Ancestry Testing Reviews for MyHeritage

From £59.00 £75.00

At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Customer Service:
4 out of 5 stars
Clarity of Results:
4.5 out of 5 stars
References Cited:
1 out of 5 stars
Value for Money:
4 out of 5 stars

Summary

In summary, the MyHeritage DNA test provided an interesting insight into my ancestry. It gave me information about my ethnicity which largely matched the genealogy research I’d done beforehand and I was happy to find quite closely related matches. The explanations that accompanied the results really helped me to get the most I could from the report and I loved the animation that accompanied my ethnicity estimate.

It was slightly frustrating not to be able to find out much about my relatives without signing up to the subscription fee. However, this is partly to be expected from such a new service and I look forward to seeing how this test evolves as time goes on.

Full review

MyHeritage, who had until recently sold Family Tree DNA tests, released their own ancestry test in November last year, which links in with their family tree building and record finding service. At £69, the test is more affordable than many others on the market, especially considering that it not only offers ethnicity analysis, but includes a family finder feature. I was really looking forward to seeing what it had to offer.

Product expectations

The MyHeritage website explained that the test would provide me with information about where in the world my DNA originated and would match me with relatives. One thing I particularly liked was a video that showed the kit and its components, as well as the process the samples would go through in the lab. I felt that this really demystified how the analysis would work, something that I didn’t expect to see explained or shown in this much detail. Being able to see the lab itself and the different checks made throughout the process also reassured me about the security of my data and the accuracy of results.

There was a section at the bottom of the page that included another video on how to take the sample. Beneath this there was a short list of frequently asked questions, which answered both practical queries (eg. How long will it take to get results?) and broader questions about DNA testing (eg. ‘What is the connection between DNA and family trees?’). I really appreciated the effort MyHeritage had gone to guide me through the process and to make it as clear as possible what to expect when taking a DNA test, before I’d even bought one.

In terms of what was provided in the report, it was explained that I’d find out information about the places in the world my ancestors had lived and would be able to find relatives, matched with me through our shared DNA. I was interested to read that MyHeritage had “the largest international network of family trees” and was looking forward to using the service to build my own.

Ordering experience

To order my test I had to make an account with MyHeritage, which would also be used to deliver my results. This took less than a minute and I was then taken to an ordering page that offered a range of payment methods, including PayPal and the option to pay directly with my credit/debit card. The terms and conditions and privacy policy were pretty standard, though I was slightly concerned to read that I would have no rights to any commercial products that might be developed in the future, even if they were related to my DNA. I wasn’t quite sure, but this seemed to mean that they’d be able to make products using my DNA, without compensating me.

Once I’d ordered, I received a confirmation email. I was slightly worried, as a few weeks later I hadn’t received confirmation of my samples reaching the lab, so contacted customer service. I received a reply a few days later explaining that there was a slight delay in processing the kits. The response was polite and well-explained, and I received receipt of my samples reaching the lab less than a week later.

Results section

After my samples had reached the lab, I was able to track them during each stage of the process. I found this feature particularly valuable, as even though the results took four weeks to arrive, it felt as if there was always progress and information on how long each stage would take.

Four weeks after my samples had been received at the lab, I got an email informing me that my results were ready. The report was made up of two main parts, ‘Ethnicity Estimate’ and ‘DNA Matches’, each of which had several different features within it.

Results section: Ethnicity Estimate

Upon clicking on the link in the email, I was shown an introduction to my ethnicity results. This introductory presentation showed me some of the origins of my DNA, accompanied by a globe that span around to show me the region each result corresponded to. A part of this introduction is shown below.

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The introduction to my results

The introduction to my results

I thought that this was a really engaging way in which to present a summary of my results and it provided a great starting point from which to explore them further. I particularly enjoyed the music that played as the globe spun around, changing with each region, which I thought was a fun extra touch.

Once I had gone through the introductory section, I was able to look at my ethnicity breakdown in more detail. My full breakdown with the accompanying map is shown below.

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My full ethnicity breakdown and map.

My full ethnicity breakdown and map.

This section presented the results slightly differently, revealing that the vast majority (99.1%) of my DNA was from Europe. Within this, 87.5% was from ‘North and West Europe’ which was then broken down into the 75.4% ‘English’ and 12.1% ‘Irish, Scottish and Welsh’ that had been shown in the introductory slide show. I was surprised but impressed that it had been able to distinguish the English aspects of my ancestry from the rest of the British Isles. One of my grandparents was Irish, so it was nice to see this aspect of my ancestry reflected in my results.

