How and why test our site for extreme traffic?

08.09.2021 143 0

If you have not thought about testing your website (server), this is a good moment to consider it! 

Daily you and your IT team are hardly working your website to run smoothly. But to test it under the different conditions it can face, could provide you the certainty that it can handle them. Besides, the results you get can be very useful, to upgrade or downgrade your web hosting service plan.

You can run different tests on your website to measure different parameters. Being you, the one who can identify possible breaking points, can help you prevent them. Nobody wants to suffer an outage or a crash during a special sale. This could mean a painful loss for your business!

Types of tests to run on your website

Every function on your website can be tested and improved. Therefore, many types of tests are possible. In an effort to organize this, some categories have been created. 

The most common types of tests are performance test, load test, and stress test. 

Performance test

This test evaluates different parameters of your website’s behavior while working under regular or a specific load of work.

A performance test will show you a valuable information like bottlenecks, errors per second, response time, latency, throughput per second (bytes), etc. By establishing possible relations between those factors, you can better define a strategy to fix them. It is a type of test you run as a part of your regular maintenance. 

To take the best out of the test’s results, you must perfectly know your website needs, and expectations are. A specific benchmark can help to establish a clearer goal. This way, once you have the results, you can really determine if your website is working well or not. Also, if it can reach your expectations or not, and how it can be enhanced. 

What does a performance test check?

  • Speed (for processing, data transfer, etc.).
  • Command response times.
  • Resources usage (processor, bandwidth, memory, etc.). 
  • Stability under regular demand.
  • Scalability to define how many users can use the website.
  • Responsiveness, the capability of the site to complete tasks in a certain time.
  • Reliability under a specific load of work.
  • And more technical parameters.

Load test

This test evaluates how a website can handle big, but expected loads of traffic during regular time, and specific periods. You can be working on a marketing strategy to grow traffic, or your e-shop can be steadily growing. Planning a special sale also is a scenario. That is what we mean with “expected” big loads of traffic. You do not have them yet, but everything points that they can happen soon, therefore you want to test your website to be ready for them.

To obtain the answers you look for, you have to increase the traffic loads to see how your website behaves. How much to increase it? Well, only you can answer this question based on the expectations you have. Again, it is critical to have clear goals and some realistic projections. 

What does a load test check?

  • Average response time.
  • Error rate.
  • Peak response time.
  • Requests per second.
  • Session length.
  • Maximum active and simultaneous users that can be handled.
  • Peak hour page views.
  • Throughput or bandwidth consumed by every process, and more.

Stress test

This test is a maximum challenge for your website. It is about evaluating its performance in the case of unexpected, abnormal, or extreme loads of work. To know how it behaves in normal conditions (performance test), in sudden but calculated situations (load test) is very helpful. But to stress, it can give you important data to prevent and to be ready for difficult scenarios. For instance, to be able to handle traffic spikes is very convenient, since they could mean only that your website got benefited by a random trend, a special promotion on your site is attracting lots of clients, or a scary DDoS attack is in progress. 

To evaluate your website’s performance under this kind of pressure, you must create the necessary extreme conditions to measure the parameters you are interested in. The main objective of stress testing is to define if your website is capable of recovery in a failure scenario. You will get key data about the limits of your website’s capacity.

What does a stress test check?

  • Speed.
  • Resources usage. 
  • Stability.
  • Scalability.
  • Responsiveness.
  • Reliability.
  • Response time, etc.

Pretty much every aspect involved in your website’s performance can be tested to its limits to measure its endurance. 

Why you should test your website?

Tests allow you to establish the metrics for measuring, and for evaluating your website in all senses (general performance, traffic management, etc.). Through their results, you can set the minimum acceptable values, and specific goals.

Benefits of the performance test

Have a clear image of how your website’s software behaves. Tests’ results are the best guide for you to fix the detected weak points or failures, to adjust for being more efficient, and to enhance. IT teams can experience the worst-case scenarios to design an efficient strategy to prevent or overcome them. Identifying the different factors that lead to a specific issue can help for fixing the problem.

Optimization based on concrete data for your website to make the best out of all its resources. Punctual detection of code issues allows developers to correct for keeping quality code, and proper functionality. Code issues frequently translate themselves to a lack of efficient resources’ usage. If you keep your website running smoothly (without latency, functionality issues, dead links, etc.), it will offer a nice experience for users. Satisfied customers mean success for you. 

Benefits of load testing

Reduce to the maximum the cost of performance failures. The earlier you identify issues, the better for your budget. If you wait to fix them until they are already causing severe disruptions, downtime, or annoyance on your users, the cost can be too high. Test results are gold information for you to know how your website can handle scalability. They also will point its limits for you to be aware, and decisions for making such limits wider will be clearer. 

