Four reviewers tested FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder service to see our ancestral origins and compare our results against other popular DNA ancestry tests. From the very beginning, the Family Finder kit was presented with less polish than other tests. The sample collection kit comes in a zip lock bag with two cheek swabs and two small vials filled with liquid. Our testers generally disliked the cheek swab sample collection method, even though it was quicker than the saliva collection, because the swabbing was painful and cheek swab tests had more small parts.
FTDNA lost points in our ease-of-use scores because of its quirky registration process. You receive your kit number and profile password when you initially purchase the tests, while other kits have you create an account and password when you collect your sample. This necessitates you keeping track of your initial purchase receipt, and the added steps are inconvenient. You also have to fill out a small form and return it with your sample. After mailing our samples back to the lab, we received results in 18 days.
Like its sample collection kit, FTDNA’s web interface is less refined than other DNA testing services. It has the same information as the best tests: an ancestry map, DNA relative matches and family tree building. All of these features are fine, but they’re not quite as good as similar features from other companies. FTDNA only splits the world into 24 geographic regions, so results are less specific than those of 23andMe, which has 171 regions. For comparison, my 23andMe results matched me to Korea, Japan and China. FTDNA matched most of my DNA to Northeast Asia, which includes those three countries, but doesn’t separate them out. Other testers had similar experiences, and we felt that the test seemed generally accurate but not as specific as we expected.
FamilyTreeDNA gives you a few reports in addition to your ancestry map. You can view your ancient European origins, which splits your DNA into four groups of people who populated Europe throughout history: Metal Age invaders, farmers, hunter-gatherers and non-European. You can view and contact DNA matches, though the process for this isn’t as streamlined as others. You can’t message matches within the site itself; you have to email matches directly.
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Overall, FamilyTreeDNA is simply less specific and polished than services like AncestryDNA, 23andMe or Geno 2.0, and its clunkiness puts a slight damper over the whole experience. Still, it’s a decent test with similar features to our top picks. Plus, if you’ve taken a non-Helix National Geographic Genographic Project test, you can upload your raw DNA file to FTDNA for free.
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