How Often Should You Be Doing Regression Testing?

Although finding the right schedule for regression testing can be complicated at first, by investing in this process, you can ensure your software is free from any risks and incidents

Regression testing is something you’ll hear about often in the world of software development.

Through regression testing, you can verify that changes to your code haven’t harmed the existing functionality of your system. For instance, you can check that adding a new widget to an app doesn’t stop the checkout from working. So, how often do you need to run these tests?

The answer to this often depends on who you ask. Cautious people say that it’s a good idea to run regression tests as often as possible. That way, you reduce your risk of a customer coming across a problem with your software before you do.

Others say you can adjust your regression testing schedule based on the kinds of evaluations you want to run. Here’s what you need to know about regression testing.

The Various Types of Regression Testing

Software development is a complex combination of art and science. Creating your software is just one part of the puzzle. Maintaining the functionality of that software is a significant part of what makes it successful. Without code changes, you can’t develop your software, but even the smallest change can influence how your solution works.

Before you can figure out how often to run regression tests, you may need a better idea of the kinds of regressions that can take place in your software. Options include:

  • Local regressions: When a change to a piece of code introduces a new bug and stops a feature from working as it should within the part of the code that has changed.
  • Remote regressions: When a change in one part of the code breaks functionality completely. The break happens in a part of the software which hasn’t been changed.
  • Unmasked regressions: These occur when a change to a piece of code reveals an error that was already there but didn’t affect the software in any way. This kind of regression can be the most dangerous.

Whether your software is still in early development, or you’re just updating it with something new, regression testing ensures that everything continues to work as it should.

The Best Time to Perform Regression Testing

Regression testing is there to get you ahead of the problems that might exist with your technology. Ideally, you should be using regression testing every time your codebase has been updated or modified. On top of that, it’s worth checking your system with regression testing every so often, to ensure that problems remain fixed.

Most experts recommend setting up a frequent regression testing schedule. Even if you don’t test the entire system constantly, partial testing should help your developers to pinpoint potential problems and resolve them before long-term problems can arise.

The most common reason to run any regression test is when a new functionality is introduced. It’s hard for developers to follow every threat in the code when modifying it, which means there’s always some risk of compatibility issues. Regression testing saves developers significant time and headache with the timely detection of bugs that might cause the project serious pain long-term.

Other reasons to run regression tests are:

  • After a business change: when sudden changes in business strategy and requirements take place, leading to a revision of existing functionality in the software. This requires developers to reshape, adjust, and discard various features. Heavy interference with source code can also cause a lot of damage to the remaining functionality, which makes regression testing a necessity. Updating and reshaping content on a website can cause a lot of damage to the functionality, which makes regression-testing a must-have for most.
  • Following a debugging session: Even after a debugging session, it’s important to run a regression testing session. Attempts at fixing one bug can sometimes turn into more bugs appearing in your codebase, often in spaces where you don’t expect them. Debugging leads to a lot of small and larger changes in source code, which once again, can lead to further problems.
  • When integrating with external systems: If you’re adding integration with other technology into your codebase, this sometimes leads to further issues that might require regression testing. Connecting two separate tools isn’t always a smooth process. Slight changes in the code can lead to bugs and errors if you’re not careful.

Manual and Automated Testing

One thing that does make regression testing a little easier to manage for most companies is the presence of automated systems. While there are some regression testing strategies that require the precision and focus of a manual process, automation can save you a lot of time for quick, cost-effective code checks.

In cases where it’s necessary to carefully evaluate multiple parts of a software solution, it’s often best to get a QA engineer onboard, performing manual regression testing options, using bug-tracking tools like Jira. Manual regression testing is straightforward enough, but it does require a lot of time and focus. At some point, if you’re running a lot of mini tests, it becomes more feasible to use a combination of manual and automated testing.

Automated regression testing systems can be built to suit the specific needs of the company. Once you’ve found a solution that works, you’re free to run your automated tests as often as you like. This makes it easier to keep on top of a constant schedule.

Regression Testing is Crucial

No matter whether you choose manual or automatic regression testing, or a combination of both, it’s important not to overlook the value of testing your software frequently. Even the most cautious development team can make mistakes, and defects can often slip through the cracks. Regression testing is therefore considered to be an essential part of most business environments.

Although finding the right schedule for regression testing can be complicated at first, by investing in this process, you can ensure your software is free from any risks and incidents. As your business and software continues to evolve, you may choose to add more regression tests into your schedule or increase your automation strategy.


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