5 Basic Questions About Web Site Monitoring
2011/08/26 1 Comment
The other day I was looking for a place to get some good Mexican food. That’s fairly easy in my part of the world, but I was looking for somewhere I hadn’t eaten before. I found a place the same way I always do, on the web. I typed my search into a search engine, pulled up a map of my area, and started clicking on web sites. I looked through the menu for each place I found and picked based on my impression of the restaurant from the web site.
I do this same kind of thing for all kinds of businesses at least several times a week. Plumbing parts, accountants, property management companies, mechanics, toys, web design, banks… pretty much everything. If I am looking for a business, I find them on the web. If it’s not on the web, I will probably not find it.
Increasingly business relies on the Internet, even for non-Internet businesses. If your site is down, you lose business. If your email doesn’t go through, you lose business. If your business is technology or web related, this is doubly crucial. People’s impression depends largely on how you come across on the Internet, and if it doesn’t work you are in trouble.
That seems obvious, but how do you ensure that everything works all the time? If you are a large enough business to have a highly skilled IT department, they are using monitoring tools or services. If you are not a large enough business to keep IT staff on the payroll, this largely falls to you. How do you make sure your Internet presence is a plus for your business, bringing in new customers instead of driving them away? How do you do that without spending too much money and too much time?
Monitoring services exist specifically for this purpose. Technology professionals use monitoring services to make sure that the services they are responsible for are always available. This has been the normal way to do business for tech professionals for many years. There are sophisticated tools to help with this job that can monitor all kinds of things and notify someone immediately if there are problems. Until more recently, doing this inexpensively without spending a lot of time was out of reach for most people. Not any more.
A few years ago monitoring as a service started to pop up on the Internet. Now there are a number of companies out there providing these types of services. Some of them are easy to use, some are not. Many of them cost a lot, but a few do not. Some of them sell snake oil and fancy gadgets that don’t really tell you what you need to know. Increasingly, smart IT technical people are realizing that they can save time and money by using outside services to do things they had to do before themselves, and these same services are available to everybody without requiring a significant investment or a lot of knowledge.
If you are not a tech professional, and you are thinking about finding a way to make sure that your Internet presence is always there when your customers are looking for you, you might be asking questions like these:
- Is it easy? There is absolutely no reason monitoring should be hard to set up or use. If it is hard or takes you more than a few minutes to get going, chose a different service provider. You don’t need to know a lot to use a good monitoring service. In most cases all you need is the address of your web site or email service.
- How does it work? Monitoring services mostly all work about the same way. You login to the web site and create checks for the monitoring service. Setting up the check generally consists of typing in the address of your web sites and how often you want them checked. Sometimes there are a few other simple questions, but it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. You also enter in email addresses or phone numbers to notify when your site or service is down. Typically the service takes it from there and starts monitoring right away. Monitoring services just connect to your site and log what happened. It’s all automated.
- How do I know what I need? Just about any monitoring service will do the checks that most businesses need. If you have specific needs in your monitoring, this might be something to shop around for. However, most businesses need HTTP checks, which is the basic check that makes sure a web site is up, and SMTP, which checks email services. Just about all monitoring companies do HTTP checks, and most of them do SMTP.
- How often should it check? This is up to you, but if you are using a service that checks every 10 or 15 minutes, your site could be down for several minutes before you know about it. The better services check as frequently as every minute. This is not a lot more expensive for the service to provide, and it should not cost you a lot more either.
- How much will it cost? This is currently the biggest differentiator in the monitoring business. Some monitoring services cost a lot, especially if you have more than a couple of web sites to watch. It doesn’t have to be expensive. NodePing costs a flat rate of $10 per month to check up to a thousand sites or services every minute. If you’re paying more than that, you’re paying too much. If a service needs a special calculator or a talk with a sales person to tell you how much it will cost, it’s too much. If prices are per check, read the fine print. It should be inexpensive, and it should be simple.
If you are not doing website and email monitoring yet you should start today. We think that NodePing is a great choice, but there are other good providers out there. Shop around. It is important to your success, it is easy, and it is inexpensive. You just have to do it.