Ancestry DNA review
Whether you want to authenticate well-loved family stories or are unaware of your family history and need a place to start, personal DNA testing has never been easier. At-home DNA tests are a popular and affordable way to discover genetic information, including early ancestors, ethnicity and genetic predisposition for diseases. However, some individuals question whether a simple at-home DNA test can really reveal your family’s history.
Ancestry claims to put these family history opportunities at your fingertips with the world’s largest online collection of genealogy records. Various membership levels are available, so users can choose to receive information that interests them most, including marriage records, passenger lists or connecting with other Ancestry members.
We wanted to see if Ancestry can actually reveal a person’s family history and what records were available in its database, so we put it to the test. Here’s what we found.
Our tester was interested in learning more about their family history, myths and lore. They were most intrigued by Ancestry compared to other genealogy services based on its well-known name, ease of finding print and historic records in one place and the option for an at-home DNA kit to provide additional ethnicity information.
Some of our tester’s family members had used the service prior to the tester trying Ancestry. This provided our tester with family tree information, shared resources and historic records.
We asked our tester to use Ancestry and engage with the dashboard features, historic records and family connections. They primarily used it as a learning resource to build their family tree and explore other users’ information and records.
What is Ancestry?
Ancestry is an at-home DNA testing service that combines their patented Genetic Communities technology and autosomal DNA testing technology with an extensive, significant consumer DNA database to help you discover your family history. They can map ethnicity going back multiple generations, estimate your genetic ethnicity, help you find new family connections, create a detailed family tree and more. If you want to explore your background, Ancestry can help.
How to use Ancestry
Ancestry requires a monthly subscription after its 14-day free trial period. There are a few levels to choose from, depending on how much data you hope to find. You start by signing up on Ancestry’s website, where you can begin creating your family tree.
For this step, you need to provide as much information as possible about your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and extended family members such as aunts and uncles. Some data they ask for includes birth, marriage and death dates and locations. The more you know, the better chance Ancestry has in profiling your history.
Ancestry family tree
Once you’re confident that you provided Ancestry with your family history, they run your information through their database. Ancestry then provides you with “ancestry hints,” which look like leaf emoticons and include documents and records of family members to verify for accuracy. For example, Ancestry might present your grandmother’s immigration papers from Ellis Island with original notes.
When Ancestry has enough verified information, they start creating your family tree. Each person has their own profile, including their history, events in their life and family photographs. Ancestry continues to provide hints about older ancestors, giving you the ability to dig even deeper into your family history.
If people in your family tree are also using Ancestry and have given permission for their information to be shared, you could connect with newly discovered family members.
Ancestry DNA test
If you want to delve more into your DNA rather than just genealogy, Ancestry can also send you an at-home DNA test kit, where you provide a saliva sample. Once you mail it back, they analyze your DNA and send you a detailed report including an ethnicity, possible family members based on a DNA match and a map of where your ancestors lived.
Key features of Ancestry
The most attractive feature of Ancestry is its extensive database. With more users inputting new information every time they sign up, Ancestry can cross-reference records and provide you with new data all the time. While bigger companies are not always better, in this case, having a bigger database gives you the best opportunity to uncover information about your family history.
Ancestry’s family tree feature is intuitive and helpful. Our tester has family members on their family tree who also use Ancestry DNA, and therefore was able to share resources and find information even faster. While Ancestry protects your information if you choose, they can also connect you with newly discovered family members if that’s what you prefer.
Ancestry is free to use for 14 days. After that time period, there are several different Ancestry membership options to choose from.
- U.S. Discovery provides access to all U.S. records on Ancestry, public family trees, hints and ability to contact members on Ancestry for $24.99 per month.
- World Explorer provides access to all U.S. and international records on Ancestry, public family trees, hints and ability to contact members on Ancestry for $39.99 per month.
- All Access provides access to Ancestry, Newspaper.com Basic and Fold3.com for $49.99 per month.
If you want to order the DNA test kit, it requires an additional fee.
Where is Ancestry sold?
You can sign up for a membership on the Ancestry website.
If you want to know as much about your family genealogy as possible, Ancestry is one of the best options out there. With their extensive database, it has more records and data to sift through than other services, giving you a more complete history.
Our tester found the leaf hint feature especially helpful, and it provided suggestions with actual documents and records they probably wouldn’t have been able to find on their own. From newspaper articles and photographs to detailed life timelines, Ancestry is incredibly thorough.
We also thought the dashboard and user experience was intuitive and easy to navigate by those who may not be as familiar with technology.
The monthly subscription is one of the main drawbacks of Ancestry. Unless genealogy is exceptionally important or meaningful to you, we don’t recommend subscribing to Ancestry indefinitely. Our tester appreciated the information Ancestry was able to provide but will likely cancel their subscription once they’ve gleaned all the data they’re searching for. However, it’s easy to cancel your subscription at any time.
If you don’t know a lot about your family members, the genealogy portion of Ancestry might not be able to uncover much information unless you also provide a saliva DNA sample. Also, some members don’t believe the data provided by Ancestry is correct, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Should you use Ancestry?
We think an Ancestry subscription is an excellent way to reveal your family’s history, provided you know the basics about your immediate family members. Their database is one of the largest online collections of family history records, so you’re likely to uncover new and fascinating information.
Based on our experience, we recommend Ancestry to anyone interested in learning more about where they came from and discovering generations of family members, even if you don’t plan to keep your subscription long-term.
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Bre Richey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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