Which DNA test is considered the very best/practical?

+8 votes
in The Tree House by K S G2G Crew (460 points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway


The best answer is in a highlighted blue box with a bright yellow star :)

5 Answers

+2 votes


It depends on what you're trying to accomplish from testing.  The links that Keith provided have discussions about testing.  FamilyTreeDNA provides information on the three basic tests here:  https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/ftdna/our-three-basic-tests/

If you still have questions after reading this, give us an idea of any specific ancestors you're trying to locate or goals you have.

by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (452k points)
+1 vote
If you are male then take the Y-DNA37 test at Family Tree DNA.  That will  allow you to store your DNA at their lab and you can do additional testing using the same sample (in storage). Additional testing includes Family Finder (compatable with 23andMe and AncestryDNA) and mtDNA testing.  Also Big Y SNP testing.

I recommend Y-DNA first because it is the easiest to work with.  You can test the water (so to speak) and if you like genetic genealogy then you can branch out into the other tests.

Too many people start with (and only stay with) an autosomal DNA test such AncestryDNA, 23andMe or Family Finder. Most of them find the results confusing and don't know how to make proper use of their matching with their cousins.
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (584k points)
edited by Peter Roberts
+1 vote
I would say that AncestryDNA is the most popular at the moment. I believe the first step should be autosomal.  The second step should be yDNA and the last mtDNA.

IMO, It is important to confirm DNA connections to cousins closer than 5th cousins using autosomal DNA, to be sure that no NON-PARENTAL events have occurred during this time period.

If for some reason, when using yDNA, there is a non-paternal event, you would have virtually no way of knowing, unless other yDNA males can be tested. Even if you find a match, then what? You confirm 1 line for yourself, and another male cousin(s).

The cost of a yDNA test is more than testing at AncestryDNA and transferring the Raw Data to FTDNA.  

yDNA and mtDNA are really the only ways to extend your male and female lines beyond the limits of auDNA, so I do still recommend testing these as well.
by Ken Sargent G2G6 Mach 5 (57.5k points)
edited by Ken Sargent
I was told when i called Ancestry they no longer do the Y-Chromosome test ? is this Correct ?
Yes that is correct.  AncestryDNA no longer sells Y-DNA tests (or mtDNA tests).
If you want a yDNA test you should contact Family Tree DNA.
+1 vote
I have used Ancestry, 23andME and FamilyTree.

For genealogy, 23andME is pretty useless and very expensive.

That leaves FamilyTree DNA and Ancestry. If

If you are looking for matches in the first 4 generations, there is no comparison to Ancestry. Using AncestryDNA  I have discovered the identity of both grandparents for one of my cousins. They have a huge database, and people testing there much more responsive and interested in building their family trees. FamilyTree DNA has good tools, but honestly I hardly ever use it.  

If you want to check your last name only, a male will need to take the test and find a control. I took the Y test and I have only 1 match and they only match a tiny portion of my Y. It was kind of a waste of money.  I really learned nothing.

I would highly recommend starting with Ancestry. If you want more matches you can transfer those results over to Family Tree for $30 or so, or you can upload them to GEDMATCH for free and compare them to other people who took tests at any of the 3 companies that are interested in comparing matches.
by Lance Martin G2G6 Pilot (102k points)
Hello Lance,

What is your relationship to YSearch ZASFF?  You match him on 24 out of 25 markers and that is sufficient to confirm both of your direct paternal lines back to your most recient direct paternal line ancestor.  You match virtually 100% of your Y chromosome with him.

Sincerely, Peter

It is me Peter. One Y test was taken at Ancestry the other at FTDNA.  I did go back and run the comparison again, and it looks like there are a few closer matches than last time I looked, but none within the documentable past I don't think.

Thanks for checking.
Hello Lance,

I recommend you keep just one YSearch ID with all your results from the different labs and delete the other YSearch ID.

The reason you did not exactly match yourself is because you needed to deduct one repeat from your H4 value reported by AncestryDNA when you entered it into YSearch.

See the AncestryDNA Y-DNA to Family Tree DNA conversion information at


Not many others from Lombardia, Italy have taken a Y-DNA test and that helps explain why you have few matches.
0 votes
Without wishing to appear to parochial, the European American history only dates back about 400 years. The success of finding ascendant relatives appears to be quite high.

That does not seem to be the case with modern European people.

So, as a very rough rule of thumb, if you're based in Northern America, FTDNA or Ancestry will help find unknown relatives. If you're based in Europe FTDNA will give historical links.

I am now retreating into my bunker to await the response!
by Steve Bartlett G2G6 Mach 4 (47.4k points)
It matters little if you are talking about Colonial America or Europe.  Only about 50% of 4th cousins will share enough autosomal DNA to be considered a match.  See:


4th cousins share a great-great-great-grandparent (3rd great-grandparent) who lived 5 generations ago.

Y-DNA (haplotypes and SNPs) and mtDNA are useful for the oldest records in WikiTree.
Thanks Peter,

I know it shouldn't. However, I'm not the only Brit to have twenty or so "between second and 4th cousins" with no identifiable connection.

So the proclaimed abt 50% is abt zero for me, unhappily.

However, I have been able to debunk some of the Bartlett stories myths and fantasies by virtue of the fact that the two Haplogroups of I and R1b are so far away as to refute the "all Bartletts descend from..." Very useful indeed.
Sorry Peter, I should have said I have all my 4th gt grandparents bar 1, and also my 5 x gt for all bar 5.

So I know the surnames to try and link to.

Thank you.  I expect that very few of your 4th and 3rd cousins know almost all of their 3rd great-grandparents.  Exploring their missing ancestry will likely reveal the identifiable connection.

Proper use of autosomal DNA beyond 3rd cousins depends on triangulated groups (TGs).  Most people who have taken an autosomal DNA test don't know how to work with TGs.  It is not easy.  I've "caught more fish" using Y-DNA and mtDNA testing.

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