Manual Testing vs Automation Testing: Which One Should You Choose?

Manual Testing vs Automation Testing: Which one should you choose? cover

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In almost the last few decades, many IT development approaches have changed, but still, the complete overview of SDLC is the same. It starts with requirement collection and understanding and ends with product testing and delivery. And if the initial steps are important to developing a user-friendly output, the last phases are essential for gaining the trust of all those users. So, we bring you the easy yet critical knowledge of manual testing vs automation testing difference.

But before we discuss the difference between manual and automation testing, let’s understand why we need Software testing.

Why Software Testing?

Surprisingly in many cases, the importance within software development isn’t given to testing. If we look into SDLC, testing has greater integrity. Taking it casually and testing in non-real environments will directly impact the entire project and lead to testing failures without a doubt.

So, before you release the product into the market, it’s crucial to ensure that the software is bug-free and users are getting a good experience using every function in the software. Now you know why we need Quality Testing, let’s talk about the types of testing. In any case, two types of testing are available to validate software products: Manual Testing and Automation Testing.

Although there are many differences between them, the main difference is that, in manual testing, you perform the tests step by step without the help of tools. In automated testing, tests are executed automatically using test automation frameworks and other tools and software.

In this article, you will learn about manual and automated testing and the difference between them. We will also dive into the tools and techniques used in automated testing.

What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing is a process in which test cases are executed manually without the help of any automated tool. It ensures that all the functions in the application are working, as defined in the requirement document. Since no tools are involved in Manual Testing, it is slow, repetitive, costly, and time-consuming.

Manual testing is helpful where human interaction is required and better suited. For example, User Acceptance testing is a type of manual testing performed when human intervention is necessary to test the ready-to-use product before releasing it in the market.

Manual testing always takes place when human intervention is needed and needs to test the application from a user perspective. Let’s look at an example below to understand better how Manual Testing works.

How does Manual Testing Work?

Let’s say a developer has created a website and wants you to test for login functionality. Here, the expected behavior is that the user should be able to enter the username and password and click the Login button to submit the credentials.

If the Login button doesn’t redirect the user to the home page when executed, the QA will report this to the developer.

The steps included while executing the test are as follows:

  1. Open a web browser
  2. Navigate to URL
  3. Open the login page
  4. Enter username and password
  5. Report a bug if you’re unable to login

Here, we understood that testing manually takes a lot of time. That’s why we use tools like Testsigma to automate the testing process to resolve these problems.

What is Automation Testing?

Automation Testing is a technique that uses tools to write scripts and execute test cases. It is the best way to enhance the execution speed, effectiveness, and test coverage in software testing. Besides, it is cost-effective and helps find possible bugs quickly.

How does Automation Testing Work?

Organizations will implement Test Automation with a framework that will have standards, common practices, and testing tools. A good Automated Testing Framework includes standards for coding, methods for handling test data, object repositories, procedures for storing test results, or details on utilizing external resources. Depending on the framework, tests are executed and documented.

For example:

  • Linear scripting framework will suit small applications because it needs test scripts with little planning. However, it doesn’t support reusable scripts.
  • In Modular testing frameworks, a tester creates scripts as small and independent to reduce redundancy, but this takes a lot of time to set up.
  • Data-driven frameworks help testers create scripts that work for various data sets and give quality coverage with fewer tests.
  • In Keyword driven testing frameworks, testers without deep programming knowledge can work with the keywords to create test scripts. This generally uses table formats to specify keywords for every function and execution method.
  • Hybrid-driven frameworks will usually combine two or more practices to benefit from both.

Manual Testing vs Automated Testing – Key Differences

The difference between manual testing and automated testing is that in manual testing, you perform the tests step by step without the help of tools, whereas in automated testing, tests are executed automatically using automation tools & frameworks.

