I surrender, I will write one blog and say why I would choose which DNA test. Every year I am asked when the holiday sales hit – which one do I get? What, why, where? I do not have money set up with any of the companies – not yet. If I had a Christmas, Holiday, Hanukkah, Diwali, Bodhi, Milad un Nabi, Thanksgiving, New Years wish for a present for me, it would be a nice sponsorship from one of the biggies, but I am 66 and am not delusional so at this minute, I am not getting paid by anyone to say anything.
When my family and I began testing in 2004 there were few matches and little information. Today there are more matches than I will likely be able to read for the family and they are from all over the world. This industry for DNA for genealogy has grown so fast and is growing at a rate that it will not take anytime until we have the entire world – I hope – linked by cousins. I truly believe no matter where you are in the world you will find lots to enjoy with DNA for genealogy.
The Family Tree DNA sale is on. This links to my project – I am not making any money off these sales – you are buying directly from them. And you will be automatically made a member of the project for worldwide friends and family.
The DNA story
If you are a person looking for your biological family and you can only afford one test then you would start with the largest database – which only makes sense. You will see this below.
If you are looking for medical then there is one main company who tests specifically for medical info among other genealogy tests and you will see them below, but I say if you are only wanting to do this for the medical, only do this with a doctor and maybe pay for counselling before you test to make sure how you feel about results and your ability to cope with any difficult results.
If you only want your admixture you will also find a company or two or three that can give you information. If you do not want genealogy or contact with relatives and only want anthropology you can choose a company that will give you the best of the bells and whistles without unexpected family reunions, cousins, siblings or children – see below.
I will say upfront before your read any farther, if you are not prepared for new genetic relatives – close ones and distant ones — you might consider starting with the closed results companies and work your way into this new personal exploration slowly.
If you are looking for ancestors, you have come to the right place – DNA for genealogy testing has multiple companies that test you and others and have features that show your genetic matches as well as verifying ancestries, and helping to break the brick walls of genealogy where records do not exist or other research problems.
The first thing I would be asked in the onslaught of emails this time of year about which company to go with and what testing is all about is sometimes phrased as, “Which one could you not give up?” That would be my first love, the one that does all the tests. In DNA for genealogy, with so many companies offering something, it is easy to miss that only one of the many companies, Family Tree DNA, tests all three of the main DNA tests for genealogy AND gives the tools to organize and understand your matches. I am biased – it has almost one stop shopping.
The autosomal test (called au-DNA or at-DNA) shows matches with all your readable genetic relatives for the last few generations and is found at several companies. see below.
So for my money, if I want to start slowly but have my sample at a great company with a great laboratory and be able to add the other wonderful DNA-for-genealogy and anthropology tests, then I have to go with ftDNA. They have the y-DNA test — the male paternal line test, only for males (test your dad, your brother, your male line cousin if need be, if you are a girl) and the y-DNA reveals the father’s father’s father’s father’s for eons. ftDNA also offers the third main test — the mt-DNA the maternal line test that is for both men and women to reveal the haplogroup of their mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s and on for eons. There is very little genealogy to usually be gained with the mt-dna test but oh, how can anyone not want to know your maternal line haplogroup?
A word about admixture by any name the various companies call it. I hope all will look at my blog Admixture A Comparison (see it in the contents list on the right or on a phone see below). The admixture results are created from what are called reference populations. So the computer software sees x y and z people and names them as X Y or Z national region and then if you match any of the x y and z, then the software will guess that you might be X percent of x and y percent of y and Zzzzzz. The reach is only a short distance in time but as I say in my blog Comparison – I love all mine — however different from one another — but some more than others. And since the test cannot read most ancestors beyond a few generations or so — you cannot know much about earlier ancestors — we all still want and love our admixture – all of them.
