AncestryDNA Plus: A New DNA Subscription Tier

AncestryDNA is rolling out a new pricing scheme, called AncestryDNA Plus, that charges a small subscription fee to access to some advanced DNA tools, like SideView and Traits.  SideView automatically sorts your matches into parental sides (i.e., Parent 1 and Parent 2) that can be manually assigned to maternal and paternal.  Traits are genetic predictions about things like personality, appearance, and fitness.

If you already subscribe to the genealogy records at, nothing will change for you or any DNA kits that you can view.  If you don’t subscribe, you will soon lose access to these advanced features.  In fact, you may have already lost access.

What can you do?  If you’d like to preserve your maternal/paternal assignments, you can use the custom groups (colored dots) to replicate AncestryDNA’s assignments.  Assigning colors one by one is tedious, so you’ll want to use my speedy trick.  In your match list under “Groups”, select an assigned group (e.g, Maternal, Paternal, Parent 1, Parent 2) then use the “Click All Checkboxes” extension to assign a unique color to all group members at once.  You can do the same for matches assigned to “Both sides” or “Unassigned” should you want to preserve those, as well.

Some of you will have already lost access to these features as freebies.  Should you decide to subscribe temporarily, you can use this trick to retain the information once your subscription lapses.

On the plus side, Ancestry is promising to add “new and exciting features” to this subscription tier.

What might those new features be?  They haven’t said, but I expect one of them to be the extension of SideView to the grandparent level.  I would also love to see them add clustering.

And, of course, a lot of people would be thrilled to see them add a chromosome browser.  I’m not saying they will—I have no insight into that—but they’d certainly get a lot of new subscribers if they did!

103 thoughts on “AncestryDNA Plus: A New DNA Subscription Tier”

    1. The AncestryDNA Plus membership will be $30 for 6 months. They’re currently running a 50% off sale for the records subscription, which will include AncestryDNA Plus, so that might be a good option for those building trees.

    1. Initially, I don’t expect a lot of takers for AncestryDNA Plus. But clearly, Ancestry is just getting started and more things that are currently free will be put behind the paywall and MONETIZED.
      So what’s next? I wouldn’t be surprised if they followed 23andMe’s lead and limited nonmembers to 1500 matches. That would definitely generate memberships. (It could also save Ancestry $ in storage space.)

      1. Thank you. It will be useful with this new update for all the accounts I manage that are not subscribed – I’m assuming that as I am subscribed, that with this new system, I won’t be be able to see which side has been assigned on the managed accounts now? I know when they first introduced the sides, that I was able to see which side was assigned in the managed accounts from my account but many of them couldn’t see the sides if they logged into their own.
        That tool will be handy as I deleted all my previously coloured coded maternal and paternal to use for other groups.
        Now to decide which groups I don’t necessarily need to free up four colours!

        1. You will still be able to see the assigned sides for kits shared with you as long as you have a subscription.

  1. needs to add more value before I give them any more money. I won’t pay for a subscription to something I feel I don’t need or feel has no value to me. They need to provide a real chromosome browser and the ability to download my DNA Matches in an excel spreadsheet or csv file at no additional cost. Both of these functions are available and included with the cost of testing at the other three major DNA testing companies,,, and Just because you are the biggest, doesn’t mean you’re the best.

    If we’re dreaming, let’s see first cousin matches assigned to grandparents and second cousin matches assigned to great-grandparents in a chromosome browser. I feel this feature will be introduced by one of’s competitors in the not to distant future.

  2. Ancestry have a nerve to contemplate charging for their elementary sideview tool which is unscientific and frequently incorrect. It’s about time they added some really helpful tools such as a chromosome browser as you suggest, or if that is too technical for them, at least do us the basic service of showing ALL of our matches in common, not only those who match with 20 cMs or more, and of indicating by how many cMs those matches in common match each other with as My Heritage does. Compared to the other DNA companies Ancestry’s offering is pathetic, not to mention very frustrating. Their only advantage is the enormous size of their database.

  3. If Ancestry is indeed using this scientific approach which was in fact pioneered several years ago by FTDNA, then
    a) why are they unable to provide a chromosome browser?
    b) why are there so many inaccuracies in their Sideview algorithm as compared to that of FTDNA?
    c) why do they not calculate ancestors in common by triangulation rather than, or as well as, by often very dodgy family tree matching?
    d) why do they not include analysis of the X chromosome in their calculations?
    As well as my other points about not showing matches in common who share less than 20 cMs, and not indicating how many cMs are shared by matches in common with each other, or indeed whether matches in common triangulate.
    What is the use of showing thousands and thousands of DNA matches without providing any reliable method of placing those without an accurate, well-researched family tree, which is the vast majority?

