Do you know whether your website is up and running now? Or does the front door to your business look like this at the moment?
You've made a significant investment in your web presence, but how do you know that it's always available to the outside world? Unsurprisingly there is a whole industry that is willing to help. Simply Google or Bing "Website monitoring" and you will see a wide range of options available. But which should you choose?
The key things to look for are the reliability of the monitoring service and the location of the monitoring points. Clearly the monitoring service always needs to be checking the availability of your site and ideally it should to be carrying out the checks from the same geographic locations as your intended audience. That way it will be checking the connectivity to your web site and not just whether the web server is working.
In use, most services simply ask you for the web address of your site or application, the frequency of checking (typically from one minute upwards) and how you should be notified if your site is down. Notification is usually through email or SMS although some providers also provide smartphone apps.
So what's our recommendation?
If the primary audience for your website or application is in the UK, mainland Europe or North America then, based on several years of real life use, Pingdom (www.pingdom.com) is our first choice. If you have just one website to monitor they have a great free service. For multiple sites their pricing is very competitive - at the time of writing you can start with the five site "basic package" for US $9.95 per month and then add checks for extra sites at the equivalent of US $0.50 per check per month.
You can see how the monitoring process works in more detail on the Pingdom website. Remember too that the service can be used to monitor more than web site availability. As an example, for our clients, who use the remote web access facility provided by Microsoft Small Business Server or Server 2012 Essentials, a Pingdom check provides the ideal verification that their staff can access their office based applications and data when working away from base.
Checks also show the response times for your site or application and can be configured to monitor other key services such as email. To round it off, Pingdom also have some useful free tools, including a full web page speed test, located at http://tools.pingdom.com.
So, don’t wait for your customers to tell you that your website or web application is down, use the tools available to keep an eye on things – it’s easy and inexpensive.