Which is better: manual or automated testing?

This post is part of the Pride & Paradev series.

Which is better: manual or automated testing?

Manual Testing is better than Automated Testing

Manual testing is better than automated testing. Even when automating a test scenario, you have to manually test it at least once anyway to automate it, so automated testing can’t be done without manual testing. And you have to manually check the automated test results also.

Automated tests can stop working by something as simple as an unexpected pop-up dialog which can be quickly analyzed and dismissed when manually testing.

Manual testing is a sapient activity: one that requires human judgement. As you are testing you are using implicit knowledge to judge whether or not something is working as expected. This enables you to find extra bugs that automated tests would never find. It also allows you to follow smells you find to explore areas that may not have been tested or required.

Manual testing is also helpful for finding layout issues and trivial bugs which wouldn’t be found by an automated test, as you’re fully observing the application as you’re using it. Usability issues are also identifiable by manual testing but can’t be discovered through writing and running automated test scripts.

Automated Testing is better than Manual Testing

Automated testing is better than manual testing. Automated tests are very explicit (black and white) so you have a much higher chance of reproducing a bug if found by an automated test by knowing what the automated test executed to achieve the result. Because the automated tests are explicit, they also execute consistently as they don’t get tired and/or lazy like us humans.

Automated tests are quicker to run than manual tests as there’s no lag time between input and checking, and this means you can run more tests in more browsers more quickly. Manually testing the same functionality in, for example, 8 browsers and 4 devices is tiring, but can easily be achieved with automated tests.

Automated tests also allow you to test things that aren’t manually possible. For example, answering a question like ‘what if I had 200 accounts’, or ‘what if I processed ten transactions simultaneously’ can only be answered efficiently by using automated tests.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

9 thoughts on “Which is better: manual or automated testing?”

  1. I’d agree with Dave. We need both manual and automated testing for a successful quality release. Thinking of automation as a replacement of manual testing is over simplification.


  2. Seems to be a topic chosen more for gossip value than real academic interest. Both are important under different situations. Both could be used for the benefit of the clients


  3. Automaton can only be considered as a helping hand for testers, but don’t trust them blindly. We test our application because we know that even we are perfect machine can make problems. So giving all the responsibility of a machine to another machine generated code is just crazy and will be a wrong choice ..Manual testing is needed for the Quality of a product.


  4. Both Manual Testing and Automation Testing has its own pros and cons. It is upto us; how to best utilize each of them,

    Manual Testing is very much required and we can not expect Atuomation Testing to replace Manual Testing. Particularly, when there are new features of functionalities introduced in the Application, Manual Testing is required and we can not expect Automation Testing to defect those defects in new features or functionalities.

    Offcourse for Regression Testing; i.e. where features or functionalities build earlier are already tested using Manual Testing and we have covered those manual test suites by automation; In that case; Automated Regression Suites can help us cover entire regression testing and can help us find issues (if any) in regression suite; It can help us save manual efforts, time, money which is requried for executing Regression Suite. It can help us build the confidence; as Automation Tests will execute every step which we have instructed through automationed code; so we can rely on it.

    In short; we have to decide the best approach and should take benefit of both Manual and Automation Testing.

    Happy Testing ~ Pradip


  5. Both the Manual Testing and the Automated Testing having their own advantages and disadvantages.
    Sometimes, automated tests can test the area that the manual testing is not possible. And also sometimes, by automated testing due to certain system problem the client would not able to get the fine products

    Great Day@@@


  6. Manual Testing is much preferred before Automation Testing coz every scenario needs to be first tested manually & then only its Automation Test Suite would get executed.


  7. In my part of the world (Australia) many of the Tester jobs advertised require automation/coding experience. My rough estimate is that 60-70% of testing jobs are seeking automation.

    While I agree automation is a useful tool, I have worked on several projects were the test automation added no value (i.e buggy, hard to maintain, low coverage and not reused). In fact the automation effort was an opportunity cost to the project because 30% of test staff were dedicated to automation and this increased the work load on the remaining test staff.

    If the so called automators actually dedicated their time to manual testing we could have delivered our code to PROD sooner. Instead the automation suite was constantly breaking and being re-written…..in the end it became shelfware.

    What grinds my gears is that on a 2 year project the automators were paid 10-15% more than the manual testers. Even after delivering no value the automators are more employable because they had two years to train and develop their automation skills.

    In my book, a test is only good as it’s design and test design is a skill that is being lost.
    When testers are focusing on writing code their objective is not finding problems but in getting the suite to run (go green). This makes for weak testing.

    While they are obviously some good test automation projects out there, my observations from working on enterprise projects with complex business logic is that test automation is not delivering ROI. PMs will not accept this reality because that will mean admitting they made a big mistake in promoting (and resourcing) automation to the detriment of the overall project.

    I am hoping that management will learn from these failures and a more balanced approach to automation will emerge rather than the blind faith idea that testing starts and ends with test automation.


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