Criteria Automation Testing Manual Testing
Speed Automation Testing is faster than a manual testing. Manual testing requires human resources and is time consuming as well.
Exploratory Testing Automation will not allow any random testing. It is possible in case of Manual Testing
Investment The initial investment for automation testing is higher. The initial investment for manual testing is lower.
Reliability Automation Testing is more reliable, as it is performed by tools and scripts. Manual testing won’t be as accurate as there is a possibility of the human error.
Investment Type Investment is needed for testing tools and automation engineers. Investment is needed for human resources.
Cost-effective Automation Testing is cost effective. Manual Testing is not cost effective as ROI is lower.
Test Reports In automation testing, all stakeholders check test execution results by logging into automation system. Manual Tests are usually updated in an Excel/Word, and test results are not readily available.
Performance Testing Performance Tests like Stress Testing, Load Testing, Spike Testing, etc. have to be done by an automation tool only. Performance Testing is difficult to do manually.
Set up It needs less complex test execution set up. Manual testing needs have a straightforward test execution setup.
Deadlines Automated Tests will not have risks of missing out any test deadlines. Manual Testing has a higher chances of missing out the test deadlines.
Framework Automation testing employs frameworks like Data Driven, Keyword, and Hybrid to speed up the automation process. Manual Testing won’t have frameworks but may use guidelines, checklists, and strict processes.
When to Use? It is well suited for Regression Testing, Load Testing, Performance Testing, or repeatable functional test cases. It will be suitable for Usability, Exploratory, and Adhoc Testing.

How do you Choose Automated Testing over Manual Testing?

Choosing between automated and manual testing depends on several factors, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

Choose Automated Testing if:

  • It would help if you ran repetitive tests frequently: Automated tests are ideal for tasks like regression testing, where you must ensure existing functionality remains intact after changes. Automated testing is much faster and more efficient than manual testing for repetitive tasks.
  • You have a large volume of tests to cover: Automated testing allows you to create and run hundreds or even thousands of tests simultaneously, which is impossible to do manually. Thus, automated testing helps achieve wider test coverage faster.
  • Consistency and accuracy are crucial: Automated tests follow the same script every time, eliminating human error and ensuring consistent results.
  • You have limited testing resources: Automated testing can free up your manual testers to focus on more complex, exploratory testing where human judgment is crucial.
  • You want faster feedback: Automated tests can be run overnight or on demand, providing quick feedback on code changes and regressions.

Choose manual testing if:

  • You need to test complex user interactions or explore edge cases: Automated tests struggle with scenarios that require human intuition and judgment. Manual testing allows for flexible exploration and discovery of unexpected issues.
  • Usability testing is a priority: Manual testers can provide valuable insights on user experience, navigation, and intuitiveness, which are difficult to capture with automation.
  • The test is run infrequently or for a short-term project: Setting up and maintaining automated tests can take time, so it might not be cost-effective for short-term projects or infrequent testing needs.
  • You need more technical expertise for automation: Implementing and maintaining automated tests often requires programming skills, which might not be readily available in your team.

Typical Scenarios where Automation and Manual Testing are Preferred.

Here are some typical scenarios where automation and manual testing are preferred:

Automation Testing Preferred:

  • Regression Testing: Repetitive tests that ensure existing functionality remains intact after code changes. Automation makes this process faster and more reliable.
  • API Testing: Testing APIs for functionality, performance, and security, often involving numerous calls and data combinations. Automation tools can handle this efficiently.
  • Performance Testing: Evaluating system responsiveness and load capacity under different conditions. Automated tools can simulate various user loads and measure response times.
  • Smoke Testing: Basic functionality checks after code changes or deployments. Automation enables quick verification before further testing.
  • Data-driven Testing: Testing with large datasets that would be impractical to test manually. Automation tools can handle large datasets efficiently.

Manual Testing Preferred:

  • Exploratory Testing: Unplanned testing to discover potential issues and edge cases. Human judgment and intuition are crucial in this scenario.
  • Usability Testing: Evaluating user experience, navigation, and overall ease of use. Manual testers can provide subjective feedback and insights.
  • Accessibility Testing: Ensuring the product is accessible to users with disabilities. Manual testing with assistive technologies is often necessary.
  • Security Testing: Identifying vulnerabilities and potential security risks. Manual testers can use different techniques and tools to explore various attack vectors.
  • Localization Testing: Verifying the product’s functionality and language accuracy in different locales. Manual testers with cultural awareness are crucial for this process.

