AncestryDNA Breaks 18 Million Customers!

AncestryDNA has now tested more than 18 million people, making them, by far, the largest genealogical DNA database in the world.  This is great news!  At this rate of growth, they should break 20 million by mid-January.

23andMe‘s database has more than 12 million people, and the newcomer MyHeritage has more than 4 million.  When you consider all of the genealogy testing companies, more than 35 million individual kits are out there available for matching.

This is great news for anyone wanting to discover new relatives or trace their family history.  The more people in a database—and the more databases you yourself are in—the more likely you are to advance your research.

That’s why I advise most people to start with AncestryDNA but to get into the other databases as soon as you can.  In Europe, especially in non-English-speaking countries, you might start with MyHeritage instead.

20 thoughts on “AncestryDNA Breaks 18 Million Customers!”

  1. I would have preferred for Ancestry to have slowed down their developments and instead concentrated on stabilising the Genealogy Platform. Response time continues to rise as is the instances of pages not being available. I personally doubt if I will renew my subscription, until such time as response times improve.

    1. AncestryDNA and the are different subsidiaries, so DNA database growth doesn’t detract from the genealogy side. The genealogy platform generally gets glitchy when they’re rolling out new features, and that’s what’s happening now. It’s also being impacted by the huge increase in use as covid has given people more time at home to do research. They’re working on it. A pandemic of this magnitude is a century-level occurrence. It’s not anything the companies could have planned for.

      1. Within Ancestry the marketing is certainly split between DNA and Genealogy. But here is a single user portal for both services and now there is a facility to link DNA matches into trees, so the two services are also back-end interlinked.
        I certainly accept the pandemic has caused problems for all the DNA and Genealogy organisations.
        There is no reason for Ancestry to roll out inadequately tested glitchty software. Would we accept this level of service from our banks, insurance companies or online retailers? So a little professionalism from Ancestry would help a lot.

  2. I’m feeling unhappy about Ancestry’s “success” in piling up great numbers in selling DNA tests. I think the net result is they will end up being the biggest impediment to genetic genealogy. While their marketing people have managed to dominate the market, they have at the same time set up the most restrictive limits with respect to using DNA to investigate family history.
    So the net effect is they’re doing the best job at pulling the most DNA tests into the most restrictive environment for using the tests.

      1. I’ve found them helpful too. What I have found really frustrating recently is their decision to terminate the access from Genetic Affairs. Also the fact that they have for a long time refused to provided a tool like a chromosome browser.
        Additionally their clearly effective marketing has induced many people with no real interest in genealogy to take their test, look at their cool ethnicity map, and then never, ever do anything related to genealogy again. The results for all those people who got seduced by Ancestry will now pretty much never be accessible for any more in depth type research.

        1. Hey, if someone wants to test for ethnicity and never log in again, more power to them! I’d rather have them as a match with a chance of figuring out the connection myself than not have them in the database at all.

    1. Nothing stops any of their DNA customers from uploading to the other services which accept uploads. It is frustrating to do without chromosome data, but that is available with a simple upload or two.

  3. Personnaly since i’m more interest in my 500+ year ago ancestry it probably doesn’t mean much but hey, great for all their members.

    The more the better,


  4. Is there a breakdown of the 18 million by country? I assume most of the people being tested are in the US. I’m wondering how to get tested or submit test results to a database that would have a large number of Greek participants. Any ideas?

  5. Here’s my deal with Ancestry. I’m a very long time paying customer and will continue to be. It’s simply that the more I’ve used them the last several years delving into the genetic side of things, the more I’ve realized how large the missed opportunity is. And how much that missed opportunity will minimize the long term advantage to genetic genealogy that Ancestry could have been – but will not be.

    Yes, it’s true, nothing stops anyone from uploading their test to another service – but the large majority do not. Nothing stops anyone from responding to a brief, polite question about their family tree – but they do not. Nothing stops anyone from entering just a small family tree connected to their test – but they do not in many, many cases. There are any number of things that could be done to increase the value of those Ancestry tests, but they’re not. It’s kind of like, “If chickens had lips, they could whistle.” But they do not.

    What is frustrating for me is that if I had a magic wand (and I do not), and could wave the wand transferring those Ancestry tests to ANY other genealogy service, they would instantly have more value to long term genetic genealogy. But sadly those tests are going to remain stuck/parked at the one place where they have the very least value to people interested in genetic genealogy.

    And that’s not to deny the value Ancestry has added. The access to Shared Matches is definitely a benefit. So there is that. But asking Ancestry for anything else seems to have been a waste of time for anyone that’s attempted. They seem very happy to turn a deaf ear to their customers and just keep selling DNA kits.

    Lastly, as much as I’d like to say that nothing’s stopping Ancestry from taking steps to offer some of the tools their continuing paying customers have asked for – that’s simply not going to happen. With the privacy policies they have so firmly stated and restated, they’re pretty much backed into a corner with respect to how their kit results will be used.
    While it’s the case that the majority of their test takers will not:
    Respond to an email,…
    Test at another service,…
    Upload to another service ..
    Or take any other step to advance genetic genealogy….
    I’ll guarantee you that if Ancestry did make any substantive changes to their service they will have no problem at all finding customer(s) and lawyer(s) who will want to take them to court and drain their wallet for privacy violation infringements.

    So my issue just boils down to the missed opportunity – realizing what Ancestry could have been, but will not be.

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