helix graphicI’ve always made it a policy to reply to every e-mail or information request that I receive.  The good news is that my blogs have become very popular.  The bad news is that I now receive literally hundreds of e-mails and inquiries every day, many asking questions or for advice, and I just can’t keep up anymore.  So, I’ve assembled this information which provides direction for most of the types of inquiries I receive.

First, let me tell you what I do and don’t do, and provide some guidance for you to find the resources you need.

I am not a DNA testing company and I don’t do DNA testing. There are no free DNA tests unless a private individual wishes to pay for your test for genealogical reasons. Consumers must pay the testing companies for the testing service.

I write Personalized DNA Reports for both Y-line and mitochondrial DNA. I do not do reports for autosomal DNA nor telephone consultations.

To order a Y DNA report you must have tested to at least 37 markers at Family Tree DNA, and for a mitochondrial report, you must have tested at least to the HVR2 level, although the full sequence is preferred.

You can read more about the reports here:

I provide a “Quick Consult” service where you can ask a DNA related question related to Y, mitochondrial DNA, autosomal or a combination of the above via e-mail. The Quick Consult is designed for quick questions that do not involve complex genealogical situations and can be answered in less than an hour.

You can purchase the Y and mitochondrial DNA Reports or the Quick Consult at

I do not do phone consultations.

For other questions and requests, I have written several articles to help you help yourself. You can find them on my website at and on my blog, below.

My Blog

My blog is free and fully searchable by key word and there are nearly 800 articles available. So, enter the word or words you might be looking for and you will receive a list of relevant articles.

The search box is in the upper right portion of the screen.

The Different Kinds of DNA Tests

There are different tests for genetic genealogy. I’ve explained the differences here:

DNA Testing Companies

Some companies are more reputable than others and some are outright scams.

If you are considering ordering a DNA test from either Ancestry or 23andMe, be sure you understand that both of those companies sell your DNA – and you authorize them to do so when you sign to order your kit. Make sure you understand what you are authorizing. Read this:

And this:

If you’re looking for a DNA testing company, I recommend Family Tree DNA at this link. They are the only DNA testing company that offers all of the different types of genetic genealogy tests and they do not sell or otherwise disclose your DNA.

Which Test is Best?

I’ve written two articles that compare the various tests and the vendors providing different types of test:

Which DNA Test is Best? here:

Which Ethnicity Test is Best? here:

Adoptees and Parent Search

First, check the help link which includes adoptee and parent-search information.

I’ve answered the most common questions there.

All adoptees and people searching for a birth parent or missing grandparent should visit and utilize their methodologies.

Native American Heritage

If you are searching for your Native American heritage or your tribe, read these two articles:

This article provides a summary of many Native resources:

My blog, Native Heritage Project is fully searchable.

The Native American Ancestry Explorer group for Native American or minority DNA questions is at:

African American

Confirming Enslaved Ancestors Utilizing DNA webinar by Melvin Collier through Legacy Family Tree Webinars – available to watch anytime.

I strongly recommend that you join the African Descendant’s Genetic Genealogy Facebook group.


If you are looking for Melungeon information, read this paper:

Ethnicity in General

If you are looking for your ethnicity, read this:

If you are trying to understand your ethnicity results, read this:

Assistance with Autosomal DNA

If you are trying to figure out what to do, and how, with autosomal DNA results, read these two articles:

If you are looking for someone to walk you through “what to do” with autosomal DNA, you can take a “how to” class.

If you are looking for someone to personally walk you through your DNA results, Diahan Southard provides that service online through her firm and you can contact her at

If you are looking for someone to help you work through your autosomal DNA results and associated genealogy, Jennifer Zinck provides that type of combined service. You can contact her at

Both Diahan and Jennifer provide a “tutoring” service.

There are two Facebook groups where you can ask questions as well. The ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) group for general DNA questions is at:

DNA Newbie at

Professional Genetic Genealogical Services

I have made a referral arrangement with Legacy Tree, a company offering professional genealogical research services. Their staff includes an exceptional genetic genealogist, Paul Woodbury. Paul is both a certified genealogist as well as a genetic genealogist and he is excellent. Legacy Tree has offered a $50 introductory coupon if you mention my name (Roberta Estes), which assures that my genetic genealogy clients are directed to Paul. To take advantage of this offer or to receive a quote from Legacy Tree, click here.

For other genealogical assistance, please visit

Online and Social Media Resources

Facebook Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques group:

The original genetic genealogy list:

The DNA Newbie group:

FaceBook has an ISOGG group.

