What is Alpha vs Beta Testing?

Anna Thorsen

Automation Expert

Alpha vs beta testing. What’s the difference? If you’re a tester who is only familiar with the earlier stages of testing – these terms might be unfamiliar to you. 

Don’t know the stages of testing? We’ve explained the 5 types of functional testing here. 

To put these two terms into context, once the development team has been given the green light by QA, the application or feature under development is sent to users for testing. 

That’s when alpha and beta testing happen. 

What is alpha testing?

Alpha testing occurs before beta testing and is carried out by testers within the organization. It’s done in close collaboration with development, in a development environment.

The testing happens in a development environment so that developers can still access critical issues and fix them (also known as hot fixes).

At this stage, it’s very normal for there to be a lot of back and forth between the users testing the system and the developers identifying bugs. 

That’s why repetitive tests should be automated by testers (regression testing is another term for this). To go through the process of repetitive testing manually can quickly become inefficient. 

In this post, you can learn more about how to run regression tests faster.

What is beta testing?

Beta testing happens right before a release in a pre-production environment. At this stage, you want ordinary users (real users) to test the application or feature. It’s their job to ensure they work as expected. 

It’s a functional test, with some non-functional tests included (e.g. load, performance, and security testing). This also requires that the environment has the right setup to mimic a production environment i.e. having the same data and security settings. 

This stage is heavily focused on user input and the usability of the app/feature. The testers check to see if the app looks good, if it worked, and if it could be better. 

While you might still find small issues, they will be so late to the table that they can’t be hotfixed immediately. Instead, testers list the issues and improvements as recommendations for a future release. 


Here’s a table showing a condensed version of the difference and similarities of alpha and beta testing. 

Alpha testing

Beta testing


Functional & non-functional 

Tested within the organization

Tested by real users

Discipline within UAT

Discipline within UAT

Tested in a development environment

Tested in a pre-production environment

Tested for major/minor bugs

Verifies that the app/feature works as intended. Suggests improvements for future releases

Long process – can take weeks

Short process - takes days

Repetitive tests should be automated

Not usually automated - about usability

To learn more about testing, and how to make it efficient with automation, you can check out our whitepaper on functional UI testing

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