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Browser Synthetic Monitoring (BSM) and Browser Real-User Monitoring (Browser RUM) both have the same goal of helping you improve your user's experience. The difference between the two is how they are used accomplish this goal.

The following sections will discuss the differences and how to use the two types of monitoring together.

Identify Issues

Although Browser RUM can detect certain kinds of problems (like JavaScript exceptions), it cannot comprehensively test for functional correctness. For example, you may want to verify that your online store has reasonable prices a list of items. If your site is down entirely, then the JavaScript Agent will never be loaded, so errors or verifications will not be reported. Fortunately, Browser Synthetic Monitoring will keep running, discover the error, alert you, and provide detailed information about the problem.

Control Environmental Factors

Performance analysis in Browser RUM is complicated by the wide range of hardware, browsers, operating systems, and networks with which users access your site. Browser Synthetic Monitoring uses consistent hardware, software, and network configurations, so if you see deviations in performance, you can be fairly certain a problem exists.

Use Synthetic Metrics and Screenshots to Understand the User Experience

Browser Synthetic Monitoring can collect certain data that Browser RUM can't. For example, Browser Synthetic Monitoring provides screenshots, which help you see what's going on. You can also use the Visually Complete and related metrics to understand how users experience page load time.

Performance Versus Workflows

Browser RUM excels at capturing the full breadth of performance that your real users experience. Browser Synthetic Monitoring gives you confidence that your key workflows are always working and performing.

Differences Between Synthetic and Browser RUM Metrics

Although Browser Synthetic Monitoring and Browser Monitoring report similar metrics, you should be wary of comparing them because of these differences:

  • hardware
  • network connections
  • different browsers

If you see a sudden change in any of those metrics, however, you should compare the results of Browser Synthetic Monitoring and Browser Monitoring to see if there is an existing problem.

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