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Test software with actual data

Test software with actual data to ensure the application works properly in real-life situations.

When testing software, use the data you are going to encounter in production. Get a file of actual data, extract a representative sample, and duplicate or triplicate that sample. You can change the duplicate and triplicate records to expose or test the limits of the values of the data.

Keep that file and add to it as you find items you didn't exercise -- lows, highs, non-printing characters, etc. This will enable you test data flows, program capabilities and regression test as you change the programs.
This was last published in April 2007

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