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Manual Testing vs Automation Testing: What’s the Difference?

Manual vs Automation Testing

Software testing is the process of verifying that the software is behaving according to specifications, and it can be done systematically and experimentally. Testing helps you to ensure product functions correctly, by splitting functionality into many individual pieces called test cases. Next step is validating these test cases one by one to find defects which are also called bugs.

Based on execution, software testing can be divided into two main testing types:

  • Automation Testing
  • Manual Testing

Automation testing can perform a lot of tests in a limited time frame using automated tools, whereas manual testing utilizes the knowledge and skills of the engineer to test the application. For this reason, the latter is more time-consuming and prone to errors whereas the former is faster and accurate. Automation software can be used to reduce effort and the possibility of human errors – which both lead to saving significant costs.

Successive software development cycles require executing the same test code frequently and automation tools make it possible to re-run large test suites as often as desired, as well as almost instantly receive detailed feedback.

In this article, we’ll review various types of testing methods in both categories along with the pros and cons of the two testing methods in detail. Let’s get started!

At a Glance Comparison

Manual Testing

Automated Testing

Definition

Software product or application is tested manually without using any third-party automation tool. 

An automation software or tool is used to test the code with minimal to no human intervention. 

Ease of use

More testers with specific expertise and training need to collaborate on testing at one single time for a successful outcome. 

Typically requires a collaboration of testers with great product expertise and automation engineers who write and maintain tests.

Speed

Can be more time-efficient for the cases where software needs to be tested only a limited amount of times, highly inefficient for repetitive testing.

Although it takes time to develop a test suite, automation tests are extremely efficient for repetitive testing such as smoke or regression. Necessary for CI/CD.

Test Reliability 

Less reliable because the accuracy of the test depends on the knowledge and advertence of the tester, hence error-prone. 

Very reliable. Test suite can be run as often as needed and catch even slightest differences from the spec. 

What is Manual Testing?

In manual testing techniques, an engineer performs testing by describing scenarios and use cases manually, intending to find errors and functional discrepancies. A manual approach is most suitable for ad-hoc testing, usability testing, and exploratory testing. It is a rigorous and laborious process where the tester needs to be watchful, patient, theoretical, creative, speculative, innovative, and skillful.

When to use manual testing

Manual testing techniques are ideal for usability testing, as the success or failure of an app or website is based on the user’s ability to use it efficiently. Automated testing tools can run a program to check for errors but only manual testers would be able to interpret how end users will communicate with a certain feature.

  • During exploratory testing, the tester focuses more on the execution, with little emphasis provided on planning. Manual testing allows the tester to create a test character, a set of goals, and pick the right approach based on the severity of the use case. The tester is not necessarily required to document the test case, conditions, or scripts.
  • In ad-hoc testing, no specific structure exists to test the program. The tester breaks the entire process with the intent to find possible errors. Ad-hoc is best applicable when the project is in the initial development stage.
  • Manual testing can also be conducted when visual aspects are involved or the test case is not automatable (for example, captcha).

Pros and cons of manual testing

Pros

Cons

Avoid human errors, since every single step is automated. This type of testing technique is more reliable, faster, transparent, and speeds up the testing process. 

Typically takes more time to develop, thus works best for stable products.

Ability to achieve CI/CD.

Usually requires senior QA engineers on the team to set up the test framework and define correct test architecture.

Reduces intervention and low maintenance, as you can run the test any time of the day, or even during nights. In most cases, no human supervision is required at any phase of testing. 

Has some limitations such as captcha, visual aspects, or UX bugs.

Significantly increases test coverage, as the suite simulates multiple clients seamlessly and covers every single feature of the application. 

Test maintenance can easily become a burden if a wrong tool was used and/or the initial test architecture was not defined correctly.

It allows improving testing while monitoring the quality of the system under test.    

Increases efficiency and team productivity as multiple tests can be conducted at the same time in different environments.

Frees up QA time otherwise spent on running tests manually towards better planning, exploratory testing, as well as expanding test coverage.

What is Automated Testing?

With automation testing techniques, the testing engineer writes test scripts and uses automation software tools to test the application. Test execution is done by computers, with more attention, and less human effort. Automation delivers most significant benefits with repetitive types of testing such as regression and saves massive amounts of time on each test execution. Excellent automation tools also provide comprehensive test reports.

When to use automated testing

Automated testing is recommended for test cases where repeated functional, regression testing, load testing, and performance testing are required.