    1. Ancestry has from time to time responded that a chromosome browser does not provide the privacy element they stand by. I find it frustrating too, but I also know people who would like to be able to pursue their family history without allowing a known potential stalker to ruin it for them.
      I also know judges, and former law enforcement and custodial staff in a similar position. They value places where they can keep part of themselves hidden.
      People who know more than me about IT tell me that a chromosome browser would cost money and might slow down their site.
      My view is that they have a massive investment in records (for which I am grateful and willing to pay when I need to), and have concern that instead of people spending ages on records they might short circuit things by finding a quicker answer through chromosome segment matches. Why?
      Because sometimes I have.

      1. The privacy issue can be handled through privacy options. That’s what MyHeritage does. For some of my matches, MyHeritage won’t let me use the chromosome browser.

      1. @ Sylvia
        On FTDNA an icon (blue for paternal, red for maternal or purple for both) will appear if you link known relations who have tested to your family tree on FTDNA.
        Thanks for the info about the Cromosome Browser privacy options on My Heritage. I was wondering why some of my matches on there have it missing.

        1. Sue, SideView does not require you to link known relatives to a tree. It works based solely on the DNA. I encourage you to read the blog post I shared with you earlier. It explains how SideView works.

  4. Wow, thank you for this warning. I guess this means we won’t be able to see our matches splits now unless they also subscribe to the higher tier? So many people seem now have duplicate accounts and appear to be out of date and one off’s, that would be a loss in helpfulness of this data base to us all.

    1. If you don’t value their tools, don’t pay for them. As for myself and my clients, I have much more success with AncestryDNA than with all of the other companies combined.

  5. Then just imagine how much more success you would have more quickly and easily and with more certainty if they provided similar tools to the other DNA companies. Their main advantage over the others is the enormous size of their database, which is in part due to their already well-established genealogy platform, which I would certainly recommend to everybody because their record collections are second to none.
    But the same cannot be said for their DNA product, and as long as professionals such as yourself keep on plugging it and fail to call out its deficiencies there is not much hope of significant improvement any time soon.

    1. Professionals such as myself achieve success quickly, easily, and with more certainty by using WATO rather than segment analysis. I plug what works.

      1. That is great and excellent for close family. Even to great grands sometimes. But when you are looking further back, WATO drops out and the chromosome browser takes precedence. Ancestry is still great for shared matches and trees, but they could provide so much more power and value, and I’ll bet many genealogist would be willing to pay more. Anyway, this genealogist would LOL.

        1. Beyond great grands, you’re working with third cousins and further. Statistically, three third cousins are not likely to triangulate at all. Even when you do find triangulation, segment analysis can tell you which branch of a tree to investigate, but it can’t tell you how far back the connection is. And without knowing that, the “MRCA” you think you’ve found might not be an MRCA at all. In other words, triangulation can be positively misleading, not only pointing you in the wrong direction, but convincing you that you’re right.

          A chromosome browser at Ancestry would be nice. I would use it. But it wouldn’t increase my solve rate much.

    2. Ancestry has invented little itself in the way of DNA tools. All the innovations I can recall have been invented by others. Mostly just talented individuals. Apart perhaps from their first Circles, Ancestry has taken years to introduce DNA things, often being dragged kicking and screaming by its customers.

  6. Congratulations! WATO is a very useful tool. However it is far from being the only useful tool and has its limitations, particularly when using ancestry DNA which provides no indication of how matches in common are related to each other.
    It’s sad that you are so dismissive of all the other excellent DNA tools, but thank you anyway for clarifying your interests in the matter. There is obviously not much point in any further discussion.

    1. No, there is not much point in further discussion. Some people feel compelled to trash AncestryDNA, no matter how useful it is to the rest of us.

  7. I just call things as I see them, and I am not on anybody’s pay roll. As a daily user of Ancestry DNA the aim of my comments is to try to improve it, not trash it, however it’s obvious that I am addressing the wrong person.

  8. Wow, they have taken a whole bag of things that either I don’t need or that have led me up the garden path and wasted my time and put them out of my reach. I LOVE IT!
    Now, if they can just fix the horrible mess they have recently made of ThruLines(TM).

