What is Spike Testing in Software Testing?

Software Performance Testing at a Glance:

Spike Testing
Testing the performance of a software is a necessary activity that verifies various crucial components of the software, such as its speed, stability, and scalability. It is a vital part of Software Testing Life Cycle (SDLC) that involves several testing techniques like load testing, endurance testing, volume testing, stress testing, spike testing, and more. All these testing techniques ensure that the software works well under expected workload and conditions, and delivers expected results. Hence, with the assistance of performance testing software testers are able to provide the stakeholders all the necessary information regarding the speed, stability, and scalability of the project.

What is Spike Testing?

As mentioned above, spike testing is a type of performance testing, which is executed mainly to validate the performance characteristics of the software under test (SUT) when it is subjected to workload models and load volumes that increase repeatedly beyond beyond anticipated production operations for short period of time. Spike testing, which is also a subset of stress testing, tests software’s reaction to a sudden spike in the load generated by users.

The main objective of this type of software testing is to ensure that software performs accurately without any failures when there is an unexpected increase and decrease in user load. In short, spike testing tests the software system under extreme load conditions to make sure no issue related to the software’s speed, scalability, and stability is encountered by the end user after the delivery of the product.

Purpose Of Spike Testing

The main purpose of Spike Testing is to access:

  • How Well The System Performs – The main aim of Spike Testing is to access how well the load is managed by the software when it oscillates between two opposite spectrums. When the load is less, things are bound to move smoothly but when the load suddenly increases the system might just hang or crash. To avoid such an extreme response post the launch, Spike Testing is done.
  • Recovery Time – The software has to recover between two subsequent spikes or peaks as it impacts the performance. As a result, the recovery time needs to be minimal and yet sufficient enough for the system to perform at its optimum best.

Process of Spike Testing:

Spike testing is crucial and is mainly done to test how a system reacts when there is an unexpected change in user load. Performed in a controlled environment during the process of software development, the process of spike testing requires constant monitoring as it estimates the weakness of the application and checks its dramatic behavior when there is a sudden increment and decrement of in the load of the user. Hence, the goal of this process is to reach or go beyond the maximum capacity of the software to ensure optimum user experience. The process of spike testing is:

  1. Capacity Determination: This is the first stage of the process, where the team comes together and determines the maximum user load capacity of the software.
  2. Preparation: After determining the maximum user load capacity, the team prepares a controlled testing environment and configure it to record performance parameters.
  3. Load Implementation: Here, the maximum expected load is applied to the software application, with the assistance of a performance testing tool.
  4. Load Increment & Decrement: This is the most crucial stage of the process, as it helps determine the limit of the software system. Here, the system is exposed to rapidly increasing user load for a period of time, which is later reduced gradually to its original level.
  5. Performance Analysis: Last, but for sure not the least important stage of the process, performance analysis is where the performance of the software system is analyzed by the testers using graphs and considering the following metrics:
    • Failures.
    • Time taken.
    • Virtual Users, etc.

Benefit Of Spike Testing

The various advantages of Spike Testing are:

  • Regulates The Software Performance – Business continuity has to be maintained at all costs and this is possible only if the software performs as intended. When there is a drastic increase or decrease in a load of any system, there is bound to be some erratic behavior. Spike Testing is the most appropriate way of judging the performance of the software even under such stressful conditions.
  • Helps Access Extreme Case Scenarios – While regular testing the worst case scenarios are not always addressed. But overlooking them does not mean that they will not occur. As such each software has to be ready for such eventualities. One such worst case scenario is loading, the impact of which can be judged and minimized through Spike Testing.
  • Allows testers to test the system under extremely high and low user load.

Disadvantages Of Spike Testing

  • Requires setting up of exceptional test conditions.
  • This is an expensive testing process.


In Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) the importance of spike testing is extremely high. This type of performance testing helps software testers immensely and allows them to test the software system under extreme user load conditions, which further enables them to maintain the quality as well as the performance of software product. Furthermore, spike testing helps in verifying software system’s existing limitations in the current operational environment. So, by executing spike testing during the early stages of software testing, one can validate the performance and functionality of the software product.