When 200 Isn’t Enough

Website monitoring seems like a simple thing.  Most HTTP checks look for a response in the 200-399 range, 200 being the most common HTTP response meaning “Server responded correctly – here’s the resource you were looking for.”  But if you’re one of the millions of people or businesses that use Joomla, checking for 200 just isn’t enough.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Joomla.  It’s a fine CMS and I’ve built many custom modules and plugins for it.  There are plenty of great websites running on it.  But you have to keep a close eye out for errors.

Today, one of our clients had an issue with the network storage on their server and the file system was quickly remounted in read-only mode.  This is expected and even prescribed behavior for mount point errors.  But MySQL, the database, didn’t like not being able to write to its tables and logs and quickly failed.  That, in turn, took the public website offline.  Joomla presented a big white page with the error message Database Error: Unable to connect to the database:Could not connect to MySQL.  The site was not working as expected… surely the website monitoring service would send an alert!  Nope.  The database access error was returned with an HTTP status of 200.  The web server was saying “Everything’s OK.”  No alert was sent from the basic HTTP check.  How embarrassing is it to get the news that your website is down on a call from a customer?

With NodePing, you can use our HTTP Content checks to make sure this doesn’t happen to your Joomla (or other CMS) site.  It works by simply searching for particular text within the returned HTML page.  If you add a check that searches for your copyright footer, it will fail as expected if the database is unavailable and the above error message was returned on the check.  You’ll receive your email or SMS notification that it’s down and can react quickly.  Conversely, if you know the exact error you want to avoid, you can run a negative content check so that it will alert you when the response of the check DOES contain the text ‘Database Error’.

With today’s complex web applications depending on many moving parts, it’s not enough to just check for a 200 response from a web server.  You have to dig deeper, and NodePing has just the shovel you need.

About Shawn
Husband, father of 7 great kids, and code monkey at NodePing.

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