The consumer DNA testing market grew rapidly over several years after Ancestry.com launched its autosomal DNA kit in 2012. However, the rate of growth slowed significantly from 2018.
But this doesn’t mean that growth has stalled. I’m a customer of all the major companies, and I see new DNA relatives on each site with every visit.
This article compares the database sizes of the major consumer DNA testing companies.
Comparison Of Database Sizes Of DNA Testing Companies
The consumer DNA testing market grew rapidly when Ancestry.com launched its autosomal DNA kits in 2012. However, the rate of growth started to slow significantly from 2018.
This doesn’t mean that growth has stalled. I’m a customer of all the major companies, and I see new DNA relatives on each site with every visit.
Not all the companies make their sales numbers public
Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage publish the size of their DNA databases on their corporate websites. They update the numbers at different times, but at least once a year.
The other companies are not so open. I’ve used sources like interviews of company executives or some clever guesstimates by industry insiders.
You’ll find details about the sources in the more detailed breakdown for each company later in this article.
Who has the largest DNA database?
Ancestry.com has the largest DNA database of all the consumer DNA testing companies. Our 2021 estimates for DNA database sizes lists the companies in this descending order:
GEDmatch does not sell DNA kits but has a DNA database of uploaded samples from other companies. We estimate the GEDmatch database to be a little smaller than FamilyTreeDNA.
Estimates of Consumer DNA Database Sizes
|DNA Testing Company||DNA Database Size|
|FamilyTreeDNA *||1.7+ million|
FamilyTreeDNA sells several types of DNA kits. The estimate above is based on their autosomal DNA database.
The rest of this article gives more background about these estimates and also provides my sources.
How Big Is The Ancestry DNA Database?
Ancestry.com announced in 2021 on their corporate website that they had over 20 million DNA tests in their database. This was a rise of two million kits since the end of 2020.
It means that Ancestry.com maintains its position as the largest DNA database of all the consumer DNA testing companies.
Ancestry is the most open of these companies when it comes to reporting their sales numbers publicly. This may be because they are well out in front of their competitors. There’s no point in hiding a competitive advantage!
Ancestry publishes its latest numbers several times a year on its website. I’ve used the Internet Archive to go back in time and get the published numbers for the last few years. In the table below, I’ve included links to the old archived web pages.
|Date||Ancestry Database Size||Original Source|
|Jul 2021||20+ million||Current About Page|
|Jan 2021||18+ million||Archived About Page|
|Jan 2020||16+ million||Archived About Page|
|Jan 2019||10+ million||Archived About Page|
|Jan 2018||6 million||Archived About Page|
Ancestry’s rate of growth is slowing
You can see from the table that the size of the database doubled from early 2019 to mid-2020. However, you shouldn’t expect future growth to look like this.
The commercial sales of home DNA kits have been slowing across the board since 2020. Ancestry.com was hit financially by sluggish sales and laid off 6% of its workforce in February 2020.
Margo Georgiadis, the Ancestry CEO, had this to say:
Over the last 18 months, we have seen a slowdown in consumer demand across the entire DNA category. The DNA market is at an inflection point now that most early adopters have entered the category.CNBC
By “early adopters”, Georgiadis is referring to people who are most interested in using new technology and services. The new challenge for the company is to make their DNA test less of a novelty for the average consumer.
How many DNA matches can you expect to have on Ancestry.com?
I worked with over 40 testers to calculate the average number of DNA matches for Ancestry customers.
The average number of matches was about 34 thousand. However, there were plenty of customers who hit a low ten thousand and others who had over 90 thousand.
The article about our survey looks at how ethnicity plays a big part in your numbers.
How Big Is The 23andMe DNA Database?
23andMe announced in 2021 on their corporate website that they had over 12 million DNA tests in their database. This was a rise of two million kits since the previous announcement in July 2019.
This means that 23andMe is the second-largest DNA database of all the consumer DNA testing companies.
