What are the differences between real browser and emulated monitoring?

If you want to measure your website’s performance in any meaningful way, you need to understand exactly how your customers experience it – ideally by walking in their virtual shoes.

SciVisum’s monitoring solution takes a ‘mystery shopper’ approach to website performance monitoring, monitoring realistic journeys across your site and making intelligent choices dynamically from page content in the same way as regular visitors. We find this provides the fastest route to identifying and resolving any critical performance issues before they impact your customers.

Two targeted monitoring options

SciVisum uses two synthetic monitoring tools within it’s SV-Monitor service – Real Browser and Emulated to make sure all bases are covered during any monitoring project.

Both are highly effective monitoring tools and both run off the same portal interface.  Real browser delivers results that are most accurate to the end user experience however there are cases when clients benefit from an emulated approach. So for many the ideal scenario is to have a mix of journeys on both engines to provide a comprehensive monitoring solution for everyone.

For a summary of the benefits of each service take a look at our real browser vs emaulated infographic.

Pick the service according to the answers you need

Real Browser will return the most realistic data and is closer to the real UX. It is invaluable for marketing or design teams who are responsible for AJAX and javascript add-ons and need to know how each change might affect users in terms of final rendering and script execution time in-browser. Because metrics such as server response time tend to get diluted with Real Browser journeys, it’s not the optimal choice for operations-level monitoring, though.

Emulated is often better for operations and technical staff – those focused on the performance of servers and networks – as it is much more sensitive to server effects and slowdowns, making it easier and quicker to diagnose problems as and when they arise. If you suspect server or network issues, emulated journeys are your first port of call.

Get closer to your customers’ real experience

Real Browser can be used to get closer to the customer experience, whether they’re accessing your site via mobile, laptop or desktop. Real Browser uses real browsers (including iPhone and Android for mobile) during the monitoring process to replicate your customer’s real experience so you can discover any and all issues impacting the CX – including ‘edge’ cases – and make informed business decisions.

Real Browser also includes a unique Video Replayer feature that provides an invaluable video playback option, enabling technicians to experience exactly the same problems as real users encountered at the time the issues arose.

“Dynamic User Journeys were a key factor in deciding to move to SciVisum. Because of the very nature of our web site it was important that we were able to dynamically track our web pages and user journeys. Previously we were monitoring via static journeys – we had lots of problems we didn’t capture which resulted in hours or days of downtime in parts of our web sites.”

Joe Doherty

Real Browser versus Emulated in a nutshell

Real Browser

Accesses the site in the same way as a real customer

Measures rendering times, making it a more reliable indicator of page delivery times for real users

An additional waterfall graph shows timings for each individual component


Downloads JavaScript components but does not execute them

Offers quicker response times than Real Browser and is quicker to alert

Tells you whether the site is working and pins down server issues

Find out how SciVisum's monitoring can help you maximise performance, contact us to find out more or to request a demo.

What next?

If you’d prefer to read a little more before you get in touch visit our monitoring service pages or download our SV-Monitor service datasheet.