I am working in a Manual System testing team, we are expected to test what happens if the SQL databases, supporting servers go down, load balancing falls over that the websites respond with the appropriate messages and that we are able to recover.

We have always called this Fail over testing, but I am now being told this is incorrect terminology and should only be used in relation to automated testing. Despite asking the Google, I have not found a firm opinion as to what this type of testing should be called?

What is your opinion?

(I ask because it's impacting on our ability to communicate and younger members of the team are asking for guidance?)

  • 1
    Can we have a better title for this question? Now it as generic as the terminology tag.
    – dzieciou
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 15:18

4 Answers 4


I've always called this "Failover Testing" as well.

Who told you that this was "incorrect terminology and should only be used in relation to automated testing"? Did this person offer an alternative?

  • Joe's right it is fail over testing. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 11:01
  • Third'd. That looks like failover testing to me.
    – Green
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 18:12


As long as everyone in the team and everyone you communicate results and other data to knows what your terminology is, it doesn't matter what you call it. You could call it doughnut testing if you really wanted to, so long as you defined it as "what happens when critical resources fail".

Personally, I'd call what you're describing fail-over testing or failure-state testing. I don't see why fail over should belong entirely to the automation realm, and as I said, so long as the people you're communicating with and the people in your team know what you mean when you say "fail over testing", it doesn't matter.

Every workplace has its own terminology and its own specific usage of terminology.

So the short version is: define your term, then use it and never mind what anyone else says.

  • This is a rare instance I find myself respectfully disagreeing with Kate's advice. It is certainly important to clarify meaning and reach a mutual understanding of terminology. But a common terminology and professional jargon is important for communicating with other professionals internally as well as externally. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 16:01
  • I'd love there to be a common terminology, BJ. It would help our discipline to be seen as the professionals most of us are. I tend to focus my answers on where things are right now rather than the ideals, because usually someone who's asking something here has a problem that can't wait for the ideal world.
    – Kate Paulk
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 18:11
  • To reinfoce what Kate said my CEO used to refer to this as High Availability testing even though the fail-over was just one specific aspect of insuring high availability. The context depends on what's appropriate for the team. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 19:30

Yes it is fail-Over testing. There's seems to be no reason for giving it a different name on the basis of manual or automation.

Even we do it many times: In out clustered environment, we take down one of the server and then send the requests manually just to verify that the other server is taking the request or not and we call it fail-over test only.


I personally agree with Kate that definition is good enough if it is agreed with all participants of the development process and everybody understand it the same way. If you need definition of term I'd suggest next:

failover testing: Testing by simulating failure modes or actually causing failures in a controlled environment. Following a failure, the failover mechanism is tested to ensure that data is not lost or corrupted and that any agreed service levels are maintained (e.g., function availability or response times).

edited: link to the source

  • If you suggest a definition, it would be nice if you also mention the origin of this definition. This definition for failover testing is from ISTQB.
    – prockel
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 12:36
  • That's right. It is from ITQB.
    – olyv
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 13:08

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