Ancestry is one of the biggest names both in genealogy research and ancestry DNA testing. It has over 15 million users and the largest sample database of any service we tested. The more samples in the database, the more accurate and specific results are, so it’s an important distinction. Recently, Ancestry has updated its results to reflect its growing database, and our testers saw how the update changed their reports. Overall, our results honed in on more specific areas and eliminated some false matches that were present pre-update.
AncestryDNA's sample collection kit includes a marked test tube with a funnel attachment. You spit into the tube up to the marked line, cap it off and send your sample back to the lab according to the simple provided instructions. It took 35 days from the date sent to the date we received results from Ancestry, which is only a few days longer than 23andMe’s turnaround time. Along the way, we also received notifications when our samples were processed.
Logging in to view your AncestryDNA results, you first arrive at your DNA dashboard, which shows a preview of your Ethnicity Estimate, DNA Matches and DNA circles. The Ethnicity Estimate matches your DNA to the service’s more than 500 regions, 296 of which are in Europe. This is great for people with European heritage, as it allows for a great deal of specificity. It’s possible to match with a specific county in Ireland, for example.
While there's a European, Ancestry has grown the regions it covers in recent years, and now covers Africa and Asia as well.
Other testers’ ancestry reports included an interactive DNA Story, which shows the movements and migrations of your genetic ancestors through time. This is extremely fascinating, as it shows where your ancestors came from in Europe and where they immigrated to the U.S. Most testers could trace their family’s movement west across the country and point out where their known relatives stopped along the way.
In addition to ancestry mapping, AncestryDNA gives you the option to interact with your present-day relatives as well. The interface tells you your DNA match’s screen name, estimated relationship, confidence of the match, and whether the person has filled out a family tree. It’s simple to navigate through your matches, send messages, and request to share data. If you’re in one of Ancestry’s family trees, the service also gives you hints to possible family tree matches in your DNA matches.
Ancestry focuses on the family history and genealogy aspect of DNA testing more than self-discovery, which makes it a better fit for genealogy enthusiasts than something like the National Geographic’s Geno 2.0 test, but it does have a somewhat narrower scope. Ancestry only examines your autosomal DNA, which you inherit as a mix from both of your parents, while many other tests also give you haplogroup results based on your mitochondrial or Y-DNA. To get the most out of AncestryDNA's service, it definitely feels like you need to fill out a family tree and do some of the leg work yourself, but if you’re willing to put in a little effort, the service offers unmatched recent history detail.
Ancestry has added a number of new products tied to the kit, including Communities, AncestryDNA Traits, and ThruLines.
Communities helps you discover specific groups of people you’re related to through your DNA. With more than 300 Genetic Communities, you could discover a more specific and fuller picture of your ethnic, geographic, and cultural origins.
AncestryDNA Traits allows you to discover how traits run in your family and offers a total of 26 traits, while ThruLines shows you the common ancestors who likely connect you to your DNA matches and gives you a clearer view of how you all may be related through those shared ancestors.
Thees all come at an additional price, but will allow you to dive deeper into your heritage.
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