Family Tree DNA Testing Review!

By | October 6, 2017

There are several DNA testing companies out there that offer you different tests and tools. This Family Tree DNA testing review will show you what they offer and how they can help you with your family history research.

Family Tree DNA Testing Review!

* Affiliate Disclaimer *

You can certainly learn a lot from the results that you get back from them. So, please read on as I will tell you more!

Family Tree DNA Testing Details:

Family Tree DNA
Rating 4 Stars
Type of Test Autosomal (atDNA), Mitochondrial (mDNA) and Y-Chromosome (yDNA)
Regions 24
Offer Bundled Tests Yes
How Tested Cheek swab
Results Waiting Time 6-8 Weeks
Normal Price $89-$199 (depending on type of test)
Additional Cost $12.95 for shipping
Available In United States, UK and worldwide
Place To Buy Family Tree DNA
Bottom Line Potential For More!

The wonderful world of genealogy!

Genealogy research has become very popular in the United States, and all over the world for that matter. It seems that most people are interested to know where they came from and who their ancestors were.

But how do you trace your family history? Just where do you look?

There are a ton of resources and tools that are available to you. Genealogy search websites are a great source of information as they have millions, even billions of records.

So, the chances of finding your ancestors within their databases is very likely. Hey, it worked for me.

What about DNA testing and Family Tree DNA?

Family Tree DNA is just one of several DNA testing companies that are available to the family historian. They first began helping people trace their roots as early as 2000. So, they have been around for a while.

 

Credit: Family Tree DNA

Because they offer three types of DNA testing Family Tree DNA have become the most popular choice for the professional genealogist. Even so they can still help you, the amateur family detective.

The three types of testing, (which I will explain later), open up so many possibilities for your research. Far more than what some other companies can at the present.

Topics discussed in this post:

When you have finished reading this review why not check out The Best DNA Test For You To Buy guide where I cover the 5 best DNA testing kits on the market today!


What Is DNA Genealogy Testing?

You most probably heard of the abbreviation DNA. But do you know what it can actually stands for?

Well it is short for deoxyribonucleic acid, which is a self-replicating material. It is in every living organisms, including you and me!

What Is A Genealogy DNA Test?

The DNA in our cells are instructions that tell so many things about us. It can describe what color eye we have and the color of our skin.

Included in our DNA are also markers that can tell you where you came from. Your roots.

3 different types of DNA testing!

  • Autosomal DNA testing (atDNA) – This is the most basic form of DNA testing. This testing will give you results for both sides of your family, i.e. your paternal and maternal lines.
  • Mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA) – This test will provide you with results for your maternal line.
  • Y-Chromosome DNA testing (yDNA) – This test will provide you with results for your paternal line.

Autosomal DNA Testing Overview

Autosomal DNA testing can help you if:

  • You want to know about your most recent ancestors, up to five generations.
  • You want to make contact with distant cousins.
  • You want to know where you came from, i.e. region, and also your ethnic origin.

Autosomal DNA testing is a popular choice for many for a number of reasons. But because of the accuracy of the results it is only good if you are interested to learn as far back as your fifth generation of ancestors.

This type of testing tests both sides of your family. That therefore means that 1/2 of your atDNA comes from your father and the other 1/2 from your mother. The genes are what carry a snippet of your parents DNA.

Take that further and you get 1/4 from each of your grandparents, and 1/8 from your great grandparents.

Your results will therefore get diluted the further back you go. So, your 3rd great grandparents are as far back as you can really go with this type of testing.

Please check out the Unexpected Ethnicity Results post from Ancestry which goes further into detail about this.

Mitochrondrial DNA Testing Overview

Mitochrondrial testing can help you if:

  • You are interested in your female line, as far back as 25 generations or even more.
  • You want to know where your maternal line ancestors came from.

This type of testing is suitable for both males and females since it looks at the DNA that is passed on from mother to children.

Even though you just learn about one line of your family you can still go quite far back in time with the results.

Because of this this type of testing is best if you want to know the origins of your family’s maternal line. Although you can still make contact with distant cousins through this type of testing.

They may very well be very, very distant.

Y-Chromosome DNA Testing Overview

Y-Chromosome testing can help you if:

  • You are interested in your male line, as far back as 25 generations and even more.
  • You want to connect with your relatives that share the same surname.
  • You want to know where your paternal line ancestors came from.

This type of testing is a great way to help you find the origins of your family’s paternal line. You may want to do this because you want to know more about your surname and where your family came from.

The Guild of One Name Studies is an organization that can help you with this type of research. If you do decide to join this guild you may even make contact with a relative.

Family Tree DNA offers three different yDNA tests: Y-37, Y-67 and Y-111.

