Performance testing is the process of determining the speed or effectiveness of
a computer, network, software program or device. This process can involve
quantitative tests done in a lab, such as measuring the response time or the
number of MIPS (millions of instructions per second) at which a system
functions. Qualitative attributes such as reliability, scalability and
interoperability may also be evaluated. Performance testing is often done in
conjunction with stress testing.
Performance testing can verify that a system meets the specifications claimed
by its manufacturer or vendor. The process can compare two or more devices or
programs in terms of parameters such as speed, data transfer rate, bandwidth,
throughput, efficiency or reliability.
Performance testing can also be used as a diagnostic aid in locating
communications bottlenecks. Often a system will work much better if a problem is
resolved at a single point or in a single component. For example, even the
fastest computer will function poorly on today's Web if the connection occurs at
only 40 to 50 Kbps (kilobits per second).
Slow data transfer rate may be inherent in hardware but can also result from
software-related problems, such as:
Too many applications running at the same time
A corrupted file in a Web browser
A security exploit
Heavy-handed antivirus software
The existence of active malware on the hard disk.
Effective performance testing can quickly identify the nature or location of a
software-related performance problem.