Updated on
May 28, 2024 by Sara Turner

Living DNA vs AncestryDNA 2024: Which Ancestry Test Is Best?

Living DNA vs AncestryDNA 2024: Which Ancestry Test Is Best?

In an age where technological advancements meet a growing interest in our origins, DNA testing services like Living DNA and AncestryDNA have become increasingly popular. These platforms offer insights into our ancestry, revealing the hidden stories of our ancestors and genetic makeup. However, with so many options available, choosing the right service can be daunting.

That’s where our comprehensive comparison comes in. We’ve thoroughly analyzed key industry players to help you find the ancestry test that best fits your needs. Our review covers essential factors such as features, accuracy, database size, privacy protocols, and user feedback. Consider this your essential guide to confidently navigating the multitude of choices.

Living DNA holds its ground with an impressive approach to maternal and paternal lineage tracing. This service stands out with its detailed breakdown of your DNA across 80 worldwide regions, some of which are exclusive to Living DNA. It’s an excellent choice for people who want a deeper dive into their genetic geography. 

On the other hand, AncestryDNA shines in its sheer scale and functionality. With the largest consumer DNA database available, AncestryDNA gives users a high chance of connecting with distant relatives and unearthing surprising family connections. Its integrated family tree feature and broad historical document database further bolster its genealogical appeal. The richness of its tools and resources makes AncestryDNA a strong contender for those wanting to combine genetic insights with genealogical research.

Whether you’re keen on uncovering the geographic origins of your forebears, finding distant relatives, or simply satisfying your curiosity about your genetic heritage, this comparative analysis will serve as your compass in the exciting journey of DNA testing.

Want to read more about our experiences taking these two tests? Check out our in-depth Living DNA review and AncestryDNA review to learn more details about each test.

Unique Features


Winner: Tie


Every human can trace his or her origins all the way back to Africa, and Living DNA’s Full Ancestry Report arguably provides more detail about your African geographical origins than any other DNA test. It also breaks its ancestry results down into particularly high resolution for other areas, including the British Isles and Europe.

Living DNA Ancestry Kit and Report

Despite the focus on some specific regions, Living DNA in total compares your DNA to that of people from over 150 regions worldwide.



Living DNA’s value-added ancestry features:
  • Specialist African Ancestry for 72 sub-regions
  • Specialist British Ancestry for 21 sub-regions
  • Specialist European Ancestry for 9 sub-regions




AncestryDNA can also tell you where your ancestors lived, down to the specific county and city:

AncestryDNA's Ethnicity Estimate

As well as receiving detailed ethnicity estimates (with percentages), you can also see a curated timeline or historical events in your ancestral regions.



AncestryDNA’s value-added ancestry features:
  • Over 500 geographical regions, some as specific as a city
  • Percentages and charts to help you conceptualize your ethnicity estimate
  • Expert-curated timeline


Ancestor Migrations


Winner: LivingDNA


Living DNA offers an in-depth ancestry test that examines three types of DNA: autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA. Autosomal DNA is useful for tracing recent ancestry across several generations. Y-DNA, which is only tested in males, and mtDNA, available to all biological genders, enable the tracking of paternal and maternal lineages across many generations.

Through the identification of rare mutations in these DNA types, researchers can assign individuals to distinct haplogroups corresponding to their family lines. This process helps to uncover the ancient migration paths of ancestors, including their origins in Africa and other areas. Here’s an example:

Living DNA's Ancient Migration Map and Haplogroup Assignments



Living DNA’s value-added ancient ancestry features:
  • Maternal lineage testing and haplogroup assignments
  • Paternal lineage testing and haplogroup assignments
  • Migration mapping




How accurate is AncestryDNA in comparison? AncestryDNA does not conduct Y-DNA or mtDNA analysis, which means it cannot determine an individual’s ancient haplogroup(s). Instead, the service offers migration mapping features that utilize a vast historical records database. This information sheds light on the probable reasons and patterns of family movement in recent history, rather than ancient times. For example, it could tell you that your forebears left Ireland in the 1850s due to famine:

AncestryDNA's Migration Map



AncestryDNA’s value-added recent ancestry features:
  • Migration mapping put in the context of historical events


Family Tree


 

Family tree building is one of the things that made AncestryDNA famous, originally starting off as a genealogy service with a large historical record database.

