First developed in Israel back in 2003, MyHeritage has become one of the leading genealogy services in the world. Offering software products, mobile, and web services, they have grown in the past few years and have around 80 million users around the globe. With the largest international network of family trees, counting as many as 35 million on their website and a database with over 6 billion historical records, you are sure to put the puzzle pieces of your family history together.
Ease of Use
Collecting your sample
The website is chock full of information with everything that you need to get your DNA testing kit in order. You will find a video on the site that includes information about the kit and the components that come with it. It also details the process of your sample as it goes through the lab.
Beneath the video you have a list of frequently asked questions that completely explain the process for you. Questions include things like how long it might take for your results to arrive as well as what the connection between family trees and your DNA.
The transparency from MyHeritage is very helpful, as you always know what to expect when it comes to your DNA sample in the testing process, even before you choose to purchase the test.
To receive your DNA testing kit you need to create an account on MyHeritage. There is a range of payment methods available to you like PayPal as well as credit and debit cards. As soon as you order your kit, you will get a confirmation email and it should not take longer than four weeks for your sample to get processed.
Receiving your results
As soon as your results reach the lab, you will be able to track every stage of the process from then on. This is particularly handy because people are always curious and want their results back as soon as possible, so it gives you peace of mind knowing exactly where the sample is stationed at that moment.
Around four weeks after your sample is sent off to the lab you will get an email letting you know that your results are complete and ready for viewing. Results will be composed of two parts, one being the ethnicity estimate while the other contains your DNA matches. Within those two main parts, you will also have other features that you can check out.
MyHeritage offers a family tree feature on their website which is incredibly popular among users and, at the same time, is very easy to use. Although you might expect this feature to only work for linkages made on the site, this is not the case at all. If you already have an existing family tree all you have to do is simply upload it into the system.
When it comes to your privacy, there is nothing more personal than your DNA sample and MyHeritage is aware of this. When it comes to securing your personal information and DNA, you have complete control over who can see your results, account activity, and who may or may not contact you.
“The user decides to what degree information on the family tree and other information from the family site will be visible to and discoverable by other users, by setting the Privacy Preferences (described in a detailed section below).
The user decides whether to build the family tree on the website on their own, or to make it a collaborative effort by inviting family members to assist, using facilities available on the website for inviting members. If other members are invited, they make similar choices on entering information into the family tree.
All information is entered into the website directly and is not collected implicitly. The website prevents information on living people in family trees from being disclosed to strangers, to protect privacy, and such information, if entered, will not be visible outside the family site or discoverable by search engines such as Google.”
Upon receiving the email notifying you that your results are in, you will be taken to the MyHeritage site.
DNA for Ancestry
When you receive your ancestry results, you will be taken to an interactive, spinning globe will tell you which parts of the world your ancestors come from.
Depending on which parts that includes, you will also have music relevant to those regions and countries playing in the background.
Your ethnicity breakdown comes after that, which will reveal the regions and percentages of where your DNA is derived from. The visuals are very clear and you will be able to zoom into the countries themselves to find out more information.
In this section of the report you will be able to view your DNA matches. Some individuals can have thousands of matches, some have less. The great thing about this section is that you can understand, at a glance, who your third or fourth cousins are, and at which confidence level. It will also include the percentage of the DNA the two of you share and the number of shared segments you have together.
There are numerous features included in this report such as:
- Smart Matches (identifies people which appear in both of your family trees)
- Shared ancestral surnames
- Shared DNA matches
- Pedigree charts
- Shared ethnicities
- Chromosome browser
Many of these options will only be previews, but you can take advantage of their full potential when subscribing with MyHeritage.
Raw DNA Data Download
This is another impressive feature from MyHeritage which not many other DNA testing services will provide. Under the ‘Manage DNA Kits’ section in your profile, you will find the option to download your raw DNA data. Additionally, you can choose to delete your DNA data there too.
When you choose to download your raw DNA data you will be asked to make your data secure and MyHeritage will send you an email with said raw DNA data. This is particularly handy and an extra security precaution, particularly for those who often find themselves forgetting to log out of programs, meaning other people cannot download your data just like that.
DNA for Health
If you elect to go with the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test, you will not only be able to discover your ethnic origins and find new relatives through shared DNA, but you’ll also learn about your genetic risk for developing certain health conditions.
Your results will contain the following four sections:
This is the part that lets you find relatives you never knew existed and even connect with them through the MyHeritage platform.
This provides you with a percentage breakdown of your ethnic origins and reveals the various geographic regions that your ancestors came from.
Genetic Risk Reports
You can discover your genetic risk for developing numerous conditions from a simple cheek swab. These conditions include: heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and many more.
Carrier Status Reports
Discovering the potential of passing on genetic conditions might be an aspect of DNA testing that really interests you, in particular if you are planning to start a family or already have children. This part of the test can tell you if you are a carrier for 15 hereditary conditions that you may potentially pass on to your children. These include: Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, fanconi anemia, Gaucher disease, blood disorders, metabolic disorders, and more.
As soon as your reports are ready, you will receive an email notification prompting you to log in to your previously created MyHeritage account. Before reading your individualized reports, you will be met with a quick yet concise guide telling you a little more about how the reports were generated and the types of results you might receive.
The introduction will explain the answers to questions like:
- What is genetic risk?
- What does it mean if you have an average or decreased risk for a condition?
- What can your DNA tell you about your health?
- How does this test determine your genetic risk?
Once the introduction is complete, you will be asked if there is specific information that you don’t want to see. This is because some of the reports are for incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and some people may not want to know their risk for developing an incurable condition. After reviewing your results, you are advised to discuss them with your healthcare provider and/or a genetic counselor.
