Manual Testing vs Automation Testing: Differences

Manual Testing vs Automation Testing: Differences-feature image
November 4, 2022 Reviewed By : Sajag .10 Min read

Imagine, you have a great idea for a software application that has the potential to solve a huge problem. Your team would work hard on its development before releasing it to the market. You cannot risk your credibility by launching an application to your customers with a bug that your team missed during development.

Software testing is a crucial process during the entire duration of development of a software application. It enables project teams to check, verify, and validate the functionality of the developed software to ensure that it meets the desired requirements without any defects before release.

Nowadays, both manual and automation testing are used in tandem to provide quality products to customers depending on the use case, timeline, budget. Initially, software testing was manual and test cases were executed without any scripts, tools, or software. With developments in technology, automation testing was later introduced.

This blog covers what is manual and automation testing. You will also know manual testing and automation testing difference here in detail.

Manual Testing vs Automation Testing

Manual testing involves step by step testing of an application’s performance without using any test script. However, automation testing utilizes test automation frameworks.

Manual testing is performed step-by-step by testing engineers, while test case execution in automation testing is automated through test automation tools and frameworks.

Manual testing engineers put maximum efforts to ensure stability and avoid bugs in the product before release. Testers make test cases for the codes and prepare the report for results.

Automation testing is used to improve the efficiency and coverage of testing. You usually convert the manually developed test cases into test scripts to decrease the work of the human workforce.

Difference Between Manual Testing vs Automation Testing

Major differences in manual testing vs automating testing are listed here.

ParameterManual TestingAutomation Testing
DefinitionSoftware testing done by engineers to ensure that the software application has all the functionalities required by the customer.Software testing involves the use of tools to ensure that an application meets quality standards.
DoerHuman resourcesTesting tools
Operating System (OS) compatibilityDepends on the testerWorks with different platforms and coding languages
Frequent ChangesSmall changes do not need drastic execution level changesScripts must be modified for the smallest changes
Use CaseUsability, Exploratory, Ad hoc Testing, frequently changing application under test (AUT).Performance Testing, Regression Testing, Load Testing, repetitive functional test cases.
Parallel ExecutionYes, but requires more human resourcesYes, can execute on different operating platforms
FeasibilityWhen test cases are run a few times, like exploratory testingWhen test cases are run repeatedly over time, like in regression testing
Build Verification Testing (BVT)Difficult to implementVery useful in execution
FrameworkNone. Uses checklists, guidelines, processes, etc.Keyword, Data Driven, Hybrid, etc.
Test ReportsNot available easily, stored in Word/ ExcelEasy access to results for all stakeholders

What Is Manual Testing?

difference between manual and automation testing

Manual testing is a process in which testers execute the use cases one by one to check if the application has any defects when compared to end-user requirements.

The bugs and feature issues discovered are reported through manually created documents. How well the key features are validated depends on the knowledge, skills, and experience of a manual tester.

Types of Manual Testing

  • Cross Browser Testing: It checks the design, functionality, accessibility and other metrics of an application across different web browsers. QA team along with designers check the rendering before production since every browser implements and renders a webpage differently even for the same code.

  • Usability Testing: It checks and assesses the reaction and behavior of the users while engaging with the application to gain important insights for the user experience. Individuals who are not involved in production are usually given this task to mimic actual end-user’s response.

  • Exploratory Testing: It is done by simply exploring the application without formal guidelines while conducting tests. Different stakeholders apart from testers like product managers, designers, and developers can conduct it.

  • Acceptance Testing: Also known as user acceptance testing, it is done after all bugs have been resolved. The potential or actual users of the product try using it to check how it meets their expectations and needs before it goes into production.

How Manual Testing Works?

Analysts and QA engineers handle everything from creation of test cases to their execution. Once manual testers understand the purpose of the application under test, they write test cases and prepare the testing environment.

The status of each test is marked, and everything is well documented. In some cases, the testers may go beyond the test to understand the cause of failure for a test case. After completion, they create reports with all the bugs and defects found. These reports also give status of reruns required depending on the number of skipped and failed tests.

