Researching your family tree is exhaustive. However, unless you can claim direct lineage to the aristocracy, you're probably going to run into trouble around the 16th century. One way around this is becoming increasingly popular: DNA testing.
Put simply, it gives you a better idea of where your family line originated. DNA testing can also give you answers to questions you haven't even asked yet.
If you're looking for a DNA testing service to trace your ethnic origin, you've probably considered 23andMe and AncestryDNA. But which service is right for you?
Why Use 23andMe or AncestryDNA?
You want to know more about your heritage. Perhaps you've been looking into researching your family tree, or you simply want to know where a family trait originated.
Either way, a DNA testing service can help and 23andMe and AncestryDNA are the market-leading options.
The procedure is remarkably simple. You choose a service (hopefully based on the results of our comparison below) and pay for the testing pack. This is shipped out to you; all you need to do is sign the relevant documents and provide a sample.
DNA is sent to the testing service in a test tube. Your DNA is present in your saliva, so all you need to do is spit into the tube, place it in the envelope, and post it!
When the test is complete, you'll be informed by mail, around two months later. 23andMe and AncestryDNA both compare results with a pool of existing DNA samples, enabling you to establish your ancestry.
For example, many white North Americans are likely to have Northern Europe as the bulk of their DNA. However, small portions of north African or Middle Eastern DNA may also be present. This represents thousands of years of human exploration and diaspora across the globe.
While standard family tree research typically only stretches back 500 years (records permitting), DNA testing can potentially take you back to the beginning.
How Many Tests Do 23andMe and AncestryDNA Offer?
Each of the services we're looking at offer different DNA testing.
AncestryDNA will provide autosomal testing, specifically looking at the DNA sample's ethnicity.
23andMe, meanwhile, will test your DNA for autosomal, broad Y-DNA (paternal DNA), and broad mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA from the mother). There is also an optional upgrade to health testing (see below).
Winner: 23andMe offers a greater range of DNA testing, although the results may not be what genealogy researchers are looking for.
23andMe vs. AncestryDNA: How Much Do They Cost?
Having your DNA sample tested isn't cheap. But which of the two services we're looking at offers the best value?
Well, what you get from your chosen DNA service it depends on what you're hoping to find out. Fortunately, standard DNA testing from both 23andMe and AncestryDNA is just $99 per person.