Applications under production receive variable traffic, subject to sudden growth or reduction in the number of application users. End-user variations put application servers under stress which might lead to unexpected crashes and breakdowns. Such defects can be validated by running Spike Testing. It is one of the building blocks of performance testing used to detect your system’s ability or capability to handle heavy traffic loads. These traffic loads can affect your service as well as responsiveness.

Developers can effectively prepare for unexpected spikes in the load in production environments by determining where an Application Under Test (AUT) fails. For instance, performing a spike test on an e-commerce application before preparing for Christmas or Diwali sales would be helpful. Testers can check whether that application performance slows, worsens, or stops using a spike test.

If your websites, apps, or services experience heavy real user traffic patterns coming in short bursts, spike testing can be helpful. It is instrumental in identifying the limitations of your AUT, validating if application performance deteriorates, slows, or completely stops, and determining the respective root causes. Some of the common root causes are memory leaks, load balancing issues, and storage capacity issues.

Best practices for conducting efficient spike testing

When it comes to conducting spike testing, some best practices can assist you in improving its overall test effectiveness. Here are a few some of the best practices-

1. Understand test artifacts and explore the application

It is essential to understand the application before you go through with the implementation. You should also analyze the intended use of the application, the capabilities it offers, as well as the type of conditions in which the app is supposed to thrive. By identifying the limitations of the application, you can list out the factors that can affect the performance of your application.

2. Spike tests can be a part of Unit tests

The developers often implement spike testing in the later stages of an application development lifecycle. Apart from that, it is a tedious and more costly process to implement changes in the final stages of the development process. So, companies often implement spike testing as part of their unit tests. This will help the development team rectify performance issues by quickly identifying these issues as the development progresses.

3. Setting realistic performance benchmarks

In some cases, companies have expectations from the applications that may not be realistic. Therefore, it is vital to pick up practical and real scenarios by setting realistic baselines. The companies need to ensure that the testbed includes a wide range of environments and devices in which their application will have to thrive.

4. Understanding the performance from the perspective of a user

Although you may have a clear understanding of spike testing, you must understand the user perspective. Companies usually focus on the response of the servers. However, user experience is essential.

5. Implementing DevOps

Nowadays, several companies are striving for shorter development cycles with test automation. However, this testing is a time-consuming process. To bring spike testing to success requires constant human intervention. Companies can get their development and testing teams together by implementing a DevOps culture. Moreover, this will help to resolve errors immediately by identifying them through continuous testing.

Examples of Spike Testing Scenarios

  • A particular content of a website goes viral over the Internet.

  • eCommerce launches its special deals with great discounts.

  • Multiple users want to access a new system when it is released for production.

  • A flash sale is going on a shopping site.

  • A power outage can cause all users to lose access to a system. In such cases, all users often log back onto the system simultaneously after resolving the outage issue.

  • TV program is live-streamed on a web application.

Tools used for performing Spike Testing

1) Jmeter

The java open-source spike testing tool of Apache JMeter is specially designed to measure performance and load functional test behavior. Further, this performance testing tool effectively measures and analyzes the performance of web applications. Today, Jmeter is widely used for the database server test as well as a functional test. Even though JMeter was initially designed to perform load testing, it has been developed for other areas. JMeter is an open-source tool that supports the Java language. Also, it is one of the most sought-after tools to perform spike testing.

2) Loadrunner

Windows and Linux usually use the load testing tool called LoadRunner. These facilities spike testing of the web and other apps. Furthermore, this tool helps to efficiently determine the application’s performance and result even under heavy load.

Advantages of spike testing include effective identification of the consequences related to unexpected spikes in end-users. One of the primary goals of the test is to check how a system responds to unforeseen falls and the rise of the user load. 


The right approach to perform spike testing is by quickly increasing the number of users, followed by an immediate decrease in the load, which needs specialized expertise. If you lack in-house talent and looking to perform spike tests on your software through outsourcing, reach us at [email protected] to get a free consultation.