The basic Y-37 will test a shorter portion of your DNA compared to Y-111. So if you do want to know more about the history of your relatives you will obviously want to opt for Y-111. But be prepared that the higher you go the more money that this will cost.

As yDNA looks at the paternal line this type of testing is only suitable for males. However, it is still open for women as long as you get a male relative to take the test.

You could get your father, your brothers (and their sons), or your father’s brothers (and their sons). Please though do not get your son to take the test.


The Competition

DNA testing is a great way that you can further your genealogy research. It can help you to see where you need to look next and is therefore a pretty impressive tool if you get stuck and hit a brick wall.

This type of testing can also help you to make connections with living relatives, and pretty distant ones at that. How about your 23rd cousin?

But if you do find not too distant cousins then they can give you so much information about your common ancestor. They can help you fill in the gaps of your knowledge about your family tree.

As I have already explained Family Tree DNA offers three type of tests, but why should you go with this company rather than the others.

Just how do they stack up against the competition?

Comparing The Competition!

23andMe Ancestry DNA Family Tree DNA Living DNA MyHeritage DNA
Rating 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5
Tests atDNA, mDNA and yDNA atDNA atDNA, mDNA and yDNA atDNA, mDNA and yDNA atDNA
Regions 31 150 24 80 42
How Tested Cheek swab Saliva Cheek swab Cheek swab Cheek swab
Results Waiting Time 6-8 Weeks 6-8 Weeks 6-8 Weeks 10-12 Weeks 3-4 Weeks
Available US, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, UK US, UK and Australia US, UK and worldwide US, Canada, UK, Europe and Australia US, UK, Australia and worldwide
Bottom Line Bonus Health Screening Most Popular Potential For More Most Comprehensive Testing Quick Results

Family Tree DNA vs. 23andMe

23andMe only offer the most basic of the DNA testing, and that is Autosomal testing. So, if you want to know further than five generations back then Family Tree DNA is your best choice.

Because Family Tree DNA have been operating since 2000 they have built up a large community of family historians.

This therefore means that you will be more likely to make contact with distant cousins through Family Tree.

FamilyTreeDNA vs. Ancestry

Similar to 23andMe, Ancestry only offer the most basic form of DNA testing, Autosomal. If you want to know more about your family then again Family Tree DNA is the company to go.

Because Ancestry DNA is connected with Ancestry you will get access to the billions of genealogical records that they have amassed. In order to access these records though you will need to subscribe to Ancestry, i.e. additional costs.

With Family Tree DNA however there are no subscription fees attached.

Family Tree DNA does make it easier for you to connect with your distant cousins through their Family Finder tool, (more on this later).

Family Tree DNA vs. Living DNA

Both of these DNA testing companies offer you the whole package when it comes to DNA testing.

However, you will have to wait much longer for your Living DNA results to arrive (10-12 weeks), compared to Family Tree (6-8 weeks).

The top price for Family Tree is $199 compared to a flat price of $159 for Living DNA. Even though the latter is cheaper there is one downside to choosing this company.

And that is you will not get access to any genealogical records like you would with the former. So if you really want to find more about your ancestors through records then Family Tree DNA is the company to go with.

Family Tree DNA vs. MyHeritage DNA

Family Tree DNA do have one up on three of their major competition. MyHeritage DNA only offers Autosomal testing, so if you want to know more about your ancestors than a few generations then again Family Tree DNA is the only viable option.

One more advantage of Family Tree DNA over MyHeritage DNA is that you will have much better chance of finding relatives, as they have a much larger community genealogists.


How To Take The Test and Getting Your Results

I have already gone through the 3 different types of test that you can get tested for. You can choose any number of tests. So if you just want to go for Autosomal testing then that’s fine.

But if you want to know more about your family history then going for all 3 tests is a wise choice.

Once you have made up your mind you just go to the Family Tree DNA website, then order and pay for your test. After a few days you should get a DNA test kit delivered to your home.

Within the test kit there are some simple instructions that you will need to follow. Please follow these instructions carefully as doing so will mean that you will be providing a better sample and therefore more accurate results.

The form of testing is a cheek swab, where you will just swab the inside of your cheek with a tip.

Once you have done that then just send your sample back and then wait approximately 6-8 weeks for the results to come back to you. You will be notified that your results are ready by email. You can then view them online by going to the Family Tree DNA website.

If you do opt for more than one kind of test then expect your results to come at different times. So if you get one and not the other don’t be alarmed as the other test WILL be on its way in due course.

Please be advised that if you are purchasing the test kit from outside the United States then you will have to pay the return shipping costs.


Finding Your Ethnicity and Your Relatives – Your Results

You can find out a lot about your ancestors with the 3 types of tests that Family Tree DNA offer. Here I will give an overview of what you can expect from these 3 tests.

