What is error handling in software testing?

Error handling is the process of handling exceptions that occur during execution of program. Error handling testing also known as exception handling testing is a process of monitoring the application with incorrect input.

Error-handling testing determines the ability of the application system to properly process incorrect transactions.
Manual system can deal with the problem as they occur but in automated systems pre-programming is needed for handling exception.

Objectives of Error Handling:

  • Functionality tests are normally geared towards validating requirements, which generally do not describe negative (or error) scenarios.
  • Even when negative functional tests are created, they don’t test for abnormal behavior or extreme error conditions, which can have security implications.

For example, functional stress testing is not performed with an objective to break the system to expose security vulnerability. Validating the error handling behavior of the system is critical during security testing, especially subjecting the system to unusual and unexpected error conditions.

Below things should be focused at the time of error handling testing:


  • Determine that all reasonably expected error conditions are recognizable by the application system.
  • Determine that the accountability for processing errors has been assigned and that the procedures provide a high probability that the error will be properly corrected.
  • Determine that reasonable control is maintained over errors during the correction process.

How to Use Error Handling Testing?

Unexpected errors are those that are not explicitly specified in the design specification, and the developers did not think of handling the error.

For example, a system call may throw an “unable to load library” error, which may not be explicitly listed in the design documentation as an error to be handled. All aspects of error handling should be verified and validated, including error propagation, error observability, and error recovery.

A group of knowledgeable people are required to anticipate what can go wrong with the application system. Knowledgeable people in information technology should gather and brainstorming should be done, find out what might go wrong with the application. Some organizations use auditors, quality assurance, or professional testing personnel to evaluate error processing.

When to Use Error-Handling Testing?

Error testing should occur throughout the system development life cycle. At all points in the developmental process the impact from errors should be identified and appropriate action taken to reduce those errors to an acceptable level.

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