MyHeritage DNA Test Review
In 2017, MyHeritage broke away from their former attachment to Family Tree DNA, releasing their own ancestry test powered by a database of over 108 million users. The MyHeritage DNA test is currently one of the top rated autosomal DNA tests on the market, and their site is one of a few that allows users to import raw data sourced from other tests to access ethnicity results and a list of family matches at a reduced cost.
In a nutshell…
When compared to other testing companies, the MyHeritage test is a good bet for those looking for an engaging, well-explained breakdown of their ethnicity results. The site makes it easy for those engaging with genealogy for the first time to understand some of the more complicated concepts and terms being tossed around.The test compares your DNA against samples from 42 ethnic regions, a number that’s larger than some testing companies but far narrower than top dogs like Ancestry.com and 23andMe. Additionally, while the test provides a list of matches and a bit of information about them, a pricey subscription is required to actually contact your living relatives.
- MyHeritage keeps the process simple, offering only one basic autosomal DNA testing kit at a price point that’s cheaper than the competition
- Viewing and understanding ethnicity results is simple even for newbies, because everything is presented in a clear, straightforward, and streamlined manner
- You can import raw DNA data you’ve obtained from a test you’ve taken on another site to access your ethnicity results and a list of your living matches at a slightly reduced fee, and you can also export the data from your MyHeritage test for use in other genetic databases
- Although you can view a list of your DNA matches, you cannot actually message them or access a number of the site’s other interesting features without paying a subscription fee, which is rather costly
- With 42 ethnic regions available, you’re likely to get results that satisfy your basic curiosity but aren’t as regionally specific as some competitors
- Uploading raw data from another test isn’t free as it is with some other databases, and even if you pay to unlock your ethnicity results, you still can’t contact your matches without also subscribing
How Does The MyHeritage DNA Test Work?For those looking to explore their ancestry through genetics, a few DNA testing options exist.
- mtDNA. This test measures the genetic material passed down to you from your mother, who received it from her mother in a line that stretches back through the maternal branch of your family tree. Also called mitochondrial DNA, this DNA changes very little between generations, making it a key in tracing maternal lineage.
- Y-DNA. A Y-DNA test measures the test that fathers pass to their sons in the same way that mothers pass mitochondrial DNA to all their children. Because all people have an X chromosome, mtDNA tests are available to everyone; Y-DNA tests are only available to those with a Y chromosome(biological males).
- Autosomal DNA. The most common DNA test, an autosomal test measures the DNA that was passed to you equally by your mother and father. They each received their own set of autosomal DNA, as did their parents before them, and your results are the sum of your maternal and paternal ancestors tracing back around five generations. Due to genetic dilution, it’s hard to glean accurate autosomal results beyond that mark.
What’s Contained In My Kit?The MyHeritage DNA kit contains the instructions you’ll need to complete your test and the activation card required to attach your sample data to your account. Also included are a postage-paid return envelope, two cheek swabs, two vials, and a sample collection bag.
The Testing ExperienceNo previous experience with DNA testing is required to successfully use a MyHeritage DNA test — in fact, the fact that the site currently only offers one test may be a blessing in disguise to those who find it hard to know what they’re ordering on competitor sites. The company only markets their product online, so you’ll need to head to their site to place an order when you’re ready to buy your kit. Since there’s only one option, selection is easy; all you need to know is how many kits you’d like to buy.
What You Should Expect to PayThe cost of the base kit is $79, and two shipping options are available. Standard shipping, which will get your kit to you in 4 – 7 days, costs $12; expedited shipping, which takes 2 – 3 days, costs $25. If you’re shipping it right to someone as a present, gift wrapping can be added for an additional $3. There are a few ways to save some pennies during your ordering process. The first is to order multiple tests, especially if they’re on sale. Not only do they make great gifts, shipping is free if you order 3 or more test kits! The second only applies if you’re planning on signing up for a top tier MyHeritage subscription. If you do want to subscribe, the absolute best time to do so is while you’re placing your initial order, which will net you a free first month and a subsequent year at 50% off the usual retail price, bringing the cost from $299 to $149.
Taking the TestThe test is a simple, painless cheek swab, and the kit features step-by-step instructions that make completion foolproof. The first step to success is registering your test kit online using the activation card, during which you’ll create a MyHeritage account that will attach your sample’s data to an online landing page for your eventual viewing. When it’s time to perform DNA collection with your test kit, it’s essential that you not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, or brush your teeth for at least one hour before testing to make sure that your sample is readable and accurate. If you’re having trouble finding the right time, testing first thing in the morning can simplify things greatly. To test, remove one cotton swab from its cover, and swab the inside of your cheek with the cotton end for 30 to 60 seconds. Open one of the vials, and break the swab inside of the vial at the marked black line. Leave the swab end inside the liquid in the vial, and close it tightly. Repeat this process with the other swab and vial, this time swabbing the opposite cheek. It does not matter which swab goes in which vial, but both samples must be completed by one person only.
