Modern-day applications aim to cover a wide range of users’ needs in a flexible and scalable manner. The software development landscape is moving at a fast pace, and the competition is so fierce that a business simply can’t afford to offer a low-quality product. Thorough testing of both functional and non-functional aspects of a software application has become an essential step in the software development process. It ensures that users get the best version of your product.
Volume testing is a non-functional type of performance testing. It allows you to determine how your application performs when it’s exposed to a large amount of data or when many people are using it simultaneously.
In this article, you’ll understand why volume testing is important and how it fits into your overall software testing strategy. Also, you’ll see what a volume testing plan includes and how you can prepare your application for it.
Why You Need Volume Testing
Volume testing, also known as flood testing, involves examining the stability and response time of a system by transferring huge volumes of data. You can evaluate a variety of different system components like databases, software, etc., and it’ll help you determine if a system can handle existing and anticipated data volumes. Furthermore, volume testing is important because it enables you to:
- Determine your system’s capacity: with volume testing, you can estimate the amount of data your system can handle before it crashes. Being aware of your system’s capacity will help you create scalability plans with accuracy.
- Identify weak spots in your system: volume testing pushes your system’s components to their limits, and it will help you identify which areas are more likely to fail under an increased amount of pressure.
- Test your system’s response time: volume tests will help you maintain a high-performance level by keeping your system’s response time within an acceptable limit, despite a possible increased data load.
- Prevent data loss: volume testing is an efficient way to make certain that when the data workloads are increasing and pressuring your system, you won’t lose any data.
- Develop scalability plans: volume tests provide valuable information to help you develop the most suitable scalability plan for your system. They can help you determine, for example, whether scaling up is the way to go or if scaling out is a more appropriate strategy for your needs.
- Identify load issues: understanding how your system behaves with increased workloads will help you mitigate system failures and high response time issues before they reach production. Organizations can increase data storage or scale the database to avoid reaching the set limit, therefore managing the data loads more effectively.
Understanding the Role of Volume Tests in Software Testing
The purpose of software testing is relatively simple but extremely important during a software development life cycle (SDLC). It allows you to detect issues that could be detrimental to the quality of your software and address them in a timely and efficient manner. Software testing consists of multiple levels of testing that need to be conducted to ensure high quality before a product is released to end-users. One of these is the system testing level, where it is determined whether the fully integrated application meets the functional and non-functional software specifications.
Performance testing is a subtype of system testing, and its role is to evaluate and monitor how the system performs under pressure conditions. With performance testing, you aim to detect inefficiencies that can significantly affect the overall performance of your application. Performance testing, in turn, includes a wide variety of testing types, such as volume and load testing. These two types are often confused, but each has a different approach to performance testing and is designed for different use cases.
Volume testing can be beneficial to businesses and end-users alike. Some key benefits of volume testing, specifically, include:
- It makes sure that the system will be able to satisfy the expectations and meet the advanced requirements of a real-world, high-volume data environment.
- It allows you to identify beforehand any bottlenecks that weren’t easy to detect when the application was created.
- It tests your system in-depth and pushes its limits to detect weak spots caused by increased volumes of data. As a result, you can reduce maintenance costs and save money.
- It makes sure that your application can handle large volumes of data to provide the best user experience possible, without system failures.
A Real-Life Example
Volume testing can be performed in a variety of industries. Although running volume tests isn’t necessary for low-traffic tools, it’s valuable for applications intended to be publicly accessible, and that expect to receive a large amount of traffic.
The following scenario illustrates the importance of volume testing:
If you plan to take any action that will put your database under pressure—for example, think of having an e-commerce site with millions of products, and you offer an eighty percent discount for all purchases made in the next two days—you’ll want to first make sure that your system can handle the increased traffic.
When you perform tests with the projected, high-volume data, you will adjust your infrastructure capacity to handle them efficiently.
By doing so, you’ll be able to detect warning signs and understand how your system behaves under extreme conditions. Then you can develop a plan that will prevent any vulnerabilities from reaching your users in the production stage.
What Is Involved in a Testing Plan?
The volume testing plan must be created in detail and designed to be as close to the live environment conditions as possible. To achieve this, you should create test cases that cover all the scenarios and use data that will accurately replicate the actual data your application will have to handle.
Here are some of the key metrics you should monitor when conducting volume testing:
- Data loss: one of the most important things to pay attention to during volume testing is checking for data loss. Data loss means that data has been damaged or lost, and as a result, it may be unavailable when you request it. By performing volume testing, you can verify that even as your system and database face an increased amount of data, you won’t experience loss. Furthermore, you can confirm that data is appropriately stored in the database and detect cases where data is overwritten without prior notice.
- Response time: volume testing will provide you insights into your system’s performance. No matter how much pressure an application is under, it must maintain a high response time level. If the response time exceeds a certain threshold, then a system design reevaluation must be considered.
- Processing time: having huge amounts of data will consume your system’s bandwidth and impact processing time for other users. This can subsequently lead to a dissatisfying user experience.
- Warning signs and risks: again, one of the goals of volume testing is to analyze how your system responds to high-data volumes and proactively detect signs, like lagging, for example, that could indicate possible downtimes and system failures. Identifying these areas early will give you the opportunity to address any weak spots before they turn into something significant.
How Can You Prepare For Volume Testing?
The first step toward volume testing is to understand your environment. You’ll want to consider things like:
- What tools are you planning to use?
- What is the state of your test and product environment?
- Under what conditions are you going to run your tests?
- What database is your system using?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you create the most appropriate tests for your situation.
The next step is to design test cases that capture what you want to achieve while also considering any constraints. During this step, you’ll identify different user scenarios, gather data that will accurately simulate real-life conditions, and define your metrics.
Then, you’ll need to make sure that your test environment is set up properly and ready to go. You should make sure that your tools are configured correctly and that your resources are organized.
Now it’s time to run your tests and get your results back. You’ll be able to analyze your findings and make adjustments to your application based on them. Then, you can start the process over from the beginning to verify whether the applied changes have improved your system’s performance.
Data quantity plays a vital role in any system. Volume testing is used to detect risks like data loss and slow response times that might lead to system failures and a poor user experience. These risks might occur when your system deals with (or is expected to deal with) large amounts of data.
Volume testing will help you verify the load capacity of your application. This is critical to know
before you release your product or when you need to scale it up in real-time. Although volume testing is a time-consuming process and faces many difficulties, like reproducing a close-to-reality production environment, in most cases, the benefits outweigh the challenges. With volume testing, teams have at their disposal a very useful tool that can ultimately help improve software quality.