Ancestry.com Discontinues Y and mtDNA Tests and Closes Data Base

ancestry to ftdna

Ancestry.com has not been actively selling Y and mtDNA tests for some time now.  However, today Ancestry announced the official discontinuance of those tests and that as of September 5th, their Y and mtDNA data bases will also be shuttered – meaning that the results will no longer be accessible for those who tested or for anyone wanting to do a comparison.

This is very sad news indeed for the genetic genealogy community, especially given that Ancestry has in the past purchased other vendors such as Relative Genetics and incorporated their results into their data base.

For anyone who tested their Y DNA with Ancestry, now is the time to transfer those result to the Family Tree DNA data base, now the last vendor left standing who provides those tests along with a comparison data base.  This is easy to do and you can be a part of the Family Tree DNA community, availing yourself of their surname projects for only $19.

If you want to see your matches, you can upgrade your kit from Ancestry’s 33 or 46 markers to Family Tree DNA’s standard markers for another $39 at the same time you transfer your Ancestry results.  This also has the added benefit of having your actual DNA in the lab at Family Tree DNA where it will be archived for 25 years.  I’m already hearing moans from people whose family DNA is only at Ancestry, and the original tester has passed away.

In fact, if you don’t transfer your results from Ancestry now, or before September 5th, you will lose your opportunity as your Y and mtDNA results will no longer be available at Ancestry in any format, according to their FAQ.

Ancestry states that this change does not affect their autosomal DNA testing, and in fact, that’s where they want to focus, at least for now.  Unfortunately, the shuttering of their Y and mtDNA data bases calls into question their commitment to the genetics aspect of the genealogy industry.  Autosomal DNA testing will be a priority as long as it’s profitable, just like Y and mtDNA has turned out to be.

I would suggest while you are transferring, you might also want to take advantage of this opportunity to also transfer your Ancestry autosomal results to Family Tree DNA for $69.  You can fish in a second match pool and Family Tree DNA offers many tools to participants that Ancestry does not offer.

If you’re not inclined to transfer your results to Family Tree DNA, at least avail yourself of the two free data bases, www.ysearch.org for Y results and www.mitosearch.org for mtDNA.  At least your results won’t be entirely lost forever.

I understand that Ancestry doesn’t want to sell the Y and mtDNA products any longer, but I would think that maintaining the current Y and mtDNA data bases in a static state for the tens of thousands of people who have spent a nontrivial amount of money DNA testing, and allowing comparisons, would be well worthwhile in terms of customer loyalty if nothing else.  Customers are viewing this move as abandonment and a betrayal of their trust, and it begs the question of what will eventually happen to autosomal results and matches at Ancestry.  If you’re going to test at Ancestry, make sure you also test at Family Tree DNA so your actual DNA is available there as well.

42 thoughts on “Ancestry.com Discontinues Y and mtDNA Tests and Closes Data Base

  1. Previously on Ancestry one tree would be available for several members to work on together. They discontinued that also. I keep my data a set of spreadsheets, one page for each chromosome. Additionally email and gedmatch number are kept as notes. Plus I have built an autosomal family tree on my PAF software. These are offline. I do have my familytree on rootsweb.com. It has been there for years. Someone uploaded it onto Familysearch.org a few years ago. After I clean up my rootsweb tree that is where my tree will be stored. I am happy with familytreedna. Sometimes I get frustrated, But I do know it is a new science and it will get better with time.

    • It sounds as if your Ancestry DNA testing was autosomal. This change will not affect that.
      Hopefully you are not saying that your tree will eventually be stored as part of the Family Tree at Familysearch.org. The tree is a shared tree, it isn’t yours, anyone can change it however they want.if you value your research don’t put your tree into Family Search’s Family Tree.

      • Laura,

        As a former tech support volunteer for FamilySearch.org, please allow me to clarify. It’s TRUE that uploading your GEDCOM to Family Tree will allow anyone to change it. This is an open database intended to be available to all who wish to share. However, FamilySearch.org gives access to multiple databases. There are ways to preserve your data at FamilySearch.org other than through Family Tree.

        First create a free account at FamilySearch.org, then go to https://familysearch.org/upload and follow the instructions to upload. If you visit this page before logging in, just above the button to “Submit Tree” (scroll down), you’ll see the words, “Your submissions remain in your control, preserved indefinitely, to review or remove as you see fit.”

        Your submission becomes part of the Pedigree Resource File, a database collection of GEDCOM files which, with it’s predecessor, Ancestral File, has remained unchanged since the 1980s.

