AncestryDNA Review – Is it still the best ancestry test?

Company overview

Ancestry began as a family history magazine and book publisher in 1983, and over a decade later, launched to collect genealogy data and track family histories. In 2002, Ancestry partnered with Relative Genetics to offer direct-to-consumer DNA testing, becoming one of the first companies to enter the growing market. By 2012, AncestryDNA became the company’s flagship service – combining genetic and family history data. Today, is the “global leader in family history and consumer genomics” having provided genetic testing to over 16 million people in 30 countries.

AncestryDNA ($99)

The AncestryDNA test kit is Ancestry’s flagship product – an autosomal DNA test that samples the human genome at 700,000 markers to provide insight into the user’s ethnicity. 

Ethnicity Estimate.
After submitting the saliva sample, the user’s genomic markers are assigned to one of over 1,000 regions around the globe.

AncestryDNA Matches. Based on shared genomic regions, AncestryDNA matches users to identify relatives. These matches do not consider any data from family trees – to see a match’s full family tree, users need a membership. An Ancestry membership allows users to view family records on, including over 100 million family trees made by other Ancestry users. Ancestry membership is $24.99/month for access to U.S. records and $39.99/month to also include international records.

AncestryDNA ThruLines. This feature shows users their common ancestors through which they are connected to their matches.

AncestryDNA Traits (+ $20). This add-on lets users dive deeper into their DNA to learn about various traits including earlobe type, skin pigmentation, sensitivity to sweetness, eye color, and more.

AncestryHealth ($149)

The new AncestryHealth test kit includes all of the above features of the AncestryDNA kit, with a few added features and support.

Health and Wellness Reports. Users get access to tests that look for genetic variants linked to health-related traits like hemochromatosis, cardiomyopathy and Vitamin D levels.

Genetic Counseling Resources. Users also get access to resources from Ancestry partner PWNHealth, including genetic counseling.

Family Health History Tool. A tool to securely create, save and share family health history with healthcare providers.

Privacy policy

Ancestry sends DNA samples to third-party labs in the United States. The only thing that tracks the user is a unique activation code – user identity and DNA testing results are separated during the testing process. Results are then stored in the Ancestry database, which uses various safeguards to prevent user information from being shared.

Once a user has received their results, they have a handful of options to share their data. Some basic options include displaying the user’s full name, the decision to be seen by matched relatives, and allowing matches to access one’s ethnicity results. Users can also share DNA results and download their raw DNA testing data. Ancestry also gives the option to delete DNA test results from the database, destroy user samples, and permanently delete Ancestry accounts.

A user can opt into the Ancestry Human Diversity Project. This project includes research done by Ancestry and as well as third-party researchers. If a user agrees to participate, Ancestry may share anonymized data as well as biological samples.

Nebula Genomics

Nebula Genomics distinguishes itself from Ancestry and other genetic testing companies through its focus on privacy, the most advanced testing technology, and comprehensive reporting.

Your privacy is central

At Nebula Genomics, we believe that learning about how your genome encodes information about your health, personality, and ancestry can be invaluable, but we are also aware of the privacy risks. Therefore, we are building the first privacy-focused personal genomics service. We eliminate personal genomics companies as middlemen between data owners (i.e. customers) and data buyers (i.e. third parties) so that you can be compensated if you choose to share your data. You can read more about the importance of DNA privacy here.

Nebula Expand

You can upload the raw DNA files from AncestryDNA to discover more about your genome with the Nebula Genomics expanded report. We fill in the blanks of typical microarray-based DNA genotyping tests using statistical models, otherwise known as imputation. This report gives you access to hundreds of traits and curated research studies through the Nebula Research Library, keeping you up-to-date with the most cutting-edge research and what it means to you and your DNA.

Nebula Genomics 30x Whole-Genome Sequencing (NEW!)

Our goal is to empower our customers to have the option to go beyond genetic tests offered by companies like Ancestry to unlock more information about themselves. With our new 30x Whole-Genome Sequencing service, we read 100% of your DNA. In other words, you will get 10,000 times more data than with AncestryDNA, which only reads 0.01% of your genome! Here is how it compares with the AncestryDNA test kit:

AncestryDNANebula Genomics
DNA Testing MethodMicroarray-based genotypingWhole-Genome Sequencing (30x coverage)
Produced data~ 700,000 positions in the genome~ 3,000,000,000 positions in the genome
Weekly updates based on the latest discoveriesNoYes (learn more)
Tools to explore dataLimitedYes (learn more)
Ancestry reportingYes (requires sharing data with other Ancestry customers)Deep ancestry reporting with full Y chromosome and mtDNA sequencing in collaboration with FTDNA
Data accessYes (Ancestry format file)Yes (FASTQ, BAM and VCF files)
Privacy-FocusedNoYes (learn more)
Cost$99 or $149$299 (plus monthly subscription)
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