Family Tree DNA review: a new form of genealogy

Have you ever been curious about your genetic ancestry? You may be interested in a DNA test that is more specialised in these kinds of questions. We bring you one of the most frequented sites by users from all over the world, one with multiple options to analyse your genomic information: Family Tree DNA. We will evaluate point by point its efficiency as a brand that promises to rediscover the path that your ancestors walked, by means of the most cutting-edge technologies.

family tree dna testing kits
Ancestry Research Best for
3.8 /5
Rating
$ 79 /mo
Starting Price
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Table of Contents

    Written by Juan Rivas Santisteban

    Updated: 09/22/2021

    Family Tree DNA Basic Facts:

    • Company Name: Family Tree DNA
    • Foundation Year: 2000
    • Location: Houston, United States
    • Monthly Visits: unknown
    • Number of Databases: at least, 2 million genomes.
    • Website: https://www.familytreedna.com/

    What services/products are included in Family Tree DNA Test?- Rated: 4.5/5

    Performance that borders on perfection, but falls short of it because it does not take into account the margin of error of the ancestor technology. (Analysis Technique limitations)

    • Family Finder 

    The family finder will match maternal and paternal lines to find the best possible matches.

    • MyOrigins mapping tool

    In order to visualise the data that is dumped on the client, it is necessary to have a graphical aid such as this mapping tool. Here you will find geographical and ethnic information about your ancestors and their migrations.

    Family Tree DNA report example.

    • Ancient Origins mapping tool

    Another integrated programme will provide a more sociological view of the democratic strata of the ancestors. How much of a Bronze Age raider or farmer are you? You will be able to witness it with this being.

    • Chromosome browser

    A very interesting tool that allows the user to select the chromosome blocks and compare them with their matches, in order to have a more complete idea of the similarities and differences.

    Availability of Diverse Collection Methods (swab, blood ...) - Rated: 3.0/5

    They have a well designed DNA extraction kit. The method is by internal cheek swab, and they do not have more variety of methods to simplify the whole concept. However, there is a mild need to be able to send samples of other types, as it gives greater capacity for analysis (especially for transcriptomics).

    Traditional contact methods are provided.

    Family Tree DNA Customer Support - Rated: 4.5/5

    A great Help Center exercise is the one that FamilyTree DNA has developed in its product. You have all the options and they are all suitable. Perhaps a live chatbox is missing, but it makes up for it perfectly with other features.

    Family Tree Kits pricing/cost - Rated: 4.5/5

    This is one of the sites with the widest variety of ancestry dna, and not just in terms of choice, but also in terms of quality. However, we feel that the price could be adjusted a little more on the more expensive packages.

    Some Family Tree DNA kits.

    Family Finder

    • Discover your ethnic and geographic origins
    • Break through brick walls and find unknown relatives
    • Join one of the best comprehensive DNA databases

    79$

    Y - DNA test (37, 111 & 700)

    • Find matches in the world's largest Y-DNA database
    • Includes the historic trace of your parental line.
    • You can join free genealogical research projects.

    119$, 249$ or 449$

    mtDNA test

    • Find matches in the world's largest mtDNA database
    • You will be able to participate in research projects with your maternal line data, inherited through the mother's line.

    159$

    Tovana Health Report ´+ Family Finder

    • Includes a personal physician oversight by an independent healthcare provider. Your answers will be confidentially reviewed by an InTeleLabs healthcare provider to determine if this test is right for you.

    899$

    Family Tree DNA Database size - Rated: 3.5/5

    This company is a veteran in the field of genetic ancestry analysis. It is one of the pioneers in the field, and although the numbers might indicate otherwise (around 3 million genomes), its databases are composed of high quality sequences, and it claims to have the largest private mitochondrial DNA database in the world. 

    Family Tree DNA Free trial- Rated: 0/5

    Family Tree does not currently offer free testing services.

    Family Tree DNA Expected turn-around - Rated: 5/5

    They promise to have the results in just 5-7 working days after receiving the samples, which could take a total of 2-3 weeks from the time you order your kit on their website. It's a completely light and enjoyable process, and before you know it you'll have the product you ordered in a hurry. It really doesn't get any better than this!

    Family Tree DNA Accuracy - Rated: 4.5/5

    In this case there is transparency about the sequencing technologies used by the company, in this case being HumanOmniExpress-24 chip and NovaSeq Sequencing. 

