Well, it's that time of year again. Family Tree DNA has announced their holiday sale prices on DNA testing. They have discounted so many tests and upgrades that I will not attempt to list them all here. As an experienced DNA Project Administrator and participant I will say a little about my favorites.
There are so many participants in the Garrison and other projects that you now stand a good chance of finding a match IF YOU ORDER AT LEAST 37 MARKERS. The 12 and 25 marker tests cannot tell you who you are related to. They can only tell you who you are NOT related to. Even a 25 marker “match” can fall completed apart when upgraded to 37 or more markers. The 67 marker test give you even more information but if cost is a factor it's better to order the 37 marker test than to wait until you can afford 67 markers. With FTDNA you can always upgrade later. If you tested in the past and do not have at least 37 marker results, it's time to upgrade so you can see some real benefits from testing.
FAMILY FINDER (autosomal)
This is a relatively new test for both males and females that looks at all of the DNA you have inherited from all of your ancestors. I have had both the FTDNA and the Ancestry test. The sale price at FTDNA is $199 if you order this test alone or upgrade a current kit. Don't be deceived by the $99 rate offered by Ancestry into thinking you are only paying half as much for the same thing. There are differences and one of them makes a huge difference. Ancestry does not, and apparently does not plan to, offer you the opportunity to download your own raw data. The only way you will get any benefit from the Ancestry test is if both you and your matches are willing to post a public tree or to exchange them privately. Wading through your results is very slow because there is no ability to search your results for such things as “all matches with the surname of ______ in their ancestry.” With FTDNA you are asked to post a GEDCOM tree but it can only be seen by your matches. If compiling a GEDCOM is beyond your abilities you can post a list of your ancestral surnames along with your farthest back paternal and maternal ancestors. FTDNA offers great search abilities, security for your tree, and the ability to download your raw data which allows you to use third party websites for comparing your information with other people.
If you can do it, I recommend the 37 marker Y-DNA test and the Family Finder at FTDNA as your gift to yourself and your family. I haven't gotten involved in mtDNA testing so I can't tell you much about that but I'm sure you can find others who will recommend it.
With any of these tests you get more out of it if you put more into it. In other words, the folks who are having the autosomal tests and then not posting their trees and not responding to emails are getting very little benefit from testing. A few may benefit by looking at the information posted by their matches but that isn't really fair, to take but not to give anything in return.
Be sure you join a project before ordering a test so that you get the lowest possible rate and also some support by the volunteer administrators of the projects.
Karen Back Simmons
Garrison DNA Project at FTDNA
Bach to Back DNA Project at FTDNAgtskjs@gmail.com