DNA testing can improve or quickly understand your family history – through a close relative identification of the earliest ancestor. Some tests claim to reveal your “breed”, although this is a controversial and difficult subject. Certain services can reveal your genetic susceptibility to disease and physiological traits, from the color of your eyes to your tolerance to cilantro.
In the past 20 years, DNA testing has become mainstream with increased visibility, lower prices, and scientific advancement. Its cost is very high to do a DNA test yourself. But in recent years, these kits have become very affordable, and there are several DNA testings companies – from pioneers (like 23andMe and Ancestry to emerging companies, like Living DNA) – can deliver quite complex genes at very cheap price. Compound analysis – or less if you can find deals on Black Friday or regular holiday discounts all year round.
There are three types of DNA tests – each test has its unique advantages, limitations, and principles:
- Autosomal DNA testing is the best investment for most beginners, it can identify family members between five and seven generations from maternal and paternal lines.
- Only men can make effective use of the Y-DNA test, which can identify male relatives dating back to 60,000 years, if you want to find out the history of family names, you can use this test.
- Mitochondrial DNA tests (also called mtDNA tests) can determine maternal genetic relationships up to 150,000 years ago, both men and women can do this type.
After testing, each company will give you an analysis of your geographical origin, some people claim to be able to identify specific countries, cities, and even “tribes”. Some people will also offer matches from their DNA databases, which will give you a leadership position in connecting with potential family members and provide some support for genealogy research. AncestryDNA, for example, offers a subscription service that provides access to hundreds of databases of birth, death and marriage announcements, census records, newspaper archives, and other historical records.
DNA testing and the broader family tree encompass a complex mix of genetics, probability, and guesswork. Different DNA testing services use different laboratories, algorithms, equipment, and standards to analyze your genetic material. While you can expect some degree of overlap between analytics from different companies, there can be significant differences between the two. There is also a key factor: the larger the company database, the larger the sample they use to analyze the results, and the more accurate the test results should be.
We have tried some excellent DNA testing services and assessed the breadth and depth of its products, methods, reputation, and price. View our recommendations below:
Drawing a family tree: AncestryDNA® kit
Ancestry.com is the parent company of AncestryDNA, founded in Utah in the 1990s and originally a publishing and genealogy company. Since then it has been a bit turbulent in the company, which was taken over by private equity groups, sold, publicly-traded, and then bought.
The company’s basic DNA kit service price is very good and can give you an “ethnic estimate” derived from its proprietary sequencing technology. It’s worth noting that the company’s genetic testing has been outsourced to Quest Diagnostics, which is very different from most other companies using paternal Y chromosome and/or maternal mitochondrial DNA methodology, and very little is known about the specific standards they use.
It’s worth noting that AncestryDNA’s 16 million profile database is the largest of all testing services. The company also has a powerful tool that can search hundreds of historical document databases, but any substantive research will quickly take you to the paid area. The ancestry database was further consolidated through collaboration with FamilySearch.org (a family tree record website operated by Mormon Church).
Entry-level membership provides access to over 15 billion U.S. records. After a two-week free trial, the fee is very cheap for 6 months. The “World Explorer” membership rate is also very cheap for a per month, which increases your access to international records, the level of “full access” costs is also very affordable for a per month, including unlimited access to Ancestry’s historical and modern databases, which cover more than 15,000 newspapers and military reports from all over the world.
AncestryDNA provides personalized health reports with “hands-on insights”, access to genetic counseling resources, and online tools to help you map family health for generations. But the results are not diagnostic – although the test results must be approved by a company doctor – and they have not received FDA approval. At the moment, 23andMe still has a head start in the entry DNA test with health risks and genetic screening. But AncestryDNA’s service is particularly well-suited for using preliminary DNA analysis in in-depth historical research to build a family tree.
AncestryDNA allows you to download the full DNA results configuration file and upload the raw data to other tools, and you can exercise reasonable control over your privacy preferences, although these options are not as extensive as other options.
Health DNA Test: Health + Ancestor Service provided by 23andMe
Founded in 2006, 23andMe is one of the pioneers in providing DNA testing to consumers. In 2017, it became the first FDA-approved screening for disease risks. Since the GlaxoSmithKline company has grown into one of the best-known DNA testing companies and is well funded. The latter uses the company’s customer data to research and design new drugs. Despite this, the company recently announced a round of layoffs, citing the slowdown in the DNA testing market due to mounting privacy concerns.
23andMe divides its analysis into three main categories: health, pedigree, and traits. The basic test and characteristics test include an analysis of your genetic makeup, including your birth area, maternal and paternal blood, and Neanderthal blood. After you sign up, the company’s matching database (with over 10 million profiles) identifies contact with people who share your DNA pairings.
The company’s DNA health test starts at a very reasonable price and can provide you with information about the late-onset genetic susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other diseases. The service also includes analysis of your status as a potential genetic carrier of disease carriers, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, as well as indicators of lactose intolerance and other “health problems”. The VIP Health and Ancestry software package prioritize laboratory processing, high-quality customer support, and personalized results delivery.
I found 23andMe’s website and mobile application very easy to navigate and browse, full of interesting, easy to understand information about my origins and health, as well as genetics and genealogy. The main dashboard provides intuitive links to explore your origins, understand the genetic risks of health, build a family tree, and connect with family members. In all the DNA tests I’ve tried, 23andMe introduced my modern and ancient genealogy and analyzed my genetic health. The only real drawback is that it doesn’t provide integrated access to historical documents.
However, 23andMe has easy access to various privacy preferences and consent options. (It should be noted that 23andMe’s terms of service and privacy statement are the most comprehensive, over 20,000 words.) You can ask the company to indefinitely store your saliva samples for future testing, or have them discarded. I signed the agreement when I first registered, and then changed my mind, allowing the company to share my data with researchers other than 23andMe and withdraw my consent with just one click.
The best analysis and tool for intermediate users – FamilyTree DNA
Founded in 2000, FamilyTreeDNA offers a complete set of reports and interactive tools for analyzing your DNA and building a family tree. With the credible statement of “the most comprehensive DNA matching database in the world”, FamilyTreeDNA offers all three types of tests: autosomal DNA, Y-DNA, and mtDNA. It is the only company that owns and operates its own testing facility: a genetic engineering laboratory in Houston.
The entry-level price of the entry-level “family parentage package” is also a very good price, although it is often discounted. The test results provide information about your ethnic and geographic origins, identify potential family members, and provide access to the company’s extensive DNA database. I paid reasonable prices for extensive DNA testing, including analysis of my mtDNA and Y-DNA and the company’s autosomal test ‘Family Finder.’
While the user interface is a bit more complicated than the ones on other sites, FamilyTreeDNA offers the most complete starter kit of all the providers I’ve tested. For every type of test, there is a match for you – my autosomal DNA test has over 22,000 chromosome browsers, migration map, haploid and contact with the ancestral reference population, mutation information and link, you can download the original data. It can be said that there are many discussions to understand yourself, your family, and your health.
FamilyTree also offers many high-quality tests for those interested in digging further, including a series of Y-DNA tests that track the path of your male ancestor and the history of your last name. The company also allows you to upload raw DNA data files from other services and transfer your autosomal information to the database to expand your matching relationship.
From the point of view of data security and privacy, FamilyTreeDNA has several attractive things. The company conducts its own DNA tests in its own laboratory, including handling, processing, and storing samples. A prominent position on the homepage of its website says that the company will never sell your DNA to third parties. However, like most other companies, FamilyTreeDNA can use your general genetic information for internal research and may meet law enforcement requirements unless you choose to opt-out.