Scenarios where both are combined:

  • Large-scale projects: Automated tests cover regression and core functionalities, while manual testing focuses on exploratory and usability aspects.
  • Complex applications: Automation handles repetitive tasks, and manual testing delves into intricate user interactions and edge cases.
  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipelines: Automated tests run frequently in CI/CD pipelines, with manual testing conducted at key stages for deeper evaluation.

Remember, the best approach often involves a combination of automation and manual testing, leveraging their strengths to achieve comprehensive and effective testing.

Why Use Automation Testing Over Manual Testing?

Manual testing is the process of manually testing software or applications without help from automated tools or scripts. Here, testers create test cases and execute tests; hence it takes a lot of time and effort.

Let’s say we want to test a significant functionality of an app across 50-60 multiple web browsers, devices, and operating systems; manual testing is not the ideal approach. Instead, using automation tools, you get access to hundreds of browsers-devices-OS combinations, saving time & effort.

These are some key reasons to choose automation testing over manual testing:

Time-saving: Obviously, manual testing is repetitive and time-consuming, slowing the entire software development lifecycle. Automation testing saves considerable time by automating all the repetitive tasks and boosts the software development life cycle.

Less Manual Tasks: In automation testing, you can write the test cases once and use them over and over again. Some good automation tools also enable the generation of a detailed bug report for the failed case, making automation even more precise and powerful.

Cost-effective: A dedicated testing team will be required to perform manual testing on industry-grade software. But in automation testing, the whole testing workflow can be automated with a minor team or even by a single person.

Team collaboration: When it comes to performing complex testing, team collaboration plays an important role, manual testing makes it considerably difficult, but in automated testing, you can easily add team members to review the test cases or contribute.

Easy to manage: Automation testing is relatively easy to manage than manual testing. In automation testing, the whole testing workflow can be automated and handled using a single graphical user interface.

Can Automation Testing Replace Manual Testing?

Automation Testing VS Manual Testing

Automation testing can’t replace manual testing. We need both manual and automation testing. Manual testing is helpful for complex test cases, whereas automated testing is preferred for simple and repetitive tests. Test automation is to help the testers to execute testing faster and more reliably. But it won’t replace humans.

I would like to give you an example to make you understand better. While returning to your home from the office, let’s say walking will take around half an hour. But you will get there in a car in two minutes. The car will help you reach faster, saving you a lot of time. But still, it needs a human driver. In contrast with automation testing, you can use it to test most of your repetitive and boring tests to save time and energy. It helps to focus on testing essential functionalities.

Manual Testing vs Automation Testing: Which Approach is the Best Choice for your Business?

After understanding all the advantages, disadvantages, and differences between manual and automation testing, how do you decide which of the two works best for your business? On the one hand, manual testing helps to identify minute issues easily, whereas automation testing would require complete test scripting and execution. On the other hand, automated testing assists in readily writing and running test cases for redundant tasks. Which one, in such a case, should be your go-to testing approach, then?
You need to focus on a few requisites before deciding if the manual is right for you or if automation tools are your savior. In almost every case, the combination of both works the best.
For instance, no company can only do manual testing or go with automation testing for all their requirements. Manual testing works to explore some functional features that include usability, exploratory, and ad hoc testing. For Regression testing, including the need to cover more test areas, automation does the job best.


This blog has discussed the difference between manual and automation testing in detail. Though Manual testing is time-consuming, repetitive, and costly, it can still be helpful in some cases. But automation helps you deal with multiple scenarios faster, and it is economical as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is manual testing easier than automation?

Ans: Though it may seem simple, manual testing isn’t easy as it takes care of complex test cases. On the other hand, automated testing looks after simpler and more repetitive tests. Although Manual testing is still essential, having automated testing in SDLC makes your manual tests more efficient.

2. Which testing is more in demand- automated testing or manual testing?

Automated testing is more in demand among MNCs as well as SMEs because it is cost-effective and time-efficient. Automation testing provides fast and accurate output in just a few minutes of running the test scripts in comparison to manual testing, which often requires hours and days for the same task.

Suggested Reading

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