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What's the difference between manual testing vs. automation testing? That's what we break down in this blog. Plus, you'll learn about the best type of testing.
There are some major differences between manual testing and automation testing. In manual testing, a human performs the tests step by step, without test scripts. In automated testing, tests are executed automatically via test automation frameworks, along with other tools and software.
The biggest difference between manual and automation testing is who executes the test case. In manual testing, the human tester does it. In automation testing, the tool does it.
Manual testing is the process in which QA analysts execute tests one-by-one in an individual manner. The purpose of manual testing is to catch bugs and feature issues before a software application goes live.
When manually testing, the tester validates the key features of a software application. Analysts execute test cases and develop summary error reports without specialized automation tools.
Learn how to transition from manual testing to automated testing in 7 steps >>
Automation testing is the process in which testers utilize tools and scripts to automate testing efforts.
Automation testing helps testers execute more test cases and improve test coverage. When comparing manual vs. automation testing, manual takes longer. Automated testing is more efficient.
Manual testing is very hands-on. It requires analysts and QA engineers to be highly involved in everything from test case creation to actual test execution.
Automation testing involves testers writing test scripts that automate test execution. (A test script is a set of instructions to be performed on target platforms to validate a feature or expected outcome.)
Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Manual testing is slow and tedious. But its strength is that it better handles complex scenarios. Automated testing requires coding and test maintenance. But on the plus side, it is much faster and covers many more permutations.
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Here's a quick comparison table of the differences between manual vs. automation testing.
Aspect of Testing
Done manually by QA testers
Done automatically using automation tools and scripts
Time-consuming and less efficient
More testing in less time and greater efficiency
Types of Tasks
Entirely manual tasks
Most tasks can be automated, including real user simulations
Difficult to ensure sufficient test coverage
Easy to ensure greater test coverage
Related Reading: Test Automation Strategy For Beginners
The biggest pro of automation testing over manual testing is that it allows you to do more testing in less time. It increases productivity and expands how much you can test.
Why would you choose automated testing over manual testing?
Users choose automated testing over manual testing mainly because of time. In fact, automated testing was developed because manual testing is so time consuming. Automated testing is much faster.
Top 11 Challenges in Automated Testing & What to Do About Them >>
Manual testing is very time-consuming. As software engineering demands have grown, automated testing became a necessity to keep up with the pressure and go-to-market needs.
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Automated testing reduces repetitive manual tasks during the testing phase. However, automated testing does require some manual work during the implementation stage. Testers need to manually create the baseline testing scripts.
How to Decide Which Types of Test Cases to Automate >>
Plus, test scripts can be reused. This adds efficiency further down the line.
Test automation tools have come a long way. They can now automate even highly advanced tests, thanks to real user simulation technology.
Another pro of automated testing vs. manual testing is increased test coverage.
Automation testing can actually deliver better results because of its ability for increased test coverage.
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Manual testing can only cover a certain number of device and OS permutations. But automated testing can cover many more. This leads to better error detection.
[Related Resource: Test Automation Basics]
A biggest pro of manual testing over automation or continuous testing is its focused attention. When a tester is manually creating and executing tests, there is more ability to handle complex and nuanced test scenarios.
While automated testing has advanced dramatically in its ability to handle sophisticated testing, sometimes only manual testing can be used. In manual testing, there is a lower risk for false negatives. (More false negatives can create extra work for DevOps teams to validate whether a reported error is true or false.)
Repetitive, high-frequency tests can easily be automated. But tests should not be automated if they occur infrequently, are high risk, or are subject to change.
Here are some instances when you would want live testing instead of automated testing:
Automation testing will not replace manual testing. You need both manual and automation testing. Manual testing handles complex test cases, while automated testing handles simpler, more repetitive tests.
So, manual testing is still important. But adding automated testing makes your manual tests more efficient.
Continuous testing is an evolution of test automation. It leverages automated tests to ensure that testing happens continuously.
The main biggest pro of continuous testing in Agile is to protect your brand’s reputation and the user experience — without sacrificing delivery. Releasing sub-standard software is a risk to a business’s bottom line.
Automated testing dramatically improves upon the results of manual testing. But continuous testing takes software testing to the ultimate finish line.
If you can implement continuous testing in a stable and scalable manner, you will get:
The 3 Essential Building Blocks of Continuous Testing >>
The journey from manual testing to fully-functional continuous testing in DevOps takes intention, strategy, and time. Luckily there are modern solutions that can help you overcome testing challenges. The industry's most-trusted solution is Perfecto.
Perfecto empowers you to do continuous testing and utilize test automation. With our continuous testing platform, you'll have everything you need to deliver better user experiences. This includes:
In addition to continuous testing, Perfecto powers exceptional digital experiences by combining the power of flexible test authoring, cross-platform execution, and AI-driven analytics into one secure, cloud-based web & mobile testing platform.
See for yourself how Perfecto will take your testing to the next level. Try Perfecto for free today.
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DevOps Chief Evangelist & Sr. Director at Perforce Software, Perfecto
Eran Kinsbruner is a person overflowing with ideas and inspiration, beyond that, he makes them happen. He is a best-selling author, continuous-testing and DevOps thought-leader, patent-holding inventor (test exclusion automated mechanisms for mobile J2ME testing), international speaker, and blogger.
With a background of over 20 years of experience in development and testing, Eran empowers clients to create products that their customers love, igniting real results for their companies.