October 2, 2019 | Last updated on April 11, 2024

Difference Between Automated and Manual Software Testing

Written by Pete Nystrom

Software testing is an esoteric concept.  If you’re not amongst the crowd of individuals that knows this well, we explain the difference between automated and manual software testing so you can make more informed decisions throughout the software development life cycle.

Where do you start and which method is right for the job?  Let’s start with the basics.

person showing gear graphic

Difference Between Automated and Manual Software Testing

Automated testing involves using an automated tool, such as Selenium, which tests web applications across many browsers, to evaluate the functionality of your software.  With automated testing, more time is necessary for maintaining test scripts and expanding test coverage than for exploratory tests.

Manual testing consists of a tester who acts as the end user and tests all applications within the system to make sure they are functional. The application should work as intended.

Why an Automated Testing Process?

Automated testing is much more efficient and can run tests more quickly. Without the need to have a resource conducting the tests, they can be completed overnight and the results will be ready for you in the morning.

The automation software registers test data, compares predicted results with actual results, and produces detailed test reports.  If tests are conducted correctly, the system should provide reliable, repeatable tests.

code on computers

Types of Automated Testing:

Smoke Testing

This software test consists of a non-exhaustive set of tests that are used to assure that important functions of the system work as intended.  The results gathered from smoke testing are used to determine whether to conduct further testing.

Unit Testing

As its title indicates, unit testing tests individual units of a software.  This test is usually the first phase of software testing, conducted to ensure that each unit of the software functions correctly.

Integration Testing

Integration testing is a phase of software testing where individual units are tested together.  This testing is conducted to examine if there are any flaws when the units are forced to work together.  It’s not uncommon for newly introduced units or components to cause something to break elsewhere in the system.

Functional Testing

Functional testing is comprised of testing the system to make sure it follows the functional requirement specifications.  Black box testing is included in this testing to evaluate the internal information in the system.  We discuss this type of testing later in the blog.

Regression Testing

Regression testing should be conducted when a modification has been made or new code has been added to your application.  This type of software testing ensures that the new additions do not affect the functionality of the existing programs.

Data Driven Testing

Data driven testing consists of an automation system that collects test data from data sources and stores it in a single location, most likely in a spreadsheet or table format.  This structure simplifies the process of data testing in that a single test can be conducted for all the data in the spreadsheet.

White Box Testing

White box testing examines the internal structure and design of the system.  The internal structure is visible to the tester so that they can evaluate the flow of inputs and outputs in order to refine its design and usability.

Although leveraging automated tests may help increase efficiency throughout the quality assurance process these techniques have a downside. It is important to note that automated tests are prone to breaking and/or becoming obsolete as the software continuously evolves.

Why a Manual Testing Process?

Manual testing processes are used to mimic real-life scenarios.  Manual tests check the state of the system and upon successful completion will present a defect-free product to the user.

person on computer

Types of Manual Testing:

System Testing

System testing is conducted when the software is complete and integrated.  This testing involves a series of tests to screen the computer-based system and make sure that it is in agreement with the system’s requirements.  Black box testing is usually used in this process as well.

Acceptance Testing

Acceptance testing is conducted to ensure that the specified requirements are met. This test is performed to evaluate whether the system is acceptable to the end user in terms of usability.

Exploratory Testing

In exploratory testing, the tester uses their creativity and personal freedom to create new tests.  This testing strategy is considered both a test design and test execution process.

Black Box Testing

Black box testing is a testing method in which the tester does not know the internal structure or design of the system.  This testing checks the functionality of the software through the inputs and outputs of the system without consulting the internal components.

When to Use Automated Testing:

  • For repetitive, unchanging tasks
  • For assessing the functionality of the system
  • For testing the same application functions with different inputs and large amounts of data
  • For tests that would take a lot of time to manually test
  • For testing software functions after implementing new code
  • For long-term projects that require a large investment and adequate planning

When to Use Manual Testing: 

  • For more flexible testing
  • For short-term projects
  • For testing how users will interact with the software
  • For new functions that are still evolving and routinely changing
  • For testing specific functions

Automated testing is the better option for testing repetitive tasks, while manual testing is geared toward innovation and critical thinking.  Therefore, for a specific project both types of testing may be used.

There are many components to consider when choosing which type of software testing to use.  Which is more time efficient, cost efficient, etc. If you are still unsure of what method is best for you, contact us at hello@seamgen.com and we will be happy to help!

Pete Nystrom
Written by
Pete Nystrom
VP of Engineering, Seamgen
Software architect, full-stack web/mobile engineer, and cloud transformation expert
Top Application Development Company San Diego and web design company in San Diego

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