Other mailing lists:

Books and Education

Kelly Wheaton provides 19 free lessons in her Beginners Guide to Genetic Genealogy at:

Other Blogs

Affiliate Links

Last, if you are going purchase anything from the following entities, will you please do me the favor of clicking through the following affiliate links when you purchase. It doesn’t cost you any more, but I receive a small commission which helps fund free educational initiatives in the DNA community, such as this informational page and hundreds of free articles on the DNA-explained blog.

Thank you so much and best of luck on your DNA journey. I hope you unlock the mystery of your ancestors!

Roberta Estes

171 thoughts on “Help

  1. Pingback: 800 Articles Strong | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  2. Thank you so much for an informative, precise ,and well written article. I have a question. I had my DNA tested by Family tree DNA. My wife swabbed my mouth, could her DNA be mixed with mine and therefore alter my results?
    Thank you for your time,
    Regards Hugh

  3. I enjoy reading your email/blog articles, have learned so much from them, thank you Roberta. I have a question about administrating my 2 cousins DNA results. They tested with AncestryDNA, as I did. I am thinking of downloading their autosomal results to Family Tree DNA, as I have done. But I am not sure how to set it up so I can monitor them. I know you have mentioned administrating several family members results. Could you assist me with the proper steps for the Family Tree DNA site, do I set up an account for each one? My Kit # is B86612 I have done the full spectrum mtDNA, my haplogroup is K1a10a
    Thank you for your help
    Linda Sue Smith (Cole)

    • Each kit has its own number and password. You just sign in as them. Otherwise, you can set up a private project and as administrator you can see their accounts. It just depends whether they want to be involved at all.

  4. Hi trying to reach FTDNA from your site but when I go to purchase it just says error occurred. wanted to do it through your site .

  5. Hi

    Your one article mentioned the following:
    “There are also niche players for the more advanced genetic genealogist or serious researcher”.
    Could you please advise who these companies are?

  6. Thanks for the informative content. I am pretty clueless about DNA/genealogy and have recently started my own research to confirm my suspicion about my biological father. I believe that my mothers step father is my biological father. As both are deceased, my sources of information are limited. Is there a way to do comparative tests with my mothers half sister to uncover any information that could help me resolve this question? My mother and her sister have the same mother and different fathers. If my suspicions about my biological father are correct, that would mean that my mother’s half sister is my half sister as well, and my aunt at the same time. Is there a test that could predict the relationship between by aunt and I to see if we are also half sisters with a common father? Thanks for your time and any direction or insight about how to proceed.

  7. Roberta, I apologize, I offered advice on DNA to a post about Palatine Ancestry forgetting about who’s blog this was. Secondly, we have a Facebook group with about 850 members and 950 GEDmatch kits for people who descend from a small ethnic group that originally lived in the Carpathian Mountains between Poland and Slovakia. We use DNA to help our traditional genealogy research to connect our members. Because the geographic area and population was small and mostly lived in small isolated villages a good number of our members have 4th and 5th gen matches with anywhere from a tenth to a fifth of our total number. Do you think anyone doing research into DNA genealogy would find this an interesting subject?

    • Don’t apologize Bruce. I welcome posts like yours. I didn’t know about the FB group and went and applied for admission. We’re all in this together. As for your Polish group, I find it interesting, but if you mean the companies, I really don’t know. I wish my husband’s line was from there. His line is from the Banat in what is now Croatia. How did you find enough people for that group?

      • Hi Roberta,

        I apologize for my tardiness in replying.

        Regarding the FB group. I was invited into a genealogy group started by an adoptee who realized that DNA was a ticket to results and then found out she was Lemko. We grew slowly until I realized I could use GEDmatch to identify like candidates for membership.

        I use a tag group and the Tier 1 ‘one-to-many’ tool to identify matches of our members who who have numbers matches to our members. We now have over 1,000 DNA kits in our data base.

        At a conference in Pittsburg we realized that many of us also had German Palatine connections and now some of us have started a similar group for German descendants mostly from PA.

        In the Lemko group when someone new joins I put their 2,000 GEDmatch matches and our 1,000 kits into a spread sheet and sort for kits in common. Then I can give the new member a list of their matches with the details and I can notify all of our members of a new match.

        I haven’t had time to organize the Palatine site the same way yet so they just have a load of GEDmatch numbers. I think it will probably be quite different for the Germans as their connections will probably be further back in time.

        My original question to you is does 1,000 DNA kits for a relatively small isolated ethnic group pose any interesting research in DNA genealogy?




  9. Thank you for all that you do to further my understanding of DNA genealogy. I have a question, do you have a preference for PC or Apple computers?

