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Best DNA test in 2020: 23andMe, AncestryDNA tested and more compared

A DNA take a look at can jumpstart or increase your understanding of your loved ones historical past — from figuring out shut cousins all the best way again to your earliest ancestors. Some assessments declare to disclose your “ethnicity” — although that is a thorny, controversial subject. And a few providers can make clear your genetic predisposition for ailments and physiological traits starting from eye coloration to your tolerance for cilantro. 

Over the previous 20 years, DNA testing has entered the mainstream, pushed by decrease costs, greater visibility and enhancing science. Again within the aughts, a do-it-yourself DNA take a look at price about $1,000. However in recent times, the kits have develop into fairly reasonably priced, with a variety of DNA testing corporations — from trailblazers equivalent to Ancestry and 23andMe to upstarts equivalent to Living DNA — providing somewhat refined evaluation of your genetic make-up for as little as $75 — or much less, if yow will discover a deal on Black Friday or throughout the periodic vacation reductions all year long.

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Learn extra: These are one of the best Nationwide DNA Day 2020 offers

There are three varieties of DNA assessments — every with its personal specific strengths, limitations and rationales.

  • An autosomal DNA take a look at is one of the best funding for many novices; it will possibly determine relations between 5 and 7 generations again, throughout each maternal and paternal strains. 
  • Solely males can successfully use a Y-DNA take a look at, which identifies male relations on the paternal line reaching again 60,000 years; in the event you’re trying to hint the historical past of your loved ones’s surname, that is the take a look at to make use of. 
  • And mitochondrial DNA testing, also called mtDNA testing, can decide genetic relationships on a maternal line from as much as 150,000 years in the past; each women and men can take this sort of take a look at. 

As soon as you have been examined, every firm will current you with an evaluation of your geographical origin; some declare to have the ability to pinpoint a particular nation, city and even “tribe.” Some can even serve up “matches” from their DNA databases, which will provide you with a head begin on connecting with doable relations, and supply some extent of household tree analysis help. AncestryDNA, for instance, affords a subscription service that features entry to a whole lot of databases containing start, demise and marriage bulletins, census paperwork, newspaper archives and different historic data. 

Some corporations promote assessments designed for particular ethnicities or specialised kits that declare to make clear your optimum skincare routine or weight; others supply assessments designed to determine the genetic make-up of your cat or canine. The specialists I spoke to have been doubtful of the efficacy and worth of those assessments and really useful avoiding them.

Although there is not any blood concerned with trendy DNA testing — you both swab the within of your cheek or fill a small take a look at tube along with your saliva — there are many causes to be leery of the businesses that promote these kits. Your success in DNA take a look at family tree is essentially depending on supplying extremely private details about your self and your relations — out of your genetic knowledge to your mom’s maiden title, that conventional cornerstone of password safety. 

Concerns over data privacy and security are well-founded, and specialists warn that regulation — particularly within the US — lags far behind the know-how. And it’s best to know that some DNA testing corporations could share knowledge with pharmaceutical corporations and legislation enforcement companies. Backside line: Assume critically earlier than volunteering details about your well being historical past and familial connections to any firm or group. 

Learn extra: Sooner or later, not even your DNA will likely be sacred

DNA testing, and family tree extra broadly, entails an advanced combination of genetics, chances and guesswork. The varied DNA testing providers use totally different labs, algorithms, tools and standards to research your genetic materials; although it’s best to count on some extent of overlap between analyses from totally different corporations, they might differ considerably. There’s additionally a component of essential mass — the bigger the corporate’s database, the bigger the pattern they use to research your outcomes, and the extra correct your outcomes needs to be. 

We tried a number of the high DNA testing providers, assessing the breadth and depth of their choices, methodologies, status and worth. Check out our suggestions beneath. And in the event you’ve taken any of those DNA assessments, inform me about your expertise with it within the feedback beneath.

In search of extra in-depth information on DNA testing providers generally? Jump to our DNA test kit explainer.


Based in 2006, 23andMe is without doubt one of the pioneers of DNA testing for shoppers. In 2017 it turned the primary such service to win the FDA’s approval as a threat screener for ailments. It has develop into one of the well-known DNA testing corporations — and well-funded, since taking in a $300 million stake from GlaxoSmithKline, which makes use of the corporate’s buyer knowledge to analysis and design new medicine. Nonetheless, the corporate recently announced a round of layoffs, citing a slowdown within the DNA testing market doubtless attributable to growing issues about privateness.

23andMe segments its evaluation into three important classes — well being, ancestry and traits. The basic ancestry and traits test, which prices $99, consists of an evaluation of your genetic make-up together with your areas of origin, maternal and paternal lineage and Neanderthal ancestry. As soon as you decide in, the corporate’s match database — which has greater than 10 million profiles — will determine and supply to attach you with individuals who share your DNA.

