Volume Testing is a non-functional form of testing that is used for confirming a system can handle increased volumes of data without crashes. It can also identify any limitations in a system's data processing and resource utilization.
What is volume testing? It’s testing that involves assessing the application with different sets and amounts of data. The primary purpose of volume testing is to examine how a system behaves when under a massive volume of data. During testing, the application is intentionally fed with incremental volumes of data to determine the level at which the application fails or becomes unstable.
Page load time is an indicator of a site’s performance. The loading icon signifies that processes are running in the background and that the system speed is operational, although not satisfactory. No one enjoys seeing the loading icon while waiting for a webpage because it illustrates the slowness in the website’s response. Sometimes, even after a long wait, the page errors out.
When is Volume Testing needed?
The question arises: Do we need to volume test all software applications?
As discussed earlier, volume testing helps assess the system’s stability when exposed to a surprisingly high amount of data. But if a system has reduced user interaction or expects less data, this testing is unnecessary. It is only necessary for applications that have to deal with vast amounts of data.
Systems like telecommunications, banking applications, insurance, and hospitals, can experience daily fluctuations and increased volumes of data. Therefore, these industries cannot tolerate an unstable application that can cause corruption or loss of data. For example, ticketing systems that regularly expect massive demand ahead of a special event cannot accept site crashes when tickets go on sale at an advertised time.
Likewise, what about large online stores that sell a broad range of products? They may promote different offers during the sale season too. Extra traffic could significantly impact if the system fails to handle the volume of hits. Again, volume testing can help the store identify and prepare for likely problems long before the actual day of sale.
Why do we need Volume Testing?
Let’s look at some of the main objectives.
- The tests can help understand the system’s behavior and efficiency upon hitting different volumes of data
- Understanding the system’s current state will determine scalability and provide input for infrastructure upgrades
- Isolating issues relating to timeout errors and other system crashes
- A clear picture of the actual CPU usage, memory requirement, and other hardware needs can be provided.
- Since volume testing involves a lot of data testing, it can also help identify any processing or restrictions problems within databases and other files.
Volume Testing Checklist
When making a test plan, it’s essential to know what to include.
Test to determine if any data is lost when volume increases. Sometimes, an issue on the frontend is noticeable such as when the page indicates an error because it displays a 404 page, which may occur due to wrong or missing data.
- When the amount of data goes beyond the capacity of the database, problems may arise
- Volume testing must include checks to ensure data is stored accurately in the tables
- Observe all the exceptions and error logs. Many of them occur due to data conflicts and other problems
- Include checks to measure performance and behavior when bulk data inserts occur
- Observe if there is any impact on processing time when the data load increases and if any issues with indexing or buffer overflow arise
- Include checks to ensure users receive proper warnings and notifications in the case of unexpected failures
- Volume testing is an indicator of a system’s performance. Perform checks to measure response time at different data levels must be included
As the name suggests, testing volumes is involved, which means significant quantities of data are used. The biggest challenge here is the test setup. Data generation is a most arduous task.
Being aware of any challenges upfront and considering how to overcome them can lead to an effective and efficient objective-driven effort.
Data being the critical factor here, test data generators are widely used to populate data for volume testing.
Like all other non-functional testing, it is a standard practice to use testing tools.
Knowledge about databases and relational databases is an essential requirement for volume testers.
Volume testing may not be applicable and required for all applications.
Analyzing the need and determining the cost before conducting the test is worthwhile.
Volume testing has numerous benefits, from confirming a system’s stability to reducing an application’s maintenance costs and effort. Moreover, it’s not confined just to assessing websites, but industries and several domains use it across the board.
Volume testing is an expensive task that requires additional setup and specialized skills. However, several factors such as the increase in expected traffic as the system grows, an organization’s judgment when assessing infrastructure changes, or the system reporting many performance issues dues to concurrent data access are determining factors to opt for volume testing.