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This is my recommendation, based on my experience purchasing DNA tests from the major players, attending DNA Project Administrator Conferences for the last several years and discussing this with other administrators, and from my correspondence with both happy and unhappy customers of the various companies. Be very careful if you are considering purchasing a DNA test through Their focus is on getting subscribers and making money, period. They have the most comprehensive research data and tools of any company on-line, but I strongly urge people to (a) not post their information in ancestry's family tree (use rootsweb worldconnect instead) and (b) do not waste your time and money on their DNA products. Do your own research on those two items and you can come to your own conclusions.

* My goal is to help you use DNA to unravel your genealogical mysteries -- and to help you get the most value for the money you spend. Many people are trying to help "fix" their DNA product, but this focuses on what is currently available, not on what ought to be.

  • Don't try to get everything from one company - no one can successfully chew that much gum, walk and talk at the same time..
  • Get your research data from companys that specialize in that.
  • Store your genealogical data in software on your local computer and, if you want to display it on-line, choose a company that does not require people to subscribe to see it and/or contribute to it.
  • Get your DNA test from the leader in genetic genealogy - Family Tree DNA (and, in truth, the only company that specializes in genetic genealogy).
Ancestry, in their quest to expand and secure their subscription base, only allows their DNA customers to access their data through the ancestry interface (i.e. they cannot compare it to data from people who have tested elsewhere). Here are some recent (2012) posts by well-respected genetic genealogists regarding''s DNA products and policies:
You are welcome to choose any company with which to test, but you may find that your results take too long to be returned, or the company you choose doesn't test the same markers or they don't do a professional job running the tests or interpreting the results.  A sampling of correspondence directed to the various DNA email forums shows numerous complaints about companies that don't deliver on their promises, report erroneous results and provide inferior service.  The purpose of this page is to help you make the best choice in choosing a testing company.
There are now many companies offering DNA testing, and the number continues to grow as interest increases in the use of DNA for genealogical research. Unfortunately, there are a some companies that need to be avoided, promising things they can't deliver, not providing any customer service and not performing valid tests, for example. There are also issues with which portions of the DNA will be tested and the way the DNA data is reported and interpreted.
The project administrator researched the available services and finally chose the oldest and largest company specializing in genealogical DNA testing -- Family Tree DNA.  He believes this company has the most expertise, the most accurate data, the best customer support and competitive prices.
The recommendations here are based solely on what is believed to provide the best service to each project participant.  Neither the Cloud Family Association or the project administrator are affiliated with any commercial organization and neither of them make any profit or benefit in any manner from any part of this.  This is entirely a volunteer effort on our part and the only benefit we derive from it is the help the DNA results give us with our family genealogy research.
If you choose to use Family Tree DNA, you can click on the "Registration" link which will take you to our Project page at their company where you can order your test. (If you have any questions about this, please write the Project Administrator -- click the Contact DNA Project Administrator link at the left.)
If you choose to use another DNA testing company:
  -  We will make every effort to help you and to include your results in the project.
  -  You will need to inform the administrator which company you chose.
  -  You will need to provide the Project Administrator the results of your tests so they can be entered into the Project.
Choosing a Testing Company.
  - What does the company offer for your money?
  - The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) has published a Vendor Comparison.  Click here to see the ISOGG Vendor Comparison.
  - Read Terry's blog about misleading advertising and which company to choose -- Which Company?
  - Read Emily's blog Which DNA Testing Company Fits Your Needs?
As with any other product -- "Buyer Beware".  Look beyond the advertising.  It's easy to misunderstand different companies' claims and what products and services they offer.
Here are some observations by this project's administrator:
Genealogical offerings of selected DNA testing companies.
* Rating Company Founded Notes
Best Overall. Family Tree DNA 1999
  • Originator of genetic genealogy DNA testing.
  • Surname, geographic & haplogroup projects.
  • Project administrators to help with analysis of data.
  • Technological / scientific leader in the field of genetic genealogy.
  • Most knowledgeable and helpful staff.
  • Leading scientists in the field on their staff and advisory board.
  • Leader in setting new standards, innovator of new DNA markers and phylogenetic definitions.