The corporate’s DNA health test, which begins at $199, provides details about your genetic predisposition for late-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and different ailments. The service additionally consists of evaluation of your standing as a possible genetic provider for problems like Cystic Fibrosis and Sickle Cell Anemia in addition to indicators for lactose intolerance and different “wellness” points. The $499 VIP Well being and Ancestry package deal supplies precedence lab processing, premium buyer help and a personalised walkthrough of your outcomes. 

I discovered 23andMe’s web site and cellular app very straightforward to navigate and brimming with attention-grabbing, understandable details about each my ancestry and well being in addition to the science of genetics and family tree. The principle dashboard affords intuitive hyperlinks to exploring your ancestry, studying in regards to the genetic dangers for well being situations, constructing out a household tree and connecting with relations. Amongst the entire DNA assessments I attempted, 23andMe delivered one of the best introduction to my latest and historical family tree together with evaluation of my genetic well being. The one actual downside is that it doesn’t supply built-in entry to historic paperwork.

23andMe does present quick access to a full vary of privateness preferences and consent choices, nevertheless. (That famous, 23andMe’s phrases of service and privateness assertion is among the many most intensive, exceeding 20,000 phrases.) You possibly can ask the corporate to retailer your saliva pattern indefinitely for future testing or have them discard it. Having signed off after I first signed up, I subsequently modified my thoughts about giving the corporate permission to share my knowledge with researchers exterior of 23andMe, and was capable of retract my consent with the press of a button.

Learn extra: Ancestry vs. 23andMe: Which DNA testing equipment is finest for tracing your loved ones historical past?

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Based in Utah within the 1990s, — the father or mother firm of AncestryDNA — began out as a publishing and family tree firm. Since then, it has had a considerably tumultuous company existence, having been purchased, bought, publicly traded after which bought by personal fairness teams.

The corporate’s fundamental service, which prices $99, supplies you with an “ethnicity estimate” derived from its proprietary sequencing strategies. It is noteworthy that the corporate’s testing, which is outsourced to Quest Diagnostics, is distinct from most different corporations that use paternal Y-chromosome and/or maternal mitochondrial DNA methodologies, and fewer is understood in regards to the specific standards it makes use of. 

That famous, AncestryDNA’s database of 16 million profiles is the biggest of the entire testing providers. The corporate additionally maintains a strong software for looking out by way of a whole lot of historic doc databases — however any substantive analysis will shortly carry you to a paywall. Ancestry’s databases are additional bolstered by its partnership to, a genealogical data web site run by the Mormon church.

An entry-level membership, which supplies entry to greater than 15 billion U.S. data, prices $99 for six months or $25 per thirty days, after a free two week trial. The “World Explorer” membership, for $40 per thirty days, broadens your entry to worldwide data, and the “All Entry” tier, beginning at $50 per thirty days, consists of limitless entry to Ancestry’s historic and up to date database of greater than 15,000 newspapers and army data from all over the world. 

AncestryDNA affords a personalised well being report with “actionable insights,” entry to genetic counseling sources and an internet software that can assist you map your loved ones’s well being over generations. However its outcomes are usually not diagnostic — although the take a look at have to be authorised by one of many firm’s physicians — and they don’t have FDA approval. For now, 23andMe maintains the benefit relating to introductory DNA testing for well being dangers and genetic screening. However AncestryDNA’s service is especially well-suited for leveraging an introductory DNA evaluation into deep historic analysis to construct out a household tree.

AncestryDNA means that you can obtain your full DNA profile and add the uncooked knowledge into different instruments, and it supplies moderately good management over your privateness preferences, although the choices are usually not as granular as others. 

Learn extra: What AncestryDNA taught me about DNA, privateness and the advanced world of genetic testing


Based in 2000, FamilyTreeDNA affords a complete suite of experiences and interactive instruments to research your DNA and construct a household tree. With a reputable declare to “the world’s most complete DNA matching database,” FamilyTreeDNA affords all three varieties of assessments — autosomal DNA, Y-DNA and mtDNA. And it is the only firm to personal and function its personal testing facility: The Gene-by-Gene genetic lab, situated in Houston.

The corporate’s entry-level “household ancestry” package deal prices $79 — although it is continuously discounted to $59. The take a look at outcomes present details about your ethnic and geographic origins, identifies potential relations and affords entry to the corporate’s large DNA database. I paid $275 for a broad DNA take a look at that included evaluation of my mtDNA and Y-DNA — assessments that price $119 and $159, respectively, if you purchase them individually — in addition to the “Household Finder,” the corporate’s autosomal take a look at.  