Suggested Read: Best Open Source Testing Tools List

Advantages of Manual Testing

  • Low initial investment and start time
  • Accurate and quick visual insights
  • No coding for rapidly testing small changes
  • Does not require training of automation tools
  • Human judgement useful for making decisions about potential defects
  • Ideal for applications with frequently changing GUI

Challenges with Manual Testing

  • Error-prone
  • Time consuming, especially for repetitive tests
  • No test code reusability for different applications
  • Expensive in the long run

What Is Automation Testing?

difference between manual testing and automation testing

Automation testing is a type of software testing that involves the use of automation tools to find software defects and generate reports. The aim is to complete test execution quickly, thereby providing better test coverage ensuring that the application performs in the desired way.

For repetitive tasks and frequently changing applications, it enables reusability of codes without manual intervention once a test script is created.

How Automation Testing Works?

An organization working on automation testing often includes an automation workforce with developers and manual testers. Testers create test scripts with all potential use cases to automate test execution for various applications. There are several automation tools and frameworks that can be chosen by automation engineers and architects for development.

Some examples of automation tools include IBM Rational Functional Tester, QTP/UFT, Selenium, WinRunner, TestComplete, SilkTest, etc. The team also decides the browser, operating system, and other configurations suitable for the execution of scripts.

Scripts can be run anytime of the day without manual intervention. The tools create a report for the software under examination and the results are compared to the expected business requirements or previously run tests. Whenever there is a change in requirement, the code needs to be updated to validate the application in terms of newly generated needs.

Suggested Read: Best Bug Tracking Tools to Resolve Bugs and Issues

Types of Automation Testing

Different automation testing types can be used together by QA department to get the best results. Some of the main types of automation testing are:

  • Functional testing:

    You test the functionality of elements against the requirements without awareness of the design or structure of the application under test. It is also known as behavioral or black box testing.

    Examples of functional testing include integration testing, smoke testing, unit testing, and user acceptance testing.

  • Non-functional testing:

    This testing follows functional testing and checks how well a product works in terms of its reliability, performance, usability, etc.

    Examples of non-functional testing include security testing, scalability testing, load testing, compatibility testing, and performance testing.

  • Keyword-driven testing:

    Keyword-driven testing works by associating keywords in data files with the set of actions to be automatically performed for the application under test. It is easy to maintain, works with any automation tool, and does not require programming knowledge.

  • Data driven testing:

    In this type of testing, you feed different sets of external data kept in spreadsheet or table format into one test to check the consistency of outcomes. It enables the reusability of code and saves time.

  • Regression testing:

    In this maintenance test, you re-run functional and non-functional tests to check if modifications to the application code had a negative effect on functionality or performance.

Advantages of Automation Testing

  • Reliable and faster in execution
  • No human intervention in case of unattended test scripts
  • Versatile and reusable when operations are recorded
  • Higher efficiency in finding bugs
  • Reduces burden on human testers and improves productivity
  • Cheaper in the long run
  • Every unit gets checked without errors

Challenges with Automation Testing

  • Initial investment is high due to expensive automation tools
  • Limitations in terms of visual insights for UI elements like sizes, fonts, contrast, colors, etc.
  • Automation scope is limited, and tools are not foolproof.
  • Maintenance of frequent changes and debugging tools are costly

Manual Testing Vs Automation Testing: Pros & Cons

A brief comparison of manual testing vs automation testing is given here.

ParameterManual TestingAutomated Testing
ReliabilityLess reliable due to human inaccuraciesMore reliable due to automation of operations by scripts and tools
User friendlinessManual observation useful for improving customer experienceDoes not guarantee high customer experience
Time takenManual approach is time consumingExecution by tools is much faster than manual approach
Batch testingNoYes
Performance testingNoYes
Script/ code reusabilityOnly once or twiceYes, across multiple releases
Initial investmentLower due to human resourcesHigher due to automation tools, ROI better in long term
Random testingYesNo
DeadlinesHigh risk of missing outZero risks of missing out
Needs programming knowledgeNo, but needs product knowledgeYes
DocumentationNo training value.Works well for training new developers.

