June 21, 2021
Product Reviews

5 things you should know before buying FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA)

FamilyTreeDNA may not have the largest user database, but you can get very comprehensive mtDNA and Y-DNA tests you can get nowhere else! -->
Tomohiro Takano

FamilyTreeDNA specializes in tracing your maternal and paternal lines by using your DNA. While the company offers typical ethnicity estimates with their basic DNA test kit, where they really excel is using DNA samples from a simple mouth swab to test your mtDNA and Y-DNA. With these DNA results, FamilyTreeDNA can trace your maternal and paternal haplogroups back to the earliest days of human expansion!

At Genomelink, we want to make sure that you get the most out of your genetic testing company. Use the review below to understand more about FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). Our reviews are highly standardized, making it easy for you to compare a number of companies at once! Plus, we will show you a variety of websites that you can use with the raw DNA data file you download from FamilyTreeDNA, which can give you more insights into how your genes may be affecting your health, lifestyle, and other aspects of your life.

1. About FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA)

2. Test Results and Sample Reports

3. Reviews

4. Cost

5. Upload Raw DNA Data from FamilyTreeDNA

1. About FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA)

Quick Facts:

Company Name: FamilyTreeDNA (Owned by Gene by Gene, Ltd.)

Foundation Year: 2000

Founder: Bennett Greenspan

Location: Houston, Texas

Website: Familytreedna.com

Monthly Visits: 2 Million+

Number of Users: 1 Million+

FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) was created in 2000, and they were one of the first companies to offer a direct-to-consumer DNA test kit. In 2006, the company was able to invest in a state-of-the-art facility in Houston, Texas. Here, they conduct all of their genetic testing in-house. Using a simple cheek swab, the company will collect your DNA sample and compare it to specific reference populations in the DNA database.

Unlike some other companies, FamilyTreeDNA provides standard autosomal testing (with the Family Finder Test) as well as mtDNA tests and Y-chromosome tests. These tests can give you a deeper look at both your maternal line and paternal line, respectively. While the company does offer tests that a genealogist might use to track common ancestors between distantly related families, the name is a bit misleading because its platform offers no capabilities for creating a family tree. However, you can match to other users, use a chromosome browser to see where your genes came from, and the pricing is very affordable.

2. Test Results And Sample Reports

Here are several things you can get FamilyTreeDNA report, depending on the test you choose.

FamilyTreeDNA Report Overview

  • Get a breakdown of ethnicities that contributed to your genes (Family Finder)
  • See how your DNA compares to ancient populations, from DNA samples found in archaeological dig sites! (Family Finder)
  • Get your mitochondrial DNA analyzed, giving you specifics about your maternal side (mtDNA test)
  • Several options for Y-DNA testing, allowing you to get insights on your paternal side (Y-DNA test)

Depending on which services you select, you will get a variety of reports back from FamilyTreeDNA. The main reports are the myOrigins report and the ancientOrigins report, both of which report on different aspects of your autosomal genes. By measuring single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), this test can give you an idea of what ethnic groups contributed to your genetic makeup in a user-friendly way. With these reports you can get a breakdown of your ethnicity, as well as learn about possible migration routes your family may have taken and whether or not you contain any genes from Neanderthals and other ancient groups.

Check out the page below for more information on what a report from FamilyTreeDNA is likely to contain! This DNA testing service also offers mtDNA testing and Y-DNA testing. The maternal ancestry report, based on your mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), will trace your maternal line back to the dawn of civilization. Mitochondrial DNA is only passed down from mother to child, so your maternal line be determined based on the specific variants you carry.

The company also offers a wide variety of paternal ancestry testing options, which explore the genes on a man’s Y-chromosome. These tests measure short tandem repeats (STRs), which are short repeats of genetic code that give different paternal lines a sort of “signature.” FTDNA offers several levels of Y-DNA test, from the simple Y-37 that will give you some information about your father’s deep family history to the Y-700 (formerly “The Big Y”) - a test that is really only for useful for professional genealogists trying to build a complex family tree of your father’s side.

Check out the page below for more information on what a report from FamilyTreeDNA is likely to contain!

FamilyTreeDNA Sample Report

3. Reviews (Updated June 2021)

The company has a number of reviews found across the internet. Check out our summary below:

  • 1.7 of 5 stars on Trustpilot, with over 60 reviews
  • 4.2 of 5 stars on Amazon, with over 750 reviews
  • 1.5 of 5 stars on Yelp, with over 50 reviews
  • See what the Reddit community is saying about FamilyTreeDNA.

Of all the DNA testing companies, FamilyTreeDNA does not score very strong marks from its users. In fact, both 23andMe and AncestryDNA score much higher marks for their genealogical services. Though FTDNA has several European ethnicities, it seems their reference populations are lacking for people that have family members from other parts of the world (such as Native American, Asian, or African). The FamilyTreeDNA website is also not nearly as well-developed as 23andMe’s site, and these testing kits cannot show you migration patterns or a migration map based on your genetic matches like you can find on Ancestry.com.

FamilyTreeDNA has also worked with law enforcement and the FBI to help solve cold cases and violent crimes. Using DNA from the crime scene, the company can help law enforcement find autosomal test matches, and bring criminals to justice.

4. Cost (Updated June 2021)

The standard autosomal DNA kit for ancestry, the Family Ancestry Test, is typically $79. The company also offers 1 mtDNA test and 3 different Y-chromosome tests. For the mtDNA test, the company will fully sequence your mitochondrial DNA for only $159. The Y-DNA tests have levels varying from $119 - $449, the top-level allowing you a nearly full sequencing of your Y-chromosome as well as a report detailing many aspects of your paternal ancestry, such as DNA matches to surnames related to you. So, for the entire genome it would cost


5. Upload Raw DNA Data From FamilyTreeDNA

While FamilyTreeDNA is not in the business of testing for health or lifestyle traits, they do allow you to download your sequenced DNA. While they only test for genetic genealogy, they also inadvertently collect extra information within your genetic data. The raw DNA data file can be uploaded to any of the following companies, allowing you access to a much greater wealth of information. Some of the following companies allow you to upload raw DNA data for free and can offer a wide variety of insights that FamilyTreeDNA does not cover in their reports. Check them out!

Know "More" About Your DNA Data

1. Genomelink — FREE

2. Promethease (genetic health risk)

Ancestry Tests

3. MyHeritage DNA — FREE

4. LivingDNA — FREE

5. GEDmatch — FREE

To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO