Sameeksha Medewar | 12 Dec, 2022

What is Software Testing? Definition, Types, Benefits, Approaches

Human beings make errors and mistakes. Errors or mistakes in the software development process can cause a failure or defect in a product. However, the defect or failure caused can either be trivial or catastrophic, depending upon the error.

Every product or service needs to be checked for defects or bugs before entering the market for sale. Let us assume that there are some mistakes while developing a product.

Software testing helps point out defects and errors that a product may hold due to mistakes during the development process. Therefore, it is inevitable and integral to the software development life cycle (SDLC) process.

Moreover, software testing ensures that a particular product is free from bugs and defects and is up to the mark before it is ready to deploy and deliver to a client. Let us see what software testing means and what are its types, benefits, and approaches.

What is Software Testing? [Definiton]

Software testing is a necessary process that assesses a particular software application to identify bugs or defects and make sure that it meets the requirements specified by a client.

Moreover, the software testing process ensures that a developed application is free from flaws and errors and maintains quality standards. It assesses a software application for usability, reusability, performance, reliability, scalability, and portability.

Software testing involves executing a software application’s desired components using automated or manual tools to find defects or errors. It primarily consists of Validation and Verification.

Software Validation ensures that the developed software application complies with the client’s requirements and standards. When a software product satisfies all the specified requirements, it is said to be validated. Software Validation is also called dynamic testing.

Software Verification confirms that a product meets the client’s requirements and is developed according to design and system specifications. This Verification process is also called static testing.

Advantages of Software Testing

Having bugs or errors in a software application is pretty dangerous and expensive. It results in monetary and human effort loss. There are many examples of how software glitches resulted in a significant loss.

  1. One of the costliest accidents occurred in 1999 when a software defect resulted in a $1.2 billion military satellite launch failure.
  2. Software defects also have led to the loss of human lives. For example, in April 1994, 264 innocent people lost their lives due to China Airlines Airbus A300. This airbus malfunctioned because of a software defect.
  3. A software bug in Canada’s Therac-25 radiation therapy machine delivered lethal radiation to patients. As a result, three people lost their lives, whereas three were severely injured.

Besides avoiding such monetary and human loss, software testing also offers many other benefits, as follows:

  • Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a crucial element to every successful business. However, the ultimate objective of every business is to make its customers happy by offering best-in-class services or products.

Suppose a software application has been deployed and detected a bug after people started using it. In such scenarios, people won’t believe or trust a provider anymore and will never use that application.

Therefore, products should be tested for bugs or errors before deploying to build and maintain customers’ trust. People always enjoy using defect-free or error-free software applications.

  • Product Quality

If a company delivers a software product that contains bugs or errors, its reputation could be at stake. Hence, it becomes crucial for a company to deliver high-quality products to maintain its reputation in the market.

Software testing helps to ensure that a particular software application meets quality standards and is developed based on a client’s requirements.

  • Security

This digital era has witnessed a lot of cyberattacks. Unauthorized users or hackers can steal or access user data and utilize it for various purposes. So, if a software application does not comply with security standards, people do not prefer using it. They always look for a product free from vulnerability and attacks.

Security testing and penetration testing ensure the security of a product by eliminating all possible vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

  • Cost-effective

Software testing is cost-effective. Many times, finding and fixing one bug in a software product may result in the rise of another defect. If all possible bugs get detected or identified in a software development process’s early stages, the cost required to fix them is relatively lower.

Moreover, testing a software product regularly during its development phase ensures that a particular application is developed defect-free and per a client’s requirements.

Software Manual Testing - Complete course beginner to expert

Types of Software Testing

Software testing divides into two different kinds - manual and automation.

  • Manual Testing

As its name suggests, manual testing involves testing a software application by hand to identify what is working and what is not. In manual testing, testers verify each functionality of an application as specified in the requirements documents. In addition, they also test an application from the end-user’s point of view.

Testers perform manual testing to identify bugs in a software product under development. The test cases and generate detailed reports manually without using any software tool.


