MyHeritage and 23andMe are among the larger group of DNA databases utilized by throngs of genealogists professionally and otherwise. If you are in the market and deciding what DNA company to test through, there are many options out there, and I hope this article might be able to guide you in some way.
First and foremost, before deciding which company to go with, it is important to figure out what exactly you are looking for. 23andMe is very user-friendly and has a large database, the second largest in North America, after AncestryDNA’s 15 million users. If you are interested in what you inherited from your parents, 23andMe is a great source. If you are interested in location European cousins who may have tested, MyHeritage might be the better option. Both of these companies have great tools and research, so you can’t go wrong.
If you’re looking for biological family members utilizing your autosomal data, then AncestryDNA is, by far, the better option. So, if that is the case, why do we even consider these other companies? Because they all do things differently and from each company, we can deduce different things from the same data being run through different tools.
23andMe offers a large database full of consumers (aka your cousin matches). They also offer maternal and paternal haplogroups and determine what percent of your DNA is derived from the long-extinct Neanderthals. 23andMe has the leg up on being the largest consumer company that is largely based on health traits. If you are an adoptee interested in knowing what kinds of health traits you inherited from unknown parents and grandparents, 23andMe is fine-tuned specifically for that purpose. They pride themselves on their intense, in-depth research from data they pull from their consumers both genetically and through surveys and polls that their consumers are asked (not required) to participate in. MyHeritage does not offer anything like this.
By utilizing health traits, users can pinpoint specific reports that are genetically tailored to them. These reports range from your likeness to bald to your more likely or less likely at risk of certain diseases.
In the mail-order DNA world, this is truly something specific to 23andMe. With the data they collect from their consumers, 23andMe can continuously build on their research to provide more reports to their users. Though AncestryDNA has come out with a health kit, I do not expect them to come close to competing with 23andMe in the health space.
Another note is that the publicity 23andMe has gotten itself (TV commercials, CEO being a recurring Shark on SharkTank, etc.) the user numbers outshine MyHeritage quite greatly.
See my complete review of 23andMe.
MyHeritage is a company with a semi-large database though they do not come near to the users of 23andMe. MyHeritage has been available to European consumers longer than 23andMe and Ancestry, so if you’re searching for family across the pond, this is the better option. MyHeritage also offers incredible research tools that allow you to visualize our genetic data about your matches. The clustering tool allows you to group your matches into genetic networks, which allow you to research those groups and determine who your common ancestors are. 23andMe does not have this.
Furthermore, Suppose you are a family genealogist looking to confirm your family tree through biological relationships. In that case, MyHeritage offers the genetic data alongside the paper-trail data, and that content is very hard to compete with. You can utilize their records database with a subscription, and this is content that 23andMe cannot come close to competing with. When viewing matches on MyHeritage, you can view it and hopefully pinpoint your relation if your matches have a family tree. On 23andMe, you are only given lists of surnames by your matches (if they input the data). However, remember that 23andMe is generally publicized as a health company rather than a genealogy company, so their consumers are not always interested in their genealogical history.
See my complete MyHeritage DNA review.
Things to consider
Where 23andMe cannot compete with the pool of European testers, MyHeritage cannot compete with the health traits. Common things these companies utilize are their ethnicity estimates. All companies use separate reference samples, and so there will be discrepancies between the same person’s results across these two companies.
23andMe and MyHeritage offer chromosome browsers that allow the users to display each of their chromosomes side by side. By doing this, you can visually see where you and your DNA matches share the same segments. This type of data is very useful and can’t be done on other sites like AncestryDNA.
Also similar is that these are generally large databases commonly utilized by professionals, novices, and those who pick the hobby up now and again. You are bound to have many matches regardless of which company you decide.
One of the best things about 23andMe, though, is that you can take your genetic data and transfer it all over to MyHeritage to view the results and utilize their tools. The same can be done with AncestryDNA. You cannot upload DNA from MyHeritage to AncestryDNA or 23andMe.
Though these two companies offer widely different tools and reports, it does not say that one is better and one is worse. They both have a large growth rate of users. They are continuously adding granular data to specify their users’ results regardless of which ethnic origins their users come from. In the last three years, all companies have been steering away from their specificity when it came to caucasian ethnic groups because they realized they were catering towards a certain population. By diversifying and becoming inclusive, these two companies have grown much more, and their consumers have been satisfied by updated reports and ethnicity estimates.
I always recommend 23andMe, and I always encourage users to download their 23andMe RAW data file and upload it to MyHeritage. There is a paywall when uploading to MyHeritage, but the tools are well worth the price. By utilizing both companies, you obtain the best of both worlds and make your money stretch a lot further.
However, while reading this article, keep in mind that many more websites offer different tools and even larger databases. These versus articles are truly an introspective look at the tools and the number of users.
- Larger database than MyHeritage (in North America)
- Offers Health Traits
- Neanderthal Reports
- Paternal and Maternal Haplogroup Reports
- Larger database of European users
- Clustering tools
- Family tree-building tools and online records database
Similarities consist of both having chromosome browser and ethnicity estimates among large databases for cousin matches.
The last word
You cannot go wrong but, just remember, you cannot upload your MyHeritage data to 23andMe. Only your 23andMe data to MyHeritage. If you had to choose between the two, I would suggest doing the following. Go ahead and buy the 23andMe DNA kit and then download your Raw data file, and upload it to MyHeritage and pay for the tools that they offer. That way, you don’t have to buy two separate tests and test with two companies.