  • It is useful for testing environments that involve repetitive tasks or time-consuming efforts. Since automation eliminates the possibility of human error, it improves testing quality dramatically and catches bugs earlier in the lifecycle.
  • Despite advancements in technology, organizations still struggle to keep pace with scalability when they are parallel testing. Sequential testing techniques used to deliver quality assurance consume a lot of time, effort, and resources. Therefore, automation is the best solution when you need to run the same test at the same instance of time in different environments.
  • To complete non-functional testing, such as performance or load, the testers need to end up with measurable outputs – so subjective analysis (good or best) will not cut it. For that purpose, you need automation. To achieve high standards of non-functional testing, you need to employ a reliable automated tool that possesses the capability of performing all your testing needs without fail.

Pros and cons of automated testing

Pros

Cons

Avoid human errors, since every single step is automated. This type of testing technique is more reliable, faster, transparent, and speeds up the testing process. 

Typically takes more time to develop, thus works best for stable products.

Ability to achieve CI/CD.

Usually requires senior QA engineers on the team to set up the test framework and define correct test architecture.

Reduces intervention and low maintenance, as you can run the test any time of the day, or even during nights. In most cases, no human supervision is required at any phase of testing. 

Has some limitations such as captcha, visual aspects, or UX bugs.

Significantly increases test coverage, as the suite simulates multiple clients seamlessly and covers every single feature of the application. 

Test maintenance can easily become a burden if a wrong tool was used and/or the initial test architecture was not defined correctly.

It allows improving testing while monitoring the quality of the system under test.    

Increases efficiency and team productivity as multiple tests can be conducted at the same time in different environments.

Frees up QA time otherwise spent on running tests manually towards better planning, exploratory testing, as well as expanding test coverage.

Conclusion: The main drawback of automation testing is that it’s rather complex to build such tests, and it requires expensive automation engineers to do that. Luckily, testRigor simplifies this a lot, since now manual QA/testers can spend the same amount of time creating actual automation tests, as previously they would’ve spent creating manual test cases.

What Are The Most Common Types of Software Testing?

Exploratory testing

Exploratory testing is an agile testing method. Here, testers identify and report defects or bugs in an application without referencing any documentation and pre-defined test scenarios. Testers are simultaneously learning while executing tests to test new products, features, while also identifying bugs in a system.

UI/UX (usability testing)

Usability testing ensures that a software or application delivers excellent user experience and is intuitive. It involves QA teams observing real-life users as they use your product. Usability testing can identify areas of use and functionality that need to be improved in order to perfect the user experience and app performance.

Regression testing

This is a type of testing that is executed on an application to confirm that the code change has not affected its actual functioning and that the code carried over from the previous version continues to work properly. Retesting the entire system when any new feature is implemented can be quite tedious and time-consuming; for this reason, automation plays the biggest role and saves the most amount of time in this type of testing.

Black box testing

This is when the tester tests an application without proper information about its internal code details or implementation know-how. Also known as behavioral testing, it is focused entirely on the input and output of an application. By automating test cases, it becomes possible to run more tests, using limited testing resources.

Smoke testing

A preliminary and a fine-grained testing technique where the tester tests the individual parts of the software to determine that new updates have not caused any bugs. Often referred to as “build verification testing,” this technique verifies the build by testing important features. Because individual parts are tested, automation testing is the most appropriate and helpful here.

Functional testing

This is when the engineer tests each function to validate the program against the documented specifications and functional requirements. This kind of testing checks the APIs, GUI, security, database, and other functionalities of the software. During automated functional testing, the software aims at determining the functional elements of the system under test.

Performance/load testing

This is a kind of performance testing where the tester simulates a scenario to test a real-world load on the application. It helps identify how the application behaves during high loads and fix any bugs before the app gets to the production environment. In an environment where performance tests are run time and again, automation can be a reasonable investment. Some of the advantages include fast pace operation, effectiveness, better ROIs, and transparency of the process.

Acceptance testing

This is where development teams write unit tests to ensure if the code is doing the right job, and customers develop acceptance tests to check if the system is working appropriately. These help give the customer confidence that the software can integrate all the required features and that every single component is functioning correctly. If we talk about continuous delivery (CD) style testing strategy, automated acceptance testing becomes a vital component.

Integration testing

This testing technique is executed on all the integrated modules of the software application or website to evaluate whether it is compliant with the documented requirements. The aim of system testing is functional and nonfunctional requirement validation, where understanding and knowledge of the internal design of the code is not required. With automated testing tools, you can shorten the application development life cycle while eliminating the possibility of manual errors.

Automate Your Testing with testRigor

Manual testing is tedious, time-consuming, inefficient in the long run, and costly to businesses when bugs slip into production. Automation is fast and efficient, but normally is very complex and expensive to build. Luckily, with testRigor you can let your manual QA testers own the automation process and write complex end-to-end tests without code, with commands in plain English.

Leverage automation testing in your organization and empower everyone in your team, from analysts to managers to engineers, to create automation tests and spend less time doing so.

Start a free trial today or schedule a demo to learn more about testRigor features and benefits!

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