What is Load Testing?

What is Load Testing? How It Works, Tools, Tutorials, and More

Alexandra Altvater Developer Tips, Tricks & Resources

Load testing is a type of performance testing that simulates a real-world load on any software, application, or website. Without it, your application could fail miserably in real-world conditions. That’s why we build tools like Retrace to help you monitor application performance and fix bugs before your code ever gets to production. Load testing examines how the system behaves during normal and high loads and determines if a system, piece of software, or computing device can handle high loads given a high demand of end-users. This tool is typically applied when a software development project nears completion.

In this article, you will learn:

  • how to load test,
  • load testing vs stress testing,
  • load testing software and tools,
  • benefits and examples,
  • and best practices

How it Works

How to load test? A load test can be done with end-to-end IT systems or smaller components like database servers or firewalls. It measures the speed or capacity of the system or component through transaction response time. When the system components dramatically extend response times or become unstable, the system is likely to have reached its maximum operating capacity. When this happens, the bottlenecks should be identified and solutions provided.

 Performance Testing: Load Testing vs. Stress Testing

There is not much difference between load testing and stress testing, which is the reason why they are often confused with each other. Load testing and stress testing are both subsets of performance testing. Performance testing aims to examine system behavior and performance. Specifically, it monitors the response time, scalability, speed, and resource utilization of the software and infrastructure.

So how are the two different from each other? Load testing checks how the systems behave under normal or peak load conditions. Stress testing, on the other hand, is applied to check how the system behaves beyond normal or peak load conditions and how it responds when returning to normal loads.

Load Testing Tools

It’s important to choose a tool that best fits your business needs. Stackify Retrace helped Americaneagle.com stay ahead of its competitors through Application Performance Management.

There are a lot of load testing tools you’ll find in the market, but not all of them are the perfect fit to help your business succeed. Examples of these load tester software and tools are WebLOAD, LoadView, and Loadrunner.

WebLOAD works on any internet application using Ajax, NET, Oracle Forms, HTML5, and other technologies. LoadView measures performance in real browsers (not headless phantom browsers). Lastly, LoadRunner can manage thousands of users at the same time. For a comprehensive list of many of the tools available today, check out our list of 50 load testing tools.

Possible Use Cases and Examples

Below are a few of the many possible use cases:

  • Airline Website During Promotion Period. Evaluating an airline’s website that will be launching a flight promotion offer and is expecting 10,000+ users at a time.
  • Government Web Portal. Evaluating a website of government agencies, particularly during the filing date of income tax returns when traffic will spike.
  • Running numerous concurrent requests on a server, thus, subjecting the server to a massive volume of traffic.
  • The nonstop transfer of multiple files to and from a hard disk. This could take the form of measuring the speed of a laptop with the transfer of 8GB-15GB files to and from a laptop with speeds of 1 Mbps.
  • Downloading a huge volume of large files from a company website to test performance.
  • Requesting various jobs on printers in a queue simultaneously.

Benefits of Load Testing

Benefits include the discovery of bottlenecks before production, scalability, reduction of system downtime, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced failure costs. Specifically:

  • Discovering bottlenecks before deployment. Evaluating a piece of software or a website before deployment can highlight bottlenecks, allowing them to be addressed before they incur large real-world costs.
  • Enhance the scalability of a system. It can help identify the limit of an application’s operating capacity. This can aid in determining infrastructure needs as the system scales upward.
  • Reduced risk for system downtime. It can be used to ferret out scenarios that can cause a system to fail. This makes it a great tool for finding solutions to high-traffic problems before they arise in the real world.
  • Improved customer satisfaction. If a website’s response times are short even as it scales up to a higher audience, one-time customers will be more apt to revisit.
  • Reduced failure cost. Identifying concerns at the earliest stage possible, especially before launch, decreases the cost of failures. By contrast, after-launch failures can incur exponentially greater costs.

Best Practices for Load Testing

The best tool and software is not all it takes for you to perform favorable load testing of your application. What you need most is knowledge of the best practices when load testing. Here are a few tried and tested practices:

  • Identify business goals. A strong understanding of future goals for scope and volume will draw clear guidelines to inform the process.
  • Determine key measures for the application and web performance. Agree on criteria to track. Some criteria include response times, throughput, resource utilization, maximum user load, and business performance metrics.
  • Choose a suitable tool. Select a tool that best caters to your needs. Some tools include but are not limited to WebLOAD, LoadView, and Loadrunner.
  • Create a test case. In writing a test case, make sure both positive and negative scenarios are taken into account. Test cases must be accurate and capable of being traced to requirements.
  • Understand your environment. Consider different types of deployments you might want to test. Create configurations similar to typical production. Test different system capacities like security, hardware, software, and networks.
  • Run tests incrementally. During these tests, the system will ultimately fail. One key goal is determining what volume results in failure, and spotlighting what fails first.
  • Always keep end-users in mind. The satisfaction of customers and site visitors is crucial to the achievement of business metrics. This plays into their willingness to revisit a site or re-access an application.

 Load Testing Should Be on Your List

Performance testing is not something you can simply disregard, which also means load testing. This performance analysis process preps your system to be ready when it comes to real-world handling. If you launch your software without testing it beforehand, you’ll likely have missed a lot of issues. What’s worse, is that users are the ones who’ll find these issues , leaving a bad first impression and tarnishing your application’s reputation.

That is why you must highlight load testing in your software development process. But in addition to load testing, there are a lot of subsets in performance testing that you must know. For overall software performance management, look to application performance management software like Stackify Retrace.

Retrace proactively identifies various issues in QA and non-production stages of development. What’s more, is that it offers continuous improvement in the production environment. With Retrace, find issues and resolve them within your system before you introduce it to the market.

Start your FREE TRIAL now and enjoy the benefits of a developer-friendly, easy to use Application Management Tool (APM)!