July 4, 2018

A Quick Guide to Manual Testing Vs Automated Testing

A project has three vital aspects that are cost, time, and quality. The prime objective of any project is to get a high-quality output while reducing the cost and the time required for completing the project. Testing is an integral part of any project. Testing is broadly classified as manual testing and automated testing. It is important to know the difference between manual and automated testing. As a result, you can decide when to use manual testing and when to use automated testing to optimize cost and time of the project.

What is manual testing?

Manual testing means testing of an application manually by a human. A Quality Assurance Specialist (tester) performing manual testing ensures that an application is working properly by following conditions written in test cases. The tester evaluates the design, functionality, and performance of the application by clicking through various elements.  Manual testing is helpful when the automated testing is not possible. For example, to test a mobile application during unpredictable conditions such as the mobile application is running when the phone is in user’s pocket and there are many unintentional taps. The testers simulate the conditions to check whether this will lead to crashing of the application.

What is automated testing?

In automated testing, there are pre-scripted tests which run automatically. The tests are run to compare the actual results with the expected results.  The automated tests help to determine whether the application performs as expected or it does not. Automated tests come handy while performing repetitive and regression tests to ensure that an application performs correctly after new changes are implemented. Automated tests run with the help of tools, scripts, and software to perform pre-defined actions written in the test cases.

Difference between Manual testing and Automated testing

Manual Testing

Automated Testing

Manual Testing is prone to human errors. Therefore the accuracy and reliability of the test results are low. Automated Testing, on the other hand, is more reliable. Tools and/or scripts perform the automated test.
The cost of manual testing is dependent upon the human resources deployed in testing. The cost of automated testing is dependent upon the testing tools deployed for performing tests.
The time required for manual testing is more as human resources perform it. The time required for automated testing is less as software tools execute the tests.
Manual testing is suitable when the test cases are run once or twice. Therefore there is no frequent repetition of test cases. Automated testing is suitable when the test cases need to run repeatedly for a long duration of time.
Manual testing helps to find out the user-friendliness of an application. It involves human observation to find out any glitches. Therefore manual testing helps in improving the customer experience. Automated testing doesn’t ensure user-friendliness of the application. As there is no human observation involved, there is no guarantee of positive customer experience.

Manual Testing Vs Automated Testing: Usage

When to use Manual Testing?

Manual testing is best-suited for the following:

Exploratory Testing

The manual testing comes to rescue while working with poorly written specification documentation and there is a shortage of time.  In this type of testing, an experienced QA with good domain knowledge along with strong analytical skills, creativity, and intuition is required. This approach requires minimal planning and maximum test execution.

Usability Testing

This testing helps to find out the user-friendliness of an application.  The goal of this testing is to find out the end user satisfaction with the application so human observation is important. Therefore manual approach is helpful in performing usability testing.

Ad-hoc Testing

This type of testing is performed without any planning and documentation. The outcome of this testing is dependent on the knowledge and skills of the tester.

When to use Automated Testing?

Automated Testing is well-suited for the following:

Regression Testing

Automated testing is apt when there are frequent code changes which require frequent testing. This testing is conducted to ensure that the new code changes that are implemented don’t affect the existing functionalities.

Load Testing

Automated testing is preferred for load testing which helps to determine a system’s performance under real-life load conditions. This testing finds out how the system behaves when multiple users access it simultaneously.

Performance Testing

Performance testing helps to find out the speed, scalability, and stability of the application. The goal is to eliminate any performance bottlenecks. This requires simulation of thousands of concurrent users. Automated testing is preferred for performance testing.

Manual Testing Vs Automated Testing: Pros & Cons

Manual Testing: Pros & Cons

There are certain advantages of manual testing which are as follows:

Pros of manual testing:

Live testing

With manual testing, the tester can test the application under similar conditions when your application goes live. Any bugs or glitches which occur when the application is live can be tracked with the help of manual testing.

UI & UX issues

Manual testing helps to identify any issues related to the look and feel of the application. It also helps to find out the usability issues in the application. The automated tests are unable to identify these loop-holes in the application.

Less investment

Manual testing requires low investment as it doesn’t require any costly tools or high-level skills to perform.

Adaptability to changes

Manual testing is well-suited in the case when you are making a lot of unplanned changes to the application and the application needs to be tested post implementing the changes.

Cons of manual testing:

Possibility of errors

As manual testing is dependent on humans, there is a higher possibility of errors. The testing results will be as good as the tester performing the tests.  With manual testing, there are chances that the tester may miss out on the same bugs on retesting the application.


Manual tests can’t be reused which means every time there is a change in the application, the tester needs to run all the test cases again. Hence the tester needs to test the application even in the case of minor changes. This is rather a time-consuming activity.

Testing limitations

Manual testing is not good for load and performance testing. To check the performance of an application in manual testing, there is a requirement of a large number of users and gadgets.

Automated Testing: Pros & Cons

Pros of automated testing:

Quick results

Automated tests require much lesser time to execute. The tests can be re-used and it is easy to run the tests on different machines.

Fewer errors

The automated tests are less susceptible to errors compared to humans. Therefore the results of automated testing are more reliable.


In manual testing, only the tester has visibility of the testing progress and test results. Whereas in automated testing, other testers can sign into the testing framework and view the test results of the testing progressively.

Cons of automated testing:

High cost

Automated testing requires you to buy licenses of expensive software testing programs. You may also require additional hardware infrastructure to perform automated tests which will incur additional costs.

Inability to detect UI & Usability issues

The software code is incapable to judge the aesthetics and usability of an application. Humans can best judge these aspects. This is the limitation of automated testing.

Tools limitation

The performance of automated testing is dependent on the tools used to perform testing.  A tool may have its limitations and it may have its own bugs and issues.


For optimizing the cost and time required for successful completion of a project, you cannot solely depend on manual testing or automated testing approach. You need a right mix of manual testing and automated testing to get the best results.

ReQtest is a test management tool that allows you to keep track of your manual and automated testing efforts. You can view the test execution results of your manual testing and automated testing at a single place. It allows you to efficiently collaborate with your team members while performing testing.

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