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. This guide will break down everything you need to know. But first, here’s a quick comparison:

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 1,000+ 42 24 1,000+ 80 (in depth for UK)
Family Matching Yes Yes Yes Yes Limited
Database Size 18 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 For extra fee For extra fee No For extra fee No

The top 5 kits reviewed


The best DNA test kit for genealogy and family history research, AncestryDNA has the most extensive database (18 million customers) so you’ll find the most DNA matches there.

Ancestry DNA test kit

What I like:

  • Database of over 18 million customers for matching
  • Strong genealogical community
  • Connect with DNA matches through anonymous email and message boards
  • Link your results to your online family tree
  • No subscription required

What I don’t like

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

Read my 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 DNA 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 option 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 I like:

  • Largest database of international customers to be matched with
  • Link your results to your online family tree
  • Allows free upload of raw data from other sites
  • Covers 42 ethnic regions
  • The price. Usually more affordable than the competition.

What I don’t like

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

Read my complete MyHeritageDNA review.


23andMe is the best option for dedicated genetic testing for health risks. 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. The health test gives you reports for carrier status, health risks, traits, and wellness.

23 and me DNA test kit

What I 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 I 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 my complete 23andMe review.

You may also be interested in my 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 I 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 I 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 my 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 I like:

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

What I don’t like

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

Read my complete LivingDNA review.

In this buyer’s guide:

The three different types of DNA tests

There are three main types of DNA tests used in genealogy and family history research.

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 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 your DNA comes from your father and half from your mother.

Going back in generations, that means that roughly one-fourth of your DNA comes from each of your grandparents, one-eighth from each of your 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 atDNA 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 atDNA 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 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 atDNA 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 your 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 atDNA 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 atDNA 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 is 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 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 atDNA 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 test

For most people, the atDNA test is the clear winner, and it is the one test that every testing company offers.

Because your atDNA 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 atDNA 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 atDNA test is only useful for about 6-8 generations.

atDNA can provide some great leads on finding others who are researching the same family tree as you.

mtDNA test

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.

Y-DNA test

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 Y-DNA 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/admixture testing

All three of the 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.
  • atDNA 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.

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.


Which DNA kit is the best?

It depends on your goals…

If you’re just looking for ethnicity results, I recommend Ancestry, MyHeritage, or 23andMe.

If your main goal is to do genealogical research or find/connect with distant relatives, then I recommend Ancestry since they have the largest customer database.

Testing for ancient origins, haplogroups, or surname studies? FamilyTreeDNA is your only choice.

Looking to test for genetic health concerns? 23andMe would be my choice.

Which DNA test is the most accurate?

Most people who ask this question are referring to ethnicity estimates so that’s how we’ll answer it here.

In my experience, Ancestry and 23andMe are the most accurate.

If you test will all five companies like I have, you’ll notice that none of them have the same regions so it’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison.

For example, 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA lump together British and Irish ethnicity as one whereas Ancestry will separate your Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh DNA.

And for British ancestry, LivingDNA will even go so far as to estimate the exact regions of these areas you’re from. For example, they estimate my English DNA is primarily from Southeast England which is actually correct according to my research.

23andMe was also able to tell me that my Italian DNA was from the Calabria region (which is accurate) whereas Ancestry just tells me Southern Italian and MyHeritage just says Italian.

Every testing company wants to be as accurate as possible down to the specific region of every country. And companies like Ancestry routinely provide refined ethnicity report updates to their existing customers.

It’s a fine balance though because the more specific the estimate, the more likely the chances of being inaccurate. But as science progresses and more people around the world get tested, the accuracy will continue to improve.

​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 my full guide to testing for Native American ancestry.


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

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

I don’t suppose DNA samples are kept….

Thank you for taking the time to advise. Joan


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


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

Anne Kaufman

Hello Mark, Thanks for your very informative descriptions of the various DNA tests and companies. I’m tracing my husband’s line and have gotten as far as his great-great-grandfather (four generations on his paternal line). That is where we are stuck. His 4th generation ancestor was born in Friesdorf, Germany in 1829 (no birth record or knowledge of his parents or siblings that we have found). The Y-DNA test appears be the best one to use but my husband thinks his ancestor may have Jewish roots (the spelling of his last name contains two sets of double consonants; although not uncommon… Read more »


Hi Mark,

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



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

Jane Crocker

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

Lorrie Scott
Reply to  Jane Crocker

My dad was a Crocker!!


Hi Mark, Thanks for the informative article. I’ve done an autosomal with and am considering the m and y tests (my brother would do that one). All 4 of my grandparents were European-born and came to the US in the 19-teens. I’m looking for your advice on which company has the best international data base, for finding records, and finding living overseas relatives. Would you suggest sticking with Ancestry (I’ll need to resubscribe and to World Explorer, which I haven’t yet checked out) – though Ancestry doesn’t do the m and y tests or download data from other companies?… Read more »

Jim Pap

Hello Mark!

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

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

Which company do you suggest?



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


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


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


Thank you for this comprehensive explanation

Randy S. Scott

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


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


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

Paul L Doré

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

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

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

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


Hi Mark, Thank you for the excellent breakdown of info and companies. Very helpful! And thank you for using correct terminology (data are). 🙂 I am interested in my ethnology and am looking for the autosomal DNA test with the finest scale regional breakdown that would apply to me. My father was 1st generation American of Lithuanian Jewish descent whose family made it out of Lithuania between WWI and WWII. We know less about my mother’s genealogy, who is also 1st generation American. Her father was French Canadian and was told he was also of Native American descent, and her… Read more »


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


Hey Mark, Thanks so much for your detailed article!! I was thinking about having my mother and father both take a DNA test. Would it still be beneficial for me to take the test? Or perhaps have my father take it and me and by process of elimination I’ll know what traits are from my mother? Last Q – we are 100% Polish (or so my parents claim). Do you now if any of the tests will get down to that detail or simply state “Eastern European”? Would love to hear your recommendation! I’m mainly looking for detailed ethnicity background… Read more »


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

Linda Goodnight

Hi Mark,

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

Micheline Lee

Hi Mark, I’m new at this & recently obtained a DNA kit for myself & one of my sons through MyHeritage (not sure the type of testing), haven’t received the results yet. So grateful I found you, I had no idea of the different tests, Thanks for education. So now I’m confused & hope you can guide me in the right direction. I purchased 2 kits for my daughter-in-laws, so do I need to tests my other son & all my grandsons, or just The one son, since their both from same father? Also, my mother was born in Paris,… Read more »

Micheline Lee
Reply to  Marc McDermott

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


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

Joff elliott


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


Hi Mark,

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



Thanks so much, Mark, for your excellent, thorough, and clear article! I still have two questions: 1) I learned that it is illegal in France and Germany to do DNA testing, unless ordered by the law courts. I am wondering how this affects DNA data base for those regions, and if there is a DNA testing company which may have more of a data base for those areas. My mother is from France, with generations on all sides of her known family living for centuries (at least based on paper and in cimeteries) as far back as 1400 in the… Read more »

Veronica Cameron

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


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


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


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?

Reply to  Marc McDermott

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

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?

S Ross
Reply to  Marc McDermott

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

Reply to  Marc McDermott

Hi Mark, I’m also looking into my maternal grandfather. My mother was one of five children and there were two separate fathers. My mother’s paternity was always in question, but we have reason to believe her biological father was one of the two men my grandmother was involved with. The difficulty now is trying to find out for sure, if we can. Sadly my mother passed away in 2016, and both of the brothers who we believe she shared paternity with have also passed away. I have a male cousin who is the son of one of those brothers, myself… Read more »

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?