Performance Testing: how to detect system bottlenecks

by Mikhail Grechukha | April 17, 2018 9:12 am

The main aim of performance testing is to detect performance bottlenecks that can cause negative user experience and even software fail. The most common system bottlenecks are slow response time, poor scalability, too long load time, system downtime, software breaks and others. Unoptimized work of database, foreground events, server issues, memory utilizations, OS limitations and high traffic can cause performance issues.

You should conduct performance testing in order to evaluate and improve software stability and scalability. Test results will show you how your system behaves under different levels of loads. Performance testing[1] is a process of simulating various user scenarios.

There are several types[2] of performance verification. They are:

Every type defines system behavior under different number of users. To define the minimum and maximum user number, testers gather user statistics and prepare a load profile for your software. On the basis of profile, they determine starting point and step size to increase load.

Why performance testing?

As you know, the majority of people is very impatient, and they want to get everything at once. When opening a website, people expect it to load immediately. They won’t wait more than four seconds. Performance testing helps to optimize your software operability and to make sure it works fast without any bottlenecks.

Also, imagine the following situation. You visit an online store to make some purchases. You have selected several products, filled all necessary forms and at the very last step site crashes. Probably, you won’t repeat the same actions one more time and leave the site to never come before. And what about crashes during Christmas shopping? It is very irritating, isn’t it? Verification of system performance capacities will help to prevent such situations.

The goal of performance testing is to determine maximum load and number of simultaneous users the system can handle without losing work speed and quality.

When to do performance testing?

The earlier you start performance testing, the cheaper it will be. The matter is that system capacities depend on database, web servers, and network. If you detect any issues with hardware configuration at the stage of software deploy, then their fixing will be very expensive. So I recommend to test a server even before the software development to avoid double work. If you are developing a website and several pages are ready, you can also start performance testing.

However, one-time performance verification gives only approximate results on system capacities. You cannot predict all possible user scenarios. But still, test results will provide you with useful data about different system parameters and metrics that you’d better to know before software release. You know system behavior under untypical loads and analyze system recovery after unexpected breakdowns.

Performance testing helps to protect your software from fail. The matter is that constant crashes, downtime, and slow speed cause the loss of customers. Performance issues decrease your partners’ and investors’ trust. It is very difficult to recover company’s reputation. Performance testing will help you to ensure software reliability, thus, increase your customers’ trust.

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