    • My personal preference is for the PC, but that’s because I’ve used one since they first came out years ago. For a long time, they were the standard in a business environment and Macs were considered to be for graphics and schools. I have used both and one of the things I don’t like about Macs is that they don’t allow you to put the cursor in place and press delete and delete the character in front of the cursor. You always have to backspace. I know this sounds trivial, but when you’ve been deleting and backspacing both for years, and you can no longer do that, it’s horribly frustrating. One of the good things about macs is that they seem to be more intuitive once you learn to use them and backups are easier.

  10. Hi Roberta, I think this is the way to contact you, just wondering about the “X” matching. My first cousin who is a female is an “X” match with me, just wondering how this is possible as my cousins mother is not my family only her father who is my fathers brother, and obviously my mother is not a blood relation to my cousin, just wondering as I thought the “X” was past on by the female to a son and the “Y” by the Dad, so it is a bit confusing how I have shown up as an “X” match with my first cousin with “FamilyTree DNA” Best regards Terry.

    • Because of the SNP density of the X chromosome, a match needs to be about twice as large as measured my cMs to be relevant. So, it’s quite possible that it’s not a valid match or that you are somehow related on both sides.

  11. Before my father passed I was told my grandfather (Dad’s Father) was 100% Native American. I had a DNA test and the test showed I am 48% Native American. The story is that I am Navajo/Apache. I had mother tested and she is 44% Native American. I would like to find my tribal affiliate. My Mom is 95 yrs old and the last of the elder family member. Any ideas on who to contact. Email is

    • If you read through the help link, there are two articles listed that explain how to work to find your affiliated tribe. I would suggest that you test your mother’s mtDNA, to begin with, at Family Tree DNA and work through the process described in those two articles.

  12. Quick question. You likely already have a post somewhere that you could just direct me to. Could you explain how it is possible to have a higher match with someone than your parent? For the sake of argument, let’s assume you have no siblings or children so the match in question connects through an ancestor as opposed to a descendant.

    For example:
    Me + Mystery Relative = 25.2cM total, 20.5 longest
    Mystery Relative + My Father = 19.6cM total, 19.6 longest
    Mystery Relative + My Mother = 0cM

    Or could it simply be that these matches are weak enough to just be unreliable?


  13. Roberta, I have the autosomal ethnicity test results (FTDNA) for myself and my parents> I’m a bit confused in comparing them. My results: (100% European: British Isles 74%, Southeast Europe 11%, East Europe 8%, Scandinavia 5%, Iberia 2%), My Father: (98% European: West & Central Europe 59%, British Isles 32%, East Europe 7%, Trace Scandinavia <2%), My Mother: (98% European: British Isles 88%, East Europe 6%, Southeast Europe 4%, Trace Central Asia <2%). Among other anomalies, how can my father have West & Central Europe 59% and I have 0%? Thanks for any insight!

  14. My mother died this week and has already been cremated. i didn’t think to get a DNA sample. Today i realized that she always wanted DNA testing done and it would be a nice memorial to her.

    I’m going to call the hospital and see if they still have her blood stored. In addition to possibly having some of her blood, there are used tissues and nail clippings at home (i think) dentures that have been in the car for a few days and her glasses – do you know of a private company that tests these items?

      • Thanks fro the advice. The doctors touched her things to put them in bags. My sister left it all in my mom’s truck for 5 days. Do you think the DNA is too degraded now?

      • Family Tree DNA & MyHeritage no longer does special arrangements, although they do transfer autosomal tests RAW data from the other big companies. They suggested i contact GEDmatch to transfer autosomal testing from smaller companies. I found two other websites that will do their own ancestry tests from objects such as dentures, toothbrush, hearing aids (earwax), hair with the root attached. Other items have less success such as used kleenex and nail clippings. Those companies are called iTestDNA and DNAmemorial – although i do not know if they are reputable. I am wary to use these other websites because i do not know their reputation, but have not found any other choices, so far and time is running out for me to choose one.

      • Just because a company extracts the DNA doesn’t mean they run any tests on the DNA. Many people are putting DNA laden items aside, not stored in plastic, but paper, for technology to develop further in the future. Don’t touch them. Store them in a temperature controlled environment, meaning not the basement and not the attic.

  15. Hi.
    My name is Skyler. I was wondering if you could help me figure out something? Is there a way to preserve, at home, a family member’s DNA after years their death? Personal belongings that might still have enough DNA on/it in that could be used later in the future as science gets more advanced?
    Thank you!

  16. I had several companies tell me time is of the essence due to possible DNA degredation. I tried researching it and come up with mixed results. In ideal conditions DNA can last thousands of years. But in real world scenarios it can break down quickly – but how quickly?

