My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate?
Updated on April 16, 2024
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My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate?
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Our verdict: I liked that FamilyTreeDNA had a lot of features that I didn’t get from its competitors (as an avid DNA tester). However, it wasn’t the most user-friendly test because of the hard-to-navigate website. Still, there was lots to make up for it.

If you’re a beginner not used to taking DNA tests or navigating the results, this may not be the best choice. However, if you’re a little more seasoned (like me), you may find some unique insights here that you haven’t found anywhere else.

FamilyTreeDNA tests don’t fall on the cheap side, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with its services before committing.

My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 12

Product Review Summary

Family Tree DNA Review

FamilyTreeDNA Swab Collection Kit

Good if you’re really into DNA testing. For more user-friendly options, we suggest 23andMe or Ancestry.

Rating by Adam Andrewjeski

Ease of Use
Ancestry Information
Speed of Results
Speed of Updates
Privacy Protection

FamilyTreeDNA offers a thorough and reliable service. The company has been doing this for a long time, so you know that you can trust them to provide accurate results.

The main gripe I have with the service is the platform’s user-friendliness. It can be a little confusing to navigate, and while they present a lot of information, it’s not always easy to know what that information means.

So, if you’re familiar with DNA testing and know the technical jargon, this could be a great test for you. However, if you want a more user-friendly experience for a similar price, check out AncestryDNA or 23andMe.


We looked through dozens of reviews on FamilyTreeDNA and noticed the following comments were consistent:


  • Users liked that there were several testing methods available, like Y-DNA, mtDNA, and Autosomal DNA
  • Many commented that the results were comprehensive and provided a lot of helpful information
  • Test results were accurate and comprehensive


  • Changed their terms of service in 2018 to allow law enforcement to use their DNA records for solving violent crimes, leaving many customers to worry about privacy issues
  • Results are difficult to read, especially if you’re a novice (the technical jargon is a little intimidating for first-timers)
  • The website’s dashboard isn’t the most user-friendly and can be a bit confusing
  • Turnaround times were pretty long

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Quick facts:

Sample CollectionSwab
DNA Testing TypeAutosomal, mtDNA, YDNA
Test results processing timeUp to 8 weeks

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What Tests Do They Offer?

FamilyTreeDNA offers several DNA tests—they are grouped into three main DNA test types.


The Y-DNA tests that FamilyTreeDNA offers are Y-37, Y-111, and Big Y-700.

Y-DNA Tests (Paternal Lineage)

  • Y-37 – $119 (not explicitly listed in the search results, but it is the starting price for Y-DNA tests)
  • Y-111 – $249
  • Big Y-700 – $449

The different Y-DNA tests do different things. The more expensive ones are more extensive and can provide more information about your haplogroups.

  • Y-37 basic paternal lineage for males, ideal for confirming a common ancestor.
  • Y-111 tests 111 markers for a more refined paternal lineage, useful for more detailed comparisons with other males sharing a common paternal line.
  • Big Y-700 provides the highest resolution for Y-DNA testing, examining the entire Y chromosome to discover paternal lineage, deep ancestral roots, and haplogroups.

Y-DNA tests focus on the Y-chromosome inherited from the paternal line (from father to son). This is ideal for finding any lost relatives in your patrilineage.

Autosomal DNA

FamilyTree DNA markets its microarray chip-based autosomal DNA test as the Family Finder kit. Genetic experts use microarray chips to run several tests very quickly on DNA without using too many materials.2

This test allows you to find family matches as distant as your 5th cousin. Familytree DNA also added myOrigins, a feature that breaks down the percentages of which regions or ethnic origins you may have come from.

Autosomal DNA Test

  • Family Finder – $79

Family Finder is a test used to find relatives on all ancestral lines and provide a percentage breakdown of ethnic and geographic origins. It’s ideal for anyone interested in genetic genealogy, especially beginners and those looking for closer relatives or adoptees wishing to find biological relatives.


Familytree DNA calls its mtDNA testing the mtFull Sequence.

This test kit examines your mitochondrial DNA to tell you more about your specific maternal haplogroup and your ancestor’s migration path on your maternal line.

