Your website goes viral after someone posts something on social media. Immediately, people begin to flock to your URL. But as the visitor count rises, load times and lag noticeably jump. Then, your site crashes altogether. For as long as it’s down, you’re missing out on all that traffic and all the opportunities that come with it.
While you can’t always predict when traffic to your site will spike, you can prepare for these crucial moments by stress-testing your IT infrastructure. Even beyond just making sure your site stays functional under duress, stress testing brings you peace of mind that your infrastructure is up to scratch.
Types of stress testing to consider
Stress testing isn’t a specific task, but rather a collection of tests to determine your website’s limits. To that end, several key test types involved in ensuring the site’s integrity exist.
- Performance testing checks your site’s specific stress points and puts them under load, to determine how they’re affected in adverse conditions.
- Stability testing checks on your site’s performance over a limited time period when it’s subjected to different loads.
- General load testing pushes your infrastructure to its limit to determine when it will fail and what happens when it does.
- Volume testing monitors your site’s performance when people access data volume at an increased rate.
- Scalability testing determines at what capacity your website begins to lose functionality when under load.
In testing each aspect of the site performance’s limits, operators can get a clear picture of exactly what their site can handle. More important, they gain insight into where they need to install improvements and safeguards.
The best approach to stress testing
Stress testing is best approached regularly and routinely. Operators should perform individual tasks incrementally to stress each part of the infrastructure and learn exactly what requires improvements. This is generally done through negative and/or fatigue testing.
Negative testing involves removing components from your system to learn specifically how they impact system reliability and recoverability as a whole. Fatigue testing simply involves pushing the infrastructure past its general bandwidth capacity. Depending on what you’re measuring, one or both methods may be applicable.
Also, different modalities for stress testing exist. Application stress testing narrows the scope of your investigation to a specific part of your infrastructure, whereas systemic stress testing may test the entire scope of your site. There are also transactional and exploratory stress testing to consider.
How to use the resulting information
IT problems can be diverse and complex, making it hard to prevent them all. At best, stress testing helps you close gaps in your infrastructure to prevent these issues. At worst, it allows you to observe them so you can plan accordingly. Having stress-test information unlocks opportunities, such as:
- Discerning when a surge in traffic will strain your site can help you determine what you can do to prevent crashing. This culminates in a better user experience.
- Understanding components that may be slowing it down can help you improve page load times. Faster site load could result in fewer bounces and more time spent on site.
- Finding gaps in security can help you protect against potential data breaches, decreasing liabilities for your site.
Stress testing is a proactive and preventive measure for maintaining your website’s critical infrastructure integrity. If you’re not stress testing routinely, there’s never a bad time to start.