Website Monitoring With Uptime Robot
For those who do need the explanation of how a uptime monitoring service would benefit you, let me briefly tell you.
Your goal as a serious blogger is to make money. However, if your website goes offline for any reason – nobody is seeing ads, and nobody is buying products. You’re losing out on money you could have earned if your site were working. While the repuatble website hosts have 99%+ service promises, site outages CAN and DO happen. Do NOT expect your website host to tell you, though, that there is currently or has been an outage.
If you DO know that you’re experiencing an outage, however, it can help you in two specific ways.
- You can notify your webhost’s support staff of the outage so that they can work to get you back online. Obviously, the sooner your site is back online, the sooner your blog goes back to making you money.
- Reputable hosting companies will credit your account for any downtime that you report to them. You can’t get credited, though, if you don’t know your website is down.
So … do I have your attention? Allow me to introduce you to Uptime Robot.
Let’s start with the basics. What do you get for free? You get up to 50 monitors at a 5 minute monitoring level and two months of uptime logs. Additionally you get multiple options for notification of downtime such as email, Twitter, Telegram, Email-to-SMS, Slack, Telegram, etc… As far as the types of monitors available, they include HTTP(S), Ping, Port, and Keyword. “What is a monitor?”, you ask. A monitor, in this case, is what you configure to perform website monitoring functions.
Yes, there’s a paid “pro” plan available too. I won’t go over all of the differences between the plans, but the main benefits of the pro plan are the time between scans shrinks from 5 minutes to 1 minute and the ability to use their “pro sms” notification option. This enhanced level of service can be had for as little as $4.50 / month.
I mentioned above that there’s four types of monitors available. Let’s take a few minutes to go over what they do.
- HTTP(S) HTTP(S) monitors check the status of a web server & whether or not it responds at all to a HTTP(S) request. When this web page monitor receives back a 200 status from a server – all is good, however, if it receives back a 400 or 500 status (such as the dreaded 404 page not found), it’ll check again in 30 seconds to confirm the failure and then send out a notification.
- Ping PING monitors are actually a network monitor that we can use to check if your website responds to traffic – alerting you to a problem with your webhosting provider’s network, the network connection of the web server, or that the server is completely shut down.
- Port PORT monitors check if specific applications on your server are functioning or not. Any public facing service, such as HTTP (port 80) or MySQL (port 3306) can be monitored simply by checking for a response from it’s appropriate port. This more advanced level of monitoring can narrow down where the problem may lie when an service fails.
- Keyword KEYWORD monitors allow you to monitor a website for specific keywords to be present or not present. As of the time I’m writing this, I still haven’t come up with a way to make this directly useful to monitoring your own website. It would be useful, however, for monitoring OTHER websites and being notified when a keyword appears. For example, monitoring a product page of an online store for the words “out of stock” to not be present so you can order something. (If you have another idea on how this could be useful – tell me in the comments below.)
The simplest use for this service would be to just setup HTTP(S) page monitoring to become aware when your site is down. If, however, you want to make the most of this tool – and in doing so potentially reduce the amount of time it takes to get your website back online – you’ll want to take advantage of using multiple monitors for your site. For the majority of bloggers, I’d recommend setting up HTTP(S) and PING monitors for your site. Here’s how they work well together by examining the two potential scencarios they can report back to you.
Scenario One – HTTP(S) and PING are Both Down
You receive a notification that your HTTP(S) and PING monitors are both down. This is straightforward – your web hosting company is either experiencing a network outage or the server itself is down. Be sure to contact your hosting company’s support staff immediately about the problem so that they can correct it and credit you for the downtime.
Scenario Two – HTTP(S) is Down / PING is Up
You receive a notification that your HTTP(S) monitor is down but NOT from your PING monitor. In this situation, your web host’s network and server are both online and responding, but there’s a problem with either your web server’s software or configuration. Now, when you contact your hosting support, you can provide them with this specific information to help them to narrow down the problem more quickly than if you just contact them with “my website is down”.
If you decide to use more advanced monitoring by configuring monitors for specific ports, you could narrow down problems even further – to say if your DB server or HTTP server are specifically offline – and be able to give even more information to your web hosting company in the event of a problem. For the tiny percentage of bloggers who maintain your own server – this is even more useful to you to track down what problem you need to resolve. In short – the more information you have, quickly, the less time your website is potentially offline.
Let’s quickly compare this style of notification with other services, like Jetpack. Jetpack would simply send you an email to let you know that your website is down. You don’t know ANYTHING else about the problem that you could pass along to speed up the resolution of the problem – leaving you or your web host to completely diagnose the problem from scratch.
Let me show you just easy Uptime Robot is to use by taking a quick look at the service’s interface – starting with the Dashboard.
After you sign-up, you’ll get a dashboard like this. Click the big green button in the top left corner that says “Add New Monitor” to create a monitor.
First choose a monitor type – in my example I chose HTTP(S). Then give your monitor a name. If you’re going to use multiple monitor types – which again I highly recommend – I would include the monitor type at the beginning of the monitor name to make it easy to identify. Next enter your website address. However – and this is VERY IMPORTANT – if you use a CDN service, like Cloudflare, be sure when you create your monitors to use your IP address and NOT your site’s domain name – otherwise you’ll always show as being online even if you’re not. Next, adjust the monitoring interval. I’d leave this alone at the 5 minute default. Finally, be sure to select a notification method. The default option is to email you. If you want other options, they can be configured in “my settings”.
Once you’ve created a monitor and given it a few minutes to come fully online, your dashboard will look like this whenever the monitor is “Up”.
If at any time you want to review the statistics of a monitor, simply click on it in the list on the left side and you’ll get a full display.
Is Your Website Down?
I hope, now, after you’ve seen how valuable website monitoring is – if someone ever asks you “is your website down?” again, you’ll be able to answer immediately.
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