Choosing a DNA test provider
There are a few providers of DNA tests, here's how to pick one.
23andme.com is my favourite DNA test provider. Their report gives you the most information and it's well organised. There's a few sections giving you information about your genome, such as sport performance potential, medical conditions and points of general interest like whether you have a recessive red hair gene. They provide several levels of ancestry information. Close ancestry lets to trace your ancestry back a few generations, find relatives and compare notes on family trees. Middle distance ancestry tells you about your regional composition (I'm mostly Irish, with a sprinkle of Scandinavian). Long distance ancestry tells you about how you fit into pre-historical migrations as our ancient ancestors emerged from Africa where we evolved. It has the best user experience of all the sites on this page, and they delivered my results fastest. It's also a good way to support this site, since if you buy through the link below you will pay the regular price but 23andme will pay me $10, which I can convert into British Pounds and spend on
beer hosting fees.
Ancestry.com, focusses on your recent ancestry. If you're really into Genealogy then this product is slightly better that 23andme. There's a very active community of people tracing their family roots, and if you opt in to be matched to related users then you may expect random third cousins to contact you and ask if you know when your branch of the family emigrated from The Motherland. They're also the cheapest DNA test provider, because their business model is to offer the DNA test cheap then sell you upgrades - so if you only care about getting your DNArtwork, this is the best way to get it. If you buy through the link below, they will give me $5.
The Genographic project, by National Geographic, Is a really interesting research project to map historical migrations using DNA. They give you some fascinating insights into how you fit into the history of human migrations. For example, I now know that my ancestors primarily migrated out of Africa via the middle east, rather than for example through Spain over the strait of Gibraltar. What's really cool, is that by contributing your DNA you're becoming part of the research project - it's by analysing that genomes of hundreds of thousands of members of the public that this picture of migration patterns is built up.
The bad news is that this is the most expensive test, and the process for downloading your genetic data so that you can get your DNArtwork is horrible. Just accessing the download costs an additional $39 and requires you to go through a convoluted process, and in my case didn’t work first time because of technical issues that took days to sort out.
If the concept of a massive data research project to tease apart the mysteries of hominid history geeks you out, go for it! If you just want to get your DNArtwork, choose a different test provider.
Purchase a test through: The Genographic Project.