Manual Testing Vs Automation Testing: When to Use What

Manual Testing is used in the following cases:

  • Usability testing: An application’s interface is tested for its user-friendliness and efficiency. An application that has a steep learning curve and requires intensive training is difficult to adopt by staff.

  • Exploratory testing: Domain experts explore the functionalities of the application through testing without focusing on requirements. This is done when there is a short time for execution and inadequate documentation.

  • Ad-hoc testing: It is an informal testing type where testers have enough knowledge to randomly test the application without the use of formally created business requirement documents.

Automation Testing is preferred in the following cases:

  • Repeated execution: There are certain cases where testing needs repetitive execution of tasks.

  • Load testing: It verifies whether an application can function well and handle all transactions in both peak and usual load conditions.

  • Regression testing: An already tested program is repeatedly tested to check if any change was uncovered or defects were introduced in the application. This is done when there are frequent code changes and manual testing cannot execute tests on time.

  • Performance testing: It simulates the presence of numerous concurrent users to test the performance objectives like throughput and response times of an application.

Both manual testing and automation testing can be followed for these cases:

  • Unit testing (Component or module testing): This testing is done by developers in the development environment to check if an individual module or unit of the source code is working as desired.

  • Integration testing: In this type of test, the working of the interface between two software units is checked through methods like top-down approach, big band approach, bottom-up approach, or hybrid integration approach.

  • System testing (End to End testing): This type of testing is used to verify whether the completely integrated application is compliant with the specified requirements or not.

  • Acceptance testing (Pre-production testing): End users (or potential ones) together with testers do acceptance testing to validate if the application functions as per requirement. It has three stages: alpha, beta, gamma.


Apart from what is manual and automation testing, now you know the factors to keep in mind during a testing situation. You can figure out the best approach as per your timeline and budget. Users can benefit from both manual and automation testing and achieve the desired output by applying them in the right environment.


  1. What is the difference between manual and automation testing?

    Manual testing requires QA testers to manually do all tasks from test case creation to execution. Automation testing uses tools and scripts to simulate real users and execute tasks faster for greater coverage compared to manual testing.

  2. Can automation testing replace manual testing with time?

    No. There are certain tests that need human discretion and will not be fully automated anytime soon.

  3. Why do you prefer manual testing over automation testing?

    Manual testing is preferred over automation testing when it can be much simpler and faster compared to creating a code for testing an application. It is also used for tests that cannot be automated.

  4. When do you prefer manual testing over automation testing?

    Manual testing is preferred when you want to test the visual aspect of user interface (UI) or perform adhoc/ exploratory testing. It is also used when the project is short term with frequently changing codes or you cannot automate the test.

  5. Does automation replace manual testing?

    No. Automation testing is great for repetitive tasks. However, it cannot execute test cases that rely on visual processing or are exploratory in nature, thereby requiring human discretion.

  6. Can we skip manual testing?

    No. You cannot skip manual testing in cases where tests cannot be automated if you want to ensure customer satisfaction by releasing quality products.

  7. Will manual testing ever end?

    Manual testing will not end but it will evolve with changes in the IT industry. Hence, testers must keep themselves up to date to remain suitable for an evolving industry.

  8. What are the different types of automation testing?

    Some of the common types of automation testing include integration testing, acceptance testing, security testing, performance testing, API testing, regression testing, etc.

Related Categories: Testing Automation Software | Test Design Automation | Software Testing Tools | Load Testing Software | Mainframe Testing Tools

Written by Ayushee Sharma

Ayushee is currently pursuing MBA Business Analytics from SCMHRD, Pune with a strong background in Electronics and Communication Engineering from IGDTUW. She has 2 plus years of full-time work experience as an SEO content writer and a Technology Journalist with a keen interest the amalgamation of business and... Read more

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