Choosing the technology your website’s infrastructure needs for being more robust, and for handling higher, or abnormal, traffic loads, can be more accurate by analyzing the test results. Downtime risks can be reduced, by detecting issues that can affect your website’s availability. Bottlenecks can be detected and get fixed, based on accurate data. Optimization of databases, and written code to reduce the time for processing requests, the probability of memory problems, or a system crash. 

Benefits of stress testing

Finding the breaking point of maximum stress, by pushing your site to the extreme. Detection of bugs and synchronization problems is possible. Catching memory leaks. Detection of corruption and loss on the system. Find out how well your system recovers after a downtime.

Top 3 best tools for testing your website

There are many software options on the market. There’s software specialized in testing a specific website’s aspect. But the most robust software has the functionality for you to run the kind of test you need (performance, load, or stress). You can design the most convenient environment to evaluate your website, emphasizing the parameters you are more interested to measure. 

Apache JMeter

  • Free and easy to use.
  • Open-source software, 100% Java-based.
  • It tests performance, load, and you can design tailor-made stress tests. 
  • Friendly graphical user interface (GUI) that requires less scripting than other tools.
  • Clear graphs for visualizing and analyzing load behavior and performance.
  • It tests performance on dynamic and static resources, dynamic web applications.
  • It allows creating heavy loads on a single server, a group of them, a network… to evaluate performance under different kinds of load.
  • It tests many different protocols HTTP, HTTPS (Java, PHP, NodeJS, ASP.NET, etc.). FTP, TCP, mail ones like SMTP(S), IMAP(S), POP(S), SOAP/REST web services, native commands, Java objects, XML, and more.
  • Features in its integrated development environment (IDE) permit quicker testing generation, recording, building, and debugging. 
  • It allows the setting up of plugins convenient for the type of test you need to execute.
  • Compatible with many load injectors. Manageable with one controller.
  • Test results can be cached to check them offline too.
  • There is a big community to support you and available tutorials.

StresStimulus

  • Easy to use for experts and beginners.
  • It tests performance, load, and allows the design of stress tests too.
  • You can design and run your test completely through its intuitive GUI. Scripting is not a must, but it’s available in case you are an expert, and you want to use it. 
  • It supplies on-site and clouds testing via many load generators. 
  • It can record website usage scenarios for you to create your specific test case.
  • It supports HTTP, HTTPS, XML over HTTP, AJAX, binary WCF, WCF, SOAP, etc.
  • It can test complex dynamic pages mimicking real behavior from users and browsers.
  • It supplies different options for you to emulate the most convenient loads to test your website. You can define the number of virtual users (VUs) and adjust it even while the test is already running. Choose a specific type of network or browser, a mix of them, etc. for testing.
  • There is a StresStimulus free-of-cost edition for loading test with 250 VUs (maximum). But premium editions are available with features to test complex websites. They have different costs based on the edition you pick, the amount of VUs, license duration (perpetual, annual, monthly, subscription…). You can get a free seven-day trial too.
  • Customer support is based on the edition you get. The free one does not offer this service.

LoadView

  • It tests performance, but it’s quite recommended for load and stress testing. Everything is provided for you to design the test that best satisfies your needs.
  • It supports Java, Silverlight, Ruby, Flash, PHP, HTML5, and more.
  • You define the amount of VUs, behavior, duration, etc.
  • Simulate VUs through load injectors from twenty different locations around the world. Load injector servers are available for you to execute your load test (on-demand). 
  • Test the limits of your website. Adjust traffic loads in real-time and see how their behavior changes.
  • Run tests with security, behind a firewall. This tool supplies dedicated IPs you can configure.
  • Clear graphs, waterfall charts, dynamic variables.
  • It offers different paid plans, from a starter to more advanced options and on-demand. The starter plan costs $199 per month. There is a yearly fee option, and you can also choose a one-time payment if you go to the on-demand option. There is a free thirty-day SaaS trial.
  • Customer support 24/7.

Conclusion

Competition on the Internet is too strong. Users have plenty of choices, and not a lot of patience. They always prefer websites that provide the best experience (performance).

To test your website is key to take many decisions. It is a good practice that really has a lot of benefits. Be you the one who discovers possible weaknesses or vulnerabilities and fix them to prevent criminal attacks. Even if you are using amazing Cloud servers or Dedicated servers like ours, still testing is needed. 

Perfectly know the needs and expectations of your website. This is a good compass to plan your first test right now! Remember there are free trials. Give them a try! 

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