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15 Load Testing Tools, Tips and Methods to Protect You from Crashes

Do you find your website users complaining about it being sluggish at times? Does performance degrade when traffic is high? How certain are you that a new feature or build isn’t responsible for your laggy site? These are questions best answered through load testing.

Load testing is a branch of software performance testing. It involves subjecting a website to simulated workloads that stretch its specified operational capacity to its limits in order to assess its performance.

A slow and vulnerable site can affect your search visibility, user experience, and conversion rate — all of which can negatively impact your revenue.

In this article, I’m going to explain the advantages, goals, and metrics of load testing, and then give you 6 tools and 9 tips to try.

WebLOAD’s dashboard

The advantages of load testing

Some benefits that you get from load testing include:

  • Prevent downtime with analysis. It helps you run various scenarios mimicking real-world usage to gain different insights on your users’ behavior and website performance. This is an accurate and quantifiable way to discover new methods to add value to your website and improve your business.
  • Save money long-term. Although a load test can lead you incur costs it helps you save money in the long run by uncovering emerging problems that you can fix for much less. It also helps maximize your website’s efficiency which saves you from over spending on maintenance.

The goals of load testing

At its core load testing is a means of measuring metrics. It therefore means that there are goals that underlie the quantifying of the specified metrics. Some of the things it seeks to find out are:

  • How robust the system is and more so how it recovers from any errors
  • How efficiently the resources the system has at its disposal are being used e.g. if you have a fast processor and low RAM it means that the hardware resources are under-performing. In such a case load testing will reveal where relevant improvement should be done to achieve optimal output. This is also applicable in assessing efficiency of a website’s resources
  • What hampers the system’s ability to fully handle its work load i.e. bottlenecks

It is important to note that you need to differentiate between goals behind load testing and the means by which you arrive at load testing.

Load testing metrics to analyze

Once you have identified your goals for carrying out load testing, you need to know what metrics to measure. A few key things to look at can include:

Throughput: How much bandwidth a website uses up while conducting the test. It indicates the amount of data sent and received from the servers.

Error rate: How frequently errors occur when a website is processing requests and at what stage they do occur.

Response time: How long a website takes to respond during the highest levels of activity (peak time) and as measured over a period of time (average time).

  • Requests per second: How many requests are sent to the server
  • Concurrent users: How many virtual users are active at any given time
  • CPU utilization: How well the CPU is utilized as the website processes a request
  • RAM utilization: How much memory is utilized as the website processes a request
  • Number of failed or passed transactions: The overall amount of successful and unsuccessful transactions
  • Wait time: How long it takes once a request is sent to when the first byte is received in response

Methods of load testing

There are two general approaches one can use when carrying out a load test.

Longevity testing

This measures the capacity of the system to handle a specific work load that simulates the average amount that a live user handles over an extended period of time. A baseline defining what the optimum work efficiency ought to be is used as a reference point. It is also referred to as endurance testing and is used to check for errors in the system that occur after a sustained period of use.

Volume testing

This measures the capacity of the system to handle large volumes of data in a limited period of time. Subjecting the system to an increasing volume of work helps to assess whether it can competently handle the quantity set out by its developers.

6 load testing tools

The Grinder

The Grinder is a free, JAVA-based load testing tool. It creates the load by using load generators, also known as agents, that handle many workers. It is compatible with a BSD-style open source license. It has flexibility in creating parameters. It also has the capacity to handle various protocols. A console is the central interface through which editing is done and tests are developed.

The console is a GUI application by nature that facilitates monitoring of real time results via the several Grinder agents it controls. It has TCP proxy and can handle distributed testing. It provides complete access to the information generated after a test for verification and analytical purposes.

WebLOAD

WebLOAD is a licensed tool with a free version used in testing large-scale loads. It has capacity to handle complex scenarios and the load itself can be generated through the cloud or on-site. It’s used when testing any web and mobile application or API that deploys Adobe Flex, Oracle Forms, HTML5, Ajax, .NET and others.

It enables automatic correlation, DOM-based recording, automatic bottle neck detection and JavaScript language when scripting. There is a free plan with limited features. The paid plans have flexible pricing and a robust licensing mechanism.

