The functional lifetime of large aperture components used in high power lasers, like LIL and LMJ facilities, is mainly determined by laser damage measurements. Automatic damage test benches allow to obtain more data in less time than traditional tests. We present, first experimental procedures and statistical analysis made on small samples with mm-size beams, to determine damage densities and damage growth laws. The presented methods are the usual 1on1, Non1, Ron1 and Son1 tests and more specially the raster scan procedure. The tests and analysis are compared to other results obtained with larger beams (few cm2) on large optics. We show that the exact knowledge of each shot parameters (energy, surface and pulse duration) permits to determine the damage growth rate (and then to predict the lifetime of each optics), to precisely study self-focusing phenomenon and more to finely observe pre-damage-levels. In this way, the main parameters like fluence or intensity are associated to the observed phenomenon. Moreover laser beam diagnostics, many diagnostics used for the detection and the observation of damage occurrence are equally very important. It is also necessary to develop test procedures entirely computed which permit to scan all the surface of a component and to acquire in real time the beam parameters and the results of laser-matter interaction. Experimental results are reported to illustrate what could be achieved on an instrumented and automated facility.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.