  1. Manual testing does not require coding and knowledge of programming language. On the other hand, even a tiny change in automation testing requires coding.
  2. It does not require any amount to spend on automation tools. Therefore, manual testing is inexpensive.
  3. Manual testing offers immediate and accurate visual feedback.


  1. As mentioned earlier, humans make mistakes. Therefore, manual testing is more prone to human mistakes and errors as it is carried out manually.
  2. A manual test can’t be used repetitively, as it is not recorded. Hence, testers have to perform repetitive tasks, which may be boring.
  3. Manual testing is time-consuming. Many tasks in this testing are tricky and challenging and hence take a lot of time.
  • Automation Testing

Automation testing involves using automation tools to test the software ad find defects. Testers use automation tools to develop and execute test scripts and create test result reports. It takes a relatively lower time than testing software manually, as this type of testing involves an automation tool.

In automation testing, testers execute pre-scripted or readily available tests generated by the desired automation tool and compare results obtained with the expected ones. By comparing the obtained and the expected results, testers can examine whether a software application functions correctly as per the specified requirements.


  1. Automation testing can find more bugs or defects in a software product than manual testing.
  2. It consumes less time and is more efficient, as many testing tasks are automated.
  3. Unlike manual testing, testing operations can be recorded and re-used wherever necessary.
  4. Test execution results are generated within no time and are incredibly accurate.


  1. Software tools required for performing automation testing are expensive, resulting in the increasing cost of the project.
  2. Test maintenance is expensive. Moreover, debugging the test script is quite tricky in automation testing.
  3. Automation tools do not involve any human element. Hence, it is complicated to get insights into an application’s UI, like font, colors, etc.

Difference between Manual Testing and Automation Testing

Parameter Manual Testing Automation Testing
Definition Testers manually perform test cases and generate reports. Testers use an automation tool to execute pre-scripted tests and generate test results.
Initial investment Manual testing does not require much initial investment. However, the ROI is also not so good in the long run. The initial investment in automation testing is relatively higher. As a result, the ROI is also much better than in manual testing.
Processing time Manual testing utilizes a lot of time and human resources. Automation testing requires significantly less processing time.
Test execution visibility In manual testing, all test results are recorded in an Excel sheet or Word. Therefore, stakeholders cannot see test results until they are shared. Automation testing uses an automation tool. Therefore, all test execution results are visible to stakeholders when they login into the automation tool.
Performance testing It is not possible to carry out performance testing manually. An automation tool is mandatory to carry out performance testing, like stress, load, etc.
Programming language Manual testing does not require any programming language. Testers must have basic knowledge of programming language while using an automation tool.

Types of Software Testing Approaches

Manual testing is further classified into three different types - white-box, black-box, and grey-box.

  • White-box Testing

White-box testing is also known as Clear box testing, Structural testing, Glass box testing, Code-based testing, and Transparent testing because the code is visible to testers. The primary motive of white-box testing is to improve a software’s security and concentrate on its input and output flows.

The software product’s internal design, structure, and code are tested in white-box testing to improve its security, usability, and design. Moreover, it concentrates on verifying predefined inputs against the expected outputs.

Developers are responsible for executing white-box testing. They must possess a thorough understanding of programming skills to develop test cases. Once a software undergoes white-box testing, developers send it to testers to perform black-box testing.


  1. All test cases developed by developers in white-box testing are automated.
  2. White-box testing is performed at the beginning phases of the software development life cycle (SDLC) without a GUI.
  3. With optimized code in white-box testing, all hidden errors can be identified.
  4. White-box testing covers all code paths and is carried out thoroughly.


  1. For large programming applications, white-box testing consumes a lot of time.
  2. There is a need for professional programmers to carry out white-box testing, having in-depth knowledge of programming languages.
  3. White-box testing is more complicated and expensive than other testing approaches.
  • Black-Box Testing

Black-box testing is performed to determine a software application’s functionality without knowing its internal structure or coding. Therefore, this type of testing is carried out based on the requirements document specified by a client.

The testing team performs black-box testing on a software application, where they choose a particular function and provide it as an input value to determine its functionality. Next, testers check whether the given function is input in producing the desired output or not. If the output of a function is as expected, it passes the testing; otherwise, it fails.

