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The Difference Between Regression Testing and Retesting

Regression testing versus retesting. The two may sound similar, so it can be easy to forget the nuances between these two testing types.

However, mentioning one of these types of testing when you mean the other can be embarrassing and might get you a few strange looks from your colleagues. Worse yet, using these terms correctly could prevent people from doing the wrong work, and undermine team productivity and confidence.

If this confusion is happening on your team, there’s no need to be ashamed – at testRigor, we see it from time to time with teams we talk to, and we’re here to help without any drama or finger-pointing.

Whether you’re new to the software testing scene or just need a refresher, here’s a quick rundown of the main differences between regression testing and retesting.

What is regression testing, and when should it be used?

If you’ve worked in the software world for any length of time, you already know that regression testing is a concept that can have an important impact on a daily basis for most modern software projects. At the same time, it’s really easy to forget how to concisely define what regression testing is.

In a nutshell, regression testing is the form of software testing used to check if any changes (whether new features or bug fixes) to the software project have caused any previously working parts to stop working as expected.

To put it even more simply, regression testing aims to verify if anything broke as a result of an update.

When performing regression testing, you’re usually trying to detect if there are any bugs that you do not expect to exist and that should not exist.

In modern software projects, regression tests are often a part of an automated testing suite, so that they can be run frequently and efficiently as the project scales. As such, these tests need to be updated from time to time as the software project evolves over time.

The regression test suite is typically automated right after the smoke tests, and can bring you the highest value. And in case you’re not familiar with testRigor yet, you ought to check us out – since it’s perhaps the easiest way to build robust functional tests while not having to deal with any code. Harnessing the power of AI and utilizing many smart features also helps testRigor tests to be extremely stable and automatically adapt to changes such as locator updates.

What is retesting, and when should it be used?

When it comes to retesting, it may be tempting to assume that it simply means to test again, but retesting is more nuanced in reality.

To provide a definition, retesting is the form of testing used to check whether some broken functionality has been corrected.

As the definition implies, retesting is usually done when you already know that a bug exists, and usually is performed after some update has been made with the intention of fixing the bug.

In other words, retesting checks to see whether you’ve successfully fixed the bug. Since the bug is usually not expected behavior and is intended to be fixed, retesting is usually tactically applied to specific bug situations and is not usually part of a comprehensive automated test suite. That said, you may need to perform specific retesting multiple times if efforts to fix the bug are not immediately successful.

Comparing and contrasting regression testing vs. retesting

So, when trying to keep regression testing and retesting straight in our heads, how should we think of the two as distinct forms of testing?

One way is to remember what each form of testing is used for. Regression testing is for things that you expect to be working, when you want to confirm they have not changed or regressed to a prior state of not functioning as needed. On the other hand, retesting is for things that you already know have been broken, and you want to confirm that the issues are now fixed.

Another way to distinguish the two is to consider when each form of testing is used. While regression testing is often performed in an automated fashion to monitor and confirm the functionality is working as needed on an ongoing basis as part of an automated test suite, retesting is usually done on an as-needed basis since you’re not expecting the broken functionality to persist as broken.

Now that you’re up to speed on regression testing vs. retesting, be sure to make the most of your newly updated understanding of these two types of testing by using this knowledge on a daily basis. The more you practice it, the more it will sink in and become second nature for you.

And as often, we highly encourage you to try out codeless test automation with testRigor and experience firsthand how straightforward test creation can be.

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