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Manual Testing vs. Automated Testing: What's the Difference?

Manual Testing vs. Automated Testing: What's the Difference?

Testing is one of the most important aspects of the software development process. It is the moment of truth when the software actually sees the light of day. There are various ways of software testing. Manual testing is the methodology of humans doing all the testing. For a long time, this worked very well. But today there is so much preponderance of software that it is just not feasible for humans to test all the software manually. This is where the software testing automation takes over. There are a lot of advantages to the automated testing process thanks to its adherence to speed and accuracy, which humans are just not able to achieve.

In this blog, we take a look at the various aspects of manual testing and automated testing and find out what are the differences between Manual and Automation Testing along with the advantages and disadvantages of each of the two processes. Let us go through the topics we will be covering:

Difference between Manual and Automation Testing

CriteriaManual TestingAutomated Testing
Basic premiseLess accurate and cannot perform repeated tasksHighly reliable for repeated tasks as it uses tools and scripts
Time takenNeeds a lots of timeIs a very fast process
InvestmentNeeded for human resourcesNeeded for software tools
Generally used whenTest cases are run once or twiceTest cases are run repeatedly
For user interface testingHighly effective since it involves human interventionNot effective since there is no human intervention
Initial costVery lessHigh
For build verification testingNot recommendedHighly recommended

At the end of the day, the type of testing that you need is totally dictated by the requirement of the project, the kind of budget that is available, and what is the testing methodology that will benefit the given deadlines, customer expectations, and so on.

When it comes to exploratory, usability, and ad-hoc testing, the best way to test the cases is through manual testing. When it comes to Performance Testing, load testing, regression testing, and repeated testing, you can be assured that automated testing is the best option.

There are many testing types, such as black-box testing and white-box testing, that are carried out manually as well as automatically. Black-box testing is more about system settings and configuration, and it does not look into the internal working of the software.

White-box testing tests the logic, algorithm, and internal working of software such as branches, paths, code statements, and conditions. Integration testing tests the various joint functionalities after integration, code modules, and applications such as client, server, individual, and so on. This type of integrated testing is most suitable for distributed systems and client-server applications.

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What is Manual Testing?

In manual testing, the software is tested manually by a QA analyst. It is done to check the software for any bugs. The QA Analyst is responsible for checking all features of the software and using various test cases. The report is also generated manually without the help of any automated testing tools. It is a traditional method of software testing.

Manual testing requires QA analysts and engineers. They have to take the process in a very hands-on manner. This includes being very involved in everything, from creating a test case to executing it.

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What is Automation Testing?

In automation testing, code or test scripts are written by testers to automate the testing process. Testers need to use the appropriate automation tools to develop the test scripts. The main aim is to execute the test in the least amount of time.

Automation testing is completely dependent on prescripted tests. These tests run automatically and compare the actual results with the expected results. This provides valuable feedback related to the application’s performance. Repetitive tasks and regression tests can also be executed via automation testing.

With automation testing, all tests are performed automatically but some manual input is still needed in the beginning stages of writing the scripts.

In automation testing, testers write scripts to automate test execution. They do not have to be involved in every step of the process, unlike in manual testing.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Manual and Automation Testing

Both automation testing and manual testing have their strengths and weaknesses.

Let us talk about them one by one.

Advantages of Manual Testing

  • Quick and accurate feedback
  • Cost-cutting as money is not being spent on the automation process and tools
  • Elements of human judgment and intuition are an advantage

Disadvantages of Manual Testing

  • Highly prone to human errors, which makes it unreliable
  • Cannot be used more than once as it cannot be recorded
  • Certain tasks are more difficult to perform manually, which also leads to more time being spent on the process

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Advantages of Automation Testing

  • Can find more bugs than manual testing
  • Is more efficient and takes less time as a major part of the testing process is automated
  • Repeated use and execution of the process are possible as can be recorded
  • Increases productivity
  • Can support several applications
  • Is able to cover more area for testing as it does not leave out anything

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Disadvantages of Automation Testing

  • Not possible to get insights into the visual aspects of the user interface (UI) such as fonts, size, contrast, color, etc., without human intervention
  • Can be expensive
  • Restricted scope as some automation tools have limitations
  • Periodic debugging of the test script is necessary, which can be costly

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Manual Testing vs. Automation Testing – Which One is Better?

With automation testing, more tests can be done in less time, while manual testing is more attentive and focused. Automation testing increases productivity and manual testing can handle more complex cases.

None of the two can replace the other and the perfect solution is to use both of them. Manual testing will handle complex tests while automation testing will handle repetitive tasks. Using a combination of manual testing and automation testing can make your testing process more efficient.

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Uses of Manual Testing

Exploratory testing: In this type of testing, the knowledge and experience of the tester, along with their analytical and logical mindset, is of utmost importance. It needs creativity and intuition in equal measure. This type of test has documentation that is poorly written. So, the tester has to ensure that the execution of the process is completed.

Usability testing: This type of testing helps in finding out how user-friendly is a certain software product. So, for this, human observation is crucial, without which the usability test cannot pass muster.

Ad-hoc testing: This type of testing, as the name implies, is done on an ad-hoc basis to serve a specific purpose. This can only be done by humans; since there is no set plan, it cannot be automated.

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Uses of Automation Testing

Regression testing: This type of testing is best suited for automated testing as there are frequent code changes and it is beyond the human capacity to run the test in a timely manner.

Load testing: This is the right type of automation testing for load-testing applications.

Repeated execution: Automation testing can be deployed in cases that involve repeated execution.

Performance testing: This type of testing includes simulating hundreds of concurrent users.

Then there are other types of software testing as well, which as per the situation, project, organization, and need can be done either by manual testing or automated testing.

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Tests that can be done through Automation Testing or Manual Testing

Integration testing: Integrated modules testing method to verify joint functionality after integration. Modules are typically code modules, individual applications, client and server applications on a network, etc. This type of testing is especially applicable to client or server and distributed systems.

System testing: It tests the entire system for any errors or bugs.

Unit testing: This tests the software components and modules, which need a thorough knowledge of the internal programming of the code and design.

Acceptance testing: The system meets various customer requirements in this testing. It is normally done by the customer before accepting any software application to verify its efficacy.

Also, read about user acceptance testing.

Now that you know the various test scenarios in which each of the software testing methodologies is used, it is up to you and your organization to either choose manual testing or automation testing. It is all about making the right decision to ensure that the software, when delivered to the client, is of the highest quality.

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Now you know the differences between manual testing and automation testing, both are suitable for different tasks. There are different scenarios in which both of them could excel. Now, the question is which one would you choose? The simple answer while choosing Manual vs Automation testing is to identify your testing needs and then use the information provided in this blog to answer your question.

Based on the scenario, both manual testing and automation testing do have an edge over each other. A good testing process would utilize both manual testing and automation testing wisely; where manual testing falls short, automation testing could take over and vice versa.

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About the Author

Technical Manager - DevOps

Akshay Shukla, a Technical Manager in DevOps, is an experienced professional with a rich background in Cloud Computing, Software Development, and Talent Acquisition. Proficient in Azure, Kubernetes, Docker, and more, he excels at designing scalable solutions and automating workflows. He leads his team with unwavering commitment and also has a passion for crafting business content.