  9. I saw since I had paid for Traits that it would be retained. Good! I was worried I had paid for something and was going to lose it.

    Is the parental sideview loss only for the ones Ancestry has labeled? Or does it include ones I’ve custom labeled as well? I wasn’t clear on that. I try to tag all of my people by side once I’ve added them to my tree so I’ve got a bunch that I’ve done.

    1. I had actually custom-labeled all my matches myself BEFORE SideView parental matching came out. When it did, I thought “Boy, that was a total waste of my time; I didn’t need to do that.” Now I’m very glad I did.
      In my case, what made it doable is I don’t have a huge # of matches. But there’s apparently people that have 200K, 300K, and maybe even more

  10. They would be justified in charging for really helpful tools, and I would be quite prepared to pay for them, as I’m sure anybody would who understands how to use them.

    1. If you don’t like the tools at Ancestry, don’t pay for them.

      I’m curious why you feel the need to belittle those who disagree with you.

      1. I was replying to Sylvia, and I based my remark on the comments above from JWLawson, Christopher and Holly. I am sorry if you feel belittled.

  11. I didn’t suggest any such thing. Quite the opposite. They all clearly do understand how to interpret DNA matching and have all remarked that they would like to see more useful tools on Ancestry and would, like myself, be prepared to pay for them. I strongly suggest that you get some help for the issues which you evidently have, if you interpreted my comment as being in any way offensive to yourself or anybody else.

  12. I see how to turn ON notifications on a blog post, but I so not see how to turn off notifications so that I don’t receive any more. Can someone tell me how to do that?

  13. You referred to it as a new pricing “scheme”. Keep in mind that in American English, the word “scheme” implies something sinister–which I don’t think you meant. That said, a lot of Americans who previously were getting SideView free of charge WILL view this as a scheme.

    1. Per Merriam Webster, a scheme is “a plan or program of action.” It needn’t be sinister. Unfortunately, businesses can’t survive by giving away their most novel features free of charge.

  14. I don’t care what Webster says. Ask any American what they think a “scheme” is. You’ll find out it’s not viewed as something good.
    You’ll find the opposite with the word “ambitious.” It has sinister connotations in Britain but not in the U.S.

  15. One of their surveys a year or so ago asked me what I would be willing to pay for.
    Not any of this. But I would be willing to pay for Common Ancestors extended down to 15cM and Cluster Analysis to go with it.
    Why 15cM? A few years ago when they allowed access to their API, a third party site set up to help adoptees devised a non-intrusive search leading to Cluster Analysis. You could adjust the lower threshold, and after starting high, I found the sweet spot for my matches was somewhere between 17 and 15 cM. (That’s partly because I don’t have as many matches as some people, for whom this would be too low. But hey, it’s the people with few matches who need to be able to go low.)
    I am willing to accept Ancestry’s claim that a Chromosome Browser might threaten privacy. But the only reason they could oppose Cluster Analysis is the extra computing power it would take – which is why I am willing to pay for that.
    To me, Traits are fripperies and folderols. But good Cluster Analysis would be a positive step for all of us in finding family. Other places offer it, but they don’t have the massive database that Ancestry does.
    Tuneable Cluster Analysis NOW!

    1. MyHeritage has what they call AutoClusters. The one time I tried it, it didn’t even populate into my MyHeritage account. Instead, they sent me a file which I was supposed to open up in Excel–which I didn’t.

        1. That could be–can’t really remember. But to me, having to go outside of MyHeritage to use this function was a nuisance.

    2. I’d be willing to pay for:
      (1) info on shared matches (cMs they share with each other);
      (2) DNA Painter if it was WITHIN Ancestry and populated automatically without me having to do anything.

  16. I agree with you completely, Christopher. But ALL matches in common should be shown on AncestryDNA, capping it at 15 cMs is just as bad as capping it at 20 cMs. Descendants of unknown great X 2 grandparents are our 3rd cousins. Plenty of 3rd cousins match each other with less than 20 cMs, however these matches, who may well have relevant family trees which could break down brick walls, are completely missed on Ancestry as they do not show as a match in common with other known 3rd cousin descendants from the unknown great X 2 grandparents.