These tests can offer you so much for your genealogy research and there is quite a lot to them. For that reason I have included videos where you can find out further information as to how they can help you and how to use the tools to access your results at Family Tree DNA.

Autosomal DNA (atDNA) Results – The Family Finder Feature

The Family Finder tool is Family Tree DNA’s most recent addition, which they first offered in 2010. Similar to what Ancestry offer, this tool will help you to find your ethnicity and connect you with your distant cousins via DNA matches.

Your results are displayed in a variety of different charts, graphs and maps. So, trying to make sense of what your results actually mean applying them to your research should be simple.

Your Family Finder tool includes:

  • A graph showing your ethnic origins.
  • A map which shows where in the world your ancestors came from.
  • A migration map that can show you the path of your traveling ancestors.
  • Tables that include your DNA matches.
  • And contact details for those DNA matches, i.e. your possible distant cousins.

Within the Family Finder tool there is also a cool browser that you can use to compare your results to your DNA matches.

The great thing about this tool, (I really like this bit), is that you can see what parts of your DNA you have in common with other people.

You can even upload your genetic data from other companies into the tool. So you do not even need to have taken the test from Family Tree DNA in order to benefit from this tool.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Results

When it comes to checking your maternal ancestors, or rather your maternal line, you are offered two choices, there is Plus and Full Sequence.

The results will basically give you the same information giving you details of your ancestors from thousands of years ago.

Opting for the Full Sequence test will give you more detailed results and they will also be more accurate compared to the Plus test.

The mtDNA results include:

  • Your maternal haplogroup, which shows a single line of descent, your female ancestral line.
  • A map which shows where your ancestors came from and their migration as well.
  • Lists of matching DNA results.

If you do decide to take either of the mtDNA tests then you can also get access to projects that are run by genealogists from around the world.

Here you may get further help with your ancestry. It’s just another way to get more from your results.

Y-Chromosome (yDNA) Results

As I mentioned earlier there are 3 different yDNA tests that you can choose to take. You have the choice of Y-37, Y-67 and Y-111, where the latter one will give you more information for your money.

Not only will you get more information from the Y-111 test but the results will be more accurate as well.

The yDNA results include:

  • Your paternal haplogroup, which shows a single line of descent, your male ancestral line.
  • A map which shows where your ancestors came from and their migration as well.
  • Lists of matching DNA results.

Similar to the mtDNA test you can get further help. If you do decide to take the yDNA test then you can get access to nearly 10,000 surname projects.

Who knows you may find your surname within the collection.

These surname projects are run yet again by genealogists from all over the world. You can even check for your surname before you even take the yDNA test.

It is just another great way for you to learn more about your ancestors.


Your Family Tree DNA Matches

The great thing about Family Tree DNA, (and any DNA testing company for that matter), is that you can make contact with other people, your relatives.

They maybe distant cousins, but if they share a close common ancestor then they can help you in so many ways.

I have had the fortune of making contact with my cousins and they have helped me fill in the gaps with my family tree.

I have always been fascinated about extended family members and going down all the various different branches of my tree. So, getting help from my distant relations was really a godsend.

Getting DNA matches is really one of the advantages of taking a DNA genealogy test.

How to make contact with your DNA matches!

Family Tree DNA lets you contact directly to your DNA matches. You do not need to go through their website in order to make contact.

You can connect with your distant cousins via their email. How cool is that?

When you write that email though please introduce yourself and say why you are contacting them. You may want to give a little background information as to where you are from and where your family originated from.

Can others see my email address?

You do have the choice whether you want your email address visible to other Family Tree DNA members. If you do decide to make it visible then you open yourself up to so many leads.

And you have the possibility of meeting your cousins as I have said.

However, if you do decide not to let others see your email address then you will have shut down this line of research.

The choice though is yours. I just thought that I would let you know that there is that option.


What About Your Privacy and Is Your Information Secure?

Obviously in this day and age you will be concerned about who can access your information and how secure is the system that is in place that stores all of your details.

Family Tree DNA takes your concerns very seriously. It is your test results after all. You do not want the world to know your information.

For that reason no third company will see anything about you. Your information will not be passed on to anyone.

But as I have mentioned before the choice is yours whether you want your DNA matches to view your email address. If you do decide to make it visible then it is another opportunity for you to get more details about your family tree.

But it is your choice.

The security of your information is also paramount. And that is why Family Tree DNA is so popular. They have a strong commitment to keeping that information secure.


Other Peoples Family Tree DNA Testing Reviews

Thus far I have given you an overview of what you can expect from Family Tree DNA. And I have also given my opinion as to what I think of this product and basically whether it is value for money.

