What is the Difference Between Manual Testing and Automation Testing?


Rajiv Patil

Software testing is a major domain, but it can be mainly categorized into two segments: manual testing and automation testing. Both these types of testing have their own pros and cons. It is important to understand the difference between and when to use one or the other for optimum results. Testing is a critical part of any successful development project. The type of testing you choose depends on a number of factors like project requirement, timeline, budget and skills. The three main factors of any project are cost, time and quality. Now, the primary goal of a successful project is to cut down the cost and time needed to complete it while maintaining quality output. When it comes to testing, one type may achieve this goal better than the other.

In manual testing, the test cases are executed manually without external support from tools or scripts. However, in the case of automated testing, test cases are executed with the help of tools, software and scripts. In this article, we are going to discuss manual testing and automation testing and try to understand the difference between the two. But first, we will understand what software testing is.

What is Software Testing?

Software testing is a procedure to evaluate the functionality of a software app with the purpose to find whether the developed software met the particular requirements or not and to determine the defects to make sure the product is error-free to achieve a quality product.

Software testing is a major part of any software development project. It is divided into two main components namely Manual Testing and Automation Testing. Now, let us move on to the next phase where we understand Manual Testing and Automation Testing in detail.

What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing is the process of finding faults or errors in the software. The tester should look at the product from the point of view of an end-user and to make sure that all the features are working as expected. During this process, testers execute the test cases and generate manual reports without using any automation tools. Now, let us see the different types of manual testing.

1. Black Box Testing

Black Box Testing is a software testing method in which testers evaluate the functionality of the software under test without checking the internal code structure. This can be the case of every level of software testing like Unit, Integration, System and Acceptance Testing.

2. White Box Testing

White Box testing is also known as Glass Box, Clear Box or Structural Testing. This type of testing depends on the application’s internal code structure. In white-box testing, an internal perspective of the system, along with programming skills, are used to design test cases. This type of testing is done at the unit level.

3. Unit Testing

It is also known as Module Testing or Component Testing. This type of testing is conducted to determine if the individual module or unit of the source code is working efficiently. It is to be performed by the developers in the developer's environment.

4. System Testing

Testing the completely integrated application to evaluate the system's compliance with its specified requirements is known as System Testing or End to End testing. This is done to ensure that the system is completed to make sure that the app works as expected to be or not.

5. Integration Testing 

Integration Testing is the procedure of testing the interface between two software units. It can be performed in three ways, Big Bang Approach, Top-Down Approach and Bottom-Up Approach.

6. Acceptance Testing

Acceptance Testing is also known as pre-production testing. It is performed by the end-users along with the QA team to check the app functionality. Once acceptance testing is done, formal testing can be performed to identify whether an app is developed as per the requirement. It enables users to accept or reject the application. The types of acceptance testing are Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

When to use Manual Testing?

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing will be done by domain experts. They perform testing simply by exploring the functionalities of the app without having the knowledge of the requirements.

Usability Testing

To determine whether an app is user-friendly or not and offered a quality user experience is done through usability testing. The primary goal in this type of testing is to check whether the end-user can understand and operate the app easily or not. An app should be self-explanatory and must not need a lot of training to use it.

Ad-hoc Testing

Ad-hoc testing is way different from formal testing. It is more like an informal kind of testing. In Ad-hoc testing, testers randomly test the app without following any documents and test design techniques. This testing is mainly done if the knowledge of testers in the app is quite sufficient. The testers randomly test the app without any test cases or any business requirement document.

When is Manual Testing preferred over Automation Testing?

Mostly Manual Testing is preferred over Automation Testing in the following conditions:

  • When the project is in the initial phase.
  • When testing user interfaces like visual aspects.
  • If the project is short term and writing scripts will be time-consuming.
  • When exploratory or Ad hoc testing is required.
  • If the test case cannot be automated.

Advantages of Manual Testing:

  • It can be performed on all types of applications
  • It is preferable for short life cycle products
  • New test cases should be executed manually.
  • The app must be tested manually before being automated
  • It is cheaper when compared to automated testing
  • Needs less time and expense to start
  • It allows the tester to perform Adhoc testing
  • There is no need to have automated testing knowledge

Disadvantages of Manual Testing:

  • Manual testing is a time-consuming process, especially when performing regression testing.
  • It is not that reliable as it is performed by humans. Hence, there will always be errors and mistakes.
  • In the long run, it is more expensive than automation testing.

What is Automation Testing?

Automation testing is the procedure of testing the software using automation tools to find the bugs. In this method, test script execution and report generation is conducted by automated testing tools. Some of the most popular Automation Testing tools are:

  1. HP QTP (Quick Test Professional)
  2. Selenium
  3. LoadRunner
  4. IBM Rational Functional Tester
  5. Silk Test
  6. TestComplete
  7. WinRunner
  8. WATIR

When should you use Automation Testing?

At Nimblechapps, we use Automation testing in the below ways:

Regression Testing -

Repeated testing of a previously tested program, after modification, to find any bugs as a result of the changes in the software being tested. Hence, regression testing is most suitable for automated testing of frequent code changes.

Load Testing

It is to check that the system can actually handle the total transactions and to verify the system behaviour under normal and peak conditions. Automated testing is also the ideal way to complete the testing effectively when it comes to loading testing. It is generally suited for automated testing.

Performance testing -

This kind of testing determines the speed, scalability and stability of the system or application under test. Performance means achieving response times, throughput, and resource utilization levels that meet the requirements.

Manual or automated Testing -

Now, let us discuss the types of testing which can be performed in either manual or automation testing.

Integration Testing -

It is the process of interface testing between two software units. Integration testing is performed using processes like Big Bang Approach, Top-Down Approach, Bottom-Up Approach, and Hybrid Integration approach.

System Testing -

Testing the fully integrated application to determine system performance with particular project requirements is known as System Testing or End to End testing. It is important to verify that the system is a complete system to make sure the app works as expected.

Unit Testing -

Unit testing or module testing is performed to determine whether the individual unit or module of the source code is working efficiently. It is to be performed by the developers in the developer’s environment.

Acceptance Testing -

Acceptance testing is also commonly called pre-production testing. This is done by the end-users along with the QA team to validate the app functionality. Formal testing can be done after the successful completion of acceptance testing. The introduction of acceptance testing enables users to accept or reject the application.

Advantages of Automation Testing:

  • Automation testing is faster to execute.
  • It is cheaper in the long run.
  • Automation testing is more reliable than manual testing.
  • It is extremely powerful and versatile.
  • It is commonly used for regression testing.
  • Reusable as an automation process can be recorded.
  • Helps in increasing the test coverage

Disadvantages of Automation Testing:

  • Highly recommended only for stable products
  • It is expensive initially
  •  Most automated testing tools are expensive
  • Limitations include captcha, getting visual aspects of UI like fonts, colour etc.
  • The huge cost of maintenance for frequent changes


The actual importance of manual and automation testing happens when the right type of testing is applied in the right environment. It is a misconception that automated testing will replace manual testing but we think it is not possible as manual testing is required in some cases. In this blog, we have explained in detail both manual and automated testing along with the advantages and disadvantages of both. If you think we missed out on any of the important points then let us know in the comments below. We will include it in our next update.

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