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Smoke testing

Smoke tests have a minimal load. Run them to verify that the script works well, the system functions under minimal load, and to gather baseline performance values.

This test type consists of running tests with only one or a few VUs. Keep the number to 5 VUs or less. Exceeding 5 could turn the test into a mini-load test. Similarly, the test shouldn't have many iterations. 3 to 10 iterations should be enough (or an iteration duration with a short period).

Overview of a smoke test

In some testing conversation, smoke tests are also called shakeout tests.

When to run a Smoke test

Teams should run smoke tests whenever a test script is created or updated. Smoke testing should also be done every time the application code is updated.

It's a good practice to run a smoke test as a first step, with the following goals:

  • Verify that your test script doesn't have errors.
  • Verify that your system doesn't throw any errors (performance or system related) when under minimal load.
  • Gather baseline performance metrics of your system’s response under minimal load.
  • With simple logic, to serve as a synthetic test to monitor the performance and availability of production environments.


When you prepare a smoke test, consider the following:

  • Each time you create or update a script, run a smoke test

    Because smoke tests verify test scripts, try to run one every time you create or update a script. Avoid running other test types with untested scripts.

  • Keep throughput small and duration short

    Configure your test script to be executed by a small number of VUs (from 2 to 5) with few iterations (3 to 10) or brief durations (30 to 60 seconds).

Smoke testing in k6

import http from 'k6/http';
import { check, sleep} from 'k6';
export const options = {
vus: 3, // Key for Smoke test. Keep it at 2, 3, max 5 VUs
duration: '1m', // This can be shorter or just a few iterations
export default () => {
const urlRes = http.req('');
// Here you can have more steps or complex script
// Step1
// Step2
// etc.

The following script is an example smoke test. You can copy it, change the endpoints, and start testing. For more comprehensive test logic, refer to Examples. The VU chart of a smoke test should look similar to this. Again, a smoke test should use only 2 or 3 VUs and run for only a brief period.

The shape of the smoke test as configured in the preceding script

Results analysis

The smoke test initially validates that your script runs without errors. If any script-related errors appear, correct the script before trying any more extensive tests.

On the other hand, if you notice poor performance with these low VU numbers, report it, fix your environment, and try again with a smoke test before any further tests.

Once your smoke test shows zero errors and the performance results seem acceptable, you can proceed to other test types.