  17. Roberta,

    Thanks to two newly discovered 3rd cousins that got me involved in doing DNA with the intent to help us try to solve a family mystery, I had myself & all my three siblings tested with Ancestry. I have been pleased with the results and information even though I do not have a membership with ancestry.

    Now, I am planning to have my 2 older brothers do the Y-37 & mtDNA test with Familytreedna. Thanks, your article has made me feel much, much better about getting their tests done with Familytreedna. The tests are so expensive but my brothers are older and in poor health & I don’t want to take a chance to miss this opportunity. Ancestry results for our family showed Ireland and I didn’t know we had ethnicity nor do I know where it comes from because our family genealogy has been done back several generations. It is a new and fascinating mystery as to how we are Irish. As I have been reading about Familytreedna I found a new company called “LIvingDNA” Your Ancestry. This company says it can give results especially for the British Isles and Ireland. I am hoping it might give us areas in Ireland and British Isles that could give us a place to try to connect to and maybe look at the matches in that area to trace back to the lines we know.

    Question: 1] ‘Genetics Digest -Your Right Place If You Like Science’ wrote an article & gave this “LivingDNA” as one of the best companies, placing it just under FamilytreeDna. Do you know anything about this company? Can they give me more specific connections to our DNA and specific areas of Ireland and the British Isles?

    Question 2} Are they reliable and a good source to help me with this goal in mind?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge,

    • There are lots of these jumping on the bandwagon. I would be very skeptical of any of them. If you’re inclined to consider, read the conditions, privacy statement and legalities thoroughly.

  18. I’ve been reading articles about tracing family via the female line and the questions I’ve seen usually involve testing only back to a father or grandfather, and I need to trace back to a great grandfather. My family story is that it is believed my great grandmother was raped by someone she knew. My grandmother was an only child, and she always wanted to know who her father was. Both my grandmother and my mother are deceased so I can’t use their DNA to find out who my great grandfather was. I would like to know which DNA test or tests would be best to take to learn who my great grandfather was and if it is even possible to learn his identity.

  19. I have the same question – this time it is with an autosomal test from Family Tree DNA to GED Match. I got the message: “This kit has an unusually high number of no-calls, which usually results in a larger number of false matches.” Can I trust the autosomal ethnic percentages?

  20. Hi,

    Can you tell me please if in the DNA test of 23andMe (only Ancestry version, I live in Italy unfortunately: it is also possible to check for the common FMO3 variants?

    I suffer from more of 20 years of a bad body odor and I’m trying to understand, at the level of genes (FMO3), if I have TMAU or not. It can test for FMO3?

    Thank you very much

      • Hi, thank you for the replies.
        I have not yet understood what specifically control DNA tests. for example there is a laboratory (in Poland I think) that can test specific genes, such as FMO3, but for $700 .. a little too much for me at this time 😦
        Others instead do “Whole genome sequencing WGS or WES” tests. So if I want to know an exact gene I have to take the test at $700 (only for FMO3) or the whole genome, so I can find that specific gene too?
        I don’t understand what controls the “cheap” kits like AncestryDNA and 23andMe, they randomly take the genes? Do they screen the entire genome and then report only the common variants?
        The only thing that maybe I realized is that there is a low percentage that can control a specific gene like FMO3, you have to be very lucky.
        I don’t know anything about these things, I started doing research since 2 days but they are all very difficult concepts for me that I have never studied these things 😦

      • They do not scan the whole genome. They are chip based and scan certain addresses. They are focused on genealogy not medicine. Furthermore the genealogy tests and the medical tests are different. Genealogy tests can misread locations. A few misreads don’t matter for genealogy. Medical tests use different technology to drill down to that specific location. It matters in medicine.

  21. Hi, thank you for the replies.
    I have not yet understood what specifically control DNA tests. for example there is a laboratory (in Poland I think) that can test specific genes, such as FMO3, but for $700 .. a little too much for me at this time 😦
    Others instead do “Whole genome sequencing WGS or WES” tests. So if I want to know an exact gene I have to take the test at $700 (only for FMO3) or the whole genome, so I can find that specific gene too?
    I don’t understand what controls the “cheap” kits like AncestryDNA and 23andMe, they randomly take the genes? Do they screen the entire genome and then report only the common variants?
    The only thing that maybe I realized is that there is a low percentage that can control a specific gene like FMO3, you have to be very lucky.
    I don’t know anything about these things, I started doing research since 2 days but they are all very difficult concepts for me that I have never studied these things 😦

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