In that blog you will see links to articles where admixture is called – ‘for entertainment purposes only’ – and you will see links to learn there is little to no North American Native DNA in the reference populations and so the test can’t really say NO you are not. – There are several populations missing from all the reference populations so with that in mind…
But the admixture results are almost like an afterthought compared to the rest of the DNA for genealogy tests. The meat and potatoes — or soy burger and spinach of the testing — is the genealogy matching. A parent and child share roughly 3,300 cMs or centiMorgans (genes amounts); siblings about 2,000 cMs; grandparents, grandchildren or half siblings about 1,500 cMs; 1st cousins about 700 cMs and so on. So the magic and the fun of DNA for genealogy is finding your matches in the databases and then, based on how many cMs two people share, you can hopefully figure out in which family lines you are related – see below.
To the testing (and other) companies… which one(s) do we want…
Family Tree DNA
DNA Testing for all 3 main tests plus some of the best Bells and Whistles features for DNA for genealogy
Matching: included. Amounts of cMs: included. chromosome browser, matching in common or not in common with, matrix comparison, admixture, ancient origins, x-gene matching: all included. Tree included; that’s right tree included. No subscription and all three DNA tests available.
Family Tree DNA – almost everything with almost one stop shopping – My favorite – they are all here y-DNA, mt-DNA and au-DNA aka at-DNA
A beauty of the male y-DNA test being conducted is when the men also test their au-DNA aka at-DNA and if you can match with a male in autosomal and identify that he might be the y-DNA of one of your ancestral lines you can prove your relationship to that line and learn the y-DNA of that line through your autosomal cousin. ftDNA supports haplogroup projects and y-DNA surname projects and also mt-DNA projects and dual surname and geographical projects.
Through using these multiple types of DNA for genealogy I have been able to verify my relationship with multiple family lines. Through the testing of other relatives and their matching within surname projects we have learned more about each of the families and verified each of their family groups with those we have so far been able to test. So for me, I want the company that can give me all tests and matching for all.
This below is the link to my dual y-DNA and mt-DNA project that is for family, in-laws and friends. I try to help everyone and if i can’t I try to direct people to who can help. From my project page you can click top left to see the main site. All sales will be the same in the projects. Hint: The holiday sale begins soon.
The Family Tree DNA test for autosomal DNA is called Family Finder and from several projects besides the website you can purchase all the tests they offer. They do NOT share data.
This is the link to the main website of ftDNA
DNA Testing Partnered With Amazing DNA APPs
I would not have even learned about Helix when I did except I follow the geneticist Dr Spencer Wells, with his endorsement we got the National Geographic’s Genographic test 1.0 before it went on sale. Today the Genographic results are also tested through Helix – See below for the Genographic info.
I name Helix here as a tester because my next entry for my “admixture” that I loved the best is with Insitome. Insitome and several other companies provide their DNA services as APPs or products or information and products and services, but all the testing is done through Helix. Once your testing is done with Helix then you can get an array of DNA products and services for your holiday gifts. No data sharing that I know of.
Regional Ancestry, Neanderthal Traits and Percentages and Metabolism
Once you have your DNA tested with Helix then you buy your DNA APPs – and my first was Neanderthal and then very excited when they offered Regional Ancestry.
My favorite, as I call it, ‘admixture’ – “Insitome’s Regional Ancestry” – they tell me lots about my regions besides telling me the percentages of myself – of who can be seen in my ancestry. The Neanderthal is just wonderful. I have been in love with Neanderthals since forever, I have believed with all my heart they were not as described, and for that matter – I can vow – they were much more good looking than depicted today even in Insitome’s representation – if memory serves… And the Metabolism gave me food for thought and understanding. As a senior with Osteo of the spine and low calcium, my results give me understanding of maybe why I need to listen to the doctor and take my calcium pills.
Many do not want the genealogy via trees and matching the new and old relatives, but maybe they do want the story of their admixture, story of what can be learned of their heritage. They also might want to learn about their link to ancient hominids by learning their percentage of Neanderthal ancestry. Insitome is hands down the best if these are the tests on your holiday wish list. And on top of these two readings of your DNA they have a third APP which is for understanding your Metabolism – are some of your traits from Hunter Gatherers or from Early Farmers – which are you? Each APP is purchased separately.