      • Thank you for the information. I have my tree offline on my software and on rootsweb currently.

      • Thanks. I’m LDS so my GedCom has long since been uploaded to Family Search. Unfortunately, before I fully understood the implications; it’s not as if they are straightforward about them. I advise others not to upload but will pass on our information after I find out if sources remain attached. That’s the problem with Family Tree, IMO. I would only re upload or advise anyone to upload their GedCom to Family Search if their sources were to remain intact.

  2. When attached to a family tree, Ancestry.com currently uses Y-DNA and mtDNA test results to display inferred paternal and maternal haplogroup designations. Is it safe to assume this feature is also being eliminated?

      • We asked about this on the blogger conference call yesterday and they said that they didn’t know the answer and would have to get back to us.

      • I did my son’s DNA thing recently. It was the new format. They did provide me with links to several cousins to whom he is connected, but they were all on the maternal. side.

  3. Your reaction this this, Roberta, precisely echoes mine. I started out with Ancestry.com’s DNA testing before there was any atDNA testing, and I have 6 or 8 tests there – some for people who have since passed away. I have been annoyed that they haven’t been selling more Y tests for some time since that was already a reduction in the value of my test (the pond I was fishing in didn’t grow), but this really makes me angry. I do all my primary testing at FTDNA now – and will continue to do so, although I’m not going to cut off my nose to spite my face and will, if it serves my interests, avail myself of whatever other vendors offer. But, between the arrogant refusal to provide segment data and now discontinuing the Y test database, its pretty hard to see much reason to recommend testing with Ancestry DNA (at least as your first test). Taken with the proliferation of garbage public trees and the way Ancestry’s user interface (eg. hints) encourages poor genealogical practices, it seems to me the overarching theme here has been to do whatever will sign up the most subscribers and build the most revenue. At least this attitude certainly seems more pronounced than either of the other two major testing companies. How frustrating!

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  5. When my cousin tested with them and his results came back almost all British, when his father is mostly German and his mother is mostly Swedish I looked around on the web to see most people were satisfied using. So I chose ftdna.

  6. Buyer Beware! The “fine print” of the $19 transfer offer says, “Join Family Tree DNA projects freely, but you will not receive matches or a haplogroup prediction.”

    • You can join projects for the $19 transfer, but the upgrade is required for the matches and haplogroup predition. Still the entire price of the upgrade and the transfer is $58, significantly less than retesting for all of the markers. You can always upgrade later if you don’t want to do it now, but you won’t be able to transfer any results after Sept 5th, so you need to do at least the $19 transfer before then.

      • When I asked Lisa Janine Cloud what to do if I couldn’t re-test (the person is deceased) she said the best I could get would be 25 markers: “You can transfer for $19. The markers will be available for inclusion in group projects. You can order the transfer+upgrade for $58 and 33-marker transfers will have 12-marker matches, while 46-marker transfers will have 25-marker matches. You just wouldn’t be able to upgrade beyond that.”

  7. Sharon,

    FYI. I didn’t know if Joshua’s DNA test at Ancestry was yDNA or atDNA, but thought you might need to read this development with Ancestry’s yDNA and mtDNA tests. Even if you had the atDNA test, you may want to consider transferring them to FamilyTree.

    Barbara

  8. I’m not surprised they dropped Y and mt testing, I don’t think these tests were profitable once they shifted their focus to autosomal testing. But, completely discontinuing the databases, in particular the Y, is inexcusable. Hopefully people will take full advantage of transferring to FTDNA , it’s too bad Ancestry isn’t paying for it.

  9. “Unfortunately, the shuttering of their Y and mtDNA databases calls into question their commitment to the genetics aspect of the genealogy industry.”

    That’s an understandable sentiment but I don’t get that impression at all. I have my share of complaints about the service AncestryDNA provides (e.g., the lamentable lack of matching segment data), but AncestryDNA does appear to be very serious about autosomal DNA.

    Big changes remind us that there’s no garantee that any of the DNA testing companies will be around forever, but a decision to specialize in autosomal DNA might just as easily be interpreted as a sign of growth and strength.

    I think a simpler autosomal-only business model makes some sense. Y DNA is limited to half of the population and to one slender branch of one’s tree. Mitochondrial testing is a niche market, and for good reasons — it’s a bit esoteric and it has tightly limited value in genetic genealogy. But autosomal DNA is very democratic and it opens lots of doors. If I had to limit myself to one kind of DNA, autosomal DNA would be the easy choice.

