This article presents a brief overview of various types of load tests, their purpose, their mechanics, and the proper way to use them.
What is Load Testing?
Anything that emulates website user scenarios constitutes a load test. Load testing like we offer at LoadView Testing is an essential part of the development and maintenance of any website or application operating at scale. Without load testing, it’s simply not possible to really know how well any website will perform for users under various circumstances or at scale.
Load testing tools report on the behavior of a website considering the amount of load that is put on it. As a rule, load testing is usually applied near project completion or after an update but it can also be used whenever a surge in traffic is anticipated around a major event such as media exposure or Black Friday in the case of eCommerce.
There are five basic types of load tests:
1. Capacity Testing
How Much Can Your Website Handle?
This type of load test will gauge the number of users that can populate the website before the website’s performance starts to go below what is acceptable. It’s a test designed to show whether the website or application can take the amount of stress that it’s been programmed to take and where the site may run into problems.
Capacity load testing can be very beneficial when trying to identify bottlenecks or issues with code. It’s really just a way to know whether the a given website could be improved in any way to perform at the required level.
While performing a capacity test, there are a few things to consider. First, proper criteria must be set to make sure results are accurate and reflect real-life scenarios. This can be done by reviewing existing traffic levels and estimating potential future increases or sudden surges. You can also automate load tests to run at different times or concurrently. These variables can help to produces a wide range of results from which important data can be discovered about the functioning of your website under different circumstances.
2. Stress Testing
What Happens If There’s a Surge in Traffic?
Stress testing allows you to test the maximum limit a website will go to before it breaks and shuts down. This test will help you understand how your website will perform under severe load. It helps when planning for both expected surges and unforeseen circumstances like a blog post that suddenly goes viral.
Stress testing is also known as endurance testing. This type of test is warranted under special circumstances such as a planned ticketing event or big online sales day like Black Friday. We strongly recommend you perform regular stress tests and develop your website based on test data to avoid a breakdown when an unusual spike in usage occurs. Stress testing can also be used to understand the timing when an error message is to be displayed.
Stress testing can be used to test a system’s security level, protecting it against harmful attacks. There are a few steps involved in performing a stress test. The first step is to gather data and to set parameters. Then, scripts are prepared and executed. LoadView’s EveryStep Recorder features point and click scripting, which makes this step easy. Reports are then produced and analyzed. During the last stage of stress testing, the tweaks and modifications that are necessary can be made and tests can be run again to look at the results.
3. Soak Testing
How Does Your Website Perform Over Time?
A soak test is performed to evaluate the performance of a website over an extended period of time. Users are introduced gradually and we can see how a website performs with added load over time.
This tests allows developers to identify what types of memory leaks, degradation, and other system failures occur over time. While a capacity test or stress typically looks at short bursts of traffic, a soak test will tests the site’s behavior over a protracted period.
Soak tests can be used to determine how much memory is being allocated to a certain task, what databases are deteriorating over the long run, and how data structures become less organized over a longer duration.
Before performing a soak test, we first need to determine the kind of load we intend to put on the website. It’s also important to determine the time span over which the test will run. Finally, risks should be analyzed to make sure the test runs smoothly. For example, are there any obvious bugs that ought to be fixed before testing?
4. Spike Testing
Is Your Website Ready for Short Bursts of Activity?
Spike testing focuses on short bursts of users. In this type of testing, the load testing tool generates a sudden increase in the number of users to see how the website behaves. You’re not necessarily checking the amount of stress a given website can take but rather if it will behave normally under an unusual spike of users.
Spike testing can be helpful in testing the behavior of a website when a day like Black Friday comes around, if the website is a commercial one. If you anticipate a surge of traffic to your website for any reason, consider this type of load test.
Not only does spike testing test for an increase in users, it also generates results based on a decrease in numbers. Think of it in terms of what rapid changes in temperature can do to a glass of water. A heated glass of water might shatter if immediately put into the freezer. Or a cold glass of water might shatter if put into the microwave. Unexpected things can also happen to websites that have a sudden increase or decrease in the number of users. That’s why it’s necessary to test them beforehand.
Determining the load capacity for your website is an important first step. The next step is to prepare a testing environment – that is, don’t perform load testing on a production website. Then, the load for the test is determined. From here you can use LoadView to increase or decrease the load significantly and see the behavior of the website. Finally, you and your developers can analyze the results and address issues.
5. Volume Testing
Just How Many Users Can Your Website Handle?
Where stress and capacity testing are concerned with adding a large number of users to the website or application, volume testing concerns itself with adding a large volume of data. With volume testing we can study response time. Beyond this, bottlenecks are easily identified and we can see at what point the system begins to degrade.
There are several steps involved in performing a volume test. We check to see if there was any data lost during the high intensity load put on the website. We can also review website response time and whether the website stores the data in the right places. If there’s any data overwritten without notification, we’re made aware of that. We’re able to tell whether the website provides any error or warning messages in volume related problems. We can evaluate whether the system has enough memory resources, and whether large amounts of data pose a threat to data already present.
Website or application testing doesn’t need to be complicated or stressful. Our LoadView experts are here to help you get the most out of your load testing at any scale. Schedule a one-on-one demo today and learn more about how LoadView makes professional load testing easy and effective.