AncestryDNA's Family Tree Service

Nowadays, when you take an AncestryDNA test (and opt-in to the service), your DNA can be compared with other customers in the company’s database. In this way, you can be presented with potential biological living relatives to add to your tree. DNA matches and historical records are a powerful combination when it comes to building a family tree.



AncestryDNA’s value-added DNA family tree features:
  • Explore over 20 billion historical records (with subscription)
  • Upload a Genealogical Data Communications (GEDCOM) data file to pull in existing family tree data
  • Link overlapping trees with one another




However, this does come at a price: to access all of AncestryDNA’s records, you’ll need to pay for a genealogy subscription.

Curious about other family tree builders? We’ve compiled the best of the best family tree builders.


In comparison, Living DNA’s “Family Networks” feature (see next section) could help you populate a family tree with DNA-matched relatives. However, it doesn’t have the same pedigree as a family tree building service, and it definitely doesn’t have the kind of vast database of historical records that AncestryDNA has.



Living DNA’s value-added DNA family tree features:
  • Visualize potential relatives based on shared DNA




Living DNA's Family Networks Service

Locating Lost Relatives


Winner: AncestryDNA


As already hinted, Living DNA and AncestryDNA both do DNA matching of potential relatives from the companies’ customer databases. Living DNA initially looks like a better bet because it can conduct DNA matching based on maternal DNA (mtDNA) and paternal DNA (Y-DNA), whereas AncestryDNA only tests your autosomal DNA.

Living DNA's Relative Matching Service

A common criticism from customers is that Living DNA provides fewer matches compared to other services like AncestryDNA. On its customer support page, Living DNA argues that the focus is on helping users connect with a key individual who may not be available in other databases. We believe that the number of matches is still a relevant factor.



Living DNA’s value-added DNA matching features:
  • Family Networks tool connects you with potential biological relatives
  • Discover genetic matches from all over the world




AncestryDNA’s many more members mean many more opportunities to find DNA-matched long lost relatives. There are several easy ways to organize your matches, including color coding, custom labeling, and other tools to help you visualize your connections.

AncestryDNA's Relative Matching Service

The private, secure messaging system allows you to reach out to your potential relatives providing they’ve consented to be contacted.



AncestryDNA’s value-added DNA matching features:
  • Easily organize your matches
  • Message your matches for free
  • Add DNA Matches to your Family Tree


Resources and Services


Winner: AncestryDNA


The customer experience is one of our key criteria for deciding which test to suggest. Customer experience can take various forms, from the information provided on the testing company’s website to the price you pay for the products.

Living DNA’s website is well laid out and highly informative, and this company also offers a seven-day free course to teach you about DNA:

Living DNA's Customer Resources



Living DNA’s value-added customer experience features:
  • A seven-day free course
  • Online customer support and education center
  • Good value for money




After extensive exploration of numerous DNA testing company websites, AncestryDNA’s website stands out as my top choice. Its design achieves a harmonious blend of simplicity and comprehensive information, ensuring a user-friendly browsing experience. An exceptional feature is the Ancestry Academy, housing a wealth of courses and videos that delve into various DNA-related subjects. This repository serves as an invaluable resource for individuals aiming to enhance their knowledge of DNA. Additionally, AncestryDNA provides a user-friendly FAQ section, allowing users to swiftly locate answers to frequently asked questions.

AncestryDNA's Ancestry Academy Resources

How much does AncestryDNA cost? It costs about the same as its competitors but you get a bigger database and 99% accuracy. So, it’s better value for money. However, remember that you’ll need to pay an additional subscription fee if you want to access the company’s full genealogy services.



