While many of our customers may be accustomed to how uptime/downtime monitoring works, they may not be familiar with load testing and why it’s so important. The purpose of this blog post is to provide an overview of load testing, stress testing, and look at various ways that it can be used to improve website speed and performance.

Load Testing vs Stress Testing

When trying to understand load testing, it’s important to look at its cousin—stress testing. Let’s take a closer look at definitions and see how they are similar and also how they differ.

Load testing is the process of applying a steady level of demand to a website or server to see how it performs under load. For example, if you’re a retailer who is preparing for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you want to ensure that you website and servers can handle the increased demand that those shopping days bring.

In order to simulate the flood of users that would visit your site on these days, you’d build a load test using either a free or paid tool, run the test, and then make adjustments to your servers to plan for the increased capacity (this is sometimes called “capacity planning”). In contrast to load testing, let’s look at the definition of stress testing.

Stress testing is essentially applying a load to a website or web server, similar to load testing, but instead of measuring performance under and expected load, you’re applying load until the website or server stops functioning properly and crashes. While load testing seeks to find the performance of a website or server under expected load, stress testing seeks to find the breaking point, which is also extremely useful in capacity planning.

Why Load Testing is Important

Many people fail to understand the importance of load testing until it’s too late—they worry about uptime and downtime, but don’t truly think about the causes of downtime. A web server that is overloaded is one of the most common causes of downtime, and this is something that can be avoided by proactively running a load test to ensure that a website and web server can handle the expected load without crashing and creating a downtime situation.

Load Testing Tools

There are a variety of load testing tools that can be used for both load and stress testing. One of the most popular free options is Apache’s JMeter software. JMeter provides great functionality, and also offers a lot of different load testing options.

In terms of paid options, there are many. Enterprise solutions like HP’s LoadRunner to smaller options like LoadImpact or Loader.io. In order to keep all of these tests straight, you can also use software like TestLodge to help streamline the load testing workflow. The bottom line is that there are many different load testing tools available, so the best choice really depends upon what you’d like to test and your overall budget.

Hopefully now you’ve got a basic understanding of load testing, stress testing, and why it’s important to do both. For more information about uptime monitoring and to help make your site as reliable as it can be, check out all of the things that UptimePal can do for you!