Big Y700 is probably the most important test for paternal lineages that you can take. Here's an analogy to help explain - The Lewis and Clark Expedition with an aviation twist:
Lewis and Clark's primary objectives included "explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent." They left St. Louis in 1804 and arrived at the Pacific Ocean late in 1805. In this analogy, we can think of the Pacific Coast as our genetic genealogy homeland, the place or status where our genealogically known family connects specifically to the Y DNA tree of mankind. The Pacific Coast is not the same for all of us, as each of our families has a distinctive location. Lewis and Clark founded what would be Fort Clastrop on the edge of Astoria, Oregon. From Astoria Column, a tower, you can see the Pacific Ocean, the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River.
Single SNP testing is like flying a two seater from St. Louis and hoping to land in Astoria without knowing where Astoria is. The plane is low priced and reliable but has bad gas mileage. More importantly, Astoria may not even have coordinates on the map yet or a landing strip. This kind of approach is most applicable when someone who is highly probable to be on the edge of your genealogically known family has already done a Big Y test and has built a very tall tower or lighthouse to go with a new landing strip. That tower in Astoria could be thought as a super version of Astoria Column and it is built with 111 Y STR markers.
Fixed SNP panel/pack testing is like flying the two seater from St. Louis hopscotching across the country, landing at a handful of small airports and getting out and taking a good set of photos at each location and then deciding the next location to fly to. Fixed SNP packs/panels are a low entry price way to go, but suffer the same problem any fixed SNP test suffers. What if your Astoria hasn't been discovered? Perhaps, even your State of Oregon has not been discovered. You also might have troubles if your eyesight or navigation system isn't so good. For good navigation you'd want to have at least 111 Y STR markers.
Big Y Discovery testing is like having a super high speed, fuel efficient jet traversing back and forth on multiple paths high across the sky on mostly clear days taking special photos of the countryside between St. Louis and the Pacific Coast. It is scanning over 14.5 million locations. If your Astoria turns out to be San Diego, Long Beach or Tacoma, that's okay. Big Y is accomplishing what Lewis and Clark were doing, mapping the route for settlers to follow in the form of lower entry price tests. Unfortunately, your family of genealogical record might not even be on the maps for the mass migration of settlers to come, that is without SNP discovery testing like Big Y. It's just a fact of the Y chromosome just as it is of the geography. The settlers won't go to a place when they don't know where it is or even know it exists.
Only a member of your genealogical family can discover your Astoria and erect the Astoria Column of 111 STR markers for the settlers. We need leaders in each family.
I'm asking you to start thinking about Big Y if you haven't already. Be a lead-explorer! There are now several thousand Big Y results in just for the R1b haplogroup now. It works. Big Y results can come in as quickly as 4 weeks (FTDNA uses an 10-12 week estimate). Pooling of resources at the project/family/surname levels can help share the cost, but be looking for Holiday, DNA Day, Father's Day sales promotions.
Helpful Tips for dealing with the many items confronting you in your personal FTDNA Home page (often called myFTDNA)
Please take some time to review and update the information in your kit at Family Tree DNA.
Go to https://www.familytreedna.com/
Click the LOGIN TAB on the top of the screen and enter your kit number and password to open your MyFTDNA page.
Click the MANAGE PERSONAL INFORMATION link on the left of the page. Or, use the drop-down menu at top right to open your profile.
There is a lot you can configure. Please take some time to click around and setup your profile.
In particular, please check and consider the following.
1. ON THE CONTACT INFORMATION TAB:
Input your current mailing address. This is used in case FTDNA needs to send you a new test kit to upgrade your kit. It is also useful if a DNA Project Administrator wants to contact you and your email is not working.
Input multiple email addresses if you can. This is helpful if your email address stops working for any reason. If you have a beneficiary or relative that you might want to take over your kit someday, input their email address too. If you want, input the email address of your DNA Project Administrators. Any email that you input here could someday takeover management of the kit if you are no longer able to do so.
If the contact person is not the person who gave the DNA sample, then please input the name of the DNA donor and put the contact person as c/o (Care Of) in the address line. For example, John James Smith, c/o Donna Smith Jones.
2. ON THE ACCOUNT SETTINGS TAB:
Change the Personal Information default from Private to Basic or Full. This allows others with FTDNA login access to view the information you share in your profile. This is useful for people who match you and for others in any DNA project groups you join.
If you have a web site or family tree online, you can show the link in the ABOUT ME box. If the DNA donor has passed, or is no longer able to donate additional DNA, then you might want to include a note explaining this in the ABOUT ME box.
3. ON THE GENEALOGY TAB - FAMILY TREE:
Even if you have not yet created a family tree on FTDNA, please change the default Family Tree privacy settings. Hopefully, someday you will create or upload a tree. Or, a project admin might do it for you. So, it will help if these settings are configured. In order to use DNA for genealogy, you want people to check your tree. I set my tree to Public for deceased people, but individually select those I wish to retain as Private (because they are living). If you have a gedcom file of your family tree, please upload it by clicking on the FAMILY TREE button on your kit's main page.
If you don't have a gedcom file, and can't make one, then you can manually create a tree by clicking on FAMILY TREE then clicking the profile icon. If you have a tree on Ancestry.com or elsewhere then you can get a gedcom.
Or, if someone else has you in their tree, they might be able to give you a gedcom. If you need help creating a gedcom or extracting your tree from Ancestry, go to http://www.nixternal.com/export-gedcom-file-from-ancestry-com/
4. ON THE GENEALOGY TAB - MOST DISTANT ANCESTORS:
Input your Most Distant Ancestors. These should be the most distant known ancestors you have in your direct paternal and direct maternal lines. Only input names that you know with high confidence. It helps if you include dates and location info with the name, although you may have to abbreviate words.
If the date is approximate, use the letter "c" as abbreviation for circa in front of the date. Circa is the standard term meaning around or about.
For example, John Henry Smith b.c1822 d.1901 SC.
5. ON THE GENEALOGY TAB - SURNAMES:
Input all the surnames of your known ancestors on all branches of your lineage. This is very useful because the matching tools allow people to search matches for surnames. If you have a surname with variations in spelling, it can help to input each variation. That way you will show up whichever variation some uses to search their matches.
6. ON THE BENEFICIARY INFORMATION TAB:
Input the name and contact information of someone you want to take over the kit should you pass away or become unable to manage it. If you don't have anyone to make your beneficiary, then ask one of your DNA Project Administrators for their contact information to make them your kit beneficiary. It is very sad that many people pass away without designating a kit beneficiary. That makes their DNA kit of limited use for future researchers.
7. ON THE PRIVACY & SHARING TAB:
Change most of the default settings here. FTDNA has made the defaults extremely limiting. That makes it harder to use the DNA results for genealogy.
Change "Who can view my Most Distant Ancestor" so that project members can see it. Otherwise, it is hidden.
Change "Who can see me in project member lists" so that others can see you. It helps if people can see you and contact you to share their research.
Change "Who can view my ethnic breakdown" to allow matches to view it.
Change "Who can view my mtDNA Coding Region" to allow project admins to view them if you want their help in researching your direct female lineage. You can give project administrators full access to your account. This allows the administrator to view all of your DNA results and keep your account information up to date. This makes it easier to manage the DNA project. To give a project administrator full access to your account, you must tell them your kit number and password. Giving administrators full access can also ensure that your kit remains useful for future researchers should you pass away. And, administrators can help your relatives or beneficiaries take over the kit someday if they need help. If you give an admin full access, then you can ask them to make changes for you.