FamilyTreeDNA.com Review

Executive Summary

FamilyTreeDNA.com offers a range of genetic tests and an expansive DNA database for finding family matches. It also offers an array of free information on how genetics can aid in genealogy research.

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FamilyTreeDNA.com Highlights

  • Introductory information on genetics

  • Wide range of DNA tests available

  • Use results to find family matches

  • Trace heritage and discover ethnic and geographic background

Pros

  • Significant amount of free information on genetic genealogy

  • Both broad and more specific tests

  • Good resource even for non-customers

  • BBB Accredited (‘A’ rating)

Cons

  • Serious costs for more advanced tests

Resources/Database Quality and Quantity

The site offers a wealth of resources, many of them free, for those exploring how to use genetics to further their genealogy research. Ultimately, however, success will differ by each customer, depending on their genetics and the number of matches in the DNA databases used by Family Tree DNA. Things like geographic locations of ancestors come from the DNA database and from scientific research done around the world. FamilyTreeDNA.com has video and written tutorials and background articles that range from general introductions to genealogy, down to very specific topics on genetics. A great place to start on the site is the surname finder, which quickly tells you how many other customers of that surname have done testing. Video testimonials explore project successes of other customers. There is also a browsable database of surname and geographic research projects that customers can join. For instance, if your ancestors came from Pomerania near the Baltic Sea in Europe, there is a project on the site for you. A glossary of terms helps explain the language of genetic genealogy. There are a range of users’ guides, a Q&A forum, and an expert’s handbook.

Search Results

It is impossible to gauge search results here like on other types of genealogy research websites, since results are unique to each person’s research. Two searchable areas on the site can provide hints at what is available: the surname finder and the database of ongoing research projects.

Interface & Navigation (Ease of Use)

FamilyTreeDNA.com presents itself very nicely. This is a clean, attractive and easy-to-use web site. Free resources and background information are easy to find. Video presentations are hosted on YouTube and play without technical issues. The site has clear details on the different tests for sale and what each test examines.

Features and Extras

FamilyTreeDNA.com is a useful genealogy site even for those who are not yet ready to purchase DNA test kits. It has a learning library of webinars, video presentations, case studies, and scientific papers that offer background from general information to very specific topics. The Forum features posts, questions and replies on topics such as “DNA and Genealogy for Beginners,” “DNA Success Stories,” “Geographic Project Forums” and many others. You can transfer DNA testing done by other companies and compare it with potential matches in the Family Tree DNA database.

Cost and Subscription Options

The site does not have subscriptions like other types of genealogy research platforms. The costs are based on the type of genetic testing done. The Family Finder test is $79 USD. It explores autosomal DNA (from father and mother) going back five generations. Y-DNA tests explore paternal lineage and surname histories. Tests cost $169 to $359 USD, depending on how many genetic markers are examined. The more markers tested, the more refined results. Mitochondrial DNA tests look at the maternal lineage. Costs range from $79 to $199 USD. The site also allows transfer of test results from other vendors such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Once tests are complete and in the system, there is no ongoing cost to look for matches or collaborate with other researchers.

Conclusion

FamilyTreeDNA.com is a great resource for genealogists looking for background information on genetic genealogy and for those ready to order test kits and start their own DNA learning adventure.

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