Revised Rationale For Choosing a DNA Testing Company

For some time I have suggested that deciding which company to use for an autosomal DNA test should involve evaluating various criteria.  but after working with all of the major DNA testing companies my views on this topic have changed drastically.

To continue with the fishing analogy that I posted in June, if your goal was to catch fish you would not choose where to fish based on how pretty the location, whether or not there is a fish-cleaning station, the ease of moving around the lake, catch and release policy, or the type of fish.  You would choose the location that had the most fish.

Similarly, in autosomal DNA testing, the goal is to “catch” relatives.  So, unless your ancestors are from a geographic area that had very little migration to North America, the first choice for an autosomal DNA test has to be (or its regional variations), simply due to the size of its autosomal DNA database.

I am not in any way suggesting that Ancestry is the best DNA testing website.  It certainly does not have the best features for analysis of your DNA matches, but it has 10 million test results in its DNA database, which is about twice as many as 23andMe, its closest competitor, and far more than MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA.  So Ancestry has to be the first choice for an autosomal DNA test.

Once you have tested at Ancestry, you can then copy that test result to other websites, providing more exposure.  My suggested testing sequence is as follows –

Additional comments –

  1. Uploading of your Ancestry test result to MyHeritageDNA is currently free, but the company has announced that for samples uploaded after December 1st 2018, they will be charging a fee to utilize some features of the site.
  2. LivingDNA has been accepting DNA test result uploads for more than a year, but they have not yet provided a DNA matching service to people who have utilized this opportunity.  This was originally to be available in the summer of 2018 and is currently expected to be available by the end of 2018.
  3. GEDmatch is a wonderful site as it allows comparison of autosomal DNA test results between tests taken on different sites.  This is particularly useful for people who have tested at Ancestry, as Ancestry does not identify which segments of DNA you share with your DNA matches.  The downside is that anyone (law enforcement included) can upload a DNA sample to the site, and utilize the matching capabilities of the site for purposes other than genealogy – The Golden State killer in the USA was recently identified through DNA matches to a sample of the killer’s DNA uploaded to the site.  So be aware!!!

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