Three companies in the United States are well known for their genealogical DNA testing. Founded in 1999, FamilyTreeDNA is known for its surname, lineage, and geographical projects. Started in 2006, 23andme focuses on health-related genetic portraits and ancestry data. AncestryDNA is a relative newcomer to the scene, but as part of Ancestry.com, one of the largest online genealogy companies, it has the potential to grow rapidly because of its large subscriber base and its sponsorship of the popular TV show, Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC network).
In a recent Weekly Genealogist Survey by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), 50 percent of respondents used FamilyTreeDNA for genealogical DNA testing, while 43 percent used AncestryDNA and 16 percent used 23andme. (The 2,855 people who took the survey could select more than one company.) At the Massachusetts Genealogical Council annual seminar in July 2013, speaker Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, suggested to me to transfer results from one company to the other two to get the most cousin connections.
Patience is critical for genealogists who have taken DNA tests. After all, 52 percent of the 4,400 people who took another weekly survey by NEHGS have not had their DNA tested. That makes it difficult to find your closest (unknown) relatives through genetics. But some genealogists have taken more than one DNA test, with 28 percent testing their own or a male relative's Y-DNA; 26 percent testing their own mtDNA; and 25 percent had an autosomal test.
So test yourself, and then ask your relatives and potential cousins to test their DNA too.