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What is Performance Testing?

Performance Testing is one of the most important types of software testing, as it checks the speed, reliability, response time, resource usage and the scalability of the software. In this process, multiple tests are done under various user-case conditions, with respect to load, speed and volumes of data.

One thing to note here is that performance testing is not the same as functional testing (as many people believe), because it does not find any functional defects. Instead, it is used to eliminate any bottlenecks that can alter the performance of the software or device.

What is the need of Performance Testing?

Performance testing is done to give the stakeholders and product owners an idea about how their software performs in terms of speed, scalability and reliability, under the expected workloads. If you do not perform such tests, your software will most likely face inconsistencies across different user-case scenarios.

According to Dunn & Bradstreet, 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience a downtime of 1.6 hours, on an average. Such things not only lead to huge losses in revenue but also cause bad PR for the company.

Some of the common problems faced by software and applications during performance are as follows:

Long loading time – In the fast-paced world we are living in, there is hardly any chance for a software to flourish in the market if it has a slow load time. Load time is basically the time taken by the software or application to get started initially. Yes, there are certain software that take around a minute to get started and it can be attributed to the incredibly huge databases they have. However, when it comes to general applications or software, the idea should always be to keep the load time under 5-6 seconds. The right set of tests will help you get the load time where you want.

Poor response time – As a subset of the above point, this too deals with the amount of time the application takes to respond to something. Response time is the time taken by the application to produce an output, or rather perform a function, once the user has given a command. If it takes a lot of time, the user will naturally lose interest. Speed tests have to be conducted to see the responsiveness of the application under various user-case conditions.

Poor scalability – Whenever an application is created, product owners have a certain idea about the number of users who will be using it. To start with, an application should be able to manage the expected load but should also be able to manage more loads as well (if and when the time comes), with certain changes made in the coding. However, this is where a lot of applications fail and crash. In such cases, load testing plays a huge role in determining the capacity of the application to withstand such pressure.

Bottlenecking – Bottlenecks, as the name suggests, are the obstacles that occur during the run-time of the application. They have the capacity to damage the performance of the whole system. It could be due to a coding error or a hardware issue. The aim of performance testing is to find the source of the bottleneck, so that testers can find a solution to it. Some of the common bottleneck situations are related to memory utilisation, CPU utilisation, OS limitations and disk usage and so on.

What are the types of Performance Testing?

Load testing – It checks the application’s ability to perform under anticipated workloads and see if there are any bottlenecks in it before releasing the app to the public.

Stress testing – It is the testing phase where the application is taken to its limits by running it in extreme user-case scenarios of high traffic and data processing. The aim of this test is to identify the breaking point of the application.

Endurance testing – The aim of this test is to check whether the application can perform well under the expected load, over long periods of time.

Spike testing – It checks if the application can handle sudden spikes in the number of users on the platform.

Volume testing – The objective of this test is to check how the application behaves under varying database volumes. For this, the application is populated with a large amount of data forcibly.

Scalability testing – This test checks if the application can be scaled up to meet the demands of an increased user base. It helps the product owners plan for the addition of capacity in their software system.  

How is Performance Testing performed?

There is no exact methodology that should be followed to conduct performance testing on an application. Having said that, the end goal remains the same for every product. While some do performance testing on their whole software, some prefer to do it for just a few parts of the system.

Therefore, here we have given a slight overview of the generic process that is involved in performance testing.

  1. Identify the testing environment – The first step is to identify the physical test environment. The kind of production environment, testing tools to be used, and configurations between the hardware, software and network – all these should be determined before you start the test. This also helps in determining the possible obstacles testers might face while performing tests.
  2. Classify the testing acceptance scenario – The next step is to identify the end goals of tests, based on the response times, resource allocation and so on. For this, testers should be given authority to determine the constraints and benchmarks. One way to go about it is to compare the application in question with a similar application if it is available.
  3. Plan and design the tests – While planning test cases, it is absolutely important to plan for various user-case scenarios. There must be tests designed to simulate all the possible cases that the software will have to go through in the real world.
  4. Configure the testing tools – You should configure the testing tools and other parameters according to the test designs before starting with the execution phase.
  5. Run and monitor the tests – While running the tests, it is important to monitor the tests and jot down the necessary readings.
  6. Analyse and retest – The last step is to analyse all the readings in detail and then make changes in the test design. Then, you must make the software go through the tests again and again till the problem is eliminated.

Performance testing is one of the key aspects of software testing that determines if your software or application will run the way you intended it or not. If you want to avail the best services of performance testing for your software, get in touch with TestUnity, a company that has been successfully delivering client-oriented results for years now.

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