Whether you have an average, decreased, or increased risk of developing a certain condition, the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test will give you new insights about your health that you wouldn’t have otherwise known.
It is essential to note that this health test is based on genetics alone. However, most health conditions are the result of not only your genetics, but also your lifestyle and the environment around you. You can share your results with your doctor. Together you can determine which changes you can make to your lifestyle to either reduce the risk of these conditions developing or delay the onset of symptoms.
MyHeritage allows you to choose from a variety of options when it comes to pricing.
DNA for Ancestry
The one-time DNA test will include the standard DNA test as well as the report that comes with your sample results. This will set you back $79.
MyHeritage Premium will afford you some extra special features that come with your profile and costs $6.88 per month. With this deal you will get:
- Up to 2500 slots available in your family tree
- Priority support
- Family Tree Builder Premium (including Smart Match Merge, all in one charts and interactive maps)
- Enhanced Smart Matching (confirm and reject matches as well as automatic merging)
- Access to the MyHeritage family sites and members collections in SuperSearch in order to boost research
What is SuperSearch?
This is the tool which allows you access to over 9 billion genealogy records including birth, marriage, death, burial, census, military, immigration, yearbooks, scans of original documents, and many more options.
PremiumPlus subscriptions cost $10.95 per month, which is still less than a lot of other DNA testing services out there. The following are exclusive to PremiumPlus subscribers:
- An unlimited amount of people to grow your family tree
- Priority email support giving you answers as soon as possible
- Family Tree Builder Premium (Smart Match Merge, all in one chart and interactive maps)
- Enhances Smart Matching
- Online Tree Consistency Checker
- Access to MyHeritage collections in SuperSearch
- Unlimited access to Instant Discoveries (letting you add entire branches with one click)
Although the subscription prices are very low, it should be mentioned that, as with most other DNA testing companies, their website will not reveal much to you without you signing up to an account with them. This does not cost you anything, but it won’t give you a lot of information before you choose to sign up with a membership subscription.
DNA for Health
The new MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test costs $199 in the U.S. or £179 in the U.K., plus shipping. Standard shipping costs $12 and takes 4-7 business days, while expedited shipping costs $25 and takes just 2-3 days for the kit to arrive at your door. MyHeritage offers a Health subscription that gives you access to all future health reports for new conditions and all advanced DNA features on MyHeritage. For a limited time, MyHeritage is offering the Health subscription for free for the first year. The renewal price after the first year is just $99.
If you have previously taken a MyHeritage DNA test for genealogy, you can upgrade your existing DNA kit to receive health reports for a reduced price of $120.
Kits are available for purchase on the MyHeritage website, and you can pay using Visa, MasterCard, Diners, Discover, or American Express. After you select the DNA test you wish to purchase, either the MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only kit or the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry kit, you will be asked to fill in your contact information, including your shipping address. This is also where you can add on the Health subscription, which is free for the first year.
In terms of testing, MyHeritage only offers a few different types.
DNA for Ancestry
MyHeritage offers only autosomal testing, so if you want paternity tests or mtDNA testing done, you will have to shop around with other companies for those services.
Although MyHeritage offers on autosomal testing, you can be sure that you will get full, in-depth comprehensive results. They know what they are great at and are dedicated to evolving and improving their service regularly.
What is Autosomal Testing?
As human beings, we each inherit 23 chromosomes from our parents, making 23 pairs. One of those determines whether you are a male or a female, while the other 22 pairs are known as autosomes.
Autosomal testing traces your ancestry having those autosomes analyzed.
How is My Sample Tested?
When you return a cheek swab to MyHeritage they will place your DNA into a solution and run it across specialized computer chips. They will then be configured to seek between 600,000 and 1,000,0000 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) which will then be identified.
A fantastic feature that MyHeritage allows you to take advantage of is that it lets you transfer raw autosomal DNA test results from other companies on their site absolutely free. This makes their database more comprehensive and makes your life easier too.
DNA for Health
The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test will give you a wide range of health reports, including:
- 11 Genetic Risk Reports for monogenic conditions
- 3 Genetic Risk Reports for polygenic conditions
- 15 Carrier Status Reports
After your kit arrives in the mail you will need to activate it and create an account on the MyHeritage website. When you log in for the first time, you will be asked to enter the activation code found on the back of the DNA kit. This number can also be found on the sides of both of the vials located in the box itself. After you complete this step, you will be asked a number of questions about your personal and family health history. This is to make sure that you receive reports that are appropriate for you.
Collecting the DNA sample is easy and takes just a few minutes. No blood or spit involved here, just a simple cheek swab. Place your samples into the enclosed return envelope, and mail it back to the MyHeritage lab. Your results will be ready in 4-6 weeks.
There is a comprehensive, yet easy to understand, list of FAQ questions available on the site. In addition to this you will have links with questions answered on virtually every page of the MyHeritage website. This is a great idea because it quickly answers any questions you might have without taking you away from that page.
If you are still stuck on something, there are great forums offered on their website with many users happy to help you out within the MyHeritage community. Speaking to a real person is always a great option available to you and most countries around the world (that are covered in MyHeritage’s plan) have 24/7 customer support.
With around 100 million users around the world in almost 200 countries, there is no doubt as to why MyHeritage is one of the most impressive and successful DNA testing companies around the world. The most surprising thing is that they have not been around for as long as some of the other players in the game, but have successfully been able to overtake them in their chosen service.
If you want to find out more about your ancestry, there is no time like the present. There is also no better company to take care of you than MyHeritage.