For the Regional Ancestry and Neanderthal percentages I loved that they give us stories about ourselves and about the places – the regions our ancestors sprang from. And they give stories about Neanderthals and information about lives intersecting and to turn a phrase they humanize them, reminding us they are our ancestors also.
Insitome is my favorite (admixture) – aka Regional Ancestry
– and I love my Neanderthal from them also
They give so much information about the results and it is easy to read and digest whether a Farmer or Hunter. As a bonus for all of us in the world they have a podcast and it is also on a free YouTube channel – they cover many subjects on DNA in the videos.
I also of course wrote a blog called “Neanderthal lovers” – you will see it in contents or below. No data sharing that I know of
Full Service genealogy records and autosomal DNA company
I have them high in my list because all I do know about them I love and have loved supporting them. Unfortunately for DNA I can only tell you about their raw data DNA transfers from a third party company to their system. The site is easy to use and the features are laid out so they are easy to understand. I have not used their subscription records and I did not test my DNA with them. So why am I keeping them high on my happy wish list? They are a relatively new company which has reached an expanded group of peoples. Based in Israel and with expanding their reach into Europe and the Middle East and then the wider world they have the potential to expand and find new matches that some other companies might not be able to reach.
I love my matching features with them and they give me notifications when I have new matches and they share with me information about my admixture as they read it with their features for understanding it. I have a small tree with them with just a couple of generations of ancestors and if I can find more time to research and use their site I would consider trying their full subscription – I have heard nothing but good things about their company – but at this point in time I have had limited use of all they offer. I liked their web pages for the tree and it was also easy to use.
MyHeritage tests only the autosomal but has partnered with FamilyTreeDNA and suggests their customers add the y-DNA and the mt-DNA testing. I do not know about sharing Data
AncestryDNA – The Largest Data Base
Full Service genealogy records and autosomal DNA company
They are the biggest for DNA testing and their genealogy records website has been around the longest of the commercial companies that test the autosomal DNA. If you can only afford one test so have only one shot to try to find biological family, then because they are the largest you have the best chance to find a close match to identify your ancestry. Because I have a subscription to the records and the trees on their site I am not certain of what you get if you only buy the DNA test. One would have to assume you would see your matches and be able to contact them but you may not be able to see your matches’ trees or records. I am sorry to be vague but this is not well explained on the site.
Many people write that they are not answered by their matches, and I sometimes wonder if emails get changed and so notifications do not reach people, and if people do not have a subscription and they receive messages I wonder if they think they might have to pay to answer and so don’t open emails at all? Another answer I don’t have, but I see the questions on the genealogy groups all the time – not just about AncestryDNA but all the companies and people lament not being answered.
I am disappointed personally how the DNA circles work for matching genetic relatives with shared in-common ancestors in trees so randomly. Two people might be related but how they are related might not be answered with their system. I do have some matching and the guessed ancestor is not related to me. I have every line of mine in recent history that can be identified with the limited reach of au-DNA aka at-DNA using multiple testing with multiple relatives. With the one match I see which has the wrong guesses, based on the matches in common. I might guess that the person who matches me must have a Non-Paternity Event (NPE) and not know it. But that is another story to write and lay out the evidence. Many of the problems I see in trees and matching would be instantly fixed if DNA linked trees only contained direct ancestors and immediate siblings and a limited number of generations and then you can fix the glitches in your own tree by matching yourself with your own data. They ONLY test au-DNA aka at-DNA. They used to test some y-DNA SNPs and so on but stopped and went to all autosomal and they share raw data for medical research – read their website for their current partners in medical research
I could not give up my Ancestry.com or my Ancestry trees or my AncestryDNA.
Two guys and a dream – an autosomal DNA reader among other things
I pause for a moment on the DNA testing companies and add a note about Gedmatch – yes I blogged about them – many times – see the contents – They do not do DNA testing They take third party uploads. They have about a dozen different ways of reading admixture (when you figure in the sub-categories) and other really cool features. The uploads are free and for gifties you can buy some extra features – but don’t even think about that until you jump in and try all their free upload goodies.
