Load Testing Explained: All You Need to Know

Algorithms, systems, software, and even websites do not just get thrown out there once built.

They must first undergo a series of performance testing and measurements, which is Load Testing .

As the name implies, load testing is done to see how much software or system can handle while delivering optimal performance.

The test mimics everyday, real-life users accessing the system or application simultaneously to see how well it holds.

This has to be done before a tool is pushed into the market and after any changes or updates have been made. And it is imperative to prevent the costs that come from system downtime and ensure customer satisfaction, as we will see shortly.

What is Load Testing?

Load testing is defined as the process used to measure and determine how well a system or application can function under traffic loads.

It mimics human behavior and loads the application with traffic to see how well it holds up. This makes it an important stage in every development process.

Before launching them, it is crucial to perform load testing on software, servers, applications, systems, and other tools.

Load testing helps define how well the back-end of a tool like a server or how the front-end of a tool like a website would be when exposed to a certain amount and influx of traffic.

Performing this type of test is crucial for several reasons. For instance, it can help you understand how much the system can take.

It can also help identify bottlenecks and points that may cause a system collapse. This, in turn, can be used as recommendations for improvements.

Once the improvements are made, the system can be prevented from experiencing downtime, which costs money and damages the brand.

What Are The Key Types Of Load Testing?

Like most things today, you may choose to perform load testing manually or automatically. Manual load testing generally involves using simple means to mimic user behavior and create traffic loads.

However, such simplicity also means having a limited execution of the test and not creating enough traffic on the system. So that while the entire process may be simple to carry out, it often isn’t enough to provide any conclusive measurements.

Secondly, a manual load test also requires too much human interference and engagement, which makes it costly at the end and opens the system up for preventable errors.

Alternatively, you could use automated load testing, which uses tools and testing software to create, manage, and measure the traffic load onto a system.

This can be done in several ways, with most companies choosing to develop and run their load testing tools while others use licensed load testing tools developed by a third-party company.

Others may even choose the open-source load testing tools that are free and open for anyone to use.

Using any of these solutions offers more advantages than manual testing. It means the system will get the right traffic load to carry out proper testing with minimal human input.

The results of automated load test are also more accurate, contain fewer errors, and are more budget-friendly at the end.

How Does Load Testing Work?

Load test is straightforward; the traffic generator creates a steady traffic load by sending repetitive requests to the target system. The results are measured continually to determine how much load the system handled at every point.

The generator could be humans (as in the case of manual testing) or software and computers (as it is common with automated testing) that mimic real users’ behavior to test the system’s capacity.

A more efficient generator creates more traffic in a short amount of time with very few errors. At the end of the process, what needs to be improved upon and what should be left to remain becomes apparent.

Main Stages of Load Testing

As it is with every process, load testing occurs in separate stages, with the main stages including the following:

  • Testing Environment Setup

The first stage in load test is to create a testing environment where most of the testing would take place.

It is often recommended to resemble the actual system as closely as possible to ensure reliable results.

  • Defining Performance Criteria

In this stage, you can set parameters and criteria to indicate what success is and what a failure is.

You also get to decide all your system performance criteria at this stage.

  • Planning The Test and Creating Possible Scenarios

This stage follows after you have set up an environment and decided upon the criteria for measuring performance.

Here, you can develop a clearly defined and detailed test plan that includes everything from what solutions you will be using to the amount of traffic you would create

  • Establishing a Baseline

Once you have a plan, the next stage is to define a solid baseline that will indicate if a performance is going great or not.

  • Running The Test

After setting up a benchmark and having the configurations ready, the next step is running and executing the actual test.

Here, the traffic from the virtual users is loaded onto the system continually.

  • Analyzing The Results

Once the traffic has been continually loaded to the system, the next stage is to collect the metrics, analyze performance, and see if it matches the criteria you set up earlier.

Then bottlenecks are discovered, and recommendations are made for improvement.

  • Re-testing

The final stage of every load test process is re-testing, and this is done after all the recommendations, changes, and improvements have been implemented.


System downtimes are well known for costing companies as much as $300,000 an hour. This can be easily avoided by running load test before launching a system or after any updates or changes have been made.

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