Just because we think we have finished a project does not mean we are done. An essential part of the software development life cycle is testing the project then going back to fix any bugs that we may have found. Stress and load testing is essential to know the limits of your own application.
Stress and load tests are mainly used to establish a baseline performance for the application. While these two tests are commonly used in unison with one another, it is important to note that they are different. A load test automates a specific number of requests to a system in order to test the functionality. It is typically performed to ensure that a website is capable of handling a specific number of users at one time. Stress tests are similar to load tests but are more intense. A stress test is designed to increase the number of simultaneous requests to a system past a point where performance is degraded and almost to the point of complete system failure. This test is mainly used to identify any components that begin to slow down and can possibly fail. Now that it is understood what these tests are, the reasons to use them become more obvious.
Below you will find some reasons why we use stress and load testing.
Establishing Baseline Performance
When stress and load testing is performed, the testing system creates a number of dummy users that are known to be supported by the system. This number of users is called the baseline. The amount of users are then increased based on the baseline to test the system. The results of a baseline test determines the average connection speed, average delay before data transfer begins, and average time to download a file. Other tests rely on the baseline so it is good to do this test at the beginning.
Have you ever sat and waited forever while a website loaded? This is probably because the website has a bottleneck. In programming, a bottleneck is a singular process in a chain of processes that limits the capacity of the website and thus slows down the capacity of the whole chain of processes. Putting in effort to locate and fix existing bottlenecks ensures that a project will run smoothly without having to wait for a single process to finish. Stress and load testing will help you find out exactly what is causing your website to load slowly.
Service Level Agreements
Dependent on the performance of the users, service level agreements use the baseline to determine the average response times under an expected load. Service level agreements helps companies to manage customer expectations and define their liabilities if there are outages or performance issues. Service level agreements are comparable to a modern day internet speed test to determine how well your internet is performing with how much internet you are paying for.
Web App Infrastructure
Since stress testing is more intense than load testing, testing the web app infrastructure can only be done with stress tests. The web app infrastructure consists of all the components needed to deliver the application, its functions, and its hardware. Effective stress testing allows the tester to isolate each component to determine a point of failure. These tests include testing the number of data connections, disk space, isolating traffic to one region, and downloading large image files. The outcome of each test will identify points of failure, the failure rate, and the upper limits of the system capacity. These tests help during brief intense loads such as online shopping on Black Friday.
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