How To Load Test a WordPress Website

Illustration representing website load testing

Load testing your WordPress website is crucial to know the limits of your web hosting server and when will things start breaking. -- Ahsan Parwez

Stress Testing your WordPress website using tools can provide you important insights into how your website will perform during traffic spikes and how capable is your hosting infrastructure.

Having a presence online is crucial for every business these days, and those doing commerce online need to be better prepared for any unforeseen scenario that can jeopardize their sales and user experience. Web hosting is the backbone of your website, and the web hosting industry has evolved over the years, from shared hosting servers running various configurations of applications and websites to dedicated cloud servers running containers.

Even with evolving web hosting technologies we see today, one can not be sure that your website will be able to handle a spike in traffic during a live event or a sales campaign. In order to be certain it is wise to run stress tests on your websites to know the absolute limits of how many visitors your configuration of server hardware and software will be able to handle before falling apart.

At Convesio, we work with our clients to run stress tests on their WordPress websites. We use various tools to run various stress testing scenarios on a client site and observe how our containerized web hosting will hold up during busy times.

Why should you load test your WordPress website

WordPress without a doubt is the platform of choice for many to build their websites. But little do many people know that in order to make WordPress websites scalable, i.e. to handle thousands of concurrent visitors you need to have a complex configuration of software and hardware. A simple shared hosting plan and even single tier cloud hosting won’t cut it. In order to be better prepared for traffic spikes, you should stress test beforehand to see how much load your WordPress website can handle.

How to prepare for load testing

Before you begin setting up your stress test on your WordPress website, it is wise to talk to your hosting provider and let them know that you are about to run a stress test. It is even better to work with your hosting provider’s support team to run the load tests. Why we recommend that you talk to your hosting provider is because of the following reasons:

  1. Stress testing tools send “fake or virtual users” on your website, these users can be marked as malicious traffic by your web hosting provider and blocked entirely. It is part of their security protocol and helps you against DDoS attacks. In order to allow the stress test to take place, you will need to talk to the support team.
  2. Many “modern” web hosting providers have plans that limit the number of visitors you can serve within a month on your website. If you exceed that limit of visitors, you will be billed for the rest of the traffic. In order to avoid any surprises in your hosting bill, it is best to work with your hosting provider to run the load tests, chances are your hosting provider provides load testing service and that will be charged separately.
  3. If you plan to run the load tests on your live website, it is best to run them when you have the least amount of real visitors on your website. Because during the load tests if you hit the ceiling of your server resources, chances are that your website will go unresponsive.

There are a few types of tests on your site that can tell you different insights about your site’s performance.

Website Load Testing Tools

There are various methods you can use to load test your website, some of the popular tools to stress test a WordPress website that we use at Convesio are.

If our client has any other recommendations of the tool or script they wish to use, our team of experts will work with the client and help set it up too.

Screenshot of RoboSwarm's request and failure graph

Website: roboswarm.dev
Price: From USD $29 / month. Free plan available

RoboSwarm is a great load testing tool offering free/premium plans. We really like this tool at Convesio because it allows you to load test WooCommerce sites as well. It gives you the functionality to see how many WooCommerce checkouts per second your site can handle. This can be a really useful tool for big WooCommerce sites expecting heavy traffic during sales/holidays.

Screenshot from Loader.io showing key trends in a test

Website: loader.io
Price: From USD $99 / month. Free plan available

Loader.io is a very simple solution that lets you spin up a load test in minutes. The dashboard is very intuitive and will let you draw quick conclusions based on your testing results. Unlike RoboSwarm, Loader.io does not have any WooCommerce testing capabilities. That being said they have a generous free plan and allow you to have a load test setup in minutes.

Screenshot showing key statistic from a website loading test using Locust.io

Website: locust.io
Price: Free
Locust is a great open-source load testing tool that lets you write simple python scripts to simulate users on a webpage. This is another good option for someone with some programming experience looking for an open-source load testing solution.

Screenshot of Supervisor's test web loading test result page

Website: supervisor.com
Price: From USD $39.50 / month. Free trial available

Supervisor.com’s approach is different. Robots use real web browsers to simulate users, measuring the sequence of requests as they would happen normally as a person interacts with a website. For example, the path through a conversion funnel is never the same: different elements are clicked and timings between them are randomized.

