RUM vs. synthetic monitoring

Real user monitoring and synthetic monitoring are two different approaches to monitoring the performance and user experience of web applications. RUM helps measure the real-world digital experience for your website or single-page applications. Synthetic monitoring helps to simulate navigation paths—common actions like sign-up or a complex user journey from login to the payment gateway—on a real browser to identify and resolve potential issues before they affect your customers.

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The best way for any business to measure the effectiveness of their web application is by measuring the performance that their end users experience. With users becoming more and more demanding, it has become critical for businesses today to have ongoing application monitoring solutions. To this end, Site24x7 provides you with our Real User Monitoring and Synthetic Monitoring solutions which will provide you with valuable insights into how your web applications are performing.

What are the differences between synthetic monitoring and real user monitoring?

What are they

Synthetic monitoring

Synthetic also known as active performance measurement is a monitoring solution where website development team will create an artificial scenario in which they will try to mimic the way that actual website traffic will enter the website in a controlled environment.

Real user monitoring (RUM)

RUM also known as passive measurement is a monitoring solution in which unlike synthetic the actual performance of website as and when users access the website content is measured and monitored.

 RUM vs. synthetic monitoring

How do they differ in operation?

Synthetic Monitoring

  • Website team approaches the page provider and requests to conduct test on a series of URLs.
  • The provider then accepts the request and forwards it to the different browser agents or rendering teams.
  • The agent then renders the response and website team measures the response time.

Real User Monitoring

  • A visitor visits company website and views the page content.
  • RUM javascript in the page collects the timing data from the browser.
  • This data is then sent to the website monitoring team.
 Real user monitoring (RUM) vs. synthetic monitoring

Types of data collected

Synthetic Monitoring

Information such as DNS lookup time, time to load first byte etc. can be obtained and also a lot of data on the content itself such as what kind of script is being used on most of the websites, whether they are image files etc. to the extent that we can create the exact page requests that come in and even recreate them for future monitoring.

Real User Monitoring

Collects actual data about page load time that the user experiences, and it also covers all locations and agents unlike in synthetic where the monitoring team may try to make it as comprehensive as possible but can miss out on a few. It can collect just about anything that we can get from javascript.

 Synthetic monitoring vs. passive monitoring

Benefits of using synthetic monitoring and real user monitoring

Synthetic monitoring

Synthetic monitoring offers several benefits for organizations looking to ensure the performance, availability, and reliability of their web applications and services:

  • Proactive issue identification

    Synthetic monitoring allows organizations to simulate user interactions and transactions, enabling them to identify performance issues before they impact real users. By continuously running synthetic tests, potential problems can be detected early, minimizing downtime and user dissatisfaction.

  • Performance benchmarking

    Synthetic monitoring provides a baseline for performance benchmarking by simulating user journeys under controlled conditions. This allows organizations to measure and compare performance metrics such as response times, page load speeds, and transaction completion rates over time or against industry standards.

  • Testing under various conditions

    Synthetic monitoring enables organizations to test their applications under various conditions, such as different browsers, devices, and geographic locations. By simulating these scenarios, organizations can ensure that their applications perform optimally for all users, regardless of their environment.

  • Improved user experience

    Synthetic monitoring helps ensure a smooth and seamless user experience by proactively identifying and resolving performance issues.This can lead to higher user satisfaction, increased engagement, and, ultimately, better business outcomes.

Real user monitoring

RUM offers several benefits for organizations aiming to understand and optimize the user experience of their web applications and services:

  • Insights into real-world user experience

    RUM provides insights into the actual experiences of real users interacting with the application in diverse environments, including various devices, browsers, and network conditions. This real-world data is crucial for understanding user behavior, preferences, and pain points.

  • Identification of performance issues

    RUM helps identify performance bottlenecks and challenges encountered by users in real-time. By monitoring metrics such as page load times, server response times, and transaction completion rates, organizations can pinpoint areas for improvement and prioritize optimizations to enhance user satisfaction.

  • Data-driven decision-making

    RUM enables data-driven decision-making by providing actionable insights derived from real user behavior and experiences. Organizations can use this data to make informed decisions about product development, feature enhancements, infrastructure investments, and other strategic initiatives.

  • Enhanced user satisfaction and engagement

    Organizations can deliver a smoother and more responsive user experience by addressing performance issues identified through RUM. This leads to higher levels of user satisfaction and engagement.

Synthetic monitoring vs. Real user monitoring: Which one to choose?

Synthetic Monitoring

Will provide a consistent noise free data (unlike RUM) which will allow you to get more meaningful alerts and make informed decisions on how to improve the performance of your web applications. Synthetic is normally used by companies before the application goes into production, to make sure that it is working properly and can handle real life situations.

Real User Monitoring

Much more extensive and does not need the DevOps teams to design use cases as it is running in real time. It will also cover for all errors that occur in all geographies or due to different browsers which Synthetic may miss. Simply put, RUM will catch everything which makes it very important for large organizations who run complex applications which keep on changing.

Synthetic vs. real user monitoring

Why choose one when you can have both?

Truth is, that there is no clear winner among the two. In fact they are actually complementary in nature.

How does the system work?

Using Site24x7, users can now plot their real user traffic against their synthetics and understand the difference in performance across geographies, browsers and synthetic data.

This will allow your team to ensure that your synthetic scripts are based on the real world data ensuring that they are one step ahead of any performance issue you may face.