Your maternal haplogroup refers to people with whom you share the same DNA that can be traced back to a common ancestor in your mother’s lineage. 

mtDNA Test (Maternal Lineage)

  • Mitochondrial DNA Full Sequence (mtFull Sequence) – $159

Analyzes the entire mitochondrial genome, providing the most detailed information on maternal ancestry, including haplogroup and migration paths. It also includes a personalized “mtDNA Journey Video” that illustrates your maternal line’s migration history.

Other Bundles and Packages

  • Family Finder + myDNA Wellness – $119

This one is a bundle of the family finder and myDNA, which recommends health and wellness advice based on your DNA.

These prices are subject to change, and FamilyTreeDNA often has sales and discounts that can affect the final cost.

What’s Inside the Kit?

Your FamilyTreeDNA test kit comes with the following items:

  • Two cotton swabs for collecting your DNA samples
  • Two vials containing an antibacterial solution for storing your DNA samples
  • Instructions for collecting your DNA samples
  • A plastic bag
  • A consent form allowing FamilyTreeDNA to give your name and email to any DNA matches you may have (genetic cousins)
  • A prepaid envelope for returning your DNA sample to the testing company

How to Use FamilyTreeDNA’s Test

Follow these steps to make sure you accomplish the FamilyTreeDNA test properly:

  1. Make sure you can sign in to your account. This is a bit confusing as it says you should have a password for an account, but I didn’t receive one (customer service was nice enough to solve this for me).
  2. Avoid eating or drinking an hour before collecting your sample.
  3. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching the collection tools.
  4. Place the unopened swabs and vials on a clean, level surface.
  5. Remove one swab from the package. Scrape the insides of your cheek firmly, rotating the swab for 45 seconds.
  6. Open one vial, insert the swab side down, and snap it off against the edge of the vial, suspending it in the liquid.
  7. Repeat steps five and six with the other swab, but this time on the opposite cheek.
  8. Double-check that the orange caps are screwed tightly onto your vials and place them into a plastic bag.
  9. Place the signed consent form and the vials into the plastic bag.
  10. Seal the plastic bag and place it into the prepaid return envelope.
  11. Mail the envelope back to the return address.
  12. Wait for six to eight weeks to receive your results.

What You Get With Your Report

After processing my DNA sample, FamilyTreeDNA sent me an email with my test results:

My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 13

I noticed that FamilyTreeDNA’s email wasn’t as polished or visually pleasing. Other DNA testing companies put some effort into theirs, so it was something I wasn’t as impressed with. Still, beyond the less-than-stellar aesthetic and sometimes confusing navigation, their results were pretty fun to look through.

I still think FamilyTreeDNA should work on making its reports more user-friendly and a little more polished, even if the focus is on the results.

With a little time and discipline, I was able to figure out how to read my test results.

Family Tree’s dashboard contains a few sections:


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Under Y-DNA, there were 12 sections:

  1. Matches – These are my Y-DNA matches. They’re people I share the same haplogroups with. I also saw their earliest known ancestor in this section. 
  2. Ancestral Origins – This showed my ancestral origins using my Y-DNA Haplogroups.

The Matches Map gave me a nice visual map of my matches.

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  1. Data Download – This section gave me a view of all of my SNP data, including my variants.
  2. Advanced Matches – I thought it was cool that I could specify my Y-DNA haplogroups and find more advanced matches (this is great if you’re looking for something in particular).
  3. Haplogroup Origins – Here, I saw the origins of the parent haplogroups in my lineage.
  4. Y-DNA Migration Maps – This showed the migration of my Y-DNA (Note: This uses Adobe Flash, and, unfortunately, you’re forced to download it).
  5. Y-STR Results – This gave me the marker values of your Y-STR Values.
  6. Haplotree & SNPs – This appears to be similar to the data download section.
  7. SNP Map – You start this section by choosing your Haplogroup and then specifying the SNP you want to check.
  8. Print Certificate – To print, it offered me to download the following PDFs:
    • Understanding your results
    • The Y-DNA Str Certificate
    • Y-DNA Migration Map
  9. Learn more – This brought me to the learning center to see more in-depth information about all of the data that FamilyTreeDNA gave me.

