Performance Profiling: Explained with stages

November 10, 2023Ranjana Kodlekere
Performance Profiling Explained with stages

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With emerging technologies and a large number of applications available these days, all that we need are better performing applications. To meet this requirement, developers can use performance profiling to make their softwares better. Performance profiling helps to make sure that the software achieves the requirements and runs efficiently. There are different tools available that you can choose based on your platform, the type of data you want to collect and the programming language being used.

What is a Performance Profile?

A performance profile is an analysis of a software’s behavior while executing. It comprises data derived from various aspects such as run time behavior and resource utilization.

 Performance profiling is a method of producing these profiles by analyzing a software with respect to certain metrics such as the time taken to execute a function, CPU time utilization, memory usage, run time behavior and resource utilization. It aids in identifying bottlenecks in your code and hence helps to improve your code. 

Benefits of Performance Profiling

There are several benefits of adapting performance profiling. Some of them are discussed in this section.

  1. Improved code quality – Performance profiling helps in identifying sections of code that hamper the overall software execution. This helps in rectifying the code and hence improves code quality.
  1. Efficient software – Performance profiling analyses a software against various aspects. Thus, it helps in developing an optimized and efficient software.
  1. Resource Allocation – Performance profiling analyses and provides results based on resource utilization. This helps to efficiently plan, allocate resources, and ensure they are being used correctly.
  1. Improved User Experience – With performance profiling, you get a better working application. This, in turn, improves user experience.
  1. Scalability – A software can be continuously improved with performance profiling. This enables the software to take increased load and traffic without any significant performance degradation.

What are the stages of Performance Profiling?

  1. Define Objectives – The team should decide what needs to be analyzed before starting the process. Define the parameters (like CPU utilization, memory consumption, resource utilization, and so on) based on which the performance profiling should be done. 
  1. Select the Profiling tools – Choose a tool based on the programming language, platform, and the type of data to be collected. 
  1. Instrument your code – Mark and set up your code to collect the required data. This depends on the tool that is being used for performance profiling.
  1. Write test cases – Prepare a number of test cases to satisfy all the required conditions and workload.
  1. Profiling Setup and Code Execution – Configure the profiling tools and ensure that the environment is set up to collect the data.  Once the configuration is completed, execute your code to collect the data. Also, work on different use cases to get all possible data.
  1. Data Analysis – The data collected from different cases are analyzed by the team. If there are any code bottlenecks detected, they are to be rectified.
  1. Code optimization – After analyzing all the data, any deviations detected are repaired to ensure an optimized, better performing, and less resource-using code. 

Performance profiling is an iterative process. The above stages are repeated until the performance is at an acceptable level.

Performance Testing Vs Performance Profiling

Now that you have understood what performance profiling is, you might have a doubt if Performance profiling is the same as Performance testing. Let us address the topic in this section. Performance testing and Performance profiling are related topics but are used at different stages of software development.

Performance testing is a process of testing a software on how it performs under given conditions and different work loads. Some of the types of performance testing are Load testing, Volume testing, Endurance testing and Stress testing.

Read here to know more about Performance Testing! REST APIs can also be tested for Performance. Follow this link to get more insight on this topic.

Performance profiling on the other hand, can be considered a part of performance testing. It mainly focuses on software code optimisation by detecting bottlenecks, redundant code and thus helps in improving the functioning of a software. CPU profiling, Application-level profiling and Database query profiling are some of the types focussing on different aspects of software performance.

Performance Profiling Tools

You can choose from a variety of tools based on your requirements such as the programming language, the platform, and the type of data you need. Some of the performance profiling tools are –

  1. Database query profilers – pgBadger, SQL Service Profiler.
  2. Java Performance Profilers – JProfiler, VisualVM.
  3. Python Performance Profilers – Pyflame, Py-Spy.
  4. C / C++ Performance Profilers – Valgrind, perf.
  5. Web Application Profilers – New Relic, AppDynamics.

Importance of Performance Profiling

  1. Analyzing the result with respect to resource utilization enables you to allocate resources correctly and efficiently.
  2. Performance profiling improves the functioning of a software by continuously detecting the places where the code needs to be fixed.
  3. It can be performed at the earlier stages of development hence managing time and quality of software.
  4. Performance profiling helps to reduce costs in cases where it is billed based on usage.
  5. It detects the code bottlenecks. The quality of code improves by rectifying these bottlenecks.

Challenges of Performance Profiling

  1. Performance profiling tools vary based on different aspects. Choosing the right performance profiling tool for your requirements is a challenge.
  2. The data results provided by profiling can be complex and time-consuming. The developers should have the skills to read and understand these results.
  3. Some profiling tools can introduce overhead and alter a software’s behavior. This, in turn, can lead to incorrect data results and analysis.
  4. To get the right results, you should understand which tool is appropriate, understand what parameters are to be measured and the software being profiled.
  5. Profiling in a test environment may not cover all the real world scenarios which might make it difficult to address and reproduce user issues.


Performance profiling is an impactful process that helps to produce an effective and optimized software. This, in turn, gives you an edge over other applications.

It helps developers to understand the limitations of their code and overcome them. It does come with challenges, but with the right choice of tools and good understanding, performance profiling can be a crucial step to get a high-performing software.

Frequently asked questions 

What is an example of performance profiling?

One of the examples of performance profiling is memory profiling where you can see how much memory is being used, if there is excessive memory allocated, and also if the memory is being used inefficiently.

How to adopt Performance Profiling?

You can adopt performance profiling by understanding what needs to be analyzed, selecting the right tool, and working on the obtained results effectively.

What are the fundamentals of Performance Profiling?

Some of the fundamentals of performance profiling are choosing the right tools, setting up the objectives, analyzing the results, and producing an optimized code.

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