Although the consumer interface is a little more difficult than what you may discover on different websites, FamilyTreeDNA supplies probably the most full suite of introductory instruments of any supplier I examined. For every kind of take a look at, you’re introduced with matches — I obtained greater than 22,000 for my autosomal DNA take a look at — a chromosome browser, migration maps, haplogroups and connections to ancestral reference populations, details about mutations and a hyperlink that means that you can obtain your uncooked knowledge. Suffice to say, there are quite a few threads to drag on to study your self, your loved ones and your well being. 

FamilyTree additionally affords a variety of higher-end assessments, for these thinking about digging deeper, together with a variety of Y-DNA assessments that may hint the trail of your male ancestors and the historical past of your surname. The corporate additionally means that you can add uncooked DNA knowledge information from different providers and switch your autosomal info to its database to increase your universe of matches and relationships. 

From an information safety and privateness perspective, there are a number of issues I discover interesting about FamilyTreeDNA. The corporate does its personal DNA testing in home, processing and storing your pattern in its lab. Posted prominently on the entrance web page of its web site is a promise that the corporate won’t ever promote your DNA to 3rd events. Like most different corporations, nevertheless, FamilyTreeDNA could use your mixture genetic info for inner analysis and should adjust to requests from legislation enforcement — until you decide out. 

Different DNA testing choices

The three providers above are our high decisions. However they weren’t the one ones we examined. What follows are some extra choices, None of which eclipsed the 23andMe, Ancestry or FamilyTreeDNA in any important style. 




Based mostly in Israel, MyHeritage was based in 2003, and like a variety of different providers profiled right here, began out as a family tree software program platform. Over time, it acquired a variety of historic databases and finally added DNA testing in 2016. (MyHeritage outsources its DNA evaluation to FamilyTreeDNA.) In 2018, MyHeritage skilled a safety breach, exposing the e-mail addresses and hashed passwords of greater than 92 million customers.

MyHeritage affords a free tier of service that features some fundamental household tree-building and entry to excerpts of historic paperwork. It will not get you too far. 

The fundamental DNA testing and evaluation service, which begins at $79, consists of the same old fare — a report of your genetic make-up throughout the corporate’s 42 supported ethnicities, the identification of relations and connections to them the place doable. All issues thought of, I most well-liked FamilyTreeDNA’s presentation of my DNA info. However MyHeritage highlighted a primary cousin residing within the US, with whom I shared about 15% of my DNA, and supplied to indicate me her household tree — if I paid a $209 annual subscription price. 

Sure, that is costly — a free 14-day trial is out there — however the firm maintains a formidable on-line database of historic paperwork that features three.5 billion profiles along with details about over 100 million subscribers and their collective 46 million household timber. This huge database is powered by, a family tree social media web site that is additionally MyHeritage’s father or mother firm. According to the New York Times, has assembled “the world’s largest, scientifically vetted household tree.” 

In 2019, MyHeritage launched a health screening test much like the one supplied by 23andMe. As a part of this effort, the corporate partnered with PWNHealth, a community of US physicians who oversee the method. I used to be required to finish a private and household well being historical past questionnaire — it was 16 questions — which was then ostensibly reviewed by a physician. Although the corporate says it might suggest a “genetic counseling” session administered by PWNHealth, my well being outcomes have been merely delivered together with my ancestry evaluation.

On the plus facet, I like MyHeritage’s simple entry to a variety of understandable privateness preferences. Nonetheless, general, I discovered MyHeritage’s consumer interface far much less intuitive and harder to navigate than others. Although the corporate’s providing is broad — it is one of many few to supply a complete analysis database of historic paperwork, DNA evaluation and well being screening — I discovered the combination amongst them to be a bit clumsy. 

Residing DNA


Residing DNA

Residing DNA describes itself as a “client family tree DNA service that doesn’t promote or share clients’ DNA or knowledge with third events,” which provides you a way of its priorities — or, not less than, its sense of shoppers’ issues. LivingDNA’s headquarters within the UK can also be a consider its distinctive mission assertion, because it’s topic to the extra stringent knowledge and privateness rules of the GDPR

LivingDNA divides its choices differently than others. A $49 starter equipment supplies a “taster” with an introductory overview of your ancestry in eight geographical areas and entry to the corporate’s genetic matching software, along with some knowledge about private health and diet. The complete autosomal DNA testing equipment prices $99 and expands the percentage-based ancestry breakdown to 80 areas and options details about maternal and paternal haplogroups. The “wellbeing package deal” consists of experiences about your physiological compatibility with nutritional vitamins, meals and train. And the $149 deluxe package deal incorporates all of this.

