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Load Testing with ApacheBench

You can test the scalability and performance of your site with benchmarking and traffic generation tools. There are many commercial and open-source tools available, each with varying degrees of sophistication. In general, it is very difficult to accurately simulate real-world request traffic because visitors have different navigation patterns, access the Internet using connections with different speeds, stop a download if it is taking too long, press the reload button repeatedly if they get impatient, and so on. As such, some tools record actual network traffic for later replay.

However, for a quickbut accurateglimpse at basic information regarding your server's capability to handle heavy traffic, the Apache server comes with a simple, but useful, load-testing tool, called ApacheBench, or ab. You can find it in the /bin directory of the Apache distribution.

This tool enables you to request a certain URL a number of times and display a summary of the result. The following command requests the main page of the server 1000 times, with 10 simultaneous clients at any given time:

# /usr/local/apache2/bin/ab -n 1000 -c 10

By the Way

If you invoke ab without any arguments, you will get a complete listing of command-line options and syntax. Additionally, the trailing slash on the target URL is required, unless a specific page is named.

The result will look similar to the following:

This is ApacheBench, Version 2.0.40-dev <$Revision: $> apache-2.0
Copyright (c) 1996 Adam Twiss, Zeus Technology Ltd,
Copyright (c) 1998-2002 The Apache Software Foundation,

Benchmarking (be patient)
Completed 100 requests
Completed 200 requests
Completed 300 requests
Completed 400 requests
Completed 500 requests
Completed 600 requests
Completed 700 requests
Completed 800 requests
Completed 900 requests
Finished 1000 requests

Server Software:       Apache/2.0.50
Server Hostname:
Server Port:           80

Document Path:         /
Document Length:       16 bytes

Concurrency Level:     10
Time taken for tests:  2.269667 seconds
Complete requests:     1000
Failed requests:       0
Write errors:          0
Total transferred:     252255 bytes
HTML transferred:      16080 bytes
Requests per second:   440.59 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request:      22.697 - (mean)
Time per request:      2.270 - (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate:         108.39 [Kbytes/sec] received

Connection Times (ms)
              min  mean[+/-sd] median  max
Connect:        0    0   1.9      0     15
Processing:     1   20  61.9     15    689
Waiting:        0   19  60.6     14    687
Total:          1   21  61.9     15    689

Percentage of the requests served within a certain time (ms)
  50%     15
  66%     16
  75%     17
  80%     18
  90%     19
  95%     22
  98%    224
  99%    422
 100%    689 (longest request)

These requests were made over the Internet to a sample server. You should get many more requests per second if you conduct the test against a server in the same machine or over a local network. The output of the tool is self-explanatory. Some of the relevant results are the number of requests per second and the average time it takes to service a request. You can also see how more than 95% of the requests were served in less than one second.

You can play with different settings for the number of requests and with the number of simultaneous clients to find the point at which your server slows down significantly.

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