Comparing the 5 Major DNA Tests: AncestryDNA

By Shannon Combs Bennett Premium

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Thanks to Ancestry’s fantastic marketing campaign they currently hold the largest number of tests in the direct to consumer DNA testing market, AncestryDNA. That fact alone makes them a company you need to test at if you are looking for relatives to connect. However, there are a few draw backs to be the biggest.

One test

The most crucial bit of information you need to know is that you will only see results for your autosomal DNA (atDNA) at Ancestry. They used to test Y-Chromosome DNA and Mitochondrial DNA but discontinued it several years ago.

Even though you will only see one test at Ancestry, they do have a few features which are very useful and unique. One I particularly like to point out is the “Migrations” which are part of the “Ethnicity Estimate” section. I love looking at history, and my favorite type social history, when researching my family. These migrations are a great way to educate yourself, and others, about the journey your family took as they traveled around the world. As a nation of immigrants, this is particularly important for Americans to look at. I have used it to give me clues about the migration patterns my family may have participated.

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Using DNA Circles

Another feature which can give you great leads into family relationships is “DNA Circles.” You can only take advantage of this feature if you have a public family tree. However, if you are like me a keep a private family tree at Ancestry, you can still use this feature. I merely make my tree public for an hour or so when I want to do this type of research. When I am done, I close it back up. Ssshhhh! I trust you won’t tell my family, the people who ask me to keep it private.

No chromosome browser? No problem

Many users complain that there is not a chromosome browser through AncestryDNA. To be honest, with the tools you have access to on the site you can make do without using. For many of you, it might take a little more thought to do it (or drawing of multi-colored diagrams on paper), but you can do it. If it is a real issue, keep in mind you can upload your raw results from Ancestry to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) or to GEDMatch to access a chromosome browser that way.

Another new feature

Currently in beta testing, “New Ancestor Discoveries” is another feature that could lead you to new information on your family. The people who are listed in this section are possible ancestors. I say possibly because the computer identified them as being the family trees of your matches, but you do not have them in your family tree. They could be in your direct line, or they may be a collateral line for you. The only way to know is to research and find out.


If you missed the first two articles in this series, our first piece discussed benefits of testing, as well as some precautions you should consider. In the second article, I shared my results and thoughts on Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). Be sure to check back next week when we will cover MyHeritage.

Ready to become a DNA expert? Our DNA Crash Course Value Pack is filled with an eBook, cheat sheet, and video downloads to help you discover what genetic testing for ancestry can do for you and how it can be combined with your existing genealogy research. Now is the time to dive into your DNA to discover your ancestry!