HomeDNA Review

Review Summary

HomeDNA is a brand owned by DNA Diagnostics Center Inc. (DDC) - one of the first companies on the scene in the world of personalized genetic testing technologies. They have historically been mostly focused on paternity testing and on work with the criminal justice system, having handled over 10 million DNA samples over the past 20 years, but have recently expanded their offerings to include genetic-testing products relating to ancestry, health & beauty, paternity, and even the genetic origins and health of your pets.

Pros

  • One of the few genetic testing companies that provides products relating to your pets and their health.
  • A great choice for direct-to-consumer paternity testing.
  • Ancestry tests provide information on your origins further back in time than tests other companies provide.

Cons

  • Relatively expensive considering the prices offered by competitor companies.
  • There isn’t much information to help you interpret your results, or information that would allow you to do your own research on the genes involved in each test.
  • Some of the tests are based on tenuous scientific evidence and do not provide much actionable information, such as the Skin Care and Healthy Weight tests.
  • Ancestry testing may result in a very different report to that provided by most other genetic testing companies, as a result of differences in analysis methods, and does not connect you with living relatives (see below).

Bottom Line

The ancestry tests offered by HomeDNA can provide you with interesting information about the distant past and ancient migrations, but if you want to get a broad overview of your genetic origins without spending a fortune on multiple ancestry products, we would recommend using the data-upload feature so that ancestry testing with HomeDNA is really only supplementary to testing with another company such as 23andMe, ancestry.com, or FamilyTree DNA.If you are looking for an affordable and accurate paternity test, HomeDNA could be the right place for you!

Submitting or Uploading your DNA/Data

HomeDNA’s DNA submission process is easy, quick, and painless. You can browse the various tests the company offers on their website, and either place your order online, or use the ‘Find a Store’ feature to locate a nearby store that carries your chosen test. Once you have purchased your kit online or from your local retailer, the kit must be registered on the company website using the barcode provided. In the case of the Advanced Ancestry Test, it seems that you may also have to pay a lab fee at this point. You then use the cheek swabs found in the kit to collect a sample of the cells on the inside of your cheek, and return the via pre-paid mail kit back to the lab (return mail is free for US-based customers only). You will receive an email when your samples arrive at the lab, and another email when your report is available to view on your account. Your report will usually be ready within 2-6 weeks.If you are interested in using the GPS Origins algorithm to find out more about your ancestry, and have already downloaded your raw genetic data from previous genetic tests with 23andMe, Ancestry.com, FamilyTreeDNA or National Geographic, it possible to upload this data to receive a GPS Origins report within 24 hours. Unfortunately, it is currently not possible to upload 23andMe V5 or Ancestry V2 data, but earlier versions from these companies are supported.

Pricing

The least expensive report offered on the HomeDNA website is generated not by a physical DNA test, but by uploading your own genetic data for use with the GPS Origins algorithm, at a price of $39. Purchasing the same GPS Origins report (or the related GPS Origins African and GPS Origins Asian editions) together with a DNA testing kit (rather than using data-upload) will set you back $199 - these are the most expensive HomeDNA products. There are also slightly less expensive ancestry options retailing at $69 (HomeDNA Starter Ancestry Test) and $124 (HomeDNA Advanced Ancestry Test), although these lower prices correspond to lower levels of report detail, and you cannot download your raw data with these options. The other HomeDNA testing products range from $99 for a ‘Skin Care’ test or ‘Food & Pet Sensitivity’ test, to $164 for a paternity test. In general, the health, beauty, and pet-related products are on the expensive end of the spectrum given competitor prices, but the paternity product price is reasonable.

Reports

Ancestry

GPS Origins Ancestry Tests

The GPS Origins Ancestry test, along with the African and Asian editions (which, as the names suggest, are geared towards customers with African or Asian ancestry), claims to use 80,000 autosomal genetic markers and over 1000 reference populations to provide ancestry information so specific that your report may even be able to pinpoint ‘the town or village where groups of your ancestors from different cultures met’. This test seems to be aimed slightly more towards customers who are interested in ancient ancestral migrations than towards customers interested in identifying recent events in their family history or living relatives. The report contains the percentages of your DNA derived from each of their 41 global gene pools, the geographical ‘origins’ of your DNA, and two potential migration routes corresponding to your paternal and maternal lineage. It is possible to either purchase the GPS Origins Ancestry report along with a DNA testing kit, or to upload your own raw genetic data to be analyzed by the GPS Origins algorithm. You will have the option of downloading your raw genetic data if you decide to take your DNA test with GPS Origins.

