Best DNA Testing Kits for Genealogy: Ordering Your DNA Test
DNA testing is the hottest trend in genealogy: With millions of people getting tested, it’s faster and easier than ever to uncover new relatives and learn more about your heritage. If you’d like to try DNA testing yourself, you probably have a lot of questions. Family Tree has the resources you need to plan your testing strategy and make the most of your results.
Which DNA Testing Kit Should I Order?
The best genealogy DNA test for most people is an autosomal DNA kit. This is the type of test advertised on TV, and the one that will tell you about your entire genetic family tree. Your autosomal DNA test results will include a geographic breakdown of where your ancestors came from — called an ethnicity estimate — along with a list of other test-takers you share DNA in common with — your genetic cousins. Your list of cousin matches will typically say how close the relationship is; for example, second cousins, fourth cousins, half-siblings, etc.
Two of the leading autosomal DNA testing services, AncestryDNA and MyHeritageDNA, allow you to research and organize your family tree right alongside your DNA results and integrate with your other genealogy finds, making them good choices for customers who are new to genealogy as well as longtime genealogy enthusiasts.
More than 4 million people have tested with AncestryDNA, making it the market leader in genetic genealogy testing. If you subscribe to Ancestry.com, the ease of adding AncestryDNA to your genealogy explorations makes this test a great choice. And if you’re not an Ancestry.com customer already, that 4-million-plus database means lots of potential relatives.
Read these Family Tree tutorials to learn more about AncestryDNA’s autosomal DNA test and tools:
- How to use AncestryDNA Shared Matches
- All About AncestryDNA Web Seminar Download
- Family Tree Tutorial: AncestryDNA Shared Matches
- DNA Testing Resource Toolkit
- AncestryDNA Genetic Communities First Look! My Moms Munster Irish Connections
MyHeritage’s autosomal DNA testing service, launched in late 2016, is rapidly growing in popularity. Like AncestryDNA, the MyHeritage test allows you to integrate your DNA and family tree research. MyHeritage caters to a more international audience, and because the service is relatively new, testers can take advantage of great introductory pricing and benefit from new features and enhancements to results as MyHeritage rolls them out.
Read these Family Tree tutorials to learn more about MyHeritage DNA's autosomal DNA test and tools:
- MyHeritage Web Guide
- Making MyHeritage Work for You Web Seminar Download
- MyHeritage DNA Releases New & Improved Ethnicity Estimate Reports
- New! in Genetic Genealogy: MyHeritage DNA Autosomal Testing
TIP: Ultimately, because each company’s database of DNA samples is unique, we at Family Tree recommend testing with as many companies as you can afford to. Especially for adoptees and others trying to unpuzzle unknown parentage, it’s critical to get into as many databases as possible to find biological matches. But if you can only do one test right now, start with the site where you’ll be building and managing your family tree research primarily, then expand to other services.
What Should My Testing Plan Be?
Of course, you’re just one branch on your family tree — you can discover much more about your ancestry by DNA testing other family members. Because DNA recombines randomly, you inherit DNA from different ancestors than your siblings or your cousins. In particular, you’ll want to consider testing your elder relatives, who inherited DNA from ancestors that ultimately didn’t pass on to your generation. By utilizing all your test-takers' collective cousin matches and comparing your results, you can get a fuller picture of your family tree.
For help with your own plan of action, choose one of these two DNA testing strategies outlined by genetic genealogy expert Diahan Southard.
What Can I Do With My Results After Testing?
Receiving your results from AncestryDNA or MyHeritage DNA is really just the first step of your genetic genealogy journey. Here are four ways to further your genealogy using your test results:
- Upload your results to Gedmatch to find more connections. This free tool lets you compare results with people who tested with other companies, and determine which exact chromosomes you share with other matches.
- Explore other tools for analyzing your DNA results. Read our tutorial for more on DNA.Land.
- Consider uploading your results to other companies’ databases. Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage DNA accept results from other testing services in order to expand their databases, which can help you connect with more relatives. You may have to pay for this service; see the companies’ websites for information and read more in this blog post.
- Add your family tree to your DNA results. DNA testing can tell you your estimated relationship to someone else, but not the specific ancestors you share. By linking information about your family tree to your profile on Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com, you and your cousin matches have a better shot at determining which family lines you share in common.
How Do I Learn More About DNA Testing?
Check out these educational products for DNA testing and genetic genealogy from Family Tree:
This best seller by expert Blaine Bettinger is your one-stop resource for choosing your test, interpreting your results and using DNA to further your family tree.
Take one of our instructor-led online courses to make the most of your DNA test results! Browse courses currently open for enrollment.
Your quick-reference guide to DNA testing terms, tips and concepts.
The articles in this section offer expert advice, need-to-know definitions, details on DNA test types and testing companies, and much more, including some of the information on this page.