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Family Tree DNA vs Home DNA

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FAMILY TREE DNA

As the partner company for the National Geographic's genographic research project, FamilyTreeDNA enjoys a reputation as a well-respected company for DNA testing, for purposes of studying family history. The tests they offer go much more in-depth than most services that help users look into their genetic ancestry.

FamilyTreeDNA has tests in three primary categories:

  • mtDNA: This traces a subject's maternal ancestry by exploring mitochondrial DNA. It can be used to determine if two people are siblings.
  • yDNA: This is offered only for males, because it traces genetic links through paternal DNA (i.e. the y-chromosome).
  • Family Finder: This test provides an in-depth report of where one's ancestors came from geographically, and allows users to make connections with other tested relatives in their database

Of all the tests offered by FamilyTreeDNA, the Family Finder is the most popular. It gives you a percentage breakdown of your ancestral background and allows you to connect to their database of other users. The price of this test has gone down significantly over the past few years; at the time of our review, it had dropped from the original price of $99 to an everyday price of $59.

If you prefer to analyze your genetic makeup more closely, specifically delving into information that can only be accessed through your mother or through your father, you'll want to take a look at the mtDNA and yDNA tests. FamilyTreeDNA offers various packages that combine these types of inquiry; the higher the price of the test, the more genetic markers the test will cover. These too allow for connecting with their databases and finding relatives, as well as joining group projects and working with experts in a particular lineage.

One of the few drawbacks we identified with FamilyTreeDNA is the relatively small database. They don't publish the actual number of records they maintain, but in digging around we were able to determine that it's likely less than a million. Compared with other services currently available - that can have as many as six times that amount - these DNA tests may give you much more detailed information, but fewer people with whom it may connect you.

For that reason, FamilyTreeDNA remains in the middle of the pack with respect to DNA testing. They offer a depth of testing for ancestry purposes that can't be matched by most services, but it will cost you. And, with fewer available connections once those tests are completed, FamilyTreeDNA can't compete with some of the bigger names on the market.

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HOME DNA

HomeDNA offers a simple ancestry-focused DNA test. Purchase your kit, swab your cheek, send in your kit, and get your results in 3-4 weeks. It doesn't get much easier than that. And, with a regular price of just $69 - or even $59, with the promotion running when we purchased our kit - it's one of the most affordable DNA tests on the market. But, is it worth it?

We found our results using HomeDNA to be much less specific, and at the same time, harder to interpret. Our genetic heritage was only ranked according to four different "ancient population groups": European, East Asian, Indigenous American, and Sub-Saharan African. With a test subject whose known ancestry is almost completely European, it was no surprise to find that the test came back as 95% from that continent. Other companies' DNA tests, however, gave a much more specific breakdown: 62% British Isles, 25% Scandinavian, etc. HomeDNA almost left us with more questions than answers.

Much of what is provided on the report left us scratching our heads, asking "What does this even mean? Why do I need to know this?" Check out the sample report and see for yourself: it's the big, red button next to the Product Overview section of the homepage.

Also, HomeDNA has absolutely no connection to any kind of database, so your tests literally stop with you. Some may prefer that kind of privacy, rather than worry about their information being linked (even inadvertently) to living relatives, but most people who want an ancestral DNA test do want some way to find people they're related to.

When it comes to DNA testing, HomeDNA just doesn't have much to offer other than a vague summary of broad regions that your ancestors likely came from. We recommend you choose one of the higher-ranked DNA testing companies in our review.

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Best DNA Testing

To help you find the Best DNA Testing, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Family Tree DNA and Home DNA.

Who has the best DNA Tests? It seems like everywhere you look these days, there are companies offering DNA Testing. The largest consumers of these DNA tests are people who want to connect with their heritage and/or living relatives, or who are hoping to gain insights into medical conditions and inherited medical predispositions that might affect their health.

Other reasons why people might want a DNA Test include establishing paternity of a child, identifying inherited traits, and detection of infidelity. But no matter the reason, one thing's for sure: DNA Testing has exploded in popularity as its reliability and usefulness continues to grow.

It's important to point out that, as a consumer industry, these DNA tests and the results that come from them are still an emerging science. This is especially true when it comes to testing for ancestry, where one's results are best considered a probability estimate and not an absolute conclusion. For example, you could have a DNA test done today that shows your heritage as 60% British Isles and 40% Eastern Europe, but re-running the same test in five years could show a slightly different balance as more people are tested and the estimates become more accurate.

Similarly, testing done to determine DNA traits and predispositions for medical conditions should be taken as one piece of the puzzle, not a foregone conclusion. Most experts recommend discussing these results with your doctor or a geneticist before making any drastic changes or coming to any written-in-stone conclusions regarding your future health.

On the other hand, DNA testing has been highly accurate when determining parentage. False positives are rare: if your test shows that Person X is the father of a particular child, those results are very likely to stand up in court.

There are many different companies offering DNA testing today, so it's important to know which ones offer the service you need before you purchase a home test kit. As you consider which company to use, you should keep in mind the following criteria:

  • Focus. Does the company offer DNA tests primarily for genealogy purposes, health testing, or paternity? Can you get a comprehensive test for multiple purposes (like ancestry and health background)?
  • Price. DNA testing fluctuates in price, with fees ranging from less than $50 to well over $500. Because these services have become more popular recently, you may be able to find promotions and discounts at certain times of the year.
  • Results. Have people used this service and been satisfied with the information received? If you're using a DNA test to explore your family history, how well does the company connect people with living relatives? (In other words, how big is their database of users who want to share their information with blood relations?)
  • Reputation. Does the company have a good track record for accurate testing and protection of privacy?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best DNA Testing companies available today. We hope these reviews help you find the DNA information you're looking for!



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