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Regarding DNA packages

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  • Regarding DNA packages

    I wish to purchase a DNA genealogy package for my wife and I. I do not care so much about the medical/ health information as the Lineage and Ancestry. This is all very new to me and I find the package choices a little confusing. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.


  • #2
    Things to consider:
    • What are your goals? You said that you “do not care so much about the medical/health information as the Lineage and Ancestry.” And you are posting in the FTDNA forums, so you seem to be asking about which tests to do at FTDNA, which does not test for medical markers, or provide any medical reports*. Do you want to know more about your surname, or direct paternal line (Y-DNA tests)? Are you more interested in your ethnic origins (myOrigins in Family Finder test) or finding cousins in one or any of your ancestral branches (again, Family Finder)? Do you have a genealogical problem such as determining if two females are related to the same female ancestor, or to learn the origin and history of your direct maternal line (mtDNA tests)?
    • What is your budget? FTDNA does have sales at various times during the year, including the winter holidays (starting in late November), possibly some earlier in November, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. If cost is an issue, you could start with lower level tests (if doing Y or mitochondrial tests), and then upgrade later. The Family Finder test is at its lowest regular price now, at $79 (previously was $99).
    • Do you have a specific genealogical question or problem for which you want to find the answer?

    For most people, the Family Finder test is a good starting point. But, if you want to solve more than one problem (autosomal to find relatives from all lines, Y or mtDNA for lineage and matches on those direct lines), yes, you could start with a package. You might try the Y-37 + Family Finder, to get started on your direct paternal line as well as your ethnicity and matches from all other lines. Your sample would likely be sufficient to upgrade for several more tests after that; if not, FTDNA will send another kit to you at that time.

    I’d suggest waiting a few more weeks, to see what the holiday sales offer. They may have additional packages then, which could pair an mtDNA test with Family Finder and/or a Y-DNA test, if you are interested in more than one. You could also join a surname or geographical project in the meantime; these often have savings on tests, and can offer advice for further testing.

    Here are some articles or blogs with advice on DNA testing:

    *23andMe provides medical reports, plus a basic mtDNA haplogroup (and Y haplogroup if you are male). Their test is only autosomal, but they test enough of Y and mtDNA markers to give an estimated haplogroup. Results from their current "V4" chip are NOT transferable to FTDNA, but can be loaded to, a 3rd party site with tools and a matching database.'s DNA test also has a new chip, also not transferable to FTDNA, but can be uploaded to It has more medical markers than their previous chip, which may indicate that they could offer medical reports in the future.


    • #3
      One thing though. You have to buy separate tests for you and your wife. You can't buy a package for both of you together.


      • #4
        A few years back, one could choose between three vendors offering $99 autosomal DNA tests which were almost equivalent. You could load your kit on GEDmatch and compare with those of other vendors. Now both AncestryDNA and 23andMe have changed their processes to use far fewer SNP's for genealogical purposes. GEDmatch unfortunately is becoming the genetic genealogy version of the Tower of Babel.

        I would choose Family Finder because has has more SNP's for genealogical purposes. I believe as the field advances one will be able to reach further back in to the past with Family Finder.

        There is an interesting newcomer, Living DNA:
        link removed

        It is UK based, but it is using a new chip that yields more SNP's for genealogical purposes than Family Finder. The next test I order will likely be from them, but until the company starts getting results from its initial order, I could not recommend them to others.

        Jack Wyatt
        Last edited by Darren; 6 November 2016, 09:00 PM. Reason: please no links to outside company websites


        • #5
          What do you want to find with Y-chromosome testing? Here is some info on what they do.

          Y-DNA37, or Y37, is for STR markers only and is only for males. The Y chromosome does not recombine but it does mutate which allows to provide a rough determination of relatedness. FTDNA is the only company to offer Y-DNA STR testing. If you match other people at the 37 marker level you will see them in a list of matches. If you and they do not have a well documented genealogical tree and you want to see if the DNA match is from a genealogical timeframe then you will want to upgrade to the highest level of testing that they have had if you want to see if the match holds up with more STR markers being tested. If they have not tested at the Y67 or Y111 level then you will want to email them and ask them if they are willing to upgrade and if so then you can upgrade. If they are not willing then your testing can stop there unless you want to see if you have a rare case of a 67 marker match show up that didn't at 37 markers. If you do not have a match at 37 markers then the match list will drop down to 25 and then to 12 markers until you have a list of matches. Most of the time a majority of the matches at those levels are not from a genealogical timeframe. The match list is dependent on who has tested with FTDNA.

          Once you get the Y37 test you will also have a predicted haplogroup and an option of Y-DNA SNP testing which can be done individually, with SNP Packs, or a BigY test which also tests SNPs more thoroughly but at a high price. Only one other company has a product that competes with BigY. With a BigY test result you can have the raw data analyzed by a 3rd party or even multiple 3rd parties which will also provide you with novel SNPs and in the case of one company provide you with the estimated date of the youngest SNP. The fact that SNPs are mutations that are inherited from all of your ancestors in the direct paternal line then they are able to make trees out of the SNPs which allows you to tell if you are much more closely related to some people than others. How close they are able to tell depends on how many distant relatives have had the test and the analysis.

          23andme has very limited Y-DNA SNP testing. Sometimes a single SNP pack at FTDNA has better results than the 23andme test but other times a 2nd SNP pack needs to be done at FTDNA for that. However, 23andme doesn't provide that option. 23andme also does not test Y-DNA STR markers.

          AncestryDNA has even more limited Y-DNA SNP testing and they do not report them. You have to go through other long processes to see what your results are and sometimes the process can be misleading. They do not offer Y-DNA STR testing either.

          LivingDNA supposedly will test a large number of Y-DNA SNPs but they not likely to be as good as getting the SNP packs at FTDNA and definitely not as good as getting the BigY because only NGS or WGS testing can compete with BigY.


          • #6
            My suggestion - wait for the sale that will probably start this month, while reading a bit, then seriously consider ordering Family Finder, rather than any of the "packages" to start with.
            -- Do not mean necessarily go that route - but at least seriously consider it, as well as all the info presented and referenced here.


            • #7
              "The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy" would be a good book to read to get a grasp on the various tests and what they can be used for. Don't be misled by the title. The book actually covers all 3 major companies about equally. You can get it at Amazon.