Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), established in the year 2000, is continuously regarded as one of the most trusted and reliable providers of DNA testing services. The company started out offering only Y-DNA, mtDNA, and Cohanim DNA tests, as the company’s focus was to help people knock down brick walls in their paper research.

Fast forward to the year 2010, the company began to offer autosomal testing with its ‘Family Finder’ product, which still continues to be the leading choice among professional genealogists when it comes to DNA testing. This product has attracted a lot of genealogists, and thus, there is plenty of online support when it comes to understanding and using your test results.

Tests offered by Family Tree DNA

There are three types of DNA tests used in genealogy:

Autosomal DNA - Family Finder

This test focuses on the autosomal DNA, which is inherited across generations.

Family Finder by Family Tree DNA examines over 50,000 markers to trace the ancestral line of the user. The analysis provides details of the user’s ethnic origin as well. FTDNA uses a proprietary algorithm that discovers other individuals that may have a common ancestor within five generations on either side of the user’s family. Not only does the test reveal the names of the individuals who are closely related, but it also provides email addresses to aid in initiating contact. Since personal information is involved, the user is only matched with others who’ve also opted for the test.

Who should take the Family Finder test?

Anyone who wants to learn more about their family’s heritage, culture, or ethnic background can take up this test. The test matches the user to close relatives and breaks down their ancestor’s origin. This test reveals the user’s and their family’s unique genetic identity.

How does it work?

There are two ways to provide information to this test. The user can either purchase the kit, follow the instructions and send it back to Family Tree; or, the user can transfer data from another genetic testing company. FTDNA currently accepts data from 23andme, MyHeritage, and AncestryDNA. 

Once the results are ready, the user can access their full genetic profile. It is better to purchase a kit by FTDNA so that relevant information that may be missing in the kits from the other companies can be provided. The kit can be purchased on the website, and the basic test is around $80. The kit contains two cheek swabs, two vials, a specimen bag, a return mailer, instructions, and a registration form. The time taken for results varies with the type of test chosen. A basic test would take 4 to 6 weeks, whereas more complex tests would take up to 8 weeks.

What is provided in the Family Finder report?

The results given in this report are:

There is another feature called ‘Chromosome Browser.’ This allows the user to explore, zoom, and download details of each segment of DNA, as well as compare these segments to matching genetic profiles. There is also scope to contribute to genealogical projects. The service uses the customer’s surname to try and trace lineages. 

Y-DNA test

The Y chromosome is exclusive to the male gender and is often passed down from the father to the son without much changes in the genetic makeup. Y-DNA tests the Y chromosome to investigate the male’s paternal family line. A person who takes up this test will also receive something called a ‘Y-DNA haplogroup’ which uncovers the paternal heritage going back to Africa.

The following are the single tests option available in Y-DNA test:

The difference between these three tests is the number of markers taken into account for the analysis. Family Tree DNA recommends Y-37 as a good place to start and examine close relationships. Y-111 analyzes more markers and providers more refined results, including matches. The Y-700 test is more ideal for expert users, as it provides over 200,000 SNPs and additional STRs; however, these markers do not provide more refined matching.

You can order the kit here

mtDNA test

mtDNA stands for mitochondrial DNA. This DNA is passed on by a mother to her children. Though both the genders receive this DNA from their mothers, men cannot pass this on to their children. This test allows you to explore your direct maternal line and geographic origins. mtDNA haplogroup uncovers your maternal heritage going back to Africa.

New Feature: Personalized mtFull sequence video

This feature, which is available for all users who have taken the mtDNA test, tells the story of your maternal ancestry, and is a fun way to share your results with friends and family. This video helps break down the basic concepts of your mtDNA results with ‘your specific story’ in mind. Being customizable, this feature lets you choose your avatar and fill in a little info about yourself.   Take a look at the sample video below.

Source: FamilyTreeDNA Youtube channel

You can order the kit here

Advantages and disadvantages of choosing FTDNA

FTDNA is a really good choice for people who want to learn more about their ancestry. 

However, there are also some disadvantages to this test:

FTDNA Family Finder vs. 23andMe DNA Relatives- Which is better?

23andMe and FTDNA enable customers to connect to close relatives. While 23andMe’s DNA relatives came out in 2009, FTDNA released Family Finder a bit later in 2010. Although FTDNA has a smaller database, the services it provides surpasses that of 23andMe. The features include maternal and paternal lineage tracking, a variety of tests, and a detailed report.

FTDNA provides a very easy-to-use DNA analysis kits to users who want to learn about their ancestry. With regard to privacy, FTDNA provides options to opt-out of law enforcement matching. However, it is quite difficult to completely delete genetic data or destroy a sample. If a customer decides to do so, they will have to contact customer service.

With the tests and services provided, the user can learn about their maternal and paternal ancestry, potential migration paths of their ancestors- including occupation and location. Finally, FTDNA enables users to contact close relatives to promote positive relationships. With other features like accepting raw DNA files from other DNA testing services and wellness reports, FTDNA is a really good choice for DNA analysis services. 

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