Genealogical Database Sizes—August 2017 Update

It’s time once again for one of my favorite posts: an update of how many people are in the autosomal DNA databases!  AncestryDNA just announced that they have tested 5 million people! (Note: I earn a small commission if you purchase through the links in this post. The cost is the same for you. Click here for more information.) I’ll refer you to Debbie Cruwys Kennett’s excellent blog post about AncestryDNA’s recent sales growth and their expansion into countries outside of the US.

I took the opportunity to check in with GEDmatch, and updated my graph of testing growth for them, as well.  They’re at 650,000, an increase of 22% since April!  The line in the graph for 23andMe is flat because they have fnot announced recent figures. FTDNA has never publicly revealed how many are in their autosomal DNA database; the estimate for them comes from the ISOGG wiki.

Also note that both AncestryDNA and FTDNA tests are on sale right now (AncestryDNA through the 15th, FTDNA through the end of August), so their databases should show the effects of those sales in the coming months.

Feel free to use this graph, with proper credit, in educational presentations to the genealogical community.

5 thoughts on “Genealogical Database Sizes—August 2017 Update”

  1. The statistics you claim here have never been released by FTDNA are on this webpage of theirs:
    https://www.familytreedna.com/why-ftdna.aspx
    It adds up to almost 2.7 million as of January 30, 2018. This is database size, not number of tests done as you are graphing. It doesn’t matter how many each company/organization has tested. Your graph is GIGO.

    Being one who is primarily interested in tracing my paternal line, I find it odd you ignore stats for Y-DNA. Or mt-DNA for those Interested in their maternal line. Where are those graphs?

    1. There are two separate issues here:

      1) I emphatically disagree that “it doesn’t matter how many each company/organization has tested”. The larger the database, the more likely we are to find previously unknown DNA matches that will help with our genealogical questions. I graph the sizes of the autosomal databases to help people decide where to do that type of testing. Because there are several companies offering atDNA testing, and because database size is a primary factor in deciding where to test, an objective comparison of how many people are in each database is useful information.

      I don’t graph the yDNA and mtDNA database sizes because FTDNA is the only game in town for matching for those types of DNA. If you want yDNA and mtDNA matches, it’s FTDNA or nothing; database size is irrelevant.

      2) Let’s review the official FTDNA database numbers as of 30 Jan 2018, per the link you gave. They are:

      9,894 SURNAME PROJECTS
      549,773 unique surnames
      649,146 Y-DNA records in the database
      330,218 25-marker records in the database
      308,794 37-marker records in the database
      163,137 67-marker records in the database
      286,011 mtDNA records in the database
      127,072 FGS records in the database

      If I add up every single number listed, it sums to a little over 2.4 million (not 2.7 million as you said). BUT, that’s not an accurate representation of the sizes of their yDNA and mtDNA databases. First, some of those numbers (surname projects, unique surnames) aren’t DNA tests at all. Second, FTDNA is double-counting some of their tests. For example, everyone who has taken the Y-67 test is included in both the Y-37 and Y-25 totals. (That is, they’re counted three times.) Their total for yDNA records is 649,146 and their total for mtDNA is 286,011. Those are the numbers that matter for anyone “fishing” for DNA matches.

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