Whether you’ve previously heard of uptime monitoring or not, it’s something any website owner needs to explore.
Assuming you’re a website owner, you’ll almost certainly have found yourself in a situation where you’ve had to rush to update your site and address a bug that needed to be fixed ASAP.
No matter how much testing you carry out during development, you can’t always foresee every potential problem, and discovering an ominous alert that informs you your website is offline is a sure way to get the heart pumping and the panic rising!
And that’s exactly why uptime monitoring is something to consider very seriously.
Unexpected situations can be easily avoided using automatic website uptime monitoring – a practice that helps to ensure a smooth user experience by routinely checking a website’s performance.
We have previously published several popular articles explaining how to:
- Use Datadog synthetic monitoring to test and optimize your web services
- Monitor RunCloud server using Dynatrace
- Monitor your web app’s RAM & CPU usage with Netdata
- Install & configure New Relic monitoring on RunCloud
- How UptimeRobot can save your website from downtime disasters
In this post, we will discuss the necessity of Uptime Monitoring and also take a look at some popular tools that will help measure your website’s uptime.
Uptime Monitoring: What Is it?
Uptime monitoring is the process of checking your website for downtime, and taking remedial or preventative action if necessary. It is done using software that runs in the background and verifies that your website is operating correctly.
Usually, two kinds of uptime monitoring tools exist – active and passive:
- Passive monitoring uses a third-party tool to determine whether your website is accessible from external networks such as Google or Yahoo for detecting downtime.
- Active monitors ping your server every 30 seconds continuously in search of any indications of a possible outage.
Any downtime can potentially cost you valuable customers, and of course, income. It can seriously impact your brand’s reputation too, which is why it’s critical to keep a close eye on the status of your website to allow you to take speedy action if necessary.
How is Uptime Measured?
The period of time during which a system is operational and free of any major bugs or glitches is called uptime. Any system that functions efficiently and doesn’t require maintenance or administrative support will have a lengthy uptime.
Uptime is expressed as a percentage, often advertised by hosting providers as something like 97.79% uptime. In essence, a 100% uptime indicates that your website was operational 100% of the time, or 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.However, 100% uptime exists only in fantasies; even the biggest of tech companies, such as Cloudflare only ever guarantees 99.999999999% uptime. Realistically, anything in the high 90s range is good enough for most small businesses.
How Does Uptime Monitoring Work?
When we talk about uptime monitoring, we’re usually talking about active monitoring which works by sending automated HTTP queries to a certain URL on a predetermined frequency – and waiting for the desired result.
Usually, HTTP GET requests are used for this, although it is possible to use other types of HTTP requests for monitoring other features and APIs, depending on the needs of the user. The predefined frequency of these checks can vary from every second for mission critical business services to more than a couple of hours for side projects.
Most tools work by checking the response for a 200 OK HTTP response code. But depending upon your use case, you can configure a test that checks whether a certain page is inaccessible to users, and if so, sends you an error message. Furthermore, it is also possible to configure some uptime monitoring tools to look for a particular keyword or term within the response received.
Why is Uptime Monitoring Important?
According to a study by Google, 53% of users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. A website that is accessible at all times translates to increased customer satisfaction and a more optimized user experience.
If a large chunk of your revenue comes from your website, then you clearly need all your website services to always run without fail. For ecommerce sites, downtime means revenue loss. If the site goes down during peak hours, sales will take a massive hit, not to mention the damage to reputation and loss of customer trust.
If you use an uptime monitoring service, you will be instantly notified when your website is unavailable. These tools often provide analytics, allowing you to identify trends in your availability. For example, it is possible that many people visit your website from a specific region on a public holiday, and this causes your server to crash.
Benefits of Uptime Monitoring
Improving your website’s uptime has many benefits, let’s see a few cases in which implementing uptime monitoring on your website can really help you.
Improved Availability and Search Engine Ranking
Even if the downtime doesn’t seem like a big deal, it affects your site rankings with the majority of search engines. Google’s crawlers constantly scan your website to assess its availability, performance, and content. Even the all-powerful Google is aware that occasionally there will be outages, but prolonged or frequent disruption will definitely hurt your SEO ranking.
Website uptime monitoring helps you stay informed about any disruptions to your website. This includes even the minor ones that you might not be aware of otherwise, but that which search engines picked up on. Early detection of outages lets you take swift action to safeguard your page rankings.
You never know when your site might become the target of hackers. Attackers use a variety of techniques including DNS spoofing and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service). At some point, they might take down your website, divert visitors from it (typically to a malicious website), or take advantage of the interaction between you and your users to insert or extract private data.
Many modern uptime monitoring tools check for changes to the DNS records periodically so that you instantly find out if something shady is going on. Some also monitor certificates, ensuring that you will be notified if a hacker tries to tamper with your SSL certificates.
Builds Trust with Visitors
There is not a single person on Earth who enjoys a website that performs slowly, is unavailable, or just isn’t responsive. Should your website experience any downtime, only some of your most loyal clients will wait for that downtime to be resolved. But in many cases visitors will just flock towards your competition. You won’t see that client again if your rivals provide a better, more dependable experience.
A recent survey found that 9% of users who experience a temporarily downed website won’t visit it again. During quiet periods that might not sound like much, but at peak times, or during special events such as Black Friday that 9% could represent a huge proportion of your income.
Detect SLA Breaches
If you are working with a reputable cloud provider, the chances are that, either knowingly or unknowingly, you have signed a service level agreement. These agreements provide assurance that a particular service will be available without disruption or downtime.
