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“Stress” Testing

Aug 25 '17

Every day, we are all bombarded with the day-to-day struggles of life. From politics, to social media, to the safety of our families with all the madness going on around us today. No wonder we are all stressed out! From a technological standpoint, your website can also become stressed out. Performing stress or load testing is what will help you determine the amount of traffic and activity that your site can take so that you are prepared for times of peak traffic.

Simply put, testers utilize their skills sets and any necessary tools to take a system beyond its capacity to determine the exact point of breakdown. Why is this important? Why is “stress” testing even necessary?

Ultimately, stress testing can provide an accurate picture of how an application performs and behaves under heavy loads or “real-world” conditions to assess areas of improvement that necessarily would not have been revealed under “normal” circumstances. The goal of stress testing is to try and break the application by giving it the biggest task and doing it again and again without allowing the application the opportunity to recover. Although an application proves itself as being reliable under isolated testing conditions, it must prove itself under high stress before it should be deployed for production use. There is nothing more frustrating and embarrassing than an application that passes extensive testing and still breaks down shortly after going into production due to day-to-day site traffic.

Stress testing can be a fun, yet a very laborious task. The development/QA team must determine the best approach to take for stress testing; whether its manual, automated or combination of both types of testing. Both manual and automated stress testing have their advantages and disadvantages. Manual stress testing is very time consuming and requires multiple team members to try and mimic the same amount of load typically seen in a “real-world” scenario. But, there are also certain parts of the application that cannot be easily automated and will require manual testing. On the other hand, automated stress testing can be executed rather quickly, is repeatable, and tests can be designed to ramp up the number of concurrent users on the system to mimic the load typically seen in a “real-world” scenario. In order to accomplish this, testers would utilize performance testing tools such as:

This will likely require a dedicated resource to not only learn and become proficient in utilizing such tools, but also require additional time to maintain and update the test scenarios that will need to be performed each time stress testing is executed.

Finalizing which approach works best will take some trial and error, but teams will quickly realize the feedback revealed from stress testing far outweighs the level of up front effort and is crucial to the success of a company’s application. Don’t let your website stress you out! Stress test it and know for sure how your site will perform during crucial times.