How To Choose the Right DNA Test For Your Family Genealogy Project

23andme ancestry DNA test logo 150x75  familytreedna ancestry DNA test logo  ancestrydna ancestry DNA test logo 150x25  thegenographicprioject ancestry DNA test logo

If you’re new to ancestry DNA testing, then you’ve come to the right place.

On this site, you’ll find:

This site is designed for use on mobile phones.

About This Website

I built this DNA test review and comparison site to make it easy for other first-time DNA genealogists to select the right DNA test for their family’s needs.

Learn more about me and this website on the About page.

Warning: if you want to spend hours learning all about the science of DNA testing, then this site isn’t for you. Check out these excellent family DNA resources instead.

Let’s get started!

See The “Big 4″ Ancestry DNA Tests Compared

ancestry dna test comparison

Get a Recommendation:

What Are You Trying To Accomplish?


Learn about your ancestors. Trace their global migration. Confirm your ethnicity.


Connect with cousins. Confirm long-held suspicions. Know where you stand.


Use DNA to connect the dots. Put your research on autopilot. 

Learn More:

What Is a Family DNA Test?

After only a few years in existence, DNA tests are today’s amateur genealogist’s tool of choice. 

Inexpensive, reliable tests like the ones offered by 23AndMe,, FamilyTreeDNA and the GenographicProject have helped millions of people:

  • confirm long-held suspicions
  • trace ethnic roots
  • find lost relatives
  • connect family trees in ways never before possible. 

The consumer DNA testing market is now hitting critical mass. 

The DNA of over 2 million people is available online for matching with yours. Each month, hundreds of thousands of people add more DNA to the big 4 databases alone.

The good news is, prices have dropped. You can get your DNA tested and analyzed by any of the major services for just $99.

The quality of consumer DNA tests is excellent, too.

geneology roadshow

On the popular PBS series, Genealogy Roadshow, professional genealogists are using the same DNA tests discussed on this site to help families uncover the truth about their family heritage.

How Does a Family DNA Test Work?

A family DNA test analyzes the 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes found in your DNA to reveal a wide variety facts about your genetic connection to the human race. 

VIDEO: "How Autosomal DNA Helps Your Family Tree Research"

This 15-minute video by Maurice Gleason does a great job explaining the benefits and limitations of autosomal DNA testing:

Some of the things autosomal DNA can reveal about your heritage include:

  • your ethnic / racial makeup
  • where your ancestors come from
  • who your parents really are
  • whether you have royal blood

But no single genealogy DNA test does all of the above equally well. There are, in fact, huge differences among them that you need to consider.

The ‘Big 4′ Family DNA Tests

The family DNA testing market today is dominated by four providers:

Together, these companies store over 90% of the autosomal DNA records available to family researchers.

This is a critical fact to know, because the size of a DNA database means everything: you stand a much better chance finding lost relatives in a Big 4 database of 800,000 people vs. using a specialty service with only 50,000 or so.

The ‘Big 4′ tests share many things in common:

  • they are all designed for genealogy research
  • they all cost $99-$199 per DNA sample 
  • they all use the same basic technology, autosomal DNA matching. 

That said the information and tools offered by each test vary greatly.

It’s important to know what your research goal is ahead of time (see the top three) to pick the right test for your needs.

Read This Site:

There are three ways you can use this site to learn about the differences between the leading DNA tests, or pick one for your needs. You can:

  1. View our recommendations for the most common objectives.
  2. Compare DNA tests on more than a dozen features.
  3. Read our DNA Test reviews and make your own decision.

This site is designed for smart phones, but it works on bigger screens, too.

Trace Your Roots

Do you want to Trace Your Roots?

  • Learn about your ancestors
  • Trace their ancient migration routes
  • Confirm your racial makeup and ethnicity

Then purchase The Genographic Project by National Geographic

thegenographicprioject ancestry DNA test logo

Price: $199

genogaphic project


Why It’s The Best Test for Tracing Your Roots

First off, National Geographic’s global Genographic Project offers the most comprehensive ancient history DNA database on the market.

Using a custom-designed DNA test (provided by FamilyTreeDNA), the Genographic Project is specifically designed tell you who your ancestors were, where they lived and how they migrated across the globe. It will also tell you your racial and ethnic origins.

Unlike pure autosomal tests that can only trace relations back 5 or 6 generations, the Genographic Project profiles your family history as far back as 300,000 years.

The Genographic Project also offers a slick and easy-to-navigate user interface for browsing through your ancestry. It’s good enough to give classroom or family reunion presentations straight from your laptop or tablet.

Find and Connect With Relatives

Do you want to Find Missing Relatives?

  • Find missing parents and siblings
  • Connect with cousins from around the world
  • Confirm DNA matches using advanced tools

Then purchase Family Finder by FamilyTree DNA

familytreedna ancestry DNA test logo

Price: $99
FamilyTreeDNA Review


Why It’s the Best Test For Finding Relatives

FamilyFinder offers everything a serious family genealogist would need in a single integrated platform. It was designed specifically to help families find and connect with new relatives around the world, and it does this better than any other DNA test.

Serious amateur genealogists will love FamilyFinder’s international DNA coverage, DNA record import capability, built-in family tree manager and native chromosome mapper. For larger projects (see example), no other service comes close to the level of support and tools that FTDNA offers.

FamilyFinder is also the only service that provides the private email address of each new match. This means you can establish private conversations with FTDNA’s responsive community of genetic genealogy enthusiasts.

If you’ve previously tested with another DNA service and want to extend your research, then you are in luck. Because FamilyFinder is the only vendor that lets you import DNA data from other services

Using FamilyTreeDNA’s FREE data upload feature, you can see if there are any new DNA matches waiting for you in their huge international DNA database that’s growing in size by 10,000s of people every month (Note: to connect with or verify matches, you’ll have to pay a fee).

If your family lives in several countries today, then FamilyTreeDNA is a great choice. People from over 200 countries have contributed DNA to their database.

Map Your Family Tree

Do you want to Map Your Family Tree?

  • Find potential new relatives
  • Research your family history
  • Connect your family tree with others
  • Keep things simple

Then purchase AncestryDNA by

ancestrydna ancestry DNA test logo 150x25

Price: $99
AncestryDNA Review


Why It’s The Best Test for Building Family Trees

AncestryDNA keeps things simple! And there’s a lot to like about that.

In business for over ten years, parent company maintains the world’s largest collection of family trees and the most extensive genealogical research data base anywhere. 

With AncestryDNA added to the mix, can now help you identify potential new relatives using your autosomal DNA.

Using their proprietary “leaf” alert system, AncestryDNA will automatically inform you when there is a new potential relative found in their DNA database. They offer unique tools that will help you triangulate and map your family trees with others, assuming the trees aren’t locked by the either party.

We love AncestryDNA’s user interface and their attempt to keep things as simple as possible.

That said, AncestryDNA does not offer a chromosome mapping tool, so you’ll have to purchase that separately if you want to verify your potential matches.

A Final Note

I really hope this site simplifies your quest to map your family’s genetic history. 

If you have any comments, clarifications or questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Charles McKnight