AncestryDNA Review: Here's All You Need To Know in 3 Minutes - For the DNA Amateur
The editors here at Genomelink think it is important that you select the right DNA testing company for your needs. Below is our review of AncestryDNA, in a comparable format to our other review articles so you can easily compare all the companies you are interested in!
Location: Provo, Utah
Monthly Visits: 55 Million+
Number of DNA Kit Users: 14 Million+
Ancestry (Ancestry.com) has been in the genealogy game for a long time. Back in the day, they produced Ancestry Magazine and were one of the first companies to computerize family history. Based out of Provo, Utah, the company is now owned by a private equity firm, Permira. In 2012, Ancestry expanded its offerings by providing the AncestryDNA test. The DNA kit is tied directly to their family tree service and is a powerful tool for finding your long-lost relatives.
The AncestryDNA kit is one of the most comprehensive DNA ancestry tests around, and the company can also give you access to millions of historical records to help you understand your roots. 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.
Like all DNA testing companies, Ancestry has several pros and cons.
- By far the largest user base - this means more accurate results!
- A long and devoted history of helping customers build a family tree
- Back up your DNA data with computerized 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!
- Health testing is much lest robust compared to other companies
- Users looking for Health and Ancestry testing can find better options elsewhere
What to Expect from AncestryDNA
Below, you can see what to expect from your DNA results with AncestryDNA.
- AncestryDNA Report Overview
- Ethnicity Estimate of populations you are most related to
- Pie chart of your biggest matches
- Detailed ancestry matching with over 1,000 regions
- Includes common regions like Europe, Ireland, Africa, Scotland, New York, and others!
- Timeline of historical changes related to your DNA curated from an expert team of historians
- Potential migration paths your family may have taken
- Family connections to your living relatives on the platform
- AncestryHealth gives you several reports related to your genetic health
AncestryDNA offers two basic packages. The standard AncestryDNA package includes only ancestry results, while the more expensive AncestryHealth kit includes several health traits in addition to your ancestry results. This section discussed what you should expect from each kit, below.
The page below contains a sample report from AncestryDNA, so you know what to expect!
Kit Ordering And DNA Collection
When you order 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 sending in your saliva sample, the company will analyze your DNA test kit. Your AncestryDNA results will be a breakdown of where your genes came from, by region. In addition, you can opt into their subscription service, which curates possible matches to your family tree and gives you access to their large collection of historical records. Further, the service can connect you to your DNA matches, to help you find family members who are also using the service. If you opted for the AncestryHealth kit, your health results will be available in a different section on your results home page.
Expected Ancestry Results
After an average 6 week processing time, 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 that 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.
If you decide to purchase the optional subscription packages, you will also get access to Ancestry’s massive historical records database. Then, you can build out a family tree from the ground up, finding connections with both living DNA relatives and relatives recorded in the historical documents database. With these two incredible tools, Ancestry really only competes with MyHeritage in the family tree realm. Plus, with their massive user database, Ancestry can analyze many more regions and likely gives the most accurate ancestry results of any company.
Expected Health Results
If you purchase the more expensive AncestryHealth package, you will get all of the ancestry results described above, plus insights into several different health areas including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart health, and 3 carrier status reports. While this is a decent look at well-researched genetic variants, the test misses many of the health conditions reported by other companies.
For example, 23andMe provides over 40 different carrier status reports, as well as a number of other conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease. None of these health conditions are covered by the AncestryHealth tests. Until these tests are updated and expanded, it seems unwise to purchase the AncestryHealth tests. These AncestryHealth tests will cost you an additional $50, but you could easily find all of this health information on Promethease for only $12, simply using your raw DNA data. Companies like 23andMe and MyHeritage offer a greater diversity of health traits, but their ancestry results are not quite as robust.
Ancestry makes it very clear on their Privacy page that you maintain ownership of your DNA data. When you opt-in to 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. This action will permanently delete your data from their database.
AncestryDNA has thousands of reviews, on several different sites. Check them out for yourself!
- 2.5 of 5 stars on Trustpilot, with over 4,700 reviews
- 4 of 5 stars on Amazon, with over 8,000 reviews
See more results and what people are saying on the Ancestry Reddit page
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 on 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. That being said, many customers have been very satisfied with their ancestry results from the company.
The AncestryDNA report is $99. However, you can also subscribe to their Family Tree service, ranging from $19 to $45 per month. With these subscription packages, you get access to various historical records and the ability to construct and add to a family tree on the platform. The most basic package gives you access to all the US records available. The higher packages give you access to international records, historic newspapers, as well as access to Fold3, a military records site.
For the AncestryHealth kit, you will have to pay $150, or you can upgrade your ancestry kit for an additional $50. This is slightly cheaper than a comparable package from 23andMe, but it includes far fewer health traits and only slightly better ancestry results.
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.
With Ancestry’s historical records service and the ability to construct and develop a family tree, Ancestry really only competes with MyHeritage. Both companies offer DNA ancestry testing and the ability to build and research a family tree. While their historical records databases are competitive, Ancestry has far more users. Compared to MyHeritage’s 2.5 million users, Ancestry’s 14 million+ users give them a much better ability to estimate ethnicity and region within their ancestry results. MyHeritage, while it is slightly behind in ancestry testing, does offer more comprehensive health results.
The Bottom Line
Ancestry.com was one of the first companies in the ancestry testing game, and remain at the forefront of DNA ancestry testing. 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 and access to the powerful historical records database. While Ancestry has also expanded into the DNA health testing realm, their results are much less comprehensive than most companies.
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, including Genomelink!