Performance vs. Load vs. Stress Testing

This conversation (er, debate) comes up a lot.  What's the difference between performance, load and stress testing?  I'm sure there's tons of *official* definitions.  At the end of the day, I think about them like this:

  • Performance - is about response, time lapses, duration ... etc.

  • Load testing - is about test behavior under normal/peak workload conditions.  Load is more about characterizing / simulating your actual workload.

  • Stress testing - is about surfacing issues under extreme conditions and resource failures.

I could say more, but sometimes less is better.  If you want to read more, check out our patterns & practices Performance Testing Guidance Project on CodePle  or browse through Scott Barber's exhaustive collection of performance testing articles.

Comments (5)

  1. Bruce says:

    One way I recently heard this said is that "performance testing is what you do on the client, load testing is what you do on the server."

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  3. harish says:

    It is very lucid and very interesting to the things.

  4. Nauman Satti says:

    Performance, Load and Stress Testing are the done by the mean of load testing but the objectives are the difference like in performance testing "The goal of performance testing is not to find bugs, but to eliminate bottlenecks and establish a baseline for future regression testing". while load testing operates at a predefined load level, usually the highest load that the system can accept while still functioning properly. Note that load testing does not aim to break the system by overwhelming it, but instead tries to keep the system constantly humming like a well-oiled machine.

    And the Stress testing tries to break the system under test by overwhelming its resources or by taking resources away from it (in which case it is sometimes called negative testing). The main purpose behind this madness is to make sure that the system fails and recovers gracefully — this quality is also known as recoverability.

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