A comparison between Real User Monitoring (RUM) and Synthetic Monitoring


Real User Monitoring is considered to be passive monitoring. It relies entirely on services that constantly observe the system in the background, tracking applications’ availability and responsiveness. The RUM will only collect the data from the real-user sessions. It means that you can only do it when you have incoming traffic. This type of monitoring captures and analyzes each transaction by users of a website or application – it monitors actual user interaction.

Unlike RUM, Synthetic Monitoring doesn’t require any real website visitors to perform the tests. It simulates human behavior and, therefore, the path end users take through an application or a website. Obviously, you have to identify the business-critical processes you want to monitor, in order to build useful test cases. Synthetic monitoring can be defined as proactive monitoring because the traffic is generated to collect data and to measure applications performance issues that can jeopardize employees work. If the performance isn’t optimized, the employees’ productivity drops and costs increase.

Both Real User Monitoring and Synthetic Monitoring are useful for a variety of things. Briefly, we can say that synthetic monitoring tools are more useful – as written above – to proactively solve users’ problems. It avoids people’s complains because issues are solved before they even realize them. On the contrary, RUM – based on real user interactions – helps with understanding long-term trends.


Real User Monitoring Advantages
  • It considers users’ perspective: Real User Perspective lets you see the issues appearing from the user experience
  • You don’t need to predefine use cases, because RUM captures every real user transaction.
  • On the basis of the data collected, the company is able to understand “where” is the problem.


Real User Monitoring Disadvantages
  • The data collected are definitely too much. Therefore it is difficult to identify the significant data.
  • It’s difficult to get useful info because it requires real users traffic.
  • As just written, RUM requires traffic. Subsequently, it’s quite difficult to identify persistent issues (on the contrary, it’s possible with a synthetic monitoring tool)


Synthetic Monitoring Advantages
  • It emulates complex business processes and user transactions from different locations, in order to measure performance.
  • A Synthetic Monitoring tool provides end-users’ point of view. It means that you can find and fix issues before they impact your end users.
  • You can monitor end-user performance at any time and you can decide the frequencies and the locations.
  • Third-party apps and microservices monitoring. This is important for e-commerce websites that often rely on third-party add-ons and payment modules.


Synthetic Monitoring Disadvantages
  • In some cases, test cases can be too predictable. They are built in a predefined environment and they aren’t always representative of what real users are experiencing at any time.


In conclusion… which one is better?

In our opinion, the best solution is to have a Real User Experience Monitoring solution and a Synthetic Monitoring tool working together.

.. What do you think? Do you agree with us?