AncestryDNA’s value-added customer experience features:
  • The Ancestry Academy provides a great deal of educational resources
  • Customer community and message boards
  • Ability to consult with an expert
  • Variety of ways to interact with your results


Which Company Will Best Reveal Your Ancestry?


Our overall winner, AncestryDNA, will be your best bet in most scenarios. However, if you’re looking specifically for sub-regional detail about your African, British Isles, or European ancestry, in which case you should look at Living DNA. Another exception is if you are curious about your ancient ancestors’ migrations or haplogroups.

And if you’re wondering if anyone has had problems with the AncestryDNA test, you won’t find many customer complaints, so you can be assured you’re in safe hands.

Having looked at Living DNA vs. AncestryDNA, you might be interested to learn how AncestryDNA itself stands up against other companies. Check out our articles MyHeritage vs. AncestryDNA and 23andMe vs. AncestryDNA.




















  Living DNA AncestryDNA
Ethnicity Estimate in Percentages ✔️ ✔️
Geographical Regions 150  500+
Regional Specialities with detailed sub-regions ✔️ ✔️
Maternal and Paternal Lineage Testing ✔️
Haplogroup Assignments ✔️
Migration Mapping ✔️ ✔️
Family Tree Builder ✔️
Historical Database ✔️
DNA Matching ✔️ ✔️
Relative Finder ✔️ ✔️
Easy-to-use, informative website ✔️ ✔️
Price $90.00 $99.00
Value Good Good
Customer Support ✔️ ✔️
Customer Education ✔️ ✔️
Customer Community and Message Boards ✔️


Price from$90.00
Our score9.4

Price from$99.00
Our score9.9

FAQs

Which vendor is less expensive: Living DNA or AncestryDNA?


Generally speaking, both companies are similarly priced. Living DNA does tend to be slightly less expensive with sales or promotional pricing. Keep in mind, with Living DNA you won’t have the opportunity to build a family tree, but you will get more information about your ancient ancestry. If you are particularly interested in building a family tree or accessing AncestryDNA’s huge genealogy database, you will have to pay an additional subscription fee.

Who should choose Living DNA over AncestryDNA?


If you have ancestors from Africa, Germany, or the British Isles, you may want to choose Living DNA over AncestryDNA, since Living DNA specializes in these areas. For example, Living DNA has 72 African sub-regions while AncestryDNA only has nine. Living DNA also has 21 sub-regions just from the British Isles. The other big reason to consider Living DNA is if you are particularly interested in exploring your ancient ancestry and learning about your haplogroups.

Who should choose AncestryDNA over Living DNA?


If you are interested in building a family tree you should choose AncestryDNA over Living DNA. Living DNA does not offer a family tree building option. Other reasons people may favor AncestryDNA include access to the massive historical archives and DNA matching databases. However, keep in mind that not all of these services are included with a DNA testing kit, you may have to pay a subscription fee if you want full access to these offerings.

What features does Living DNA provide that AncestryDNA does not?


Living DNA provides haplogroup assignments as well as maternal and paternal lineage testing. Living DNA is able to provide this information because of it’s 3-in-1 DNA test that analyzes autosomal, Y-, and mt-DNA. For comparison, AncestryDNA only tests autosomal DNA, and does not provide haplogroup, maternal, or paternal lineage information.

What features does AncestryDNA provide that Living DNA does not?


AncestryDNA provides extensive family tree building software and maintains the world’s largest historical database. These features help bring your family history to life and connect you with relatives. For comparison, Living DNA does not offer family tree building options and does not maintain a historical database.



 
We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links. Learn more.
About Author
Sara Turner
Sara Turner
Writer

I'm Sara Turner and I've pursued my lifelong passion for learning through many adventures, including getting my Ph.D. in Biomedical Science. My husband, my three young sons, and I enjoy traveling and exploring new places outdoors. I love the sunshine, the beach and new ideas!

I'm Sara Turner and I've pursued my lifelong passion for learning through many adventures, including getting my Ph.D. in Biomedical Science. My husband, my three young sons, and I enjoy traveling and exploring new places outdoors. I love the sunshine, the beach and new ideas!