Where are you from?
For many of us, that question can be hard to answer.
We get a different answer from mom and dad, and far more when you begin tracing grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-greats. Pretty soon you’ve got 16, 32, 64 stories to keep track of…and no way of knowing how accurate each one is.
Ancestry records can certainly help part of the way. They’re great for recent history—spotting the moment your grandfather came over on Ellis Island, or looking up the marriage records of your great-grandparents from the Old Country. But these records mostly just confirm what you already knew…
So where are you really from?
One solution is DNA testing. Its popularity has exploded in recent years, with the number of consumers signing up for testing kits more than doubling in 2019. This DNA boom has made genetic testing one of the hottest conversation starters at dinner tables and water coolers across the world.
The DNA market doubled in 2019—for the third year in a row.
It’s no surprise that DNA tests are in high demand. The things you learn from them are irresistible:
Ancestry – Everything we’ve ever known about our heritage has come from our parents and grandparents. A DNA test can tell you so much more about who you are and where you’re from. Most companies offer this basic service, but some are far better than others.
Family History – This kind of goes hand-in-hand with Ancestry. If you’re trying to sort out family mysteries, a DNA test can help you solve them. If your parents also have their DNA tested, you can sometimes sort out which genes you received from each side of the family.
Community – Finding out your genetic heritage gets you a deeper connection to the places that you’re “from.” On top of this, some of the best DNA test companies will connect you with people who share pieces of DNA with you. Many people use this feature to discover long-lost relatives.
Health Risks – Some DNA tests can reveal unique traits embedded in your genetic code that may put you at risk for certain health conditions. This can help you alter your lifestyle to try and prevent them.
Family Planning – A DNA test can help you find out what genes you may pass onto your children, for better or worse.
With so many people clamoring to get their hands on the benefits listed above, more and more DNA test companies have been rising to meet them. Unfortunately, they’re not all created equal.
Now it’s harder than ever to find a good DNA test…
Luckily, you’re in the right place. Our team of scientists, researchers, and writers at Genetics Digest know the field better than most. We’ve examined nearly every DNA test in the booming market. We’ll help you sort out the great ones from the “cheap knockoffs.”
With that said, let’s get started on Common Mistakes People Make When Shopping for a DNA Test…
Mistake #1: Don’t buy a brand by how “popular” it appears to be.
Some brands have a great marketing team with a massive advertising budget. You might see/hear their ads everywhere. That’s because they’re spending millions to make sure you’ve heard of them.
Despite the great marketing, some of those companies have subpar services at best. They’re more worried about making a sale than they are with actually delivering a quality product. In short, these companies focus on business rather than science, and frequently aren’t backed by leading geneticists.
To make matters worse, some of the biggest ancestry companies are owned in part by pharmaceutical giants or data companies—meaning your personal DNA information may be handed over to corporations to turn a profit.
The best genetics companies have top-notch data security, and are 100% privately owned, meaning they don’t answer to investors. Instead, they answer to you, the customer. Look for a company renowned for their data security and professional pedigree.
Mistake #2: Don’t Miss Out on Deeper Detail.
One of the most common complaints we see from ancestry customers is that their results “fall flat”—you get a basic pie chart breakdown of where your ancestors are from, but a disappointing amount of information about how or why you got those results. And we all know that ancestry is more than just a bunch of boring percentages.
The best DNA tests feature an Ancestry Timeline that tells you not only where your ancestors are from, but exactly how and when they got there, enabling you to form a clearer, fuller picture of your family history. These top-quality tests give you the best of both worlds of broad genetic results and deeper ancestry detail.
Mistake #3: Don’t Forget to Ask the Experts
On a similar note to our #1 mistake, you don’t want to go for the loudest, flashiest DNA brand—instead, look for true experts in the field of genetics. After all, you want highly qualified scientists and researchers handling your DNA, not a bunch of college kids at a startup. Fortunately, the best DNA companies are headed by genetic experts, who have literally decades of experience in the genetics field.
Experts are not only more knowledgeable about your DNA—they also tend to be far more responsible than companies who are just looking to make a quick buck. These genetic investigators have dedicated their lives to helping you find out the meaning behind your DNA and family history, and they won’t rest until their customers’ curiosity is satisfied. If you want your burning questions about your DNA and family history answered, make sure you find a company with a professional scientist in charge.
