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23andme - worth it?

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  • 23andme - worth it?

    Can someone please explain to me the services of 23andme? I have done most of the tests here on FTDNA (deep subclade is the only one pending) and I've had some great luck combining the results with my family tree to break down some brick walls.

    I understand the health component to 23andme, but what else do they offer in terms of what might be useful in terms of genealogy? I'm considering testing there but I'm not sure it's worth it. Then again, it appears that several people here seem to test at both places.

    Furthermore, the current price is 99$ plus a one year commitment to their subscription service ($9/month). Overall, this seems pretty cheap compared to what FTDNA charges for everything I've done so far. Their website doesn't do a good job of delineating the different services. Any advice here?

  • #2
    23andme is a lot of bang for the buck ( for a male)
    For the price you mentioned you get ydna which is a deep clade (at least it was with my L21)- a basic mtDNA and autosomal with a type of family finder.
    The medical side , at least to me, is questionable science.
    So a lot of information for a good understanding of
    your ancestry is achieved for low cost.
    FTDA offers similar but each is more advanced but at a higher cost. It also offers projects and better matching.
    I am sure others have more insight than I concerning these differences.


    • #3
      FTDNA does not have a subscription so over a period of time its cost is cheaper because it doesn't keep accruing very month. The only way to avoid that is to cancel after a year but then why do the test only to cancel if you want it for geneological research.

      The biggest difference is that 23andMe be default keeps all results private. To contact a person and then to share information requires they be invited to be contacted, and be invited to share genomes. Without sharing genomes it is not possible to determine which chromosome segments are being shared. Without the invite it is not possible to know who the other person is, unless they set their results as public (which few do).

      In contrast FTDNA shares the name and the chromosome information by default.

      Those are the biggest differences although there are user interface differences too. The next big difference is the database of customers for the autosomal relatedness tests.

      23andMe compares to their entire customer database which is much larger than FTDNA's Family Finder database however due to the 23andMe anonymous matching and then the lower interest in genealogy compared to FTDNA customer's, most of that time the larger database is not an advantage. Every person's results will vary. FTDNA has other databases too like YDNA and MTDNA that 23andMe does not have.

      You can find may past postings on this forum that will also answer your question.

      One other note, FTDNA has dedicated employees in the office to assist customers, 23andMe usually doesn't answer their phone.

      Last edited by mkdexter; 20 August 2011, 06:07 PM.


      • #4
        Thanks for the information. It's really useful. So far, I've really loved FTDNA, particulary since it's been an amazing success in my genealogy research. I've broken down brick walls that would have been impossible to solve with a paper trail. One of these brick walls was from the early 1800's, and DNA testing was the ticket to solving the mystery (I posted my story under the "Successes" part of the forum). I have every intention to maintain my presence of the FTDNA site and will continue to upgrade as new tests become available. Since I've done just about every test they offer and I still have a major Y-DNA brickwall, I'm now looking for additional opportunities. I think I'll give 23andme a shot. I really find it hard to believe that the results can be good for the price they're asking however - it seems really cheap.

        Thanks for the advice!


        • #5
          Originally posted by KCWelch View Post
          Furthermore, the current price is 99$ plus a one year commitment to their subscription service ($9/month). Any advice here?
          My reply rate at 23andMe, with my matches, has been very low! When you stop paying the subscription fee they stop reporting matches. That applies to stopping early or after one year. If you want them to keep reporting matches you have to keep paying. This may change, we'll just have to wait and see.


          • #6
            23and me ?


            I would definitely recommend doing 23andme in addition to family finder if you are adopted or having trouble breaking down a brick wall. Their database is huge and even if you only suscribe for one year, you may find your answers, but it takes some effort. I tell people to set their settings to public and list a name, nickname or alias, but list something. Write a little info on your profile to encourage people to contact you. When you get your results in, contact all your public matches with an invite to share at the basic level and you can send 5 invites per day to the anonymous matches. One of the adoptees that I am helping added two more sets of ancestors to his tree as soon as his results came in by matching them to his matches at family finder. He also got a 2nd cousin match which put him closer to figuring out who his birth mother is. Family finder's set up is more user friendly, because everyone has a name, email, and sometimes family trees. My only gripe with family finder is that they still haven't made " matches in common" an automatic feature. And it would be nice if we could compare all matches' chromosomes at one time like you can at gedmatch.


            • #7
              Hello! Thanks for the advice. I'm going to try 23andme.

              I've done family finder here on FTDNA. I signed up right after it came out. It's been a while, but I just had my first confirmed match, a confirmed 4th cousin - very interesting! I have other matches too, but no identifiable common ancestor.

              I agree with the matches in common suggestion you brought up. I think family finder could definately use some tweaking. One of the things that I find unusual is that lots of people will do family finder here, but then not upload a GEDCOM or list all of their known surnames. I was guilty of this for a while when I realized that I couldn't expect to get any matches if I didn't list this info. I would encourage anyone who signs up for family finder to upload their GEDCOM, or at the very least enter all of their known surnames.


              • #8
                My son & I did 23andme before there was the subscription fee. We still get matches. However if we want to upgrade to the 3 chip then we'd have to pay the subscription, which as of now I still refuse to do. I hate being nickeled & dimed.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ragnar View Post
                  My son & I did 23andme before there was the subscription fee. We still get matches. However if we want to upgrade to the 3 chip then we'd have to pay the subscription, which as of now I still refuse to do. I hate being nickeled & dimed.

                  I am with you on that one! I did 23andMe back when it cost me $499.00, before FTDNA Family Finder was available. I figure they got enough of my money already and I resent having to pay an annual subscription fee when there used to be none for me. Therefore, I am still on the V2 chip and have not upgraded. I do still get new matches coming in, but I don't know how long that will continue. Like you, I am



                  • #10
                    I have tested with both FTDNA and 23andMe.. The health results are very interesting, and seem to be more often spot on than wrong.

                    I have a 3rd cousin match there, .73 over 3 chromosomes. It's a pretty good hit. She will not reply to my introduction. I have only had 3 or 4 people actually agree to share genomes, out of about 30 I sent introductions to.