Ancestry.com is a company based in genealogy. Before the days of DNA testing, Ancestry focused on helping people build and maintain their family tree. Based out of Provo, Utah, the company traditionally published the Ancestry Magazine. But, in 2012, the company began offering a DNA kit meant to analyze your family history through your DNA. The report you get from the Ancestry DNA test kit not only analyzes your DNA but also provides you access to living family members that also use AncestryDNA. This allows you to create “DNA circles” of people you are genetically related to.
- A long and devoted history of helping customers build a family tree
- Back up your DNA data with historical records
- Download your Raw DNA Data for use with other sites
- Pie Charts of your Ethnicity Estimate, showing where your genes came from
- Find DNA matches with living relatives also using the Match List
- AncestryDNA results do not include access to historical records; this costs extra
- Subscription packages to the historical records service are not cheap!
- DNA testing only for ancestry information, no health or disease risk assessments available (they have recently started a limited physical traits feature; this costs extra)
Kit Ordering and DNA Collection
After ordering a DNA kit from the Ancestry website, Amazon, or a similar source, you will receive a package in the mail containing a saliva sample collection tube. Fill the tube with spit, and send the testing kit back to the company in the prepaid envelope. Cells within your saliva sample contain your DNA sample, which the lab workers will extract, analyze, and compare to reference populations around the globe. This autosomal DNA test does not look at mitochondrial DNA (maternal line), the X chromosome, or Y-DNA (paternal line).
After a period of around 6 weeks, you will receive a report from Ancestry.com, available through their online platform. The test results will contain an Ethnicity Estimate, which approximates where your genes came from based on your matches with reference populations. Maybe your relatives were from England, Scotland, and Ireland. Or, you could be East Asian, Scandinavian, and Native American. Every person is different and has a different genetic heritage, so these estimates can vary widely even between siblings. Your personal pie chart will be specific to the genes you inherited from your parents.
Besides the ethnicity estimate, you will have a number of other tools available to you on Ancestry’s platform. Below is a sample page, showing a specific ethnicity which has been focused on. You will notice that not only is your percentage available, but the company provides background information on the region your ancestors were from. Further, you can explore a timeline of events that includes possible migration routes your family may have taken. Check it out!
Using the platform, you can also perform a number of other actions from your DNA results. Looking for distant cousins? No problem! The Match List found in the platform details all of the AncestryDNA users who are related to you. It can include close relatives, second cousins, and even a common ancestor that you share with other living relatives. Who knows? Maybe you are related to Winston Churchill or Alexander the Great.
AncestryDNA is not alone in offering an ancestry test based on DNA. Other companies, such as MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe, LivingDNA, and the National Geographic Geno 2.0 project all allow users the ability to get an ethnicity estimate. Some of them provide access to historical records, such as MyHeritage, while others are simply meant to show you where your genetic information comes from. A couple of big advantages AncestryDNA has is that it allows you to download your raw data for use on other platforms, and it has one of the world’s largest repositories for historical documents.
Ancestry makes it very clear on their Privacy page that you maintain ownership of your DNA data. When you opt into their optional programs to find relatives and create a family tree, you are allowing Ancestry to use your DNA data to find the matches and help build your tree. However, you can delete your DNA data at any time simply by notifying the company of your choice.
AncestryDNA has been extensively reviewed online by thousands of customers. Check out some of them below!
From Trustpilot - 2 of 5 Stars with over 4,000 reviews
From Amazon - 4 of 5 Stars with over 200 reviews
From Consumer Affairs - 1 of 5 Stars with over 600 reviews
In general, customers were satisfied with the AncestryDNA kit and corresponding results. However, many customers took issue with the subscription service necessary to maximize your results in the platform. These subscriptions can be hundreds of dollars a year and are apparently very hard to cancel. Further, many 1 star reviews focused on the poor customer service provided by the company, which is never a good thing.
The Bottom Line
AncestryDNA was one of the first in the ancestry testing game, but some of their practices are questionable. While the basic test will get you information on your ancestors, be prepared to pay much more than the sticker price of the test to get your full range of results. On the bright side, Ancestry does allow you to download your raw data, which can be used for free on a number of other sites to get additional insights into your DNA.