Let’s assume a scenario in which your website goes down in the middle of the night for a couple of hours due to an outage at your cloud provider’s end. Fortunately, all this happened when your clients didn’t need your website so you never even found out about the outage.
If you knew about the outage, you would have found out that your cloud provider is unreliable, and take the necessary steps to avoid this in the future. Moreover, many reputable cloud providers offer money back when they suffer extended outages.
For instance, AWS will not charge you for any Single EC2 Instance that is unavailable for more than six minutes within any one hour. Even if you don’t want to shift cloud providers, getting a generous discount on your bill is always desirable – uptime monitoring makes it easy for you to do that.
What to Look For in an Uptime Monitoring Tool
Most website uptime monitors in the market will verify that services and websites are operational by testing their status and monitoring their uptime. However, some tools go beyond simple uptime tracking and provide more insights and useful stats.
When considering which uptime monitoring tool to opt for, these are the essential features that are a must:
- Monitoring Frequency: A typical website uptime tracker ideally checks the status of the site every couple of seconds – more frequent checks mean quicker detection of issues.
- Multi-Location Monitoring: If the tool you choose is equipped with global monitoring locations, you’ll be able to simulate user experiences from various regions. This helps identify regional performance issues related to servers.
- Alerting Capabilities: Always check for alerting options such as email, SMS, or integrations with incident management tools such as Slack and PagerDuty. Customizable alert thresholds and escalation policies are a bonus.
- Protocol Support: Make sure that the monitor you choose supports the relevant protocols for your applications. For example, if you are serving your website over both IPv4 and IPv6, you would want a service that can handle both.
- Content Verification: A good uptime tracker should be able to check specific content such as login forms or key elements of your web pages. This feature is vital for ecommerce stores and web applications.
Top Website Monitoring Tools in 2024
You can keep an eye out for any downtime on your website with a variety of monitoring tools available nowadays. There are options for every scenario – from traffic volume tracking to status checks on your website.
Here are the top 4 uptime monitoring tools we would recommend.
Site24x7 lets you check your site’s availability at intervals as short as 60 seconds using monitoring data from over 110 locations worldwide. Additionally, you can keep an eye on your online apps and APIs. Performance trends over time can also be easily identified by analyzing historical data from this tool.
- Synthetic Monitoring and Real User Monitoring (Web)
- 120+ Global Monitoring Locations
- Public and Private Cloud Monitoring with log management
Site24x7 also allows users to check and configure HTTP headers of your requests. You can even perform advanced checks to see whether a word or a phrase is present on a page by searching the response body using regular expression patterns.
Using Site24x7’s browser plugin, you can keep track of important business transactions and verify them by mimicking traffic from several places. You can either manually specify which button to click on each page or import test scripts from Selenium IDE (a common web automation tool) to run on a real browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, on a regular basis.
Pingdom is a popular tool for tracking the performance of websites. In addition to uptime monitoring, it provides useful features such as real user monitoring, page speed monitoring, artificial interaction testing, immediate warning, and root cause analysis.
- Page speed analysis
- Transaction monitoring
- Detailed comparison of usage metrics
As for alerts, Pingdom provides real-time warnings via email and SMS for uptime monitoring, 24/7. Additionally, they have more than 70 locations from which your website’s performance is examined, allowing you to see how your website is doing across the globe.
UptimeRobot combines website, SSL, Ping, Port, Cron job, and Keyword Monitoring all into one solution. Some advanced capabilities include the ability to construct custom HTTP queries with configurable headers, semi-customizable status pages, response times monitors, email-delivered incident updates to subscribers, and maintenance windows.
- Domain and SSL monitoring
- Cron job monitoring (sometimes called heartbeat monitoring) to monitor tasks, such as wp-cron, that must be performed regularly on a schedule.
- Custom HTTP requests
With UptimeRobot, you can watch your website from several places up to once every 60 seconds for premium plans, and once every five minutes for free. You can get alerts via SMS, RSS, Twitter, email, and push notifications for iPad and iPhone when a website goes offline.
Uptrends provides a range of products such as real user monitoring and synthetic monitoring. With their synthetic monitoring, you can keep an eye on your HTTP(s) endpoints, DNS, security certificates, or any other online services such as SOAP or REST API endpoints using servers from 233 different geographical locations worldwide.
- Smart alerting and automation features
- Infrastructure Monitoring
- Location-based performance metrics
Uptrends displays all data using interactive charts that allow you to filter by date and time, zoom in on particular features, and examine your stats more closely in order to look for trends in your performance over time.
Furthermore, if there are any speed-related problems with your website, identifying and pinpointing the source becomes easy thanks to their website performance monitoring services.
It is evident that ignoring uptime monitoring can have unwanted repercussions for revenue, brand reputation, and user experience. Effective uptime monitoring helps businesses guarantee the dependability and accessibility of their services, which in turn improves customer happiness and boosts revenue.
If you’re looking for a simple and powerful way to manage your PHP web applications and websites on any cloud server provider, you should try RunCloud.
RunCloud is a modern web server panel that automates server configuration and security updates, provides backup and restore features, supports multiple PHP versions and frameworks, offers one-click SSL and Git deployment, and much more.
With RunCloud, you don’t need to be a Linux expert to build a website. You can use our graphical interface and build a business on the cloud affordably.Join thousands of web developers who use RunCloud to manage their cloud servers and web applications. Sign up for RunCloud today!