  17. Since the “side view” roll out, new DNA matches have not “automatically” been assigned a parent. So much for that. I do see this as a nice feature for some new to DNA. I pretty much alway know by my DNA matches which side of the family the matches come from! Except for the rare occasion when they are related to both sides. So for me, this is not worth paying for, though I already have a subscription. I don’t put much importance on ethnicity estimates I think Ancestry is totally out in left field with mine. So DNA painter for ethnicity is fluff! If Ancestry DNA had a chromosome browser, than DNA painter would be of value, of course!
    Traits is more fluff/wiz-bang! Things like that are fun for some but I don’t think they are much value for genetic genealogists.
    The tool that would really be helpful, is a chromosome browser! But I don’t think it will ever happen.

    1. Ancestry only runs SideView a few times a year. Until the next run happens, new matches are unassigned. However, I’m hearing rumors that new kits have SideView already run on them, so perhaps they’re stepping up the frequency.

      1. It looks like they’re only doing it twice a year, so that’s up to a 6-month wait. And that’s not all. I noticed the update we got in early August only covered matches that came in before March 31, so that’s an additional 4-month wait. So it can take up to 10 months for a new match to get assigned. I can do it myself a lot faster than that.

    2. The Traits thing is actually most useful to Law Enforcement. With the Golden State Killer, GEDmatch told them that the person they were looking for had blue eyes, which enabled them to zero-in on Joseph DeAngelo. FYI: GEDmatch no longer provides eye color; I think the new owners removed that.

      But for most of us, we can just look in the mirror to see what our eye color is.

      1. Traits are more of a curiosity thing. After all, it’s kind of cool to see the predictions then look in the mirror to see whether it’s correct. I actually learned something fascinating about myself with the 23andMe traits. I’ve never liked sweets, so much so that my German grandma thought I didn’t love her because I didn’t want to eat her pastries. (My other grandma made me to eat them anyway.) Turns out I’m a supertaster for sugar, so what tastes normal to most people is sickly sweet for me. The trait report didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know (I don’t like sweets), but it did tell me why, which is really cool!

        1. So you’re probably a picky eater and can’t enjoy food much. On the flip side, there’s probably not many supertasters that are overweight.
          In high school Biology class they gave us a taste test for that (a tiny piece of paper to put into our mouths). Very few people could taste anything. And those that did said it tasted “awful”

      2. Re law enforcement, they can’t upload to either AncestryDNA or 23andMe. If they’re running trait reports, they’re doing it through Parabon or Promethease. One would hope they’re complying with the Department of Justice policy, which says “Biological samples and FGG profiles shall not be used by investigative agencies, vendor laboratories, GG services, or others to determine the sample donor’s genetic predisposition for disease or any other medical condition or psychological trait.”

    1. That’s a great question! According to Ancestry (when they first introduced SideView), they can only do it because their database is so large. It may not yet be possible at the other sites. On the other hand, 23andMe has their automatic family tree, which is 100% unique and innovative. (It’s not perfect, of course.)

      1. So Ancestry is doing this parental side thing by looking at our matches, and the others can’t because their databases are too small.
        But is that the only way that it can be done? And would using Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) make a difference? Does WGS make it possible to separate out the Maternal and Paternal parts, without having to rely on matches?
        Keep in mind that even on Ancestry, there’s people with insufficient matches for SideView to work.

        1. SideView works by looking at segments. The other companies could certainly offer something similar, but it probably would not work as well because their databases are smaller. Basically, the versions at the smaller databases would be similar to SideView for those Ancestry users with few matches … but for almost everyone.

  18. I do and so does everyone else with some knowledge of their family history (I realize it’s not an option for everyone–particularly adoptees). I frankly think that if more people realized just how SLOW this thing is, there wouldn’t be a lot of people willing to pay $30 for it.

  19. At that big conference in March (I forget what it’s called) Ancestry said the next thing they’d be doing is assigning parental sides to Traits and to DNA Communities. So I’m hearing now that they’ve done that with Traits, but what about the DNA Communities?

  20. I don’t disagree with you, but for a lot of people this is a rude awakening. Have you visited any Ancestry user groups in the last week? People there are howling and screaming and cursing Ancestry for having “taken something away from them”

    1. Ancestry didn’t take anything away; Ancestry allowed people to use a beta product for which the production version has a fee. In my group, 85% of survey respondents already have a subscription and won’t be affected at all. I’ll bet the proportions are similar in other groups.

  21. I don’t think people really understand what that (“beta”) means, in terms of being able to access the feature. But even if they did, with the passage of time they won’t remember it.
    So Ancestry should have reminded people about it–at least a month prior to doing it.