LoadView

LoadView is a paid tool whose unique feature is that it tests in real browsers making it more precise as it can more accurately mimic real-world user behavior. It is cloud-based and as a result has the ability to deliver a large scale, distributed load test.It also provides point and click scripting. While it’s not an open source option there is a free trial feature.

Apache JMeter

JMeter is an open source tool that manages multiple load injectors using a single controller. It supports a variety of protocols that include JAVA-based ones. It has a user-friendly GUI which requires less scripting. It can be loaded onto a network or server to assess its performance under various types of loads.

Testing Anywhere

Testing Anywhere is a tool that enables you to create the test criteria that best suits you via its in-built editor. There are five steps involved in creating any test:

  • Object recorder
  • Advanced web recorder
  • SMART test recorder
  • Image recognition
  • The editor

One common use for it is to automatically uncover any bottlenecks in its early stage of development. This helps you resolve it before the users encounter it.

HP LoadRunner

LoadRunner’s unique advantage as a load testing tool is that it enables you to simultaneously create and manage thousands of users. It consists of several tools namely Virtual User Generator, Load Generator and Analysis and Controller.

It creates a scenario that contains the script to be executed while generating the required number of virtual users. It factors in other specified parameters and generates results. A developer is able to get all the information relating to the infrastructure and performance. It is a paid tool.

Factors to consider when selecting a tool

The best tool is the one that most suits your needs to deliver the best results for your specific context. Things to weigh include:

  • The cost of the license if you opt for a paid tool
  • The protocols you will use. You need a tool that supports the relevant protocols involved for it to deliver
  • How often the vendor or developer updates it and whether there is any support offered in case you run into technical difficulties and need assistance
  • How expensive it will be to train any staff on using it, be it monetarily or time wise
  • The software or hardware that is required to run the tool effectively
  • Whether your client has a particular preference for any specific testing tool

9 tips for website load testing

The best load test that will deliver valuable and actionable feedback to help improve your website is one that you prepare for. Load testing goes beyond just simulating a desired scenario. Here are a few things to do to make sure you get value for your money when testing:

Schedule your testing

The value of regular load tests to consistently gauge your system’s capacity is indispensable. Institute a testing calendar that enables you to receive feedback without going for too long. A recommended period would be two weeks between every test. You will be able to adequately study the results in depth, meaningfully iterate and coordinate for the next test. Such a practice will help you uncover bottlenecks that you can then address before your users get affected by them. Your website will be consistently performing above average as a result.

Use real browsers

Aim to use real browsers as much as possible to generate more accurate results as they better mimic real-world users as compared to virtual browsers. If need be you can add virtual browsers to reach your target.

Set accurate benchmarks

A load test is only as good as the information it delivers when compared to a relevant baseline. Look at what your competitors are doing to help you determine what an accurate and realistic benchmark should be. The closer it is to real-world situations the better the insights you will glean.

Create a team

A well-executed load test can deliver high quality insights that significantly impact your website in a meaningful way. Assign specific tasks to a relevant team member and let them know that they are in charge of delivering on it. Coordinate the who-does-what during a test to foster collaboration. The result will be a test that encounters minimal barriers to its smooth operation. Consider a self-service solution if you have a complete team and a full-service tool if you can’t constitute a big enough team.

Critically analyze your data

A well-timed load test is one that is executed when the website is at its busiest. Study your analytics over the last 12 months to pinpoint when traffic is at its highest point. When testing, aim to go around 20 percent higher than your peak traffic volume to ensure that the website can handle its greatest number of users without significant problems.

Record all information

Maintain a record of all the results generated from each test in a system that is easy for all team members to access. It will help narrow down any bottlenecks that crop up to find the root causes without talking too long. Always monitor your overall infrastructure and servers to stay on top of any emergent issues.

Cross reference the results

Ensure that you match up the results of a specific test to its timeline. Cross reference all the resulting timelines and test results to look at the complete picture when analyzing insights. This will give you a well-rounded understanding of any problematic areas than if you individually analyzed the tests for insights in isolation.

Build up with every test

The best way to find out how the website performs at different load levels is to start small and keep increasing with every test. Compare the metrics you are interested in with every increase in the number of users to gain insight.