What is your eye color? guessed. I love this and have to tell the story – I am from a mixed marriage in many ways – my father has blue eyes, my mother brown and I have brown eyes. I almost fell off my seat when I did this feature as it showed me my late father’s eyes exactly – I loved it. I screen captured and I share it, I look at it, there are no surviving color photos of my father – my gedmatch eye is the only one.
Are your parents related? Use a chromosome browser to see overlapping matching genes – match one to many and match one to one or one to a few. like I wrote Gedmatch – Baby, baby, baby I love you.
Their uploads for easiest reading are from Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and so on (they also take 23andme in a separate section).
Yes, they are the company that is bringing justice for victims of crime – i will add links below about some of the recent stories how their database was used.
Our British Cousins Reach Around The World DNA testing
I certainly loved these results – you get the admixture that everybody wants AND you get the haplogroup(s) that I love and always tell people – please get your haplogroups one way or another – you will love learning your haplogroup(s).
The Across The Pond DNA testing company that gives a beautiful reading of admixture and will be adding other features in the future. LivingDNA has plans for matching so at this point in time you will want to buy it for what there is now. Women will learn their maternal DNA basic haplogroup, and admixture. Men learn both their mt-DNA maternal DNA basic haplogroup and also their y-DNA paternal line haplogroup as well as the admixture reading.
They have a sharing of your results if you like and here are mine
They also have a softback book for sale of your story with the results and those are a treasure (I hope they still have it).
This minute they are taking uploads but you will only be part of the later matching for the LivingDNA One Family and I don’t know how long they will continue to take uploads and I do not know about them sharing data.
National Geographic’s Genographic Project
Reading DNA with admixture and basic haplogroups
Testing with Helix
I have Genographic’s 1.0 and 2.0 but not the 2.0 Next Generation with Helix. It will be all that was offered before and with an updated results page. They do not offer matching but with the Next Generation you can have a limited upload to Family Tree DNA and see some matching for y-DNA.
Their results are with added stories which I love and originally supporting the Genographic Project and being among the first to test with them was a thrill for the explorers in us. This time the exploration was the DNA in us.
With no matching at the service, it does offer the anonymity that some wish. You are told the basics – mt-DNA haplogroup and for men on the y-DNA – the hominid percentage and admixture. I believe they might share data for research still
Caution – these above are my OLD results from a previous version of Genographic from 2012 – I still love my results and can access when I wish. They also tell about the ancestry which is special to learn all in one place.
DNA Testing with Medical and Genealogy Matching plus plus
DNA testing: Included. Admixture: Included. Matching, and seeing matches in common: included. The basic haplogroups and percentages of hominid are all included. And, they are the premier company to give you medical information through your DNA.
Yes, I blogged about it and said I would not recommend any medical testing without a doctor and counselors for support. At least on the East Coast I have seen multiple doctors who snubbed their noses at the very idea but if you are on the West Coast with progressive 21st century thinkers you can likely find doctors everywhere who will not only be supportive but also have possibly tested themselves.
They do not allow uploads of DNA from other companies to their database, and with their new software there are few places left right now that you can take the raw data of your DNA tested with 23 and add it to other places for added reading, matches and genealogy features. They do share data.
Envelope Stamp Testing
No, I have not tried them yet but it will be a matter of when not if. See my blog a “Lick Away From Granny’s DNA” about this new envelope artifact testing
to the letter DNA
These companies all have their own “thing” and they also have their own “crowd,” some because of location and some because they are geeks.
There are sales all year long with some of the companies – so you can get most of them today for what one of them cost ten years ago.
Sales do not last and you might read this after any holiday sales are finished – Some sites are free and some have fees – please check first. I could have made a typo, they might have changed their site from free to pay – so for all information above and below – check and check again or please ask questions.
I have a tradition of music for DNA and here is a holiday selection for a Cajun Christmas
WPFW is a local Washington, D.C. station, they will play amazing music for the holidays and you can listen online.
Sites that allow uploads of third-party data:
And Nebula – is a giving site – brand new and you must research – I will add more about them only later.