Manual and Automated styles of testing have long existed hand in hand, helping testers deliver a quality product on time and with the required test coverage. Automation brings in a lot of benefits including repeatability in tests, faster execution, and reduction in human error (if it has been coded well with the right validations and verifications in place) but more importantly execution in places where manual testing may not always be feasible. For example, it may not always be feasible to test for web services manually. Similarly, given the scale of operations, performance testing is an area where automated tests are more relevant than manual tests. However, the question here is whether performance tests can be done only automated and whether they can never be done manually. While there is agreement on the value of automation in performance testing, clearly there are tests that can be run manually too. For example, if a tester, say a non-functional tester, wants to quickly evaluate a page load or response time of an application, they can certainly be done manually. Similarly, if a tester wants to quickly evaluate a short performance test across the application under test and a competitor application, a sanity manual test can be evoked. Let’s say a bandwidth check test needs to be run to evaluate the application’s performance across varied network speeds, a quick manual test can be done. A quick check on the database for some preliminary database performance tests can also be done manually. A performance tester can also simulate his performance tests from several different client machines reaching out to the server, but that is not really a very effective way of running a performance test.
Especially in cases, where a non-performance tester is interested in quickly evaluating and understanding a product’s performance and responsiveness or a performance tester wishes to run a sanity performance test (or is troubleshooting a test and need to run a few steps manually), one can quickly resort to manual tests not having to go through the process of setting up automated tests or for that matter even knowing test automation. So, while automated tests bring in immense value to a performance test effort, let it not hold back any performance testing effort with a myth that they can be run only via automation. Manual tests also help throw light into the state of an application’s performance, though not as effectively as an automated test.