Discover the fascinating world of genetic genealogy! Written for the non-scientist, YGG is the best source for unbiased news on the major genealogy DNA testing companies.
Written by CeCe Moore, an independent professional genetic genealogist and television consultant.
The AncestryDNA autosomal DNA test's strength lies in its vast collection of family trees that are attached to your matches' DNA results. Their excellent system automates searching for common ancestors by comparing your family tree with your matches' family trees and identifying the ancestors who may be responsible for the DNA match. Although I feel that the fact that they do not provide the underlying matching segment data is a serious drawback to their product, I definitely recommend "fishing in all three ponds" for meaningful matches. AncestryDNA raw data can also be uploaded into theFamily Tree DNA's Family Finder ($39).
Family Tree DNA's autosomal DNA test Family Finder ($99) is also a good option. For Y-STR and mtDNA testing, FTDNA is the only company that I currently recommend. I generally recommend testing, at least, 37 markers for Y-DNA and the full sequence for mtDNA*. If finances are an issue, then start with one of the lower resolution tests, like HVR1&2 mtDNA* test, and upgrade at a later time. Family Tree DNA guarantees storage of the DNA, so testing any elderly relatives at FTDNA is strongly recommended.
*Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing is usually not genealogically informative, so I recommend that women, instead, start with autosomal DNA testing and men test either their Y-DNA or autosomal DNA (or both).
For autosomal DNA testing, 23andMe ($199) offers the most comprehensive look at your ancestry. The features include a highly regarded ancestral breakdown or "ethnicity" estimate, haplogroups and a cousin matching feature.