    This means a notable increase in the success rate of the nucleotide readings, because in the sequencing reaction there are often anomalies or artefacts that do not correspond to the original nucleotide chain itself, which can lead the analysis algorithms to erroneous conclusions about our genome. In this case, we are talking about a hit rate of more than 99%, which is a quality standard in the industry.

    Family Tree DNA Interface - Rated: 4/5

    An example of Family Tree DNA’s interface.

    From the moment you first enter the site you notice that the UI is very well thought out, even for the layman. The sections are well divided and the tone of voice is professional but concise and easy. The colours and features have also been designed by experts in the field. 

    As for the results interface, it has nifty features and services that will depend on the package you originally ordered. Due to the amount of options it might be a bit overwhelming if you are not used to it, but with a bit of practice you will be able to understand very complicated things in a jovial way.

    Family Tree DNA Privacy - Rated: 5/5

    Privacy is one of the main issues to consider when choosing a DNA testing service. In this case, Family Tree DNA is a company with ethical values that gives the client the choice of how they want their data to be taken. Despite this, the data will never be sold to third parties or profited from, apart from the actual purchase of the tests and other services. 

    They take great care with data protection, especially with the health report, a kind of biblical leviathan with all our physiological and functional status.

    Privacy is first in Family Tree DNA services.

    Family Tree DNA Innovation - Rated: 3.5/5

    They are not directly involved in the publication of scientific articles, but their contribution to the technical world lies in the refinement of the state of the art sequencing technique. Thus, they claim that the only people entitled to publish scientific results with these data are the customers themselves, thus attesting to their ethical model.

    Family Tree DNA rate and quality of updates - Rated: 4/5

    FamilyTree says in its question centre that it will update its reports when the phylogenetic tree renews its branches, which will be when there is new and substantially different information.

    This means that customers may notice less dynamic times than others in terms of updates, with updates being rather uncertain and not at all regular. On the other hand, these are programmatic and well thought-out updates that will improve the accuracy of the results obtained in the analyses with which this company works.

    Best Alternatives To Family Tree DNA

    My Heritage being a low-cost product compared to Family Tree DNA, it doesn't quite feel that way when you compare the most basic features. If you are not so interested in the provenance of your parent line and want something simpler, perhaps My Heritage DNA is your perfect choice.

    If, on the other hand, you feel you need something more robust and comprehensive, that can compete in expertise with Family Tree DNA, there is no choice but the titan of the ancestry industry: Ancestry DNA. Their databases are simply superior.

    If you need something less focused on ancestral DNA and want a more general but equally in-depth alternative, we recommend Sequencing.com. It will give you health reports as well, without having to spend a lot of money. However, they don't cover the aspects that Family Tree DNA does.

    Summary

    So much for the Family Tree DNA review. It is, as we have seen above, a very balanced option with a substantially different price range, for different types of customers and services. They are transparent and honest with their work and have a very competitive and complete product on the market. There is not much more to say about this company that has been analysing genomes to solve people's problems for more than two decades.

    Pros and Cons

    Pros

    • Easy to use cheek swabs
    • Results available from 2 weeks from receiving samples
    • Will ship test kits to more countries than other testing companies
    • Huge database to discover worldwide results
    • In-house lab guarantees minimal manipulation of your sample.
    • Affordable prices and seasonal discounts for all tests
    • Industry experts that ensure accuracy
    • Includes many tools for working with your genetic matches
    • Provides email addresses for your matches instead of forcing you to use a testing company‚Äôs communications system
    • Protects your DNA data storing it for 25 years in-lab with no extra cost.

    Cons

    • No health screening DNA test
    • Their database is still not the largest in the market
    • Ethnic ancestry breakdown is less detiled than that of 23andMe

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Will I be able to get a phylogenetic tree or something similar if I use Family Tree DNA?

    Although the name is a marketing gimmick, the results they yield in certain products are essentially phylogenetic trees interpreted and chewed up to extract that information in a more easy way.

    Why is health reporting so expensive compared to its competitors?

    It is not so rare to find similar offers in this world. They are a symptom of good quality only when there are other kits in a lower price range, within the same page. In this case it is because it requires the intervention of a third party, which is a medical specialist, so the company is responsible for managing and paying him.

    Can you upload DNA to the Family Tree DNA platform?

    That's right. There is an option to transfer your autosomal DNA from other sources.

    How does the Family Finder work?

    Basically they report matches between the database and your genome, with which they can assign percentages of identity with different populations.