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… Read more »


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


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?


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… Read more »


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… Read more »


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… Read more »



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


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.


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


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?


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… Read more »


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.

Doug Mahan

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… Read more »


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… Read more »

ChanTlalok Rain Castro

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

Lisa Martin

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.… Read more »

Shane Barnett

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.

Kevin Smith

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

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