Choosing a DNA test (2)


So if you are reading blog number 2 you are either contemplating joining the DNA revolution or you are at least half way there and have already taken your test.

So how did I decide which test to take myself?

In a rather ironic twist, considering this is a very scientific field, there was nothing scientific in the way that I chose my test. There were several factors however that I considered before I decided on the autosomal test with Ancestry.

Firstly back to basics, what tests are commercially available to us a genealogists?

There are three main types of DNA tests that are available: Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) tests for the direct paternal line, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tests for the direct maternal line, and autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests for finding matches on all your ancestral lines.

Note; There are also other tests that involve screening for genetic health risks, but I did not consider these for the purposes of what I hoped to achieve with my test.

So for no other reason than it offered both maternal and paternal testing, I chose the autosomal test. The reasoning for this being that I have both Italian and Irish ancestry on my Mother’s side, so I was hopeful of finding a link to this. So for me the autosomal offered me the best overall option to achieve what I was looking for.

Of course, for each individual, the test that you choose has to be the best “fit” for you, no two researchers are looking for the same goals.

Other things to consider when making your choice is, who actually “owns” your raw DNA data, you or the company that your testing with? If that’s an issue for you then you should take this into consideration when making your choice, as not all companies operate in the same way.

So the next choice is which company offers the best value for money and best options for an autosomal test.

Instant google searches brings up four main hits “the big 4”, FTDNA, Ancestry, 23andMe and My Heritage. This is obviously not all the options but these four came up on every site and search engine.

Ancestry are well known to me as I have an account with them and my tree on their site and have been with ancestry from the start of my family tree research and they have by far the biggest database of the four. Now apparently ancestry lack a chromosome browser, which to me, did not mean a lot, more googling required.

FTDNA does have a chromosome browser (do I need one? still googling), but a much smaller database, but a more European database rather than ancestry’s more US based database.

23and Me were previously partnered with my heritage, as they have no trees within their database and they are the only company to offer a medical screening. My Heritage now offers it’s own independent testing.

There are obviously lots of other differences, Ancestry and 23andMe are spit tests whereas the others are a swab test for example. Some offer the facility to upload your data on other sites such as GEDMatch, but not all do,

The internet forums, Facebook groups and other sources are packed with articles regarding DNA testing, which in fact probably just confuses people like myself who are just dipping a toe into the DNA water.

So what do I do? Continue reading the blogs, forums for another few months or do I take the plunge?

Decision made, Ancestry offered a great deal just before Christmas a much reduced cost for their test, so add that to the fact its the largest database and I already have a tree with them, coupled with the ability to upload my data onto other sites, that made up my mind!


I am sure others will tell me differently……….

In all honesty as my knowledge and experience grows I am pretty sure that I will take additional tests.

Watch out for the next instalment…………The Testing!


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