Bitesize Bio brings the basics to its how-to guide on sequence alignment. In this "beginner's guide" — which is to be the first in a series — Jason Garner writes that "those of us who have learned how to sequence know that aligning sequences is a lot easier and less time consuming than creating them."
Indeed, he writes that aligning hundreds or thousands of sequences can be done fairly easily as long as a proper algorithm is used. "I can usually align ~750 sequences of 1000 nucleotides each in about an hour using MUSCLE. For aligning a large number of sequences, you must have sufficient computer memory and storage," Garner says. He goes on to define "similarity" versus "identity" and "consensus sequence."
When it comes to determining the quality of an alignment, he says to remember it is "garbage in, garbage out" as much depends on the quality of the sequence data itself.