Additional Features

My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 16

In this section, I found a few other things to explore, like the “factoids” test, which is a paid feature ranging from $19 to $49.50. It offers additional data from your DNA sample like:

  • Caffeine metabolism
  • Earwax type
  • Longevity or lifespan
  • Freckling
My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 17

I also liked the partner applications feature, which lists applications where you can transfer your DNA data. Right now, FamilyTreeDNA is partnered with Geni. This service allows you to make your family part of the Word Family Tree.

One last cool thing I liked was the public haplotrees feature, which allowed me to see the public haplo trees of both my Y-DNA and mtDNA results.


My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 18

MyFamiyTree let me build my family tree. I was given the choice to build it from scratch or to upload my GEDCOM file.

GEDCOM, or Genealogical Data Communications, is a data structure that genealogists use to store and move genealogical information.3

This was really fun to fill out, as it gave me a great visual for my family, even older generations.


I also took the mtFull Sequence. Its dashboard is nearly the same as the Y-DNA test.

This test tracked my mother’s lineage rather than my father’s.

My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 19

I won’t go over the first four sections in great detail (Matches, Ancestral Origins, Matches Maps, Advanced Matches), as they’re the same as the Y-DNA test.

To learn more about these sections, check out what I wrote under Y-DNA above.

  1. Haplogroup Origins – This showed a breakdown of my haplogroup origins for my maternal line.
My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 20
  1. Migration Maps – Displayed a visual format of the migration paths that my ancestors may have used.
My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 21
  1. Mutations – Presented how my mtDNA has mutated throughout my family’s history. My test revealed that my haplogroup originated in Europe.
My Personal Family Tree DNA Review: Was It Accurate? 22

Autosomal DNA

Autosomal DNA is a mixture of DNA from both parents, so it may reveal information about your maternal and paternal ancestry.

This test was designed to find relatives up to five generations back, making it ideal for amateur genealogists.

It found genetic matches from both my mother’s and my father’s bloodline. Unfortunately, it couldn’t tell me which side of the family my match came from, which took a little more guesswork than I would have liked.

If FamilyTreeDNA finds a genetic match within third cousin distance (or closer), the testing service will provide you with their name and email address. They will provide you with any genealogical information you share with this match. This happened to me, although I still wasn’t ready to reach out.

Where Can I Buy FamilyTreeDNA?

You can buy it on their website.

How Much Does FamilyTreeDNA Cost?

Here is the price breakdown:

  • Family Finder – $79
  • Y-37 – $119
  • Y-111 – $249
  • Big Y-700 – $449
  • Mitochondrial DNA Full Sequence (mtFull Sequence)- $159
  • Family Finder + myDNA Wellness – $119

Is FamilyTreeDNA Accurate?

FamilyTreeDNA is generally considered accurate, although every DNA testing service is not 100% perfect. Several factors can affect accuracy, such as:

  • Quality of sample
  • If the sample is handled properly
  • If algorithms are up-to-date
  • If the samples are transported properly

Still, because of FamilyTreeDNA’s long-standing reputation and the trust that their consumers have put in them, I’d say you can rely on them.

What’s On the FamilyTreeDNA Consent Form?

When you sign the consent form included in your DNA testing kit, you agree that FamilyTreeDNA can:

  • Make your email address and name available to any genetic matches they find.
  • Use your DNA sample for migration and population genetic studies.
  • Convert your physical DNA sample into DNA data.
  • Invite you to participate in optional surveys and questionnaires where they may gather more personal information for additional insights.
  • Identify your potential relatives in their DNA database by comparing your DNA data to other FamilyTreeDNA users’ DNA data.
  • Use your DNA data, family tree details, and other personal info to help you discover other details about your family history, including ancestors you may share with other FamilyTreeDNA members. This information can help you build your family tree and trace the migration path of your ancestors.
  • Provide consistent quality and improve FamilyTreeDNA product features and services.
  • Help create new product features and services, including products related to wellness and health.

Is FamilyTreeDNA Worth It?

