Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Comparison of the Three Major DNA Testing Websites for Genealogy

I have tested with all three of these companies and offer my comparison and critique here:

Cost:  $99

What you get:   Ethnicity/Ancestry Composition Graph & map, and a list of matches from  within the ranks of Ancestry users based on your autosomal DNA.

Pros:  You get to see a lot of users’ online trees, from people with whom you share DNA.  Ancestry has a large amount of users, so you will get plenty of matches.

Cons:  The Ethnicity report was incorrect in my case, in comparison with the other two testing websites and my own documented research (several other people reporting this on other websites);  you do not get to see the exact chromosomal location of your matches;  you are not able to compare two matches with each other  or with another family member.  Also info on online trees can be inaccurate. 

Conclusion:  Results not nearly as sophisticated as the other two testing companies, and in my opinion, not worth the money.

Cost:  $99

What you get:   an autosomal test which reveals your mitochrondrial DNA haplogroup for females and/or your Y DNA haplogroup if you are a male; Health Risk results; a list of matches in your Relative Finder from within the ranks of 23andMe users;  an Ancestry Composition tool which shows both map & chromosomal location of your ethnicity (results based on current knowledge), 2 DNA comparison tools which allow you to see the exact location of match on chromosomes; Neanderthal DNA percentage tool;  and more.

Pros:  Gives your maternal  DNA haplogroup if female and both maternal/paternal if you are male; has DNA comparison tools which allow you to not only compare yourself to your matches, but to compare your matches with each other.  One of them allows up to four people to be compared.  Allows family members to be on the same profile (parents, siblings, etc); The new Ancestry Composition tool gives very detailed info on ethnicity, especially in the chromosomal view. Website is entirely searchable, so you can run searches on surnames or find relatives & friends who you know have been tested.  The company has vowed to keep the price low and increase the number of testees on the website.  Worldwide users, so you may get matches overseas.

Cons:  Health results are dubious sometimes because so little knowledge exists as to genetic causes of diseases; many people are only interested in the Health results and will decline or never respond to invitations to share; many people put absolutely no information on their profiles, not even a surname; many have no clue about their own family history;  23andMe’s new family tree tool is still not working properly; website can be confusing at first, and often requires explaining by longstanding members;  company has had a very wonky business model in the past, with poor record for customer service & dealing with complaints.

Conclusion:  The recent price drop and upgrades to the website have made it one of the more sophisticated and accessible testing companies.  The new Ancestry Composition tool seems to be the best & most accurate out there! 

Family Tree DNA
Cost:      Varies; $289 for “Family Finder” their basic autosomal test;   $89 to transfer results from 23andMe;   Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests have several levels, prices ranging from about $300--$600

What you get:   Depends on which test you take;  Family Finder autosomal gives ethnic composition (accurate), a list of matches from within the ranks of Family Tree DNA users, a DNA comparison tool which allows you to see the exact chromosomal location of the match;  and a tool which allows you to compare matches with other matches.

Y DNA and mitrochodrial tests also give you a list of matches, and the same tools, plus more.  A complete list of mutations  of your haplogroup is included.  The haplogroups on this website have been updated with the new RSRS comparison system, developed in 2012 by Dr Doron Behar, et al.

Pros:  Family Tree DNA is closely aligned with the scientific community and tends  to be very accurate;  users can donate their results for scientific research; website allows users to upload a family tree so that others can view; all the users are on this website because of an interest in genealogy; match results are searchable by surname; website hosts surname & Y DNA/ M DNA projects so that people can compare results. The ability to upload 23andMe’s results to Family Tree DNA is great--allows one to expand the number of matches to compare.

Cons:  Website can be confusing or difficult to navigate (they are working on this);  Y-DNA and mitochondrial results sometimes difficult to understand w/o further reading on the science behind the test; more expensive than the other testing sites; have to pay extra to find out haplogroups; many users never respond to queries or emails;  very small base of users in comparison to the other testing sites.  I have been contacted only once by a Family Tree DNA user.  Jim has never been contacted.

Conclusion:  definitely has it’s merits, but the price tag tends to put people off.

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2013


John Ruhlman said...

Wow, very helpful! Thanks Betty

SoCal [LA] Freehikers said...

Thanks Betty.