Free vs. paid tools

Cutting down on operational costs is admirable for a business but not when it affects the quality of services provided. Avoid using the price of a tool as a determinant in whether to adopt a free or paid one.

The goal of a load test is to mimic real-world user conditions as much as possible for best insights. Assess if you can achieve this through a free tool. If not, a paid one may be an option to consider in order to effectively gather the data needed to improve your site’s performance. The more a load test can copy real-world user behavior the better the results for your website.

Get started load testing

Load testing is an important strategy in making your website more user friendly and efficient. The data gathered from testing in different scenarios provides different insights that help point you to improvements that need to be made. There are varied load testing tools to suit various needs and contexts. Planning your load test and understanding what metrics to look for are key in deriving high value results. A test that is well executed carries significant and material impact on your website and business.

This guest post was submitted by Glenn Lee, Marketing Assistant at Dotcom-Monitor

The 11 Agile Processes We Use to Run an Efficient Software Team

agile processes

Maybe some teams can get by without strictly following documented processes every day, but when it comes to agile software development teams, it’s simply not an option to operate in the dark.

Since software is complex and easy to mess up, processes mean the difference between a great product and a crappy one. Without processes, software teams will spend more time squashing bugs and dealing with support headaches than they will actually developing the product…

The exact reason we created Process Street is to help businesses avoid that nightmarish cycle, and, of course, we use Process Street ourselves to help run the agile processes behind the scenes.

We use regular agile processes like:

  • Daily standup meeting
  • Sprint planning
  • Sprint turnover
  • Sprint retrospective

We also run routine QA processes like:

  • GitHub pull request procedure
  • Weekly WordPress maintenance
  • SSL certificate renewal

And, finally, we have a set of training processes:

  • Developer onboarding
  • How to set up your development environment
  • Pull request review failed procedure
  • Pull request merge procedure

These are all regular tasks for the team, and the reason they were created was because we found they have a high margin for error.

Scroll down to find the exact processes we use.

If you want to tighten up the way your software team works, hit your sprint targets, and efficiently train new development hires, then this post will show you how. We even reveal the exact processes we use and a workflow diagram detailing the journey an issue takes from start to end.
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The 15 Most Useful Evernote Alternatives for Notes, Screenshots and Documents

Evernote is the Swiss army knife of productivity tools. It does a hell of a lot, but doesn’t do anything amazingly well. Maybe it was designed to replace your need for multiple apps by rolling them all into one, but its feature bloat makes it a pain to use, and there are many Evernote alternatives you can use instead.

We’ve already written a lot about Evernote; everything from Evernote templates to a comparison against Microsoft OneNote. In this article, I’m going to suggest worthy alternatives to Evernote in the areas of notes, screenshots, documents and bookmarking. While technically Evernote does do all of these things, there are more options out there.

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Best Video Conferencing App: Skype vs Hangouts vs GoToMeeting vs Zoom vs Join.me vs Appear.in

Best_Video_Conferencing_App_-_Zoom_vs_Join.me_vs_Gotomeeting_vs_Skype_Business_vs_Appear.in_vs_Google_Hangouts_etc-02According to IDG Enterprise, businesses around the world spent $3.5 billion on video conferencing apps in 2016.

After years of waiting for video calls to take off, we’re finally living in the sci-fi future of face to face calls.

This isn’t new, of course. AT&T developed the earliest form of video call in 1927 and most of us have been using Skype or similar for years.

The difference now is that we have a lot of options on the market for video calling and many of them are geared specifically for video conferencing – making the video call a staple of modern business.

In this article, we’re going to break down the best video conferencing tools on the market and give you the information necessary for you to pick one which suits your business.

We’ll look at 6 key tools and give some special shoutouts to others:

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68 Small Business Resources to Make Consulting Easy

small business resources header briefcase

Over the last 6 chapters of our consultant’s guide to Process Street I’ve gone through the basic and advanced features, example processes, compared process documentation software, documenting client processes and monetizing our partner program (and the app in general).

In other words, you’re almost good to go. The only thing I have left to highlight are some extra small business resources for consultants to help you stay up-to-date on tips and tactics, improve your business practices in general, and to improve your toolkit.

