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Best load and stress testing tools

Can you please tell me which tools are suitable for load and stress testing?

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I'm going to assume that because you put them together you're referring to stress testing in terms of performance testing. However, there are other excellent tools for stress testing. When you get some time look at tools for fault-injection (examples include Holodeck and Detours), high-volume test automation and model-based testing (which can be done with almost any comment regression testing tool), string generation (examples include Om and PerlClip), or tools for fuzz testing.

For performance testing (load, stress, scalability, or the performance testing buzzword of your choice) you have tons of options. Instead of listing them all, let me tell you which ones I've used and where you can find more information on what's available in the marketplace. I've used IBM Rational Robot, IBM Rational Performance Tester, HP Mercury LoadRunner, OpenSTA, eviware soapUI, Mindreef SoapScope, and a number of small homegrown tools written in Java and Ruby.

I've found all of those tools to be good solutions, depending on what I was testing. Along with each of those tools, I often use a host of monitoring tools, anything from the simple like Perfmon to the complex like CA Wily Introscope. If I had to choose one for Web services testing, I'd probably choose soapUI. If I had to choose one for websites, I like IBM Rational Performance Tester. For everything else under the sun, HP Mercury LoadRunner probably has a plug-in that supports it. In general I prefer open source to commercial, but if the commercial solution is a better solution for my problem, I'll pay up.

For some more complete listings of what's available, I recommend the following:

  • OpenSourceTesting.org maintains a fantastic listing of the current open source performance test tools available.
  • The StickyMinds.com tool guide provides an up-to-date listing of products available along with links to the vendor's sites.
  • Software Test and Performance magazine does an annual Tester's Choice Award, which has a category for load and performance testing solutions.

Finally, there's no substitute for the Google search. There are hundreds of tools out there for performance testing. Some are specific to a technology or platform, or focused on a component-level performance versus end-user performance, but all of them have a specific problem they are trying to solve. Don't be afraid to contact the vendors that look promising, or download the open source tools that you feel might be a fit, and get them a try.

This was first published in February 2009

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