  • Affiliated with National Geographic's Genographic Project (see below).
  • Affiliated with respected University of Arizona.
  • Largest databases.
  • Best customer service.
  • Most extensive tests available, including Y-chromosome, mtDNA, autosomal and X-chromosome.
  • Guaranteed haplogroup prediction.
  • Guaranteed 25-year retention of sample.
  • Largest offering of extended & specialized tests.
  • Most on-line utilities/tools to help evaluate results.
Recommended 23andme 2006
  • Primary emphasis on genetic factors in health and human traits.
  • Advanced User Interface.
  • "Distant" customer support.
  • Genealogical tests not their primary focus but still useful.
  • Does not have surname or geographic projects (you are on your own).
  • No project administrators.
  • Perhaps the best DTC medical testing – but not for genealogy.
(now part of Family Tree DNA). DNA Heritage 2002
  • Reputable European company with U.S. office.
  • Offers surname projects.
  • Offers extended tests.
  • Does not retain samples -- must re-submit sample to upgrade test (problematic if the person has died).
No longer available. Relative Genetics   (Purchased by / -- see below.)
No longer available. SMGF 2000
  • Free.
  • No longer available (See GeneTree).
  • No projects.
  • Can't choose which markers to test.
  • Data difficult to obtain.
  • No notification of test results or of matches.
Good introduction to DNA testing. Genographic Project 2005
  • A deep ancestry anthropology study by National Geographic and IBM on human migrations.
  • Tests performed by Family Tree DNA (FTDNA).
  • 12-marker tests only.
  • Transferrable to FTDNA project.
No known track record. GeneTree 2008
  • No list of markers.
  • No surname projects.
  • Unknown whether they offer extended tests or SNP verification.
Least Recommended. Ancestry 2008
  • 2012 - they appear to have lost interest in their Y-DNA product (and the people who tested with them), focusing rather on their recent entry into the autosomal DNA arena.
  • Their focus is on increasing their revenue stream by obtaining subscribers - who pay ongoing monthly payments - rather than on DNA testing or genealogy.
  • Difficult to obtain test results.
  • Virtually impossible to contact people you match.
  • Difficult to compare results with others (see above).
  • Difficult to contact a project administrator or other project members.
  • Difficult to contact anyone from the company.
  • Poor to non-existent customer service.
  • Lack of knowledgeable and accessible support staff - i.e. uninformed customer support.
  • Until recently, discussion of DNA topics was restricted or banned on ancestry/rootsweb lists and bulletin boards.
  • Registration with ancestry required to even purchase a test.
  • Annual subscription required to access full services.
  • Advertised database size incorporates test results from other companies (i.e. not representative of their testing).
  • Numerous reports of erroneous haplogroup designations.
  • Multiple projects can exist for the same surname -- this is chaotic and very ineffective.
  • Their 33 marker test is the same as 30 markers with other companies -- it includes markers which rarely occur (DYS19b, 464e and 464f).
    • FTDNA doesn't advertise the above markers but reports them when they occur.
    • A proper comparison should add 3 markers to other companies' offerings to correct for this.
  • No guaranteed sample retention.
  • No advanced or extended tests *.
  • No SNP verification *
    • * (Extended tests available through a separate company.)
 * Ranking -- recommendations by this administrator based on his independent research, correspondence with other administrators and personal experience.
  - ISOGG comparison chart
  - blog
  - STR Marker Comparison Chart
  - postings to various on-line genealogy/DNA forums
** The opinions expressed here are those of the project administrator only and do not reflect any official position of the Cloud Family Association.
Data accumulated in 1st quarter 2009 and later.
The CLOUD FAMILY ASSOCIATION (CFA) is a registered non-profit corporation devoted to the collection and preservation of information about the various branches of the Cloud Family, past and present. The files of the Association are organized to provide a clearing house for Cloud information and a major goal is to encourage people to share their family information with the Association and with others interested in the family. The association publishes the CLOUD FAMILY JOURNAL (ISSN 0883-0940) quarterly to make this information, along with data from family sources and public documents, available to interested persons.
The CLOUD FAMILY ASSOCIATION -- Making friends, finding lost cousins, preserving our heritage.
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