MyHeritage DNA Testing Kit Review
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Although it’s relatively smaller than its biggest competitors, MyHeritage has quickly carved a name for itself in the home DNA testing market. The company has built a massive user base, with more than 80 million people around the world taking the MyHeritage DNA test at some point since 2003.
MyHeritage was founded over 15 years ago in Israel but has quickly spread worldwide and now has users from hundreds of countries. More importantly, the company’s DNA database has also expanded and diversified as a result. As opposed to companies with fewer available countries, or which are exclusive to the US, MyHeritage’s DNA database covers a wider geographic area and can thus help you find out more about your family, regardless of where you live.
With a quickly growing DNA database along with large collections of genealogical data and historic records, MyHeritage is worth investigating if you’re interested in learning about your family’s ancestry or simply seeking to expand your family tree with unknown relatives and long-lost family.
Pros And Cons
- Easy to collect your sample and send it back
- Get your results in as little as four weeks after samples are received
- Compare DNA records from other tests you’ve taken to get a better picture of your ancestry
- Affordable tests and discounts make it a great value
- Match with possible relatives from across the globe
- MyHeritage only offers autosomal DNA tests
- Results are focused exclusively on ethnic composition and ancestry matches
- Its database is still not on par with the largest companies on the market
Collecting Your DNA Sample
Although DNA testing in general is fairly easy these days, it can still be confusing if you’ve never done it before, so we appreciated that MyHeritage invests in informing its users.
The company’s website gives you a great deal of information about how to take your test, what comes inside of each kit, and even describes the process of testing your samples in-depth to give you better perspective.
It’s worth noting that currently, MyHeritage only offers autosomal DNA tests.
Additionally, we appreciated that MyHeritage’s test selects the simpler choice when it comes to collecting your saliva sample. When you open your MyHeritage DNA kit, you’ll find the following:
- Two cotton swabs (sealed) to extract your DNA sample
- Two vials of preserving liquid for your DNA sample
- A plastic sealable bag to place your swabs
- A return envelope (keep in mind that it’s not prepaid, so you’ll have to factor in postage)
- A card to register and activate your sample for testing
- An instruction set on how to take the test
We were happy to see that MyHeritage chooses swab samples, which are fairly easy and quick to collect, over spit samples, which can be tricky to procure and may take some time to produce. The only precautions to take are to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking anything for 30 minutes prior to collecting your sample to avoid any contamination.
Once you’re ready to take the test, simply swab the inside of your cheek for a few seconds. Then, place your swab into the vial, snap off at the black line, and place both samples into the sealable bag. Before shipping your sample, make sure to register your test kit using the activation card so that you can access your results after they’ve been analyzed.
How Fast Do Results Come Back?
Although there is always some variance to how quickly companies will return your test results, we were happy to see that MyHeritage ranks at the top of the pack when it comes to expediency.
The company usually returns test results within four to six weeks after they receive the sample. By comparison, 23andMe and AncestryDNA both take roughly six to eight weeks to return tests.
It’s important to note that these estimates are measured from the time the lab receives your sample, so it may be longer depending on how quickly your tests reach the company.
What do The Results Include?
Overall, we were impressed with the quality of the results we received from MyHeritage’s DNA tests. It’s worth noting that the company’s DNA database is still smaller than some of its biggest competitors (for instance, Ancestry DNA has over 10 million people in its database, while MyHeritage has 2 million and growing), but the company more than compensates by covering a wider geographic footprint than most competitors and offering extensive historic records.
When you first open your results online, you’ll see a quick video that gives you a surface-level summary of your DNA, including your estimated ethnicities and major regions you matched with. You’ll also be able to examine a map that, while static, gives you a better idea of where your family is from. If you want to explore the map more in-depth, you can view a dynamic version in the “Ethnicity Estimate” section of your dashboard.
Some users have reported that the company’s results are somewhat divergent from other companies’ tests, but MyHeritage has explained that this may be due to different methodologies and changes in the chemicals used to process samples. Even so, the company’s biggest value is perhaps in matching you with relatives and users exhibiting DNA similarities. MyHeritage shows you relations by level—close family, extended family, and distant relations, which you can view in list format, or in a handy map that breaks down your relations by country and region.
How Does MyHeritage Protect Your Privacy?
Another big plus for prospective MyHeritage users is that the company is very conscious of user privacy and works to keep sensitive data away from prying eyes. When you sign up for the company’s service, MyHeritage encrypts all your DNA and personal data while it is stored on their servers.
More importantly, the company makes it clear to every user that it doesn’t own or have any jurisdiction over your DNA and data. This means that you have total control over who can see it and how it was issued.
MyHeritage will not share your DNA and data with anyone for any reason. Even better, you can set your privacy level on the company’s website. If you prefer not to show up on any DNA match, or to have only some information visible, you can customize your privacy settings manually.
Matching With Relatives
Perhaps the biggest advantage MyHeritage has over its competitors is how useful its relative matching tools are. On a single sample, the company may match you with thousands of relatives, but you’ll see significantly fewer immediate or extended family. Another great feature in the results is the company’s relations map, which shows you a breakdown of your relatives across the world, highlighting regions where you have DNA matches.
You can also dig deeper and click on DNA matches to see what you have in common (it’s worth noting that not every user is available to be matched, as you can opt out of public profiles at any time).
One big benefit MyHeritage offers users is that its user base is more geographically spread out than some competitors. This is great news if you’re searching for long-lost family who may be in your ancestral homeland or across the world.
It’s worth noting that DNA matching on MyHeritage is completely opt-in, so if you don’t find relatives, it may simply be that they’ve chosen not to make their results public. If you choose to participate, however, you’ll be notified via email when others match with your DNA profile, and you’ll be able to see those who have also opted in to compare the commonalities (whether it’s the same last name or a strong ethnic composition match) and see where they reside in the world.
All told, we found that MyHeritage is great bang for your buck as long as you’re seeking specific tools. The company’s tests usually start at $79 (MyHeritage constantly offers sales and discounts that can make it significantly more affordable), although you do have to cover postage yourself when sending back your samples.
Additionally, we were happy to see that once you get your results, you can take advantage of the company’s free integrated genealogy tool, which lets you build your family tree and include images and other records. Even better, you can invite others to contribute and explore MyHeritage’s large database of historical records. Access to the library requires a small subscription fee of $13.27 per month, but it lets you explore billions of historical records and include them in your family tree.
Although it’s still not quite at the level of industry leader Ancestry DNA, MyHeritage is quickly becoming a go-to solution for people seeking to learn more about their family and obtain quick information about their ancestry.
With some of the fastest results times on the market, along with affordable tests and a massive library of records to aid your research, the company provides a great tool to start exploring your ancestry. Most importantly, you can match with relatives across the world and build a family tree that can tell your family’s stories from several generations back, and with a global footprint that spans a surprising number of regions.