I’ll be focusing on:

  • Blogs and websites to widen your knowledge
  • Ebooks to tackle complex topics and help you read more
  • Podcasts to turn dead air into productive listening
  • Posts to give concise insights into practices and principles
  • Premade templates which are ready to use in your own organization, or to customize for your clients
  • Tools to improve your stack

After all, it pays to be prepared.

small business resources be prepared gif
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The Only 14 Startup Tools You Need to Build a Unicorn

Imagine if you had to send marketing emails manually, or keep your records in a tattered binder on your desk.

Every company, even startups, needs to make a minimum investment in SaaS tools for work like email marketing, project management, and tracking sales.

But the catch is that some of these startup tools can cost huge amounts of money, and when you’re a young startup you don’t want to be forking out in excess of $2,000/user/month for just one piece of software.

The point of this post is to explain the minimum viable SaaS stack your startup should invest in, based on what we’ve found out at Process Street in our many (many, many, many) tool-testing escapades. I’ll even do the math for you, and collate the estimated annual cost at the end.

Ready to start building up your toolbox with the best SaaS out there?

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29 Windows 10 Tips Every Power User Knows (and You Should Too)

Windows_10_Tips_That_Will_Turn_You_into_a_Power_UserI’m a Windows user. If you’re reading this, you probably are too.

According to Microsoft, over 400 million people use Windows 10.

Unlike apps and websites, there isn’t really much of a difference between users and active users. The operating system you use is something you use every time you are on your computer – probably every day.

This is why we at Process Street have decided to try to piece together a number of tips and tricks we think you may not know which can help you make the most of your operating system and boost your workflow. Some of them might improve performance and others may increase productivity.

We’ve compiled this big list to help you make the most of your workspace!

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49 Best Chrome Extensions Productive Managers Can’t Do Without

Best Chrome Extensions Productive Managers Can't Do Without If you’re like me, your browser is at the center of your work.

I’m a Chrome user, and I was sold initially on their minimal design and layout, along with the speed advantages it used to have.

However, other browsers have caught up in many areas and narrowed Chrome’s competitive advantages. What Google’s product still offers which sets it apart from the rest, is a huge store full of extensions and add-ons. The extension landscape Chrome offers cannot be rivaled.

Many of these extensions changed my workflow and increased my productivity. They might be able to do the same for you.

So, we’ve decided to break down a host of extensions which can add value to your browsing experience.

We’ll include:

  • Virtual office add-ons
  • Handy day-to-day tools
  • Language improvement aids
  • Developer tools
  • Productivity boosters
  • Social media helpers

Let’s dive in!

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An Introduction to Process Street for Consultants

process street consultants - header

Today is the first post in a new series – a guide to help consultants and their clients work with Process Street to boost efficiency and be more productive.

Whether you’re documenting your clients’ business processes, updating their toolkit, or generally improving company tools and practices, Process Street is the easiest way to document and manage both your personal and clients’ workflows.

Over the next seven weeks we’ll go through:

  • An introduction to Process Street for consultants – why you should care, and the core features
  • Advanced features such as process automation and custom share links
  • Common use cases and how best to use Process Street in different forms of consulting
  • The benefits of Process Street as part of your (and your clients’) toolkit
  • How to easily set up and hand off processes to your clients
  • How our partner program works
  • Extra resources to become a true master of efficiency

I’ll even be writing this guide to let you give it to your clients to teach them how to use Process Street. After all, efficiency is the name of the game.

process street consultants - efficiency

So, join me today as we kick off this mega guide for consultants by explaining what Process Street is, what the core features are, and why the hell you should care about it.
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Best Marketing Automation Software: 10 Tools to Autopilot Marketing Emails

Marketing automation software

Marketing your product to a wide audience is a real challenge for many businesses. Acquisition costs can be high and effective optimization of approach requires bucketloads of data.

According to research from Aberdeen Group, users of marketing automation software are 17 times more likely to track all their data than those who don’t employ these platforms. This drives improvement and is one of the primary reasons that users of marketing automation decrease customer acquisition costs year on year at over twice the rate of their competition.

Modern marketing methods mean that multiple in-depth campaigns can be run without all the unnecessary administration and time-consuming efforts of the past.

There are many automation tools to choose from on the market and in this article we’ll run through 10 of the best, giving you a breakdown of what each offers.

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