FamilyTree DNA offers some of the most in-depth and advanced consumer DNA testing of all the companies we tested. You can pay extra to take tests tracking your mitochondrial DNA to learn about your maternal line or to test your Y-DNA to learn about your paternal line if you’re a male. We only tested the Family Finder autosomal DNA test from this company. If you have tricky holes in your past, testing your Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) might help you connect with distant relatives and find answers. Otherwise, Ancestry.com’s personalized features and larger database make it the DNA test kit we recommend for most people.
The autosomal Family Finder test is about the same price as other DNA test kits we reviewed. However, the Y-DNA and mtDNA are more than twice as expensive as the autosomal test. Because of this price difference, you’ll likely only want to take these tests if you or a genetic counselor or genealogist feel it will answer questions about your ancestors.
This test uses cheek swabs to collect your DNA samples. After you swab your cheeks for 30 to 60 seconds each, you place the swabs in a vial and then ship them to FamilyTree using the prepaid envelope included with your kit. This company sent me an email when it received my sample, and I was also able to see an estimated date of completion on my online FamilyTree account.
FamilyTree DNA returned my results to me faster than any other test. I received an email letting me know I could access my results in 13 days. From the dashboard you can view your DNA cousin-matches, compare segments of your chromosome with your matches and view your ancestral origins and pre-civilization origins. FamilyTree DNA also offers an add-on wellness report from Vitagene that can predict some hereditary conditions as well as give you information about diet and fitness. We didn't test the wellness reports, but other companies we reviewed, like 23andMe, also offer wellness testing and we like the fact that 23 and Me does their testing in-house.
This company’s biogeographical ancestry report is called myOrigins and it’s one of the best we tested. The map shows your percentages as well as a topographical-style colored splotch that gives you information about where your DNA likely originated. In addition to displaying colored splotches over the areas associated with your ancestral DNA, it also allows you to click on your close DNA matches from the site and see where their DNA is based on a map.
The Family Finder test also gives you access to FamilyTree’s database of DNA. I found over 1,700 connections, many of which I had found using other services. One interesting part of this company’s DNA matching is that it estimates how many centimorgans you share with your relatives. A centimorgan is a unit of genetic distance. There isn’t a built-in messaging app, but you can find the email addresses of your matches and contact them that way.
If you’re interested in testing your Y-DNA or mtDNA, FamilyTree is the only DNA test kit we evaluated that offers this capability for consumers. These additional tests can be a great tool if you’re searching for specific answers about your past. However, because FamilyTree DNA’s database is smaller than Ancestry.com’s, you may have more luck testing with Ancestry, a company that gives you access to 5 million genetic records.