Our Top 3 Recommended DNA Tests
Now that we’ve shown you what to look out for, we want to share with you some of the best Ancestry DNA tests we’ve seen for discovering your heritage.
We ranked the services by these 10 factors:
CRI Genetics stands out as the best DNA Test for Ancestry for a few specific reasons. First, they’re headed by renowned genetic scientist with a reputation for leading exceptional studies in genetic science. While most genetic testing services rely on other people’s past research to produce their ancestry reports, CRI Genetics relies on someone who is currently doing Genome research.
CRI Genetics is led by Alexei Fedorov, Ph.D., who was mentored by Nobel Prize winning scientists at Harvard University and has gone on to spearhead many genetic studies of his own. As a company, CRI Genetics has established themselves as one of the top players in quality of service. They are the only DNA testing company we have come across that has any sort of money-back guarantee.
If you want a company that is top-of-the line in data security and encryption, look no further than CRI Genetics. Even better, CRI is 100% privately owned, which means they do NOT answer to investors, and do not share data with pharma companies OR the government. In a crowded market, this is the one leading company that ancestry enthusiasts can trust.
Details/Accuracy of Reports:
CRI Genetics currently offers 5 unique ancestry reports that are generated using a patented DNA analysis algorithm created by Alexei Fedorov. Your report features not only a basic geographical breakdown of your ancestry, but also a deeply detailed Ancestry Timeline that shows you where your relatives are from and exactly how and when they got there, going back over 50 generations. It’s this commitment to detail that makes CRI Genetics our top choice. See Full Report Here
Overview: 23andMe boasts one of the most detailed and accurate Ancestry Reports of all DNA testing companies. They’re #2 by a slim margin, as they have slightly fewer Ancestry & Trait reports than our #1 choice. They also have an ancestry timeline, but it features far less depth and detail than our top choice, only going back 8 generations at most.
Company Reputation: 23andMe was founded in 2006 by Anne Wojcicki, Linda Avey, and Paul Cusenza. Their goal is to “help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome.” To date, they have published more than 100 peer-reviewed studies in scientific journals.
One of 23&Me’s top investors is GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company that has been implicated in numerous scandals, including false claims suits. As a result, 23&Me’s customers are almost guaranteed to have their data used for pharmaceutical research.
Details/Accuracy of Reports: Today, 23andMe is one of the top players in the DNA testing market. Their Ancestry reports come with above average detail and accuracy, only slightly lagging behind our #1 choice. View Full Report
Overview: Ancestry.com has been in business for a long time, which has allowed them to learn from mistakes and slowly acquire a large base of customers from their genealogy services. This has made them one of the top players in DNA Testing.
Company Reputation: Ancestry Publishing was founded in 1983 and eventually grew into a genealogy service, allowing customers to sort through historical records to fill out family trees. They added DNA testing to their list of services in 2007, but didn’t do it themselves until 2012.
Ancestry.com has an “informed consent research” clause in their service. You can opt out, but it’s easy to miss, and plenty of customers have realized too late that their data is being used in genetic research. Ancestry is also owned in part by AOL and Compaq, both large data companies. Finally, GIC, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, is also a major investor, meaning Ancestry customers’ DNA data belongs in part to a foreign government.
Details/Accuracy of Reports: Ancestry DNA’s reports have 30 regions, mostly in Europe. Many customers will find this satisfactory, but our #1 and #2 choices give far more detail. Ancestry DNA’s greatest strengths lie in the size of their customer base and in their genealogy service that allows you to search through historical records to fill out your Family Tree. View Full Report
✓ How DNA Tests Work
✓ Why Many Aren't Good Quality
✓ How To Select A Good DNA Test
✓ Where To Get A Great Ancestry DNA Test
At Genetic Digest, we’re consumers too and we want the best deals on the highest quality goods at the most reasonable prices as much as anyone else. When all of our senses are constantly bombarded with advertising at every moment of every day, it’s hard to tell which deals really are the best and which products really are high quality.