Returning Your SpecimenWhen the swab DNA samples have been created, simply place them into the specimen bag, and place the sealed specimen bag into the postage-paid envelope found in your test kit. You can then drop the envelope into any mailbox, sending it on its way to MyHeritage. You’ll receive an email when the company receives and begins to process your samples as well as an email while they’re complete, and you can check the progress of your test’s processing on your account page.
When and How Will I Receive My Results?In about 4 – 6 weeks, you will receive an email from MyHeritage letting you know that your DNA has been processed and your results are ready to view. When you receive the email, log in to myheritage.com on your computer to see your results. The data generated from your DNA test will be located under the DNA header on the landing page.
Your Results ExplainedOnce you’ve received your email from MyHeritage, you’re ready to view your DNA test results. To begin, log into your MyHeritage account, which will take you to the site’s landing page. There, you can click on DNA to access a list of subheadings. Your results are divided into Overview, Ethnicity Estimate, DNA Matches, and DNA Tools, as well as a few other less complex sections related to data management.
OverviewActing as a general summary of your DNA review, the overview section reveals your ethnicity estimates, offering a link to that section for more in-depth review. Also shown is a donut chart of your DNA matches by genetic relationship, demonstrating the total number of matches, the number of immediate family members, extended family members, and distant relatives whose connection extends beyond two generations. Here, you will also be able to view a map of the world which shows where your DNA matches live and the number of your matches who are living in each country. You will also be able to see how your ethnicity results compare to those of your DNA matches.
Ethnicity EstimateIntroduced by a captivating presentation of your results on an animated rotating globe, the landing page of this section contains an introduction to your ethnicity percentages. The color-coding of the key ties to your countries of origin, which will be highlighted in the corresponding color on the map. The globe spins to reveal a country when you click it. While it’s not a factual result, it’s pretty cool that this section features world music that changes depending on the country you’re viewing and a starry background that makes the globe feature more immersive. From this landing page, you’ll be given the option to view your results in more detail. You’ll be able to explore a more in-depth ethnicity breakdown of your DNA analysis as presented on an interactive map that uses depth of color to indicate the percentage of your DNA ancestry in an area. Following the key in the upper left-hand corner, which expands from broad continental results to regions and countries, will let you see the most specific version of your ethnic data available with the MyHeritage test. At the bottom, your name is listed with the 100% sum of your various ethnic backgrounds, almost as though presenting it rather cutely as the equation that makes you, you! The counties that are located within your ethnicity regions can be zoomed in on, which will reveal background information on the region’s history and inhabitants. If you have a MyHeritage subscription and have created a family tree, you will also see visualizations of certain events in your family history linked to your ancestors — as an example, if it’s noted in your tree’s historical records that your great grandfather was buried in Lyons, France in 1937, you’ll see a pin on the map which indicates such. It’s a feature that’s a great fit for subscribing users with larger trees, but simply another feature tucked behind the paywall for those who aren’t willing to shell out.
DNA MatchesThanks to a user database of over 10 million people, most folks who take the MyHeritage DNA test are likely to be fairly successful at DNA matching. Most of your matches are likely to be distant relatives, as is typical with autosomal DNA tests. Here, you’ll see your matches in a clear-cut list. Each listing features your match’s name, the percentage of DNA you share, the number of DNA segments shared, and the longest shared segment in cM(centimorgans). The site stays true to its novice-friendly status by also explaining that centimorgans are a measure of genetic distance, which makes interpreting that result much easier. When you click on the ‘Review DNA Match’ link of your match’s listing, you’ll be able to access additional information if they’ve created a family tree. This includes information about their tree, such as the number of people on it and who it’s currently being managed by. Also included are any SmartMatches shared between your and their trees, ancestral surnames common to the two of you if you’ve chosen to list them, DNA matches you share, pedigree charts displaying family trees side by side, a list of shared ethnicities, and a chromosome browser for comparison. Unfortunately, without a subscription, it’s impossible for you to contact your MyHeritage matches and view their trees. One negative is that the site feels packed with cool features that stop short at a paywall, which includes the majority of their genealogy research tools.
ToolsA gathering of the site’s additional DNA viewing tools, this section includes:
- Chromosome browser. This tool compares your DNA side by side with that of multiple matches. This can be helpful when attempting to identify a common ancestor.
- AutoClusters. This automated tool automatically organizes your DNA matches into clusters which are likely to have descended from common ancestors.
- Ethnicities Map. Here, you can view the most common ethnicity in each country. You’ll also be able to see the top countries for each ethnicity based on user data from MyHeritage.
- Manage DNA Kits. Here, you can view a list of all of the DNA kits that are tied to your account, including the kit number, the name of the person it’s assigned to, whether the kit was mailed or uploaded, and the current status of the kit. For each kit, you’ll have the option to export raw data, reassign the kit to a different person/name, view an ethnicity estimate or match list, or delete the kit.
- Surveys. Ideal for those interested in future features like health and wellness traits, this section gives you the option to opt into the site’s genetic discoveries database and take surveys on topics like personal and family health, traits, and demographics.
