A website is often forgotten about when it comes down to hosting and up time. People assume that websites run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Quite often websites do run all the time, with many hosting providers offering 99.96% up time guarantee.
If you rely on your website pays your bills (such as an eCommerce website) or supplies important information to your customers then you can't really risk your website going offline without knowing and being able to act upon that information.
Website Monitoring Tools
When looking for a tool to use, it's important to know what you are looking for. Let's break down a list of potential features that a monitoring service might offer;
Uptime monitoring is a service that checks in with your website every so often, this could be per minute, per hour, per day. It depends on how important you feel your website is. An uptime service will send a request to your website home page or a set of pages you define, this request is the same request as your website browser makes when you visit that home page or set of pages. Part of this request can be the response time of your server, if we see many slow responses in a short period of time then we know something might have gone wrong.
A performance checking service can often be tied in with the uptime service. We use a performance service to check that the website is still efficient and serving our website visitors quickly.
Some monitoring services offer some sort of content service, this is often called something like 'content comparison'. Essentially a content comparison service will compare pages or sections of pages to previously saved ones. This can help alert you if there are changes such as your website being hacked and the hackers showing a page instead of your home page.
When you visit a website through a secure connection (https) and see the green padlock then that website has an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate can expire and when it does your users will see a red padlock and potentially a "this website is unsecure" message. To save face and not to scare of your visitors then we can use an SSL monitoring service to let us know if anything happens such as an certificate expiry.
A domain monitoring service can offer a range of features. Similarly to the SSL certificates, domain names can expire but instead of the user seeing a red padlock, you could actually loose your domain if someone else registers it in time. This could cause major issues as your customers wont see your website if they visit that domain and you won't get any emails if you use that domain. Domain monitoring services can also check the domains whois information and let you know if any of that changes.
Some website monitoring solutions can keep an eye on your websites security for you. Many of these services will check for common vulnerabilities in your website or use some sort of virus scanner to make sure everything is safe.
I hope that this brief overview has given you some ideas about website monitoring and which services / features to look out for. If you found this blog post useful then please feel free to share it.
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