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Automated vs. Manual Testing: A Quick Guide

Testing is a broad software development step that can be categorized into two main areas: automated testing and manual testing. Each testing method offers unique benefits and drawbacks, making it important for software developers and anyone with a great app idea to know the difference.

Here is a brief comparison between manual and automated testing so you can tell when to use one over the other for the best results. Keep reading!

Manual testing 

As the name suggests, manual test cases are executed by a human being manually. In other words, a testing engineer performs the tests to ensure that an app meets the desired metrics. 

While the purpose of software testing is to evaluate quality, performance, functionality, and security, manual tests are more prone to errors. They also take relatively long to test, patch, and maintain codes, making this option less reliable when running tests repeatedly.

For that reason, most software developers will prefer automated tests to manual testing to ensure accuracy and cut back on time. However, manual tests can be helpful in instances when web application automated testing is not applicable, such as when testing customer experience. 

Automated testing

Unlike manual testing, automated tests are executed with the help of scripts, tools, and software. This software testing option is more reliable and is significantly faster than a manual approach.

Because this testing approach does not require human observation, it is very practical in cases where tests require frequent repetition over a long period.

However, this testing method may not be the best way to test unpredictable conditions that require human observation. A good example is when you want to test what will happen to a running mobile app if there are many unintentional taps while the phone is in the user’s pocket. In such an instance, manual testing is the best method to use.

It is also important to note that automated testing may be relatively costly. This is because you will have to buy expensive software testing programs and additional hardware infrastructure to perform automated tests.

What should I choose; manual or automated testing?

The ideal software testing method will depend on various factors, including budget, suitability, expertise, project requirements. That is because each testing method will help you accomplish one goal better than the other.

For instance, manual testing is your best bet if you want to measure a product or software’s user-friendliness, convenience, or efficiency to the end-users. A manual approach will help you use the human (tester’s) knowledge, analytical/logical skills, experience, intuition, and creativity to determine whether the app performs as expected or not. 

Besides usability testing, ad-hoc testing and exploratory testing are among other scenarios that may require a manual approach. 

On the other hand, automated testing is used to perform regression, repetitive, load, or performance tests because test engineers already know what to expect. That means if a tester wants to see how an app performs after implementing new changes, automated testing will help them compare the actual results with the expected results and identify what needs changing.

Similarly, if the tester wants to see if new changes affect the loading speed of a web application, an automated test suite can help them simulate thousands of virtual users and gadgets to see how the app behaves.


As the IT infrastructure evolves, software developers will experience more testing tools, techniques, and options to help them optimize apps and machines for desired metrics before the launch. However, that does not mean manual testing will become unnecessary. That means software developers who want to get the best results must find the right mix of automated and manual testing.

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