Personal DNA test kits are only $69 in the summer sales at three of the major vendors: Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA, and MyHeritage. So which one to do? Well that depends on your objectives. If you are testing for the fun of it, then maybe Ancestry with the largest database and automatic tree matching is the one for you. I have lots of details on why to pick one or another in my page of DNA test comparisons.
But beware, if there are any family secrets such as your dad or grandad not being whom you expect or an out of wedlock child, DNA will out them. Recently an amazing story where DNA revealed a surprise was reported in the Washington Post. The tester’s Dad was switched at birth in the hospital!
Another warning is that the science of figuring out where your ancestors are from via DNA is still in its infancy. They really cannot tell the difference very well between German or Scottish ancestry, both can look Scandinavian or English, click here to read my blog post on that topic. They do fine with broad continental predictions. Also some ancestry is very distinctive, so easy to predict, like Finnish or Ashkenazi or Subsaharan African. However Native American may show as East Asian and gypsy might be South Asian.
If your ancestors are recently from Europe then you might have better luck finding cousins at one of the other companies besides Ancestry. Very few Germans in Germany have tested and those few are mainly at Family Tree DNA. Of course you can upload your autosomal DNA results from the other companies to Family Tree DNA.
If your ancestry is from the British Isles you might consider testing at Living DNA currently on sale for $119. This gives a detailed county by county break down in Britain of your ancestry and seems fairly accurate. Plus they are also making a push to get Germans to test.
If your surname is the question, then the Y chromosome tests, also on sale, at Family Tree DNA may be of interest. The tests mentioned above are a sample of all 23 of your chromosomes but of those companies, only Family Tree DNA does the deeper tests on just the Y. Since the Y chromosome is passed almost unchanged from father to son , the tiny mutations on the Y give us a history of the migrations of the human race. Plus the STR markers can give you surname matches in the past few hundred years while the bigY or SNP tests can tell you more about your deeper ancestry
Our family group carrying the Munson Y is descended from some guy in the Indo-European invasion. My curiosity led me to further test the SNPs from my Dad’s Y DNA and discovered that we are R1b-L238 (Y11662) which might mean we were Swedish before we were Norwegian (shocking!). L238 is the Scandinavian branch of those invading R1b warriors with their horses and bronze weapons and Y11662 is the Swedish subgroup (includes some Scots and Norwegians of course)
Read more about us European R1bs (aka R-M269) here: http://www.eupedia.com/europe/Haplogroup_R1b_Y-DNA.shtml
One of the advantages of testing at 23andMe is that it will give you your basic haplogroup predictions, both Y and the mother’s mother’s mother line, mitochondrial DNA. These reach thousands of years back in time and are fun to know about.
Once you have tested at any of these companies, you can upload the results to many other web sites for more information and different ancestry predictions, as well as finding other cousins. So if you have not tested your DNA yet, what are you waiting for? These sales are a good value.
My experience: Decided to go with AncestryDNA since in addition to their own results, they provide a raw DNA file (autosomal) that can be transferred to other databases to get results – all at no additional charge, as you mentioned.
Ancestry took a month to get the results (all online) and provided the tool to download the raw DNA file. I then imported the file into MyHeritage, GedMatch and attempted FamilyTreeDNA. I believe these companies don’t charge for the analysis since first, the DNA raw file is already created and second, they build up their client base for improved accuracy. The later is conjecture on my part though.
AncestryDNA provided ethnicity estimates going back 1000 years shown on a map and genetic communities from hundreds of years ago.
MyHeritage import transfer from Ancestry.com worked smoothly and I got the results in two days. It showed more detailed results than AncestryDNA on the genetic community. What an efficient company!
GedMatch import of Ancestry raw file provided more hard data which needs further analysis, which is almost a project on its own. I may have to read your tutorial on this one.
FamilyTreeDNA has file import compatibility issues with AncesteryDNA. Disappointing since this has been going on for months. I talked to both companies and each is pointing the finger at the other. Something to be aware of. This is as of late Sept, 2017.
FTDNA response on compatibility issue with AncesteryDNA
May 24, 2017 at 5:33 am
Problems of transfer of a recent AncestryDNA test to FTDNA. Is there a solution?
Thanks for contacting us.
Unfortunately, the problem is on Ancestry’s end. There is an issue with the size of some of their files (The formatting of the columns is skewed-— the data is not lining up in the proper column or category. Any time a rsid# in the first column is smaller than 5 digits then the rest of the data on that line is skewed and does not read the proper column or category. The same thing happens where the position number, in the third column, is smaller than 8 digits. That skews the rest of the columns in that line.) and that is why some of them are not uploading, like what you have experienced.
Other sites with transfers available, like Gedmatch and MyHeritage, have different transfer processes. Their upload accepts files of any size and format, which is why you would have been able to upload the file to either or both of those websites with no trouble. However, the files must be in the same size and format as all other Ancestry V1 or V2 files in order to work with FTDNA’s upload so that our system can properly translate the data and give Family Finder results.
I apologize again for the trouble you are experiencing when trying to transfer. Please contact Ancestry for an accurate raw data file.
Family Tree DNA