Latest ancestry outcomes are introduced with a breakdown of share by nation in addition to the proportion attributable to extra detailed areas, in addition to the origin and migration path of haplogroups. In February 2020, LivingDNA launched an African Ancestry DNA take a look at report that options knowledge on 72 areas in Africa and, in accordance with the corporate, “5 occasions the element of some other take a look at available on the market.” The report is out there without spending a dime to current clients. 

That famous, the corporate has a very restricted household match database; an organization consultant declined to provide me a particular quantity however mentioned that it contained lower than 1 million profiles. My spouse, who took the take a look at, returned precisely zero matches. So, in the event you’re trying to determine and make connections with relations, there are higher decisions available in the market. That famous, LivingDNA has a really stable status for each the standard of its DNA evaluation and privateness phrases amongst skilled genealogists. 

For specialists solely: Complete genome sequencing

There are a variety of corporations — together with Full Genomes, Veritas Genetics, Nebula Genomics and Dante Labs — that may sequence your entire DNA, in any other case referred to as your genome. This degree of research is suitable for superior customers solely. Not solely is it costly — these assessments can run into the hundreds of dollars, in some circumstances — it requires a classy understanding of each genetics and a variety of technical instruments required to discover and interpret your outcomes. 

The least costly complete genome assessments price about $300. For instance, Full Genome’s 30X take a look at — which scans each focused location of your genome 30 occasions on common — is taken into account the usual for a scientific evaluation. It prices $1,800.

For most individuals, the primary rationale for sequencing the entire genome is to dive deep into your genetic well being outlook. You possibly can glean your private threat elements for ailments, drug sensitivities and your standing as a provider; that’s, what you may cross on to your children. However there are additionally loads of purposes for superior genealogical tasks. 

All of those efforts may also be undertaken — to a much less intense diploma — with a number of the extra reasonably priced choices outlined above. However complete genome sequencing supplies a considerably extra complete, correct and excessive decision evaluation. 

If you wish to dip your toe into this realm. you may need to begin with Nebula Genomics. You too can upload an existing DNA sequence from Ancestry or 23andMe’s DNA database and get Nebula’s experiences at a lowered worth.  

DNA testing: What you might want to know

When you’re utilizing a house DNA testing service, you are doubtless on the lookout for certainly one of three issues:

Ancestry and household historical past: The primary large draw of a full DNA take a look at is that you’re going to get an in depth breakdown on ancestry and ethnicity, and the migration patterns of your widespread ancestors. Spoiler alert: Your ethnic background could also be radically totally different than you suppose it’s. You will additionally discover out what a haplogroup is.

Relative identification: Together with your permission, some DNA providers will allow you to join with relations you by no means knew you had — people with matching DNA who’ve used the service and likewise given their permission to connect with doable relations.  

Well being and illness information: DNA testing also can point out which situations for which you could have a preponderance. It is a controversial function, to make certain. Figuring out that you’ve got a genetic predisposition to a sure type of most cancers could make you extra vigilant for testing, however it might additionally result in elevated stress — worrying a few potential well being situation that will by no means develop, even in the event you’re “genetically vulnerable” to it. The potential of false positives and false negatives abound — any such info needs to be mentioned along with your physician earlier than you act upon it.

How DNA assessments work

Afraid of needles and drawing blood? Excellent news: That is not a problem with these assessments. All you might want to do is spit right into a vial or rub a swab in your mouth — all of the genetic knowledge wanted for these assessments is current in your saliva — and ship the DNA pattern to the corporate for evaluation. 

The rationale that a saliva pattern works in addition to blood (or hair follicles or pores and skin samples) is that your DNA — which is brief for deoxyribonucleic acid — is current in all of them. It is the fundamental genetic code current in your entire cells that makes up your key attributes, from the colour of your eyes to the form of your ears to how vulnerable you’re to ldl cholesterol.

The important thing phrases you might want to know when evaluating DNA testing providers are:

SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism): Genotyping is finished by measuring genetic variation. One of many extra widespread is SNP genotyping, which measures the variations of a single nucleotide polymorphism. The extra of those an organization measures, the extra granular the evaluation.

Autosomal DNA testing: An autosomal take a look at that is efficient for women and men, and which traces lineage again by way of each maternal and paternal bloodlines.

Y-DNA: The Y-DNA take a look at can solely be administered to males, and traces DNA again by way of the patrilineal ancestry — principally from father to grandfather to nice grandfather and so forth.

mtDNA: The mtDNA is matrilineal and allows you to hint your ancestry again by way of your mom, grandmother, nice grandmother and so forth. 

Learn extra

David Gewirtz contributed to this story. The present model is a significant replace of previous revisions, and consists of hands-on impressions of many of the providers listed.

The knowledge contained on this article is for instructional and informational functions solely and isn’t supposed as well being or medical recommendation. At all times seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you could have a few medical situation or well being goals.