The testing team sends the test execution result to developers after each function is tested. If an application contains a severe issue even after executing all functions, it is sent back to the development team for correction.


  1. Black-box testing is efficient and suitable for large applications.
  2. Testers don’t need to possess detailed knowledge of the system.
  3. This testing is carried out based on the end-users point of view. Therefore, it is also referred to as Acceptance testing.


  1. Without knowing the functional specifications of an application, testers can’t design test cases.
  2. If testers do not develop test cases based on the functional specifications, it is challenging to identify inputs to the system.
  3. It is possible that specific tests may be repeated, as programmers may have already performed them.
  • Grey-Box Testing

Grey-box testing incorporates both white-box and black-box testing. It is carried out with partial knowledge of a system’s internal coding or structure.

Grey-box testing is performed by accessing an application’s internal coding or structure to create test cases, similar to white-box testing. All test cases are performed at the functionality level, as done in black-box testing.

Grey-box testing collectively offers the benefits of white-box and black-box testing. Inputs from developers and testers are provided simultaneously to a software application to improve its overall quality. It primarily concentrates on examining the requirements specification from the end-users point of view.


  1. Grey-box testing avoids disputes between the testing and development teams, as it is non-intrusive.
  2. Developers get enough time to fix defects present in a software product.
  3. This type of testing enhances the overall quality of the system.
  4. Testers don’t need to possess a strong understanding and expertise in programming languages.


  1. There is no access to source code in grey-box testing. Hence, performing complete white-box testing is not possible.
  2. It is not ideal for algorithm testing.
  3. Some test cases are difficult to create or design.

White-box Testing Vs. Black-box Testing Vs. Grey-box Testing

White-box Testing Black-box Testing Grey-box Testing
White-box testing requires complete knowledge of a software product’s internal working structure or coding. In black-box testing, there is no need for the system’s internal working structure or coding. It only needs a software’s GUI to design test cases. Grey-box testing requires partial knowledge of a software’s internal working structure.
It is referred to as Code-based testing, Transparent testing, Clear box testing, and structural testing. It is also known as Functional Testing, Closed box testing, and Data-driven testing. As there is partial knowledge of a software’s structure, grey-box testing is referred to as Translucent testing.
All the hidden errors in white-box testing are identified because one can access the internal working structure of the system. Unlike white-box testing, it is challenging to discover hidden errors in the system, as there is no access to the internal workings in black-box testing. There are chances of identifying hidden errors in user-level testing.
White-box testing is ideal for algorithm testing. Black-box testing is not worthy of algorithm testing. Grey-box testing is also not suggested to perform algorithm testing.
It takes a lot of time to design test cases because of the lengthy code. In black-box testing, the time required to develop test cases is based on the availability of functional specifications. All test cases are created within a very short period.
In white-box testing, only developers and testers are involved. All testers, developers, and end-users are involved in black-box testing. Developers, end-users, and testers are part of grey-box testing.
White-box testing is a cumbersome task, as it requires a lot of time to execute. Black-box testing consumes the least time among all other testing approaches. Grey-box testing requires a relatively lower time than white-box testing.


People always expect error-free and defect-free software products. They enjoy using applications that run hassle-free without any complications. Delivering superior quality products increases customer satisfaction and trust between end-users and a provider. Therefore, testing any product before it reaches out to end-users is very significant.

Software testing helps in deploying and delivering error-free and bug-free software products. In addition, it offers various benefits, such as customer satisfaction, system security, and overall quality.

We have seen some examples where bugs or defects in software may lead to monetary and human loss. Moreover, delivering such products loses period trust among customers, and the reputation may come at stake. To avoid such losses, testing software products before they go live is essential.

We hope his software testing guide has helped you understand what software testing is, its benefits, types, and approaches. We discussed two basic kinds of software testing - manual and automation. Further, manual testing divides into three sub-types - white-box, black-box, and grey-box testing.

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By Sameeksha Medewar

Sameeksha is a freelance content writer for more than half and a year. She has a hunger to explore and learn new things. She possesses a bachelor's degree in Computer Science.

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