23AndMe v AncestryDNA: Which is Better?

Kelli Jo Bergheimer

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Wondering about 23andMe v AncestryDNA? Both offer useful tools to understand your DNA. Here’s a quick comparison of the two DNA testing companies (ethnicity, matches, genealogy tools and health information). You’ll be able to decide which is best for you!

If you are trying to decide which DNA testing company is better for you, think about what you want to know and what you most want to discover.

23andMe v AncestryDNA

Ethnicity Results

Both AncestryDNA* and 23andMe offer ethnicity estimates and tools. Ancestry offers your DNA Story.

In your DNA Story, you can see your Ethnicity Estimate, comprising different percentages of regions of worldwide reference panels.

Scroll down on that same page to see your Ethnicity inheritance, a new feature called SideView™.

SideView allows you to see the ethnicity estimates for each of your parents, the two genetic halves of you. (The tool cannot currently identify which parent is which.)

Another feature in your DNA Story is your DNA Communities. AncestryDNA’s algorithm forms communities when it identifies Ancestry DNA members whose ancestors represent a region or cultural group.

23andMe offers a unique Ancestry Composition Chromosome Map. Within those results may be some Recent Ancestor Locations, which are similar to AncestryDNA’s Communities, only there aren’t as many of them, and they don’t use users’ family tree data to help identify them.

You might notice at the top of the screen, there is a notice that says, “View your ancestry timeline, parental inheritance, and ancestry chromosome painting in Ancestry Overview (linked).” If you click on the Chromosome Painting link, you can see your ethnicity map, chromosome-by-chromosome. Keep in mind, the algorithm does not differentiate father’s side from mother’s side unless a parent has tested. This information is downloadable by clicking on the Scientific Details page link.

If your ethnicity is from one continent or region of the world (for example, I am 99.9% European), the chromosome mapping might not be as informative as if you have a more diverse set of ancestors.

23andMe v. AncestryDNA: Which is better for DNA ethnicity? Both are pretty good. But each company uses its own sets of reference populations for ethnicities, and its own data to identify ancestral locations. AncestryDNA has more powerful data for the latter. Ancestral ethnicity prediction is complex and is still an evolving science. Here’s a quick run-down on how it works, in general.

DNA Matches

23andMe and Ancestry both allow you to participate in DNA matching, which means connecting with other testers at that company who share a significant amount of DNA with you and may therefore be your relatives. (To view your DNA matches at AncestryDNA, click on “View All DNA Matches.” And at 23andMe, you can see your match list by looking at the Family & Friends dropdown list and clicking on “View all DNA Relatives.”)

23andMe v. AncestryDNA: Which is better for finding DNA matches? If you are looking for matches, AncestryDNA has the largest number of testers. 23andMe is the next largest database. There will be matches who appear in both, but there will be people who test at one or the other, and it’s hard to predict where your relatives are.

One thing to consider is whether the company sells tests in places where your DNA matches may live today. AncestryDNA recently expanded its international availability, and is now available in many more countries than 23andMe. Explore where these tests are sold in our full comparison of the best DNA tests for family history. 

As long as both tests are sold in the countries of interest for you and if you really want to find DNA matches, consider testing both places.

Genealogy Tools

Get our Free Guide to Finding Your Ancestors with DNA

AncestryDNA has many genealogy tools that can help you discover your family history and how your DNA matches fit into your tree. You can sort and label your DNA matches to different branches of your family using the Ancestry dot labeling system. You can compare your family trees with those of your DNA matches to see how you might be related using their powerful ThruLines® tool. Those who also subscribe to Ancestry.com* get access to billions of historical records and other people’s trees to help them make even more discoveries.

What about 23andMe’s genealogy tools? 23andMe has a tree-building tool to help you connect your DNA matches to what you know about your family tree, but it doesn’t actually let you incorporate your researched tree or historical records.

23andMe v. AncestryDNA: Which has more powerful genealogy tools? AncestryDNA, by far. 23andMe testers may get some great clues, but you can dig a lot deeper at Ancestry.

Health Information

23andMe has health and trait reports if you purchase that level of testing. Currently 23andMe offers three levels of services: Ancestry+Traits; Health+Ancestry, and 23AndMe+. The first doesn’t report on any health information, only 30+ Traits (genetic insights into some of your physical features and other attributes). The latter two offer insights through 65+ health reports and more.

AncestryDNA offered health reports for a time, but discontinued that service in 2020.

23andMe v. AncestryDNA: which is better for health testing? 23andMe is the only choice.

So Which is Better for YOU–23andMe or AncestryDNA?

Hopefully this isn’t TMI….But there ARE more options than just 23andMe or AncestryDNA. You may want to also consider Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage or Living DNA.

See our Full Comparison: Best DNA Tests

But if you’re ready to choose now, we won’t stop you. Use the handy links below. (Note: choose the Ancestry link for your country.) Thanks–these links support more content like this from Your DNA Guide, at no extra cost to you.

Buy 23andMe

Buy AncestryDNA - USA

Buy AncestryDNA - UK

Buy AncestryDNA - Canada

Buy AncestryDNA - Australia



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<a href="https://www.yourdnaguide.com/author/kellijobergheimer" target="_self">Kelli Jo Bergheimer</a>

Kelli Jo Bergheimer

Kelli Bergheimer is a writer, teacher, editor, and national genealogical speaker. Kelli is the Director of Curriculum and Assessment for Blue Kayak, a K-12 textbook company. Her passion for education reaches beyond the classroom to teach others how to use genetic genealogy to solve family history mysteries. Kelli also works as a DNA editor for Legacy Tree Genealogists.


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