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Ancestry DNA Testing Kit review

Ancestry DNA is one of the biggest names ancestry DNA testing with over 15 million users.

Ancestry DNA Testing Kit review
(Image: © AncestryDNA)

Our Verdict

Ancestry DNA is an amazing tool for anyone who is looking to build an extensive family tree or to connect with living relatives that they may not know they had.

For

  • Straight forward and user-friendly
  • A huge member base
  • Incredible insights on your heritage

Against

  • Subscription charges for certain services
  • Only uses autosomal DNA testing

If you're looking for the best DNA testing kits, we've got you covered and we think that Ancestry DNA is one of the best out there. We've done all the research and tested the kits available to create our guide to the best DNA testing kits around. 

Ancestry DNA offers a number of DNA ancestry test features, with a focus on how Ancestry DNA ‘can reveal your heritage and connect you to family past and present’. The testing process is set up to be simple and straightforward.

With a vast database of over 15 million people and the ability to connect users with Ancestry’s billions of historical records and millions of family trees, Ancestry DNA is designed to help reconnect users to their routes while also solving tough DNA mysteries.

Purchasing your kit is simple and straightforward. The kit can be ordered easily online; however, a basic Ancestry DNA account (free to set up) will need to be set up so that you can receive your results.

Ancestry DNA review: Price

  • Price is reasonable for DNA testing
  • Monthly subscription is needed for more data
  • Free trial available 

Priced at $99 / £79 plus postage, Ancestry DNA isn’t overly expensive, especially as you can often find it discounted. With the purchase of your kit you can also create a free Ancestry account, which gives you the opportunity to create basic family trees.

However, if you want access to census records and birth, marriage and death data, you will need to sign up for a monthly subscription which varies in price depending on the information you want access to. There is, however, a free trial available, if you wanted to dig a little deeper into your heritage.

Ancestry DNA review: Taking the test

  • Instructions that explain how best to collect your saliva
  • Kit will come with a unique serial number
  • The entire process is anonymous

The kit contains a saliva collection tube along with some simple instructions that explain how best to collect your saliva, package the sample, and return it. A prepaid envelope is also included with the kit for this purpose. The instructions state that for best results, you must not eat, drink or smoke for a minimum of 30-minutes before providing your sample.

The kit will come with a unique serial number that you will need to activate online in order to connect your sample with your Ancestry DNA account.

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AncestryDNA

(Image credit: Ancestry)
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AncestryDNA

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AncestryDNA

(Image credit: Ancestry)

A great part of the service is that the entire process is anonymous with the lab only receiving your ID number, and not your personal details. This means that the laboratory testing your sample will never know anything about you, not even what your name is – the entire process is completely anonymous.

Once you have filled the collection tube with your sample, you simply pack the kit up in the envelope – following the directions provided – and send it back in the mail.

Ancestry DNA review: Test results

  • Takes between six and eight weeks to receive your results
  • Email notification when results are ready
  • You will need to log into the Ancestry website to view your results

Once you have sent the sample off, it takes between six and eight weeks to receive your results. While this might seem like a long time to wait to learn more about your genetic heritage, it’s important to bear in mind the in-depth process that your sample goes through in order for Ancestry DNA to bring you your results.

(After my sample was sent off, my results arrived within just 10 days, which was much faster than I had expected.)

As soon as your results are ready, you will receive an email from Ancestry DNA letting you know that your results are accessible. To view your results, you will need to log into the Ancestry website and into the account that you created.

Ancestry DNA review: What will the test show

  • Your DNA is examined at over 700,000 different locations
  • Ancestry DNA breaks down the entire world into 26 sections
  • Ancestry DNA also includes an ethnicity map

How your DNA sample is tested by Ancestry DNA is extremely interesting – your DNA is examined at over 700,000 different locations and a number of specific genetic markers are looked at, each of which can share a specific insight on a part of your DNA, and potentially, your heritage.

The splitting of your DNA into hundreds of thousands of different locations is important because when people live in the same area over a number of generations, they tend to interbreed with each other. This means that a high number of people within any given area can share similar genetic markers. The genetic markers you carry suggest where you ancestors lived. Ancestry DNA breaks down the entire world into 26 sections – by region and ethnicity. This allows them to create a chart showing the percentage of your DNA which is associated with each region.

To make it easier to understand your ethnic profile, Ancestry DNA also includes an ethnicity map which shows you where your ancestors are likely to have lived. The map is color-coded to help match the results of your ethnicity and it’s also interactive, which allows you to click on the populations and zoom in on the region to learn more about it.

Ancestry DNA review: Beyond the test results

  • You get a broad view of what your DNA says about your heritage
  • Can see who else you're closely related to
  • You can start to build a family tree

You'll receive your results via an email which offers a broad view of what your DNA says about your heritage, how many of the 14 million Ancestry DNA members you’re related to and, importantly, how closely you’re related. 

From this point, you can move into the genealogy section of Ancestry DNA. You can start to build a family tree and even contact other members of your family who are on Ancestry DNA to collaborate with. 

It’s worth noting that some of the best features on offer require an additional Ancestry DNA membership. However if you only want DNA testing and to build a simple family tree, then there is no need to subscribe.

Should I use Ancestry DNA?

Ancestry DNA is an amazing tool for anyone who is looking to build an extensive family tree or to connect with living relatives that they may not know they had. It’s simple and flexible to create a family tree and you have the ability to add one person at a time along with their name, date and place of birth, and place of death if they’re no longer living.

In regards to the technology behind Ancestry DNA, it’s important to note that the testing used only uses autosomal testing. This type of testing is considered the best way to identify living relatives, however the results can become somewhat ‘murky’ after a few generations. Other testing kits use this along with mtDNA or Y-DNA, which work by tracking down a single common ancestor and can go back as far as 10,000 years. It’s important to note that Ancestry DNA only using autosomal DNA doesn’t impact the success of their testing. You might be better off trying another service, like 23andMe, if your distant relatives are what you're looking into.

Although it’s clear from Ancestry DNA’s terms and conditions that the subscription service is separate to Ancestry DNA; without paying for this additional service the test does not make it particularly easy to uncover your unique family history. However, if you choose to utilize the additional subscription, you are able to gain a far greater insight into your family’s past and present.

One of the main pros of Ancestry DNA when compared to its rivals is its sizable DNA database. It makes finding matches and tracking down relatives easier than when using a competing company.