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Family Tree DNA vs. Ancestry DNA: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 11, 2023
Family Tree DNA offers detailed genealogical DNA testing, while Ancestry DNA focuses on broader ancestral ethnicity and family history linking.

Key Differences

Family Tree DNA specializes in detailed genetic testing for genealogical purposes, offering Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. Ancestry DNA, on the other hand, provides an ethnicity estimate and connects users with potential relatives based on shared DNA.
Family Tree DNA offers specific tests like Y-DNA for paternal lineage and mtDNA for maternal lineage. Ancestry DNA primarily offers autosomal DNA testing, which covers the overall genetic makeup and ancestral background.
Family Tree DNA has a vast database but focuses more on deep ancestral tracking. Ancestry DNA boasts a larger database, making it more likely for users to find living relatives.
Family Tree DNA provides tools for genealogists to delve into detailed lineage analysis. Ancestry DNA integrates DNA results with its extensive historical records, enhancing family history research.
Family Tree DNA is geared towards serious genealogists and those interested in deep ancestral roots. Ancestry DNA caters to a broader audience, focusing on ethnicity estimates and building family trees.

Comparison Chart

Test Types

Offers Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal tests
Primarily autosomal DNA tests

Main Focus

Deep genealogical research and lineage tracking
Ethnicity estimates and family connections

Database Size

Large, with a focus on specific lineages
Very large, suitable for finding living relatives

User Tools

Advanced tools for genealogical research
Integrates DNA with historical records for research

Target Audience

Serious genealogists and ancestry enthusiasts
General public interested in ancestry and ethnicity

Family Tree DNA and Ancestry DNA Definitions

Family Tree DNA

Offers Y-DNA and mtDNA testing for precise ancestral tracking.
My mtDNA results from Family Tree DNA revealed my maternal ancestral origins.

Ancestry DNA

A DNA testing service that offers ethnicity estimates and family history.
Ancestry DNA’s report showed I have ancestors from four different continents.

Family Tree DNA

Specializes in connecting users with historical ancestors.
Family Tree DNA's tests linked me to ancestors from the 18th century.

Ancestry DNA

Focuses on connecting users with potential living relatives.
Ancestry DNA connected me with cousins I never knew I had.

Family Tree DNA

A DNA testing service focusing on deep genealogical analysis.
Using Family Tree DNA, I traced my paternal lineage back several centuries.

Ancestry DNA

Ideal for individuals seeking to understand their ethnic background.
My Ancestry DNA results helped me explore my diverse ethnic heritage.

Family Tree DNA

Provides tools for constructing a detailed family tree.
Family Tree DNA helped me build an extensive family tree, including distant relatives.

Ancestry DNA

Integrates genetic results with a vast database of historical records.
Using Ancestry DNA, I discovered records of my great-grandparents' immigration.

Family Tree DNA

Suitable for in-depth genealogical research and lineage discovery.
Genealogists often recommend Family Tree DNA for thorough ancestral research.

Ancestry DNA

Provides a user-friendly platform for exploring family history.
Ancestry DNA’s website made it easy to start my family history research.


Can Family Tree DNA determine paternal lineage?

Yes, through its Y-DNA test, Family Tree DNA can trace direct paternal lineage.

Does Family Tree DNA offer maternal lineage tracking?

Yes, Family Tree DNA’s mtDNA test traces direct maternal ancestry.

What does Ancestry DNA offer?

Ancestry DNA provides ethnicity estimates and connects users with potential relatives through a DNA database.

What is Family Tree DNA?

Family Tree DNA is a genetic testing service focused on detailed ancestral lineage and genealogy.

What’s unique about Ancestry DNA’s approach?

Ancestry DNA integrates DNA results with a vast historical record database for comprehensive family history research.

Is Family Tree DNA suitable for genealogists?

Yes, Family Tree DNA is highly regarded among genealogists for its detailed lineage tests.

What kind of database does Family Tree DNA use?

Family Tree DNA uses a database focused on deep ancestral data and lineage-specific information.

What makes Ancestry DNA popular?

Ancestry DNA is popular due to its large user base, extensive records, and user-friendly interface.

Can Ancestry DNA help find living relatives?

Yes, Ancestry DNA's large database increases the likelihood of connecting with living relatives.

How does Ancestry DNA provide ethnicity estimates?

Ancestry DNA analyzes autosomal DNA to provide estimates of a user's ethnic background.

How accurate is Family Tree DNA's Y-DNA test?

Family Tree DNA’s Y-DNA test is highly accurate for tracing paternal lineage.

Can you find distant relatives with Family Tree DNA?

Yes, Family Tree DNA can help connect users with distant relatives through DNA matching.

Is Ancestry DNA useful for beginners in genealogy?

Yes, Ancestry DNA is user-friendly and suitable for those new to genealogy.

Is Family Tree DNA good for understanding maternal ancestors?

Yes, especially with its mtDNA test, Family Tree DNA is effective for understanding maternal ancestry.

Does Family Tree DNA offer health-related information?

Family Tree DNA primarily focuses on ancestry rather than health-related genetic information.

Does Ancestry DNA offer integration with family trees?

Yes, Ancestry DNA allows users to integrate their DNA results with family tree building on their platform.

Can Family Tree DNA determine ethnic origins?

Family Tree DNA can provide insights into ethnic origins, especially through its mtDNA and Y-DNA tests.

How does Ancestry DNA handle privacy and data?

Ancestry DNA has privacy policies in place and offers users control over their data sharing preferences.

How often does Ancestry DNA update its ethnicity estimates?

Ancestry DNA updates its ethnicity estimates periodically as its algorithms and reference populations improve.

Can Ancestry DNA link you to historical figures?

Ancestry DNA may provide insights into connections with historical figures if there's sufficient data in their records.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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