What is the difference between manual and automated testing?

Software testing is a massive area in tech in itself. There are many different testing methodologies available to testers that help to build impeccable software that runs smoothly. Once you begin to explore the field of testing, you’ll sooner or later stumble upon the discussion about the differences, pros, and cons of automated testing versus manual testing.

In this article, we guide you through each of these approaches to show when each brings the best results.

What is manual testing?


Manual testing refers to a type of software testing where all the tests are executed manually by Quality Assurance (QA) engineers. The idea is discovering bugs in the software which has been developed.
In manual testing, testers check all of the essential app features by executing test cases and generating test reports. They do it without any help from automation testing tools. Manual testing is a classical method of testing types that allows detecting bugs in software systems and is usually carried out by experienced testers.


Pros of manual testing

  • – It allows getting accurate visual feedback fast.
    – It’s less expensive because there’s no need to invest in automation tools and processes.
    – Human intuition and judgment are key factors in some types of testing and bring the best results.
    – When testing for a small change, it doesn’t make sense to go into automation. Your team would have to code the automated test first, and that might be time-consuming. Testing it manually will be much faster.

Cons of manual testing

Since this type of testing relies on humans, it’s also prone to mistakes and errors.
The manual testing process can’t be recorded, so it’s impossible to reuse any tests.
In manual testing, certain tasks might be difficult to perform and require more time during the software testing phase, prolonging the overall development process.
Manual testing is not suited for all of the types of testing – for example, stress testing.
Testing complex cases manually might be challenging or next to impossible.

software testing


What is automated testing?


Automated testing (also called automation testing) relies on code and test scripts written by testers in order to automate the execution of tests. To accomplish that, testers use automation tools that help them write scripts and evaluate the software.

The primary benefit of automated testing is speeding up the process of test execution. Automated testing relies on pre-scripted tests that run automatically and compare the expected results with the actual results. That’s how they help testers to determine whether the application works as expected or not.

Automated testing allows executing a large number of repetitive tasks and regression tests without any manual work from testers. Even if the process is performed automatically, this type of testing still requires some manual work at the beginning, especially during the test script creation.

Pros of automated testing

Automated tests help teams to find more bugs compared to human testers.
The process is faster and more efficient.
Automated tests can be recorded. This means that you can reuse and execute the same kind of tests later on.
Automated testing increases the productivity of the development by providing fast and accurate results.
It supports many different applications.
Testing coverage can be increased easily because testing tools can be expanded to cover every single unit.

Cons of automated testing

Since there’s no human involved in this type of testing, it might be difficult to get insight into the visual aspect of the applications like sizes, contrast, buttons, or colors.
Automation tools tend to be quite expensive and might increase the cost of a development project.
Automation testing is far from foolproof. Every automation tool comes with its limitations that reduce the scope of automation.
Test maintenance can be quite costly, and debugging a test script is often time-consuming.


What’s the difference between manual testing and automated testing?


By reading the overview presented above, you probably have a fair idea about the difference between manual and automated testing.
While manual testing relies on a human engineer to execute test cases, automated testing automated the entire testing process by having the machine use scripts and tools to prepare data and then execute all of the steps required to verify a scenario.
In manual testing, a human tester is responsible for getting the job done. Manual testing doesn’t rely on any tools or scripts. The engineer first prepares a data set and a scenario and then triggers the right inputs or actions in order to test the scenario.


When to use manual testing

The best use cases for manual testing are usability testing, exploratory testing, and ad hoc testing. In these cases, the human approach brings the best results.
Usability testing focuses on the application’s usability and user-friendliness of applications. Naturally, only a human can judge whether a fellow human would find the application usable.
What about ad hoc testing? This type of testing uses a free approach where the tester tries to break components without a scenario in place.
Exploratory testing, on the other hand, concentrates on the tester’s knowledge, creativity, analytical skills, intuition, and experience gained on the job. The test is characterized by poorly written specification documentation or comes with a short time for execution. That’s why it’s entirely up to the tester what is going to be tested and why.


When to use automated testing

Automated testing comes in handy for performance testing, load testing, regression testing, and repeatable functional test cases.
For example, automated testing works so well for regression testing because of the frequent code changes and the ability to run the regressions quickly.
Moreover, automated testing can be a productive part of the DevOps cycle. In modern development teams, testers usually try to automate as many tests as possible, as they can be recorded and reused later during the development process.


Find the balance between manual and automated testing

Since testing is an integral part of software development, it’s up to testers to decide to what extent they want to rely on automation tools. There are many factors a team should take into account when choosing its testing strategy.

Usually, teams aim to implement as many automated tests as possible. Since manual testing is slow, it doesn’t really match the demands of agile software development. The benefits of automated testing greatly surpass those of manual testing. If you’re planning to become a tester, be sure to learn how automated testing works.

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