Saturday, April 22, 2017

Which DNA testing company is best?

As a volunteer at my local Genealogical Research Library I get asked all kinds of questions. Such as which DNA testing company is the best?

First of all, let me say that just because I prefer one company doesn’t make them the best company. It only makes it the best company for me. Therefore my follow-up question to them is, “What do you hope to discover by taking a DNA test?”

For me, I first wanted to find out who my biological grandfather was and his ancestors. I have already blogged about the fact my mother was adopted by her stepfather. Secondly, I want to verify my genealogical research. Confirm that who I am researching are really my lines. Not necessarily saying there are non-paternal events to uncover, but that where I might have done an analysis and concluded these were my ancestors will be verified by DNA matches to their descendants through their other children. Thirdly, expand my tree. Find family, both living and deceased. Hoping to expand my “End of Line” ancestor back more generations, perhaps figure out who the Women are in my tree since I have so many with unknown surnames. Just generally continue my research perhaps with the help of distant cousins who have proven various lines.

For me, this led me to test with AncestryDNA. I already had my tree on Ancestry, I liked that they offer the shared ancestor hints. At the time, they were the least expensive since I purchased the test during one of their sales. I have since tested with 23andMe and find that I have many more closer matches on AncestryDNA. I still go to 23andMe, but I always start at AncestryDNA. I have also transferred my AncestryDNA test results to FTDNA. Since my father tested on FTDNA, I can now quickly see our shared matches and it helps me a little with my matches on AncestryDNA. I have transferred my results to GedMatch and to MyHeritage. I think they are tied to Geni and WikiTree.

I have also tested one of my full-sisters, one half-sister, one half-brother and my husband. My half-siblings and my full-siblings share our mother and this is helping me with my first goal of finding out who my biological grandfather was and his ancestors.  I have also transferred these test to FTDNA and My Heritage.

So if you are like me, and want to work with your AncestryDNA to discover ancestors, cousins and such, then AncestryDNA is a good place to start. Many people have trees, though many do not. Actually, too many don’t have trees. Also those that do have trees don’t always have them attached to their DNA results and thus, Shared Ancestor Hints won’t show even if they exist. However, for my results, I find more trees on AncestryDNA than with other testing companies. Ancestry has shared matches, which means if you figured out how you are related to your match and then look at the shared matches you and your match have in common, most likely they share the same ancestor or one of the ancestor’s lines. It helps you place each match in perspective. The Share Matches tool works for your 4th cousin and closer matches. Ancestry has some other tools that come in handy.

If you just want to know your Ethnic background based on your DNA. Then really any testing company will do. And if money is part of the equation, then pick the company that is offering the test at the cheapest price. However, each company might come back with slightly different percentages. You can look at my example.  Basically they show the same thing, but some breakdown a region a little more.

Therefore, if you ask me, you will get my answer which is based on my goals and needs. Your best bet, ask more than one person who has had their DNA tested and find out where they tested and why they tested and if they are happy with the company. Then you can make your best judgement based on multiple people’s opinions and compare it to your own goals. Or do like I did, just test at them all!

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