HomeDNA Starter and Advanced Ancestry Test

The HomeDNA Ancestry tests are also more geared towards those interested in delving deep into the past than those interested in recent history, as they analyse the same genetic markers, reference populations and gene pools as the GPS Origins ancestry tests. The main difference between these tests and the GPS Origins test is that you cannot download your raw data if you purchase the HomeDNA products, and this is the reason they are less expensive. The advanced test will provide you with the same information as the GPS Origins Ancestry test. The starter test contains much more basic information than either the advanced HomeDNA or GPS Origins tests, focusing on your gene-pool percentages for for basic groups (Indigenous American, European/South Asian, East Asian and sub-Saharan African), and where the most people with DNA similar to yours live today. It is not unlikely that any results you receive from a HomeDNA or GPS Origins ancestry test will be noticeably different to results provided by other companies, as a result of differences in analysis methods. This could be a good thing if you are on a serious genealogical quest and want to try all the different types of test you can, but for the average customer looking for a one-stop answer to their ethnicity questions, it may be very confusing, and may contradict what you know to be your family’s recent history.

DNA Origins Maternal and Paternal Lineage Test

For those who want to learn more specific information about their maternal and paternal lines, HomeDNA offers two products called ‘DNA Origins Maternal Lineage’ and ‘DNA Origins Paternal Lineage’. These tests both provide you with information on your haplogroup identities, maps showing ancient ancestral migrations and descriptions of what populations around the world your haplogroups correspond to. With these tests, you are told which specific DNA markers were used to make the determinations in your report, allowing you to do further research on your own if you choose.

Pets

HomeDNA has three products for sale relating to the health and origins of your furry friends; ‘Dog DNA Health Screen and Life Plan’, ‘Cat DNA Health Screen and Life Plan’, and ‘Mixed-Breed Dog Identification Test and Life Plan’. The cat and dog health screen test reports contain information on many genetic diseases and traits (40+ for cats, 100+ for dogs), along with recommendations to help optimise your pet’s overall future health. The mixed-breed identification test is essentially an ancestry test for dogs, and can predict which out of the 220 most popular breeds came together to create your dog’s unique genetic signature. This report also includes some extra info on your dog’s likely optimal adult weight, nutrition suggestions, and ‘breed-specific games’.

Health & Beauty

HomeDNA advertises three health and beauty related products; ‘HomeDNA Skin Care’, ‘HomeDNA Health Weight’, and ‘HomeDNA Food & Pet Sensitivity’. All are expensive in comparison to the prices of similar tests with other testing companies, and the accurate, actionable information they can provide you with is very limited. The report generated by the Healthy Weight test includes recommendations regarding diet, nutritional supplements, and optimal exercise routines, while the Skin Care report includes recommendations on how your skin may respond to various environmental factors, and which skin care ingredients are best suited to your skin type. The ‘HomeDNA Food & Pet Sensitivity’ test reveals how your genes may react with the environment to make you sensitive to common irritants including gluten, lactose, egg, and peanuts.

Paternity

HomeDNA has been conducting paternity tests for more than 23 years, and is frequently the company of choice for paternity testing as part of criminal cases or TV shows. The results of a HomeDNA paternity test are exceptionally accurate and the price of this test is reasonable compared to the competition. Results are available within two days of your sample arriving at the lab, although you can pay extra to have this process expedited to one-day or even same-day.

Privacy

HomeDNA states that they will never sell or distribute any of your private information to any third party, including your genetic data. Once your DNA has been extracted and analyzed, and your results have been provided to you, your raw data is saved to your account, but your DNA sample is destroyed. You can request that the company delete your raw data at any time. A break down of the HomeDNA privacy policy is available on their website.

x