What is MyHeritage?
MyHeritage is an Israel-based genealogy company that provides both historical records and a DNA testing service for genealogy research. MyHeritage was launched in 2003, and it began offering its genetic testing service started in 2016. Currently, MyHeritage has over 108 million users, 11.9 billion historical records, and 3.8 billion people in family trees.
Their DNA testing service reveals information about your ancestry that is contained in your genes. They also have the facilities that allow you to build your family tree and have a vast resource of genealogical records that you can explore. Thus, MyHeritage enables you to discover your past and explore your future simultaneously.
What does MyHeritage offer?
It is free to create a MyHeritage account and begin the process of building your family tree. You first enter the information you know about your relatives. Then MyHeritage will provide excerpts from historical records and other users’ family trees to aid your research. However, a paid subscription is required to access the full documents and confirm relationships.
Whereas Ancestry.com is mostly made up of American users, MyHeritage has mostly European users and has the most extensive record base in Europe. The website is available in over forty languages, which also means that they have a diverse database of international users. This might increase the likelihood of you finding matches in other countries.
They have an extensive collection of historical family records that are sorted into categories. These records include birth, marriage, and death records, newspapers, military records, government directories, immigration records, and many more. Therefore, MyHeritage provides an excellent resource for traditional genealogy research. This resource is accompanied by their genetic genealogy and health testing services.
MyHeritageDNA uses the variation present in your DNA to give you an ethnicity estimate, reflecting your ancestral background. They are also able to match you with existing relatives on the platform. This could lead you to discover distant relatives you didn’t know about, enabling you to uncover shared ancestry and join forces in your genealogy search.
When you test your DNA with MyHeritage, you will receive a comprehensive ethnicity analysis. MyHeritage draws from the largest pool of potential ethnicities in the industry, by narrowing your ancestry down to 42 regions. Your ethnicity estimate shows the percentage breakdown of your ancestral origins from these possible ethnic groups. You can visualize this data as a map, allowing you to track how your ancestors might have migrated over time.
As well as their genetic genealogy service, MyHeritage also offers a DNA-based health testing panel. This test allows you to discover how your DNA could impact you and your family’s health. This includes genetic risks and carrier status for a variety of complex diseases. This is a relatively new service for MyHeritage, and they are working on expanding the panel and adding new reports.
How does the DNA testing process work?
With MyHeritage, you collect your DNA using a cheek swab using a kit they send you after you have placed your order. Around 3-4 weeks after your completed test kit arrives at the laboratory, you can expect your results to be delivered to your MyHeritage account. This is quicker than many of other services; the standard turnaround time in the industry is around 6-8 weeks.
What technology does MyHeritage use?
MyHeritage uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing. Once they receive your sample, they extract the DNA and amplify it using a method called polymerase chain reaction. They then use a microarray, which is a DNA chip, to analyze the samples. The chip contains hundreds of thousands of probes that match DNA sequences corresponding to variation present in the human population. The presence of selected variants is linked to different ethnicities. Therefore, MyHeritage can use the information concealed in your DNA to determine your ancestral origins
MyHeritage test autosomal DNA, not mitochondrial DNA or Y chromosome DNA. This means they will not be able to uncover which side (maternal or paternal) that these ethnicities come originated. However, both men and women can obtain the same information from the test.
Value for Money
Firstly, MyHeritage offers a 14-day free trial of their service, so you can try the service before committing to a subscription. They provide a range of subscriptions that give users access to different resources.
The basic plan allows you to build a limited family tree without access to their historical records. Their Premium service gives you enhanced family tree services and costs $99 per year (with the first year costing $69). The Premium Plus plan costs $169 or $129 for your first year, and the subscription gives you access to the full range of family tree features.
To access all the historical records (without the enhanced family tree features offered by the Premium and Premium Plus subscriptions), users pay $129 per year or $99 for the first year. The subscription to the full capabilities of MyHeritage costs $229/year ($159 in the first year). The full subscription gives you access to all the site’s features. All the subscriptions are cheaper than their main competitor, Ancestry.com.
The DNA testing services incur additional costs. Their MyHeritage DNA test is a one-off price of $79 (at the time of writing is on offer for $39), excluding shipping. The MyHeritage Health test, which gives you the ethnicity information in the DNA test plus the health information, is $199 (currently on offer for $99).
The database for MyHeritage is smaller than its main competitor, Ancestry.com. However, it is still extensive and diverse, containing 11.9 billion records (Ancestry.com has 20 billion records). AncestryDNA has also sold far more DNA kits (14 million compared to 4.5 million). However, MyHeritage has a more extensive health-testing platform. If you also wanted to uncover what your DNA might indicate about your disease risks, MyHeritage could be a good option for you.
MyHeritageDNA also generates a more detailed ethnicity breakdown than many competitors. They also have more records and users from European countries. Therefore, MyHeritage could be ideal if you want to explore your European ancestry and connect with potential relatives internationally.