    AncestryDNA’s dearth of tools for comparing DNA casts discredit, but AncestryDNA is growing quite rapidly and they appear to be working toward long term goals. Hopefully, by focusing their attention on autosomal DNA, AncestryDNA will be able to invest more resources to respond to the demands of their autosomal customers.

    • I can only speak from experience. My autosomal DNA results have been very helpful but only as far back as 5 or 6 generations. I realize others have evidence farther back. Not me. yDNA on the other hand has helped me prove a connection to some relatives twice as far back to 11 generations. What’s more, the minor differences in our yDNA are becoming more and more obvious. I think of autosomal DNA as a shotgun with a range of perhaps 100 yards and yDNA as a rifle with 3 times the range. Both are useful but for different purposes.

      • Autosomal DNA is useful further back in more endogamous populations, but what you are saying is very true in outbred populations. At MRCA gen-4 you may share no genetic material with half of those to whom you are genealogically related. Yet yDNA follows only the one paternal line, in most cases, a very narrow snapshot. They are different and have different uses, it isn’t a good, better, best scenario.

  10. When Ancestry started DNA testing it reminded me of the first time they tried in 2003. I enrolled and paid for tests at that time. Subsequently, and without much fanfare they dropped the program. So when they started up again, I didn’t take them too seriously. Once bitten, twice shy. I feel bad for everyone who took them at their word that this was going to be worth their testing dollars. I wrote to several email lists and blogs telling of my experience with Ancestry’s first foray into DNA testing. I didn’t trust that they would stay with it. All I can say now is “I told you so”.

  11. Well I think I am going to give up on this searching. I have found names of relatives back into the 1600’s and that is what my main reason was for starting this. I have also found relatives I didn’t know I had who I can communicate with. It is getting way to confusing to continue with other purchases and testing. I can’t get my Y DNA anyhow.

  12. This is understandable, given that Ancestry was acquired by a European private equity firm, Permira, in October 2012. By the way, Permira also has a controlling interest in Hugo Boss, who designed and supplied SA and SS uniforms for the Nazis.

    • I was concerned about an investment company buy out. Too many times a buy out means they acquire a going concern to reduce debt in other sectors. in other words because it is a cash cow.

  13. Not surprising – having met one of the founders of Ancestry.com 15 years ago it was clear from the start that the company was not “mission-based” in the sense that they really cared about genealogy or more substantive data. The company is a media concern, not a research-based organization. They care as much about your genealogy success as the local gym does your medical checkup.

  14. Roberta,

    Every time I read someone extolling the benefits of FTDNA.com and telling how much better it is, I think back on my own experience. Anyone who wants can CLICK THIS LINK to read about my DNA experience since 2001.

    In a nutshell, I learned the hard way that it is NOT just a matter of preference. Family Tree DNA really is the best. Roberta, you and many others tell it like it is. Ancestry.com and some other vendors have proven they are not reliable over the long term. I’m a long term Ancestry.com subscriber. I appreciate their excellent paper-trail genealogy sources. However, they are NOT DNA experts. They only dabble in DNA and have done so for years at the expense of many customers.

    When I considered what company to switch to when my first DNA test company went under, Ancestry.com was a strong contender for me. Thank goodness those, like you with more experience, argued persuasively for Family Tree DNA about the time that FTDNA prices became very competitive.

    Today there is absolutely no question who we should go with. One only needs to read your blog to see the evidence. Thank you for being brave enough to share the truth of the matter. -Ron.V

    • “… they are NOT DNA experts. They only dabble in DNA…”

      I’d like to think that’s not true, but it’s easy to get that impression sometimes.

      On the other hand, I can’t bring myself to shower FTDNA with unqualified praise. Everywhere I’ve tested, I’ve found important shortcomings.

      • It is all a very new science. My opinion is it will take time to refine it. Personally, the genealogy information at Ancestry is great, but I was concerned when they were bought out that their primary mission was not providing a service. But I will keep a basic subscription.

  15. In the past I have done 3 DNA tests and one autosomal. One mtdna and two Ydna. I was not aware they had changed until after I did the third male test. If I pay the money and transfer over to the ftdna, may I send all 4 over, or do I have to limit it is some way?

      • So I can do both DNA transfers for $38. What do I do about the autosomal.? Does this affect the mtDNA?

      • For a total of $58 you can do a Y DNA transfer and the Y upgrade so that you can utilize the same markers as FTDNA and have matches in their data base. The Autosomal Transfer is a second item entirely and costs $69. You purchase the transfers from their page and then follow the instructions for uploading. The links are in the article.

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