The map that accompanied my full ethnicity breakdown also highlighted each of the corresponding regions and allowed me to zoom into the countries included within them (shown below).

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My North and West European result in detail.

My North and West European result in detail.

This provided some factual information about the history and populations associated with each of the regions and also gave me the option to see where events from my family tree had happened in the world. Unfortunately, my family’s events occurred almost exclusively in England, but I imagine this feature would have offered a great way to visualise a more wide-ranging family tree. I thought this provided an excellent link between my traditional records-based research and my DNA results.

The rest of my DNA was Balkan (7.8%), Greek (3.8%) and Native American (0.9%). I’m not aware of any Greek ancestors, so was slightly surprised by this result, but my dad has always been convinced that his dark hair and complexion are linked to some distant Mediterranean ancestry, so the Greek percentage may confirm his suspicions! My mum has been able to trace her ancestry with records to find out that she has some Eastern European ancestors, so this also matched up well with what I expected.

I was most surprised by the Native American heritage, as I have no knowledge of any Native American ancestors. However, as this was such a small percentage of my overall DNA, it seemed plausible that this could be from an ancestor further back than we’ve been able to trace with records.

Results section: DNA matches

After looking through my Ethnicity Estimate, I moved on to my DNA matches. I was impressed to see that I had over 1500 matches (1590 in total). Looking through them, I saw that most were estimated to be third to fifth cousins. Many of my matches were rated as medium or low confidence, which was helpful to know, though I wasn’t sure why not all of them included this rating.

I liked the way in which my matches were clearly displayed, and really appreciated the information about how MyHeritage had matched me to my ‘relatives’. The details about my matches included the percentage of DNA I shared with them, the number of shared segments and the length of the largest segments we shared (in cM). An example is shown below.

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An example of one of my matches.

An example of one of my matches.

There was a section that explained that cM stood for centimorgans, and was used as a measure of genetic distance. It also explained that shared segments were pieces of our DNA that matched exactly. For me, the balance between providing enough information about my genetic relationship with my matches and being easily understandable was just right, and I felt I could much more clearly assess my results after reading these explanations.

After looking over the list of my matches, I clicked ‘Review DNA Match’ on one of them and discovered several extra features. These included being able to see ‘Smart Matches’ that identified people that seemed to appear in both of our family trees, ‘Shared Ancestral Surnames’, ‘Shared DNA Matches’, ‘Pedigree Charts’, designed to show our direct ancestors (i.e. our family trees) side by side and ‘Shared Ethnicities’. There was also a chromosome browser (shown below), which demonstrated where, on our chromosomes, we shared DNA.

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Chromosome Browser.

Chromosome Browser.

Something that I found slightly frustrating was the fact that I was only able to see a preview of many of these features and couldn’t contact my matches or even view their family trees without signing up to the MyHeritage subscription service. As the test itself was less money than many other ancestry tests I’ve seen, I would have been happy to pay a little bit extra to be able to access these features, but £54 (the cheapest option) was almost the same price as the test, so I chose not to. Some of the subscription options included other MyHeritage features, such as record matches and other non-genetic family tree building tools, so I imagine this is a more valuable option for those wanting to combine their different types of genealogy research.

Results section: Raw DNA data download

Something that I was surprised to see in my account was the ability to download my raw data. This wasn’t advertised as a feature of the test, but I was happy to discover that it was available. It wasn’t an obvious option, but I found it by clicking on ‘Manage DNA Kits’ and then on a menu next to my kit number. This menu included the options to re-assign my kit and delete my DNA data as well as download the raw data file.

I was again impressed by the comprehensive explanation that was shown when I opted to download the file, including the number of genetic variants that the test covered as well as details and examples of what the raw data would look like. It was made clear that the data would be presented in a table, and complicated headings, such as rsID were explained in a simple and straightforward way.

Once I had read the explanation, I was informed that I would be sent my data by email, and had to confirm that I understood that it was now my responsibility to keep it secure. It was reassuring to have the file sent to me rather than being directly downloadable, especially as I had often left myself logged in to the service.

Summary

In summary, the MyHeritage DNA test provided an interesting insight into my ancestry. It gave me information about my ethnicity which largely matched the genealogy research I’d done beforehand and I was happy to find quite closely related matches. The explanations that accompanied the results really helped me to get the most I could from the report and I loved the animation that accompanied my ethnicity estimate.

It was slightly frustrating not to be able to find out much about my relatives without signing up to the subscription fee. However, this is partly to be expected from such a new service and I look forward to seeing how this test evolves as time goes on.

Please note that we were invited to take this test free of charge.

See a description of this DNA test from MyHeritage >