What are the differences between real browser and emulated synthetic monitoring?

Keeping it real – walking in your customers’ virtual shoes

If you want to measure your website’s performance in any meaningful way, you need to understand exactly how your customers experience it. SciVisum’s monitoring solution takes a ‘mystery shopper’ approach to website performance monitoring using both emulated and real browser monitoring tools. We monitor realistic journeys across your site. Journeys that make intelligent choices dynamically from page content in the same way as regular visitors. This provides the fastest route to identifying and resolving critical performance issues before they impact your customers.

“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

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 to provide a comprehensive monitoring solution.

Pick the service according to the answers you need

Real Browser monitoring will return the most realistic data and is closer to the real UX. It is invaluable for marketing or design teams who need to know how changes will affect users in terms of final rendering and script execution time. Metrics such as server response time tend to get diluted with Real Browser journeys so it’s not the best choice for operations teams.

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

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

real browser monitoring

Get closer to your customers’ real experience

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

Real Browser also includes a unique Video Replayer feature that provides a video playback tool. This enables you to experience exactly the same problems real users encountered at the time the issue arose.

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.


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