    1. Honestly, I think people will complain no matter what the companies do. They want all of the bells and whistles only big businesses can provide, but they don’t want to pay for it.

  22. Lots of passionate opinions on this topic! That’s a good thing!
    My opinion is, though, these tools can be helpful to those just getting started with genetic genealogy and can be a lot of fun (also fun to discuss), they are not helpful tools for more advanced users and especially for those with genealogical “brick walls”!
    The most important tool that Ancestry DNA could add would be, hands down, a chromosome browser, (no ands ifs or buts) ! Yes there is Gedmatch, but only a handful of my DNA matches have uploaded there — so not enough to be useful!
    I’ve tested with the big five testing companies and Ancestry is the lone holdout with no chromosome browser. Personally, I wish they would put the resources they are using for these new tools that are (in my opinion) not useful and give us a chromosome browser. I’ve been told, they won’t do for privacy reasons! Well, for any one really concerned about privacy, they should not be DNA testing at all! I do wonder if there is a technical reason Ancestry DNA can’t add one.

    BTW, Ancestry has added a new tool, “fan chart” view for family trees (Beta)! I like this tool, fan charts can be very helpful! So thank you Ancestry for that! 🙂

    1. One can be interested in genetic genealogy without wanting to share biomedical details about themselves. Unfortunately, there is no way to fully protect biomedical information with a chromosome browser. The best we can hope for is that Ancestry offers one on an opt-in basis, like at 23andMe.

  23. What it would take for Ancestry to add a chromosome browser is if they were actually losing market share over this. But they’re not. When people are buying their DNA test, most of them have never heard of a chromosome browser (I certainly hadn’t). So it’s not a factor in picking the company to go with. What people DO know about and understand is the size of the database.

    1. Precisely. AncestryDNA managed to dominate the market without a chromosome browser, so the majority of their customers must not care. And even people who do want one can’t afford to not test there if they are serious about genetic genealogy.

  24. That’s true, they don’t care or they have no idea what it is.
    The reality is that most people test to get their ethnicity estimate and others might be trying to find biological parents.That is what drives DNA kit sales! Bottom dollar/profit is always important and these testing companies need that to stay in business.
    I’m aware that someone like me that is looking for clues that might lead to finding records that might help break down a brick wall are just a small minority, and we are not significantly important to Ancestry DNA, nor the other testing companies.
    That said, Ancestry DNA is still very important to my research, even without a chromosome browser. I’m just saying it would be better with one! I do feel like most of my shared matches are accurate. More so than some of the other testing companies. Ancestry DNA and Y-DNA at Family Tree DNA (especially Big-Y700) have been very import to my research.

    1. I disagree! People like you who are looking for records are essential to Ancestry’s business model! The DNA kits are basically loss leaders to get people to subscribe to the records. That’s where they make their money. This latest change won’t affect people like you and me because we already subscribe. It might bring in a little more income from the ethnicity-only crowd and might even get them interested in genealogy.

  25. Understood and I agree — that is true, gets my money every six months to renew my subscription. But we were discussing new DNA tools. And what I mean is they (Ancestry DNA) don’t care what I think about not having a DNA browser. And I have had a meeting with them at their Lehi HQ and voice my thinking about their DNA tools
    I mean I could end my subscription because of this and I could stop buying DNA kits for friends and family because I don’t think they care about me as a customer, right? 🙂 Not that I’m going to do that! I am overall a satisfied customer! But my brick walls do have me very frustrated and I sometimes wonder if this endeavor is all a big waste of time and money. My wife thinks it is! 🙂
    And I do appreciate your blog and thank you very much for all of your interesting posts!

    1. In the absence of a chromosome browser, one thing that would help is if Ancestry could get more people to build family trees.
      And here’s one possible way for them to do it:
      In order to see other people’s trees, you have to have a tree yourself.

      1. Ancestry already has a higher percentage of people with threes than most sites with a chromosome browser. Only MyHeritage is competitive on that front.

  26. That may be, but doesn’t mean they can’t do better.
    There’s still an enormous number of people on Ancestry with no tree at all.
    People who don’t want to build a tree are better off using 23andMe, since 23andMe will generate their “predicted” genetic tree without them having to do anything at all.

  27. Hi, I wanted to follow your advice to mark all my maternal/paternal matches but could not find the “Click All Checkboxes” option, could you please show a screenshot of this? I do not have a subscription so am afraid I may lose this info. Thanks.

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