23andMe publishes the number of DNA kits they sell on their website. They change the numbers about once a year.
I’ve used the Internet Archive to go back in time and retrieve older pages on their website. The table below includes links to the archived web pages.
|Date||23andMe Database Size||Original Source|
|Jul 2021||12+ million||Current About Page|
|Jan 2021||12+ million||Archived About Page|
|Jul 2019||10+ million||Archived About Page|
23andMe’s Rate Of Growth Has Slowed
You can see from the table above that 23andMe isn’t seeing big growth in customer numbers in recent years. The company laid off one hundred staff in early 2020. That represented 14% of their workforce.
Anne Wojcicki, founder and CEO of 23andMe, cited several reasons in an interview with CNBC including:
- Consumer fears of an economic downturn
- Privacy concerns after the 2018 arrest of the Golden State killer through use of GEDmatch
However, the decline in growth didn’t stop the company from changing its structure to a public company in 2021. We cover these changes in our article on the ownership of 23andMe.
Your DNA matches are limited on 23andMe regardless of the database size
23andMe cut off your number of DNA matches at 1,500. As you receive new DNA relatives, the ones with higher shared DNA push your furthest relatives off your list.
This is a big contrast to their rivals. For example, as long as new customers on Ancestry.com are over the shared DNA threshold with you, you will see them as DNA matches.
How Big Is The MyHeritage DNA Database?
MyHeritage announced in the summer of 2021 on their corporate website that they had 5 million DNA tests in their database. This was a rise of 800 thousand kits from the beginning of the year.
This means that MyHeritage is the third largest DNA database of all the consumer DNA testing companies.
MyHeritage only started publicizing the size of its DNA database in 2021. From January 2021, they included the number of sold DNA kits on their website’s About Page.
I’ve used the Internet Archive to go back in time and retrieve the pages at various points during the year. The table below includes links to the archived web pages.
|Date||MyHeritage Database Size||Original Source|
|Jul 2021||5 million||Current About Page|
|Jun 2021||4.8 million||Archived About Page|
|Mar 2021||4.7 million||Archived About Page|
|Jan 2021||4.2 million||Archived About Page|
How many DNA matches can you expect in the MyHeritage database?
MyHeritage has more European customers than the other companies. So, your ethnic heritage will influence how many DNA relatives you can expect to see.
Personally, I have just about half the number of DNA matches on MyHeritage as on Ancestry.com.
How Big Is The FamilyTreeDNA Database?
FamilyTreeDNA says they have the world’s “most comprehensive” database of DNA tests. But this is clever marketing and has nothing to do with the number of DNA kits they’ve tested.
FamilyTreeDNA offers Y-DNA and mtDNA tests as well as the autosomal DNA tests that the other companies provide. This is what they mean by comprehensive.
But how many autosomal DNA samples are in their database? That’s difficult to tell. They do not publicize their numbers.
Martin McDowell did some clever analysis in early 2020 using how the company formats its DNA kit numbers. His estimate put them at 1.7+ million autosomal DNA tests.
How Big Is The GEDmatch DNA Database?
GEDmatch doesn’t publish the size of its database on its website. Therefore, I don’t have the most up-to-date size in 2021.
The company was purchased by Verogen in 2020. We have an article that covers the ownership of GEDmatch.
In November 2020, the Director of Product Management at Verogen gave an interview to the ISHI report (a newsletter about DNA forensics).
The article stated that there were 1.4 M samples in the GEDmatch database.
How Big Is the LivingDNA Database?
LivingDNA is a more recent entrant into the consumer DNA database market. You can read some of their colorful history in our article on who owns LivingDNA.
The British company doesn’t provide public information about the total size of its database.
However, they state on their website that they are “one of the top 5 global DNA testing firms”.
I’ll assume that they estimate themselves to be number 5. Otherwise, their marketing department would surely say there were one of the top 4 or top 3. FamilyTreeDNA is the fourth biggest database with about 1.7+ million tests.