Yes, we think so. If you’re already pretty used to DNA tests, FamilyTreeDNA is a great choice.

It’s a little harder to justify for beginners, but since I’ve been taking DNA tests for a while, I find their reports fun and interesting.

I definitely think it’s worth it too if you’re willing to overlook the clunky interface.

Can I Download My DNA Data?

When you take the Family Finder test, you’re able to download your raw DNA data and use it however you like.

To download your genetic data, you need to:

  1. Log in to your FamilyTreeDNA account
  2. On the top bar, hover over the myDNA dropdown menu and go to Family Finder
  3. Click the option to Download Raw Data

The file is available in a zip format. You can upload it to other DNA testing sites for analysis.

Is My Data Safe with FamilyTreeDNA?

FamilyTreeDNA could use some improvement with its privacy policies. In December 2018, the company announced the changes in its terms of service, allowing law enforcement agencies to use their DNA data to solve cold cases.1

The company states that it will only allow law enforcement to use its customers’ data to solve violent crimes. But the fact that they share data with any government agencies may be cause for concern.

Other DNA testing companies have resisted pressure from law enforcement to turn over sensitive DNA data.

If privacy is one of your primary concerns, you may want to consider another company, such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA.

FamilyTreeDNA vs. Competitors

CompanyBase PriceAdd-On/Subscription PricesTurnaround TimeTesting TypesDatabase Size
FamilyTreeDNA$79 (Family Finder)Y-DNA tests range from $119 to $449; mtDNA Full Sequence $159; Bundles available6-8 weeksAutosomal, Y-DNA, mtDNANot specified
23andMe$99 (Ancestry Service)Health + Ancestry Service $229; 23andMe+ Membership $69/year2-3 weeksAutosomal, mtDNA, Y-DNA (for males), health predispositions, carrier statusOver 12 million kits sold
AncestryDNA$99Memberships range from $21.99 to $59.99/month for access to additional records6-8 weeksAutosomalOver 18 million people
MyHeritage$89Subscriptions start at $79/year for access to additional records3-4 weeksAutosomalOver 4.5 million people

FamilyTreeDNA has no health section, unlike its main competitors, AncestryDNA, Living DNA, and MyHeritage.

AncestryDNA and 23andMe have health sections, making their tests usable for heritage as well as health information. The results from companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA are easier to follow and less confusing for novice genealogists.

FamilyTreeDNA vs. 23andMe

23andMe definitely beats FamilyTreeDNA in terms of turnaround time and offering health insights. However, FamilyTreeDNA still has an edge on 23andme because of its ancestral tracing.

FamilyTreeDNA vs. AncestryDNA

FamilyTreeDNA surprisingly dives deeper into ancestral paternal and maternal lineages, but AncestryDNA has a better, more holistic picture, given its enormous database. It’s a little more specific than FamilyTreeDNA.

FamilyTreeDNA vs. MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the choice for those who need a more user-friendly interface. However, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage are great at tracing lineage.

How We Evaluated FamilyTreeDNA

We spent hours of thorough research, reading reviews, and scouring the web. We also tried some features ourselves. After much effort, our team came up with the criteria for rating FamilyTreeDNA. 


We looked at the company’s research and development procedures. We wanted to ensure their reports were based on the most recent findings in the relevant fields of science.


We made sure to only review companies that take care to keep your data safe.

If you feel unsafe, you can delete your data from their servers. They give you complete control and ownership over your information in this way.


We made sure to take price into account, as well as value for money.

User experience

Our research revealed that most users were satisfied with the services offered by FamilyTreeDNA.

Most of them also find customer support helpful and responsive.

About FamilyTreeDNA

  • One of the older DNA testing companies on the market
  • Offers three different types of ancestry tests: mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), autosomal DNA, and Y-DNA
  • More than one million records in its database
  • Founded in 2000 by Bennett Greenspan
  • Based in Houston, Texas, U.S.

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Updated on April 16, 2024
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Updated on April 16, 2024
Cristine Santander
Cristine Santander
Content Contributor
Cristine Santander is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. She has a B.S. in Psychology and enjoys writing about health and wellness.