I have been hearing a term called 'Stair-Step Performance Testing' from students. Is there any official term as such. Please share your thoughts.

  • It might help for you to describe what you believe students mean when they use that term.
    – user246
    Apr 4, 2017 at 15:30

4 Answers 4


I think the name comes from the resulting graph over-time, which is called a stairstep graph. I don't think it is official, but more some terms added together which seemed logical.

The step load pattern increases the user load periodically during the load test. Creating a stairstep graph where you show number of users vs time:

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This instead of a continuous increase over time. Let say you increase the number of users by 60 each minute. This would generate a stairstep. You could also add a user each second increasing it linear.

Other reads:


"Stair-Step" is also know as "Ramp up". In this type of Performance Testing, load is increased in a schedule intervals to check the server performance.


Load is increased over time and by set increments.

Users observe whether the server load on memory, cpu, etc. and response time remain constant, increase proportionally or start to increase disproportionately.

It is done in steps or increments for efficiency. Instead of 5000 different tests with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8... 5000 users you will get most of what you want to know from 'steps' such as 1,2,3,10,20,50,100,1000,5000 user loads i.e. 9 tests instead of 5000 tests.
Sometimes the process is repeated if a certain point is found where individual performance start to suffer with more small steps around that point to pin-point it, e.g. if 100 was ok but 1000 was not you might try again with 150,200,400,800

Use with caution. Don't do premature optimization is a strong concept to repect. In a few weeks the database or server may become more powerful. Try to remain implementation independent as long as possible.


Here is an explanation for the term you are looking for. Though I believe that the adliteram term you are after does not exist, but it refers to the different approaches to load patterns.

The step load pattern is used to specify a user load that increases with time up to a defined maximum user load. For stepping loads, you specify the Initial User Count, Maximum User Count, Step Duration (seconds), and Step User Count.

For example a Step load with an Initial User count of one, Maximum User Count of 100, Step Duration (seconds) of 10, and a Step User Count of 1 creates a user load pattern that starts at 1, increases by 1 every 10 seconds until it reaches 100 Users.

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