But do not take just my word. What do other people think of Family Tree DNA?

Over at DNA Testing Choice there have been submissions by more than 200 people. Most of their reviews have been quite favorable.

Although as you would expect from any product or service there will be some unsatisfied customers. That is not to say that this is acceptable but it needs to be said that maybe sometimes Family Tree DNA will not deliver.

One of the main gripes that I came across was the poor customer service. Now this can be said for any company. Yes, as I have said it is not acceptable, but sometimes some people will not be happy with the response that they get.

Unexpected results and too many choices!

Other complaints that were received was that the results were not what they expected and also the number of upgrades that were available.

When it came to receiving unexpected results this customer was comparing what they had received from Ancestry. Please be prepared that you may get differing results from the various DNA testing companies. In my opinion though Family Tree Finder do give you far more detailed results.

As for the upgrades complaint it all comes to knowing what kit you want and how many tests that you want to be tested for. I have gone through the 3 different tests in this review, atDNA, mtDNA and YDNA. So hopefully you will have a much better idea of what you would like to buy.


Pros and Cons

Pros

✔   3 types of tests available
✔   Great to help you build an extensive family tree
✔   Break down brick walls
✔   Get ethnicity estimates about your ancestors
✔   Get connected with distant cousins via email
✔   Access to projects and surname projects

Cons

❌   No connection with genealogy search sites so you cannot get access to genealogical records
❌   Smaller database of members compared to Ancestry


My Final Thoughts

I believe that Family Tree DNA is one of the best DNA testing kits that is available to anyone wishing to earn more about their ancestors. Not only can you purchase the standard atDNA test kit but you can take both the mtDNA and yDNA tests as well if you like.

I have always wanted to learn as much as I can about my family history. That has meant checking out the various genealogy search websites, newspaper archives, county offices, genealogy societies and even visiting cemeteries.

And with DNA genealogy testing you want to know as much as you possibly can from your results. In my opinion going for the 3 tests is a no brainer as it will give you so many results that you can go through.

But if money is an option then obviously stick with the basic autosomal DNA test. You can still learn a lot about your ancestors through the results that you will get back from this test.

And if you wish you can always go for another test down the road if you wish.

Do I recommend Family Tree DNA?

Yes I certainly do Family Tree DNA. I really do like this this DNA testing company as it offers you all 3 of the typical DNA tests that are available.

Not only do you get detailed results but you can also make contact with distant cousins. The number of Family Tree DNA members is growing all the time.

So if you do not meet a relation straight away do not be dismayed. There is always the possibility that this will happen later on.

Family Tree DNA is certainly value for money!


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this Family Tree DNA testing review. If you think that this post will be helpful then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Summary
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Author Rating
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Aggregate Rating
4 based on 1 votes
Brand Name
Family Tree
Product Name
Family Tree DNA
Price
USD $89-$199
Product Availability
Available in Stock

6 thoughts on “Family Tree DNA Testing Review!

  1. Patrick Hughes

    Excellent article. Well done.

    I remember a few years back I went to try this because I do not know who my father is. Sadly, you need a swab from him so I just have given up. I wish I could find the other half of me.

    Thank you for the article.

    -Pat

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Patrick.

      It is possible though to find your father if his siblings have taken the test. There maybe the possibility that they haven’t taken the test. But what with thousands of people now taking a genealogy DNA test the chances are good. And with more people doing these tests everyday the chances are growing.

      Reply
  2. Ruben

    Great article. I am very interest in taking the Y-111 test, so I am going to start saving money. I also do not know my father, all I know is that he is from Australia. It will be wonderful to find those missing relatives for a lot of reasons. DNA testing is a great tool.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Ruben,

      I’ve said before that in order to get the most from your family history research that you need to spend some money. The Y-111 test is more expensive but it is well worth it as you will get more useful results.

      I love to try to find out as much as I can about my ancestors and have looked everywhere for any information. This type of testing is great as it’s just another avenue of research. And you can also reach out to your distant cousins for help as well.

      I wish you all the best with your genealogy research and filling in those gaps.

      Reply
  3. Mary

    Wow, this is quite a lot of research. Very informative and helpful. Have either of the companies (or any of them) addressed why people get differing results from the different companies? Do they have any ways of cross-checking each other or audits from outsiders on quality? Just curious from an auditor’s perspective, and seeing the comment on the variances. 😉

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you for your comment and your interesting questions.

      The differing results are due to the sample that these companies compare against with your results. These companies take a group of people and test their DNA. Typically they want people who are native to an area, or region. But as people move around then this can lead to some anomalies with the results.

      It’s interesting that you say about an auditor. That would be a great idea but as far as I k ow there’s nothing in place at the moment. Only time will tell.

      Reply

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