- Upload DNA Data. For users importing DNA they’ve received from other DNA testing services, this is the place where that data should be uploaded. A fee is required to see ethnicity results, and a subscription is needed to contact matches.
- Order DNA Kits. Unsurprisingly, this is where to head if you need to purchase more MyHeritage kits.
Is the MyHeritage Test Accurate?MyHeritage doesn’t offer a percentage-based figure on their accuracy, instead stating that results are processed as accurately as possible. They go on to note that while false positives can exist in results, they’re most likely to happen with distant relatives with whom little DNA is shared and very low percentages found in ethnicity results — this is common across all autosomal DNA tests.
Will MyHeritage Keep My Information Private?There are no significant privacy concerns involved when using MyHeritage. You may choose to identify yourself by name or not, and may opt into or out of matching. Tests are performed according to sample numbers, not names, and you have the option to choose to delete your kit at any time after it’s been processed.
How Does MyHeritage Compare to the Competition?
MyHeritage vs. Family Tree DNAAlthough both companies have rather broad ethnic regions, MyHeritage tops competitor FTDNA by offering 42 regions to their 24. The size of the matching database is comparable between the two sites, and both sites allow you to create and share a family tree, but creating a tree larger than 250 people requires a MyHeritage subscription, as does contacting your matches.
MyHeritage vs. AncestryDNAAncestryDNA is a test that dominates the market, and it can be hard for smaller companies to compete in terms of features. MyHeritage allows you to browse your chromosomes and create family trees much like Ancestry, but the latter has far more specific ethnic regions and the largest match database available as well as helpful genealogy tools. Both companies require a subscription to access the bulk of their features, but despite MyHeritage’s lower base test price point, Ancestry has some cheaper subscription options that are available on a month-to-month basis. Explore the pros and cons in detail with our complete side by side comparison of MyHeritage vs AncestryDNA or check out our full review of Ancestry’s DNA test kit.
MyHeritage vs. Living DNABoth Living DNA and MyHeritage are relatively small companies compared to others, which means the scope of the features offered can feel limited. While Living DNA offers limited information on motherline and fatherline ancestry, including haplogroups, the relative newness of their matching database makes it difficult to find living relatives. MyHeritage offers family tree creation, an online community, and a match database, but a subscription is needed for full access.
MyHeritage vs. 23andMeBoasting the largest number of ethnic groups available, it’s no surprise that the thousands of regions used by 23andMe dwarf the offerings of most testing companies. There are also never subscription fees when using 23andMe, and contacting your matches is free while MyHeritage requires a subscription to do so. That said, the subscription fee includes genealogy research tools and a family tree creator that 23 doesn’t offer with any of their tests.
MyHeritage:Frequently Asked Questions
Will I Be Able To Locate Living Family Members?
Does the Test Measure Neanderthal DNA?The MyHeritage DNA service do not currently include any information about ancient ancestry, including Neanderthal DNA.
Does the Test Measure Native American Ancestry?MyHeritage does have a specific Native American ethnic region which can provide some indications of ancestry. However, genetic testing cannot be considered legitimate legal proof of Native American ancestry, and there are no tests on the market that differentiate between tribal identities. Learn more about using DNA tests for discovering Native American ancestry.
Is It Possible to Access My Health or Medical Information With the MyHeritage DNA Test?MyHeritage does not currently offer health and wellness features. Their inclusion of a genetic discoveries project as noted in the ‘Surveys’ subheading of the DNA results category suggests that at some point in the future, basic health traits may be part of the test.
Will My Results Be Clearer If Other Family Members Also Take the MyHeritage DNA Test?When it comes to clarifying the results of your autosomal DNA test, there’s always a benefit to encouraging other family members to test. DNA can vary slightly from person to person, which means new relatives may emerge in DNA match results when multiple family members take the test. Additionally, smaller, harder-to-parse ethnicity results may be easier to understand and compare when close family members like parents and siblings have also tested. If you’re trying to determine which side of the family a match comes from without costly mtDNA and Y-DNA tests from other companies, testing your parents is likely to provide clarification.
Can I Export My Raw Data For Use on Other Sites?Yes! MyHeritage allows you to both export the raw data related to your DNA test and upload data that you’ve sourced from other DNA testing services. To do so, simply navigate to the DNA heading and click ‘Manage DNA Tests’. On the far right-hand side of each listed test, you’ll see three vertical dots. Click them to access a sub-menu which includes the option to export your DNA data.
How Much Does the Test Cost?Currently, MyHeritage only offers one type of test — an autosomal DNA test offering ethnicity results and a list of your matches. The regular retail price of the kit is $79, making it one of the cheapest options for testing your DNA. The kit also tends to go on sale around major gift-giving holidays, reducing the price by as much as 50%. Beyond the test’s standard cost, you will need a subscription to the MyHeritage website in order to contact matches, build a family tree with more than 250 people, and access the site’s genealogical research tools. The subscription tiers are billed annually, and are priced as follows:
- Premium: $129
- Premium Plus: $209
- Complete: $299