load testing represented by cartoon computer graph

Load Testing Tips to Improve Your Software QA Strategy

Making sure your software infrastructure can handle high user demand is crucial for pre-launch software testing. If software performance suffers or your website doesn’t load its pages under high demand, the user’s experience and their satisfaction with your product will suffer. These load testing strategy tips will help make sure your software testing engineers are getting the best and most relevant data from pre-launch software testing.

Define Minimum Load Testing Requirements

Before testing your software, define its minimum performance requirements. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • At what point is your software is no longer performing at an acceptable level.
  • At what point does the time it takes a webpage to load officially become a bad UX?

Without defining these “acceptable vs. non-acceptable” thresholds, you have nothing to definitively tell you when you’ve hit your software’s maximum load. Defining these minimum performance requirements before testing will help determine what limits to look for while performing your load testing.

Measure CPU and RAM Use, Not Just Response Time

Your software load testing strategy should look at the overall intended user experience, not just its individual components. It’s not enough to depend on loading time or performance speed to tell you when you’ve hit your maximum load.

Tracking CPU and RAM can help you understand the precise stress level your software or website is putting on its system and help discover memory or other resource leaks. If your software is doesn’t return resources when finished using them, the resource is said to ‘leak.’  This is most often seen with memory, and if bad enough can create situations in which your site crashes or slows down to an unacceptable level. 

Mimic Your Production Environment as Closely as Possible

In an ideal world, your testing environment would have the same resources available to it as your production environment. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to perform software load testing in the production environment or to precisely recreate the production environment in your software testing lab. There will often be a disparity in servers, download and upload speed, available computers, and other resources between the two environments which can cause your software load tests to produce results that aren’t accurate to the actual performance patterns of the production environment.

While there’s only so much your testing engineers can do to fix that, you still have options that will closely mimic the production requirement. For example, use actual computers and mobile devices instead of emulators if they are available to you. Make sure your load balancing is working evenly and with the same distribution method as the production environment. If your software is running on one OS, don’t test it on another unless you’re testing for different versions of the software (in which case, don’t compare results across operating systems).

A testing lab is a controlled environment and, therefore, won’t account for every variable in the production environment, but the closer that production environment can be mimicked, the more accurate your load testing results will be.