DNA Testing Companies: Is There a Difference?

Is there REALLY a difference when it comes to DNA testing companies?

Is there REALLY a difference when it comes to DNA testing companies?


Believe it or not there is a difference when it comes to companies who sell DNA test kits for personal use. The most important factor: what type of support are you given as a customer and what options are you provided with once the DNA test results are received?

How large is the company’s DNA test database?

  • A larger database of testers means improved chances of finding matches with others.
  • Currently, AncestryDNA has the largest database of tested users with over 21 million users.

How long has the company been in business?

  • Be wary of new DNA testing companies or “fly-by-night” companies that offer DNA test kits at very low prices. Most of these products are not accurate nor are they useful for genealogy and family history research.
  • While a company’s DNA products may be new, most of the highly rated DNA testing companies have been in business for many years, mainly as genealogy-related companies.

Does the DNA testing company provide matching with other testers?

  • Most DNA testing companies have a way for you to match with other DNA testers and exchange information, based on permission levels. Some companies may charge for this feature.

What are the DNA testing company’s privacy policies?

  • Take time to read the DNA testing company’s policies on privacy as well as the Terms of Service (TOS) or Terms and Conditions. These policies dictate not only what you as a consumer can do with the resulting data from a DNA test kit, but also what the company can do. Some testing companies sell the “metadata” to third-party vendors for research purposes.
  • Check the DNA testing company’s site for the term “informed consent” and review the informed consent policy.

Do you need to buy a subscription with the DNA testing company?

  • You may need to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription to the DNA testing company’s genealogy or matching platform in order to get the best results in terms of matching with other DNA testers.

Can you export your DNA data?

  • All of the major DNA test kit vendors allow you to download your raw DNA data.

Can you import your DNA data from another company?

  • Conversely, some companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe do not allow you to upload your raw DNA test data to their database. Again, this reduces the chances of finding matches with other DNA testers.

Is there a fee to import your DNA data from another company?

For the three DNA testing companies that allow you to import your raw DNA data, here are the current fee policies (subject to change):

  • FamilyTreeDNA: uses the “freemium” model, which means free data upload offering basic services; there is a $19 USD charge for unlocking other features.
  • MyHeritage DNA: basic DNA data uploads are free which allows for DNA matching. However, to unlock added features (ethnicity estimate, chromosome browser, trees of DNA matches, shared DNA matches, shared ethnicities, and shared ancestral places), there is a $29 USD charge.

See the Downloading and Uploading Your DNA Test Data article.

Editor’s Note: Visit DNA Bargains at https://dnabargains.com for the latest, up-to-date coupons and promo codes BEFORE you purchase any DNA test kit.

©2023, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.