Real-time processing and heavy load applications demand are common these days. One such lively example is Google’s search engine, where numerous people from multiple locations will be querying it.
But would you accept if Google gets down after bearing the load for a certain time? If that’s the case, won’t you switch the search engine? However, Google never troubled you in this so far, as it is aggressively tested and continuously maintained.
One such testing procedure to ensure that your application handles the load for longer is Soak testing. It evaluates how an application handles growing traffic over time and measures its performance over days or months after deployment.
In this article, we’ll see how Soak testing works and its benefits. But let’s first understand what it is and why you need to perform this testing.
What is Soak Testing?
Soak testing is typically performed to check the performance of your application under heavy load for an extended period.
An application might resist the load for an hour, but what if it breaks after an hour? This is why we expose the application to expected traffic for an extended period in the Soak testing procedure.
Moreover, time is a factor here. So, Soak testing is a must for applications that need to work for a longer time, irrespective of the number of concurrent users.
Why should you Perform Soak Testing?
Although the system looks complete, how it performs in the real world under heavy load is really important to define its success rate. This is why you should perform Soak testing.
In the beginning, your application might have enough resources to handle the volume. But as time travels, those computing resources can start to degrade, resulting in memory leaks, resource leaks, and system errors. To identify such problems and issues, Soak testing is conducted.
Soak testing is performed to test the system’s behavior when it is exposed to the load for more continuous hours. The team mimics the system to the real-time load and sees how it performs in real-world scenarios.
Therefore, performing Soak testing based on real-time usage is necessary to detect its behavior and issues in the long run.
Benefits of Soak Testing
Ensures high Performance
If you skip Soak testing, you wouldn’t know how the system performs over time. You might think it’s all good for a little while, but how it handles the load, in the long run, will still be a surprise for you.
Ultimately, you will be working on improvements only after the software breaks, which would be costly and ineffective.
So, Soak testing your system before launching into production is necessary to identify performance degradation and fix them early.
Soak testing is known for detecting failures and bugs. The test ensures that your software doesn’t crash due to memory leaks. Moreover, it assures the optimal usage of allocated disk space by regularly cleaning up the used space.
More importantly, Soak testing detects potential bugs and issues that the other tests couldn’t spot.
Testers spot the resource degradation activities while performing Soak testing. This continuous testing also uncovers problems like memory leaks, resource exhaustion, and performance degradation.
Analyzing these leaks and causes helps you develop better and long-running software.
Create a Stable Application
We can judge a system’s stability by testing it over an extended period. This is what Soak testing does. So, passing the Soak testing is important, especially when stability is a factor in your application.
Other testing procedures mainly compare the performance results with the defined objectives, but here, Soak testing mimics real-world usage, where developers and testers will be close to knowing how the system behaves in production.
Issues that Soak Testing Detects
Blocking the unused storage by the app results in memory shortage, leading to memory leaks. Soak testing for an extended period can reveal these memory leaks within the software.
If your application needs to continuously acquire and release data while it’s running in real-time, you should definitely consider Soak testing. This type of test helps you detect data-related issues and database performance degradation.
With Soak testing, you’ll know how stable is your application’s response time when used for years. It compares the response time when the test starts to the response time after an extended period.
Soak testing detects network-related issues like closed connections, TCP/IP problems, bandwidth usage, IP address exhaustion, etc.,
Multithreaded applications always compete for resources, resulting in deadlocks and resource blocks. Exposing these concurrent executions to Soak testing detects the issues related to improper resource sharing.
How is Soak Testing Performed?
Though the exact steps and procedure of performing Soak tests vary based on requirements, typical Soak tests would follow the below steps.
#1. Be Specific with the Objectives
Firstly, it is vital to get a clear picture of what you want to test.
What are your goals for soak-testing your application? What are the performance indicators you want to keep a check on? What is the load you expect your application to resist? How long would you run the test?
These clear goals will let you know whether you are succeeded with the tests or not by the end.
#2. Gather Test Scenarios
Create all the test scenarios that cover different workload patterns and real-world situations.
While gathering test scenarios, consider the number of users, type of transactions, load generators, location, and interactions within the system and outside the system.
#3. Set up the Test Environment
This stage is all about setting up the necessary software, hardware, and network infrastructure that is close to the production environment.
Moreover, adding monitoring and load-generating tools also comes under this phase.
#4. Run the Soak tests
It’s the stage of executing soak tests and analyzing the results. Start utilizing tools to generate load and expose it to different defined test scenarios.
While doing so, collect various performance metrics such as memory usage, CPU consumption, response rate, and throughput and analyze them to track the application performance.
#5. Compare the Results
Remember defining objectives in the first step? This is where you can use them.
Compare your test results with the objectives and see how accurate the tests and the application are.
Moreover, document your results in charts, graphs, and tables to get more valuable insights.
#6. Look for Improvements
Once you are done analyzing the test reports, look for what can be improved in both application development and testing. Update the test scenarios, tools, and test environment based on the analysis.
Also, try to fix the causes of memory leaks, resource exhaustion, and performance degradation.
Use cases of Soak Testing
Regular finance trading applications typically handle high volumes of traffic and transactions, which require consistent monitoring.
So, testing them rigorously over time and load in a production-like environment is crucial to ensure that the application will be stable and reliable after deployment.
Online gaming really demands intensive system resources and should handle tons of players parallelly. So, testing them aggressively gives you a seamless gaming experience.
Moreover, continuously exposing the game to fake and virtually generated players before launching makes sure that the game can handle the high player volume and efficient resource usage.
Real-time Streaming Apps
With over 232 million subscribers, Netflix is the most popular video streaming platform. Ever thought about how this application is handling such a high load for so long?
Mimicking a large user base to the application while testing reveals its performance in real-time. This way, you can use the Soak testing to find performance loopholes in the traffic and improve them.
Social media Platforms
Social media apps always aim to drive traffic and engagement to their sites. Soak testing is performed to sustain such load.
Also, the tests verify how these apps handle content posts, instant chats, live streaming, and other user engagements.
Examples of Soak Testing
When an e-commerce company announces its sales event like Black Friday, a high load of shopping customers is expected to visit the website during the sale. Here the Soak testing is performed to ensure the site can handle such sudden traffic on occasion.
Banking systems typically see increased online transactions during paydays. So Soak testing them before paydays help them stay stable and reliable to fund transfers and bill payments.
When the show – “Euphoria” Season 2 finale was set to premiere on HBO, the streaming service crashed for a few minutes due to the spike in users. This is why soak testing is performed on streaming platforms to ensure a seamless experience for viewers during major events like Sports and TV show releases.
Travel apps during peak travel time should handle multiple ride requests and optimal route calculations for many travelers at the same time. Therefore, these transport apps should pass soak tests to remain stable in rush hours and special events as well.
So now you know what Soak testing is and how it benefits your apps and software. This article also shows you detailed steps on how to perform Soak testing.
Testing is a crucial stage for upgrades and fixes to the mistakes we made in the development phase. One such testing procedure is Soak testing.
Thus, if you want your application to be stable and keep running for a long time, you should consider Soak testing it before launching.
Next, you may check out these developer-friendly testing tools for modern applications.
Srujana is a freelance tech writer with the four-year degree in Computer Science. Writing about various topics, including data science, cloud computing, development, programming, security, and many others comes naturally to her. She… read more
Narendra Mohan Mittal
Narendra Mohan Mittal is a Senior Digital Branding Strategist and Content Editor with over 12 years of versatile experience. He holds an M-Tech (Gold Medalist) and B-Tech (Gold Medalist) in Computer Science & Engineering.