Siege Your Servers!
Setting up Web servers is fairly simple. In fact, it's so simple that once the server is set up, we often don't think about it anymore. It wasn't until I had a very large Web site rollout fail miserably that I started to research a method for load-testing servers before releasing a Web site to production.
There are many, many options for load-testing a Web site. Some are commercial, and some are specific to a particular type of Web server (there are a few SharePoint-specific load testers, for example), but I struggled to find a simple "simulate a bunch of traffic" method to see how a server would handle load.
As is usually the case, many months after I needed the tool, I stumbled across it. A very simple, yet powerful tool named Siege is available in most distributions. Developed by Joe Dog Software, Siege does exactly what's on the tin: it lays siege to your Web server. It has lots of options and features, but by simply specifying a Web URL, Siege will launch a ton of generated hits on your server to see how it performs. To try Siege, you can search your software repository, or head over to http://www.joedog.org/siege-home to get the program directly from the developer.
My little Raspberry Pi server didn't crash while under siege, but it certainly was taxed!
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