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About The Author
Ahsan Parwez

Ahsan Parwez

Ahsan has more than a decade worth of experience in all areas of digital marketing. Combined with his knowledge of WordPress and Web hosting, he has helped companies scale in the WordPress ecosystem. As a Growth Marketing Manager at Convesio, his goal is to help educate prospects about what’s the best way to scale and optimize their WordPress websites.
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The #1 Platform for Scaling WordPress

Convesio’s innovative container-based hosting delivers performance at scale, whether 1 or 10,000 users are visiting your website concurrently.

Performing a load test using Loader.io

In this tutorial we are going to walk you through on how to run a load test using Loader.io. Why we chose this service is because of it being easy to set up and it has a free plan that can run a test with 10,000 visitors. Running the load test with this tool will give a fair idea about how capable is your current hosting plan.

Step#1: Signing up for Loader.io

The first step obviously is to signup for a Loader.io free account. Once you have signed up you can jump straight into configuring your load test.

Step#2: Verifying your Domain

In order to run the stress test, you will need to add the URL of your website and verify that you own this domain. Loader.io gives you two options to verify your domain, one via DNS and the other through a text file.

Screenshot of the new target host screen in Loader.io

To verify via http, you will need to download the Loader.io file and upload it to your public_html folder using SFTP software like FileZilla.

Screenshot of the Loader.io page where a domain is verified.

Screenshot of FTP used to upload Loader.io's verification file.

After uploading the file, head over to Loader.io and click “Verify”. If you have uploaded the file correctly, the verification will go through. Once verification is complete, you are now free to setup your load test.

Step#3: Configuring Load Test

Before running the test, you will need to name your test, select the type of test, the number of clients and the duration of the test.

In the free tier you can run the test against 2 URLs of your website. For the first test, it is a good idea to test the homepage along with any other page that you think will be the most visited. For example the pricing page, registration page, or your shop page.

Screenshot of the Loader.io page where you set up a new test

Step#4: Running the test and observing the results

Loader.io gives you a real-time simulation of the test. During the test you will be able to observe the Average Response Time, Response Counts, Bandwidth usage and redirects.

Response Times: This is one of the most important metrics to observe during the test. If your average response times are higher than 2seconds, it means that the load time your visitors are experiencing on average is very high.

Response Counts: Under this group of metrics you will see the number of successful hits and timeouts. If you are getting a lot of timeouts, that means your website has gone unresponsive and your current hosting provider is not capable of handling spike of traffic.

Bandwidth: This metric will let you know how much bandwidth your test consumed and it is a good estimate of how much bandwidth real users will consume while visiting your website.
Redirects: These set of metrics will track how many valid and invalid redirects the users have to go through. Ideally all should be valid.

Ideas To Manage a Scalable WordPress Website

Stress tests gives you a fair idea about how your website will behave under high traffic. After the stress tests there are ways you can make your website better prepared for traffic spikes.

The first step is to consult with your hosting provider. At Convesio we help our customers make better decisions to select the best hosting plan for their needs. The solution that we provide uses the best Cloud infrastructure providers, i.e. AWS and Google Compute Optimized servers, and we use containers and load balancers that are able to automatically scale up or down based on the traffic load that you have on your website.

Screenshot of the Convesio dashboard screen where you can enable auto scaling

Screenshot of Convesio's dashboard showing container deployment

With auto scaling container based cloud hosting that uses Cloudflare enterprise, our hosting solution is built for high demand WordPress websites from the ground up. Our clients have been able to serve thousands of concurrent users during sales campaigns and live events without any downtime.

While we take care of web hosting hassles, it is also a good idea to spend some time to reduce bloat on your WordPress website, solve frontend optimization problems, and reduce the backend processes during busy times.

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About The Author
Ahsan Parwez

Ahsan Parwez

Ahsan has more than a decade worth of experience in all areas of digital marketing. Combined with his knowledge of WordPress and Web hosting, he has helped companies scale in the WordPress ecosystem. As a Growth Marketing Manager at Convesio, his goal is to help educate prospects about what’s the best way to scale and optimize their WordPress websites.
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