Ancestry.com and MyHeritage both provide ways to contact the relatives found by the DNA test as well as privacy options that allow customers to choose how much personal information is shared with potential relatives, if any. On Ancestry.com, if a family tree is public, anyone can explore it to find the common ancestor or see if it has information he or she does not. No information, not even the names, of persons marked "living" is ever shared through a public family tree.
The two companies also have access to large databases of genetic information that are continually enlarged with each new customer that takes a DNA test. In March, Ancestry.com acquired Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and its extensive database. SMGF was started in 2004 by local geneticist Scott Woodward and Utah businessman James Sorenson.
"They (SMGF) were very interesting to us because of their database that was unparalleled," Ancestry.com's Pereira said. "They made their database very powerful in terms of variety and ethnicity. We're talking over 100,000 samples from around the world, from some countries where it's now illegal to obtain samples."
Through its partnership with Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage has access to a database of comparable size. The test results for both companies are delivered electronically, within six to eight weeks, and are closely integrated with their websites. Pereira in particular spoke highly of Ancestry.com's result interface.
"We've done a lot of usability testing," he said. "It's by no means perfect, but we're really proud of it (and) there's a ton more we want to provide."
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