Creating Clones

Have you ever wanted to be an evil genius and create a clone army to take over the universe? Well, we can’t help you with that but we do have a “Clone Check” feature. It might not take over the universe, but it can be a great time-saver.

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When you want to create a check that is similar to one you already have, you can use our “Clone Check” feature to create a new check based on the settings of an existing check. You can then change whichever fields you choose, such as the URL or check type, as well as the label. This saves you from having to type in the various fields over and over or set complicated notifications, delays, etc, when you already have a similar check ripe for cloning.

To clone a check, log into your NodePing account, and go to the “Checks” tab. Click on the label for the check you want to duplicate to open the information drawer. On the lower right, there are a list of links, including “Clone Check”. Clicking on it will bring up a new dialog for the cloned check with all of the values preset based on the check you are cloning. You can change the fields to fit the new check you want. Then click “Save” at the bottom of the dialog.

Who knows? If you create enough, maybe you can take over the universe.

Notification Dependencies

Oh no! A power supply failure has taken your website server offline and here comes 120 HTTP ‘down’ notifications from NodePing. When a major outage hits, the last thing you need is an alert flood for all the checks you already know are bound to fail.

When a check depends on other services or networks, you don’t need more notifications that it’s failing when you already know the service that it depends on is failing. NodePing recently released a new feature called ‘Notification Dependency’ to help mitigate that unhelpful alert flood.

Set a ‘Notification Dependency’ on your checks when you want to suppress notifications for checks that depend on another check for availability. Web sites on the same web server can all be set to have their HTTP checks dependent on the server PING check. Or, you can set server PING checks to be dependent on the network router PORT check. If the dependent check is failing, no notifications will be sent for the check. The checks will still fail, only alerts won’t be sent for those failures.

Choose your dependent check from the ‘Dependency’ dropdown in the ‘Notifications’ section of the check edit modal and then ‘Save’ your changes for that check.

Notification dependencies are another way to help you receive only actionable alerts for your uptime monitoring and are available to all NodePing customers.

If you aren’t using NodePing server monitoring yet, sign up for your free, 15-day trial today.

Delayed Notifications

NodePing now offers delayed notifications for your uptime monitoring. This is a powerful new feature that will help make your notifications actionable. There are two primary use cases for delayed notifications: flapping services and escalating notifications.

Flapping Services
Not all services or networks are rock solid. Sometimes three or even two nines is “good enough”. Some locations have inherently lower expectations for availability or are just prone to frequent, short-lived outages. When a check often fails but recovers by itself quickly (flaps), it’s difficult to get actionable notifications.

Adjusting the check sensitivity setting down is useful to give your check more time to recover but if unassisted recovery takes longer than a minute the check will still likely fail. Use delayed notifications for flapping checks to receive alerts only when services are ‘really’ down. You can configure NodePing to send a alerts if your check remains down after say 5 minutes. Set the delay (from 1 minute to 1 hour) to your tolerance and receive only alerts when human intervention is required.

Escalating Notifications
Not everyone needs to know about every outage right away. If the sysadmin on call can get the site back up within a few minutes, there’s no action required by senior staff or for the help desk to be informed. If an outage lasts longer, however, you may need to let your boss know things are still offline or give a heads up to the help desk that there are issues on the website and to expect some calls. Use delayed notifications to set escalating alerts to others if an outage continues.

You can even escalate alerts to yourself. I have several checks set to email me immediately and then send me an SMS if they’re still failing after 5 minutes and a voice call if the outage lasts longer than 10 minutes.

Setting Notification Delays
When editing a check, you’ll see the contact method drop down in the ‘Notifications’ section of each check. Choose a contact method and the ‘Delay’ and ‘Schedule’ dropdowns will also appear. You can set different delays on the same contact method by adding additional lines with the same contact method.

Actionable Alerts
Delayed notifications can be useful to make all your alerts more actionable. If your contacts are ignoring NodePing notifications, they’ll succumb to alert fatigue and eventually ignore a truly important notification.

If you need any help tuning your checks to avoid flapping or adjusting your notifications to make them more actionable, please reach out to us at support@nodeping.com. We really are happy to help.

If you aren’t using NodePing for uptime monitoring yet, please sign up for our 15-day, free trial and let us help you increase your uptime.

Disable Monitoring

Last week we added several features aimed at making our monitoring service easier to manage and use.  One of those features adds new ways to easily disable checks, either in the UI or using the API. Disabling a check stops all monitoring and notifications. It can be useful to keep scheduled maintenance or downtime from affecting your uptime statistics. I’ll explain a bit on the various ways you can disable monitoring within NodePing.

Disabling a Single Check
There are two ways to disable a single check within the NodePing web interface. The first is in the check details drawer. If you click the name of a check in the list, the details drawer will slide out. There you can see the last 5 results, links to the various reports, and a toggle to disable the check. Simply click on the “toggle” link next to the text “This check is currently active”. To re-enable, click the toggle again.

The second way to disable a single check is within the check edit screen. Click on the “Edit” button to call up the check edit modal and remove the checkbox from the “Enable Check:” field, then click on “Save”. To re-enable the check, edit it again and check that same box.

Sometimes you may need to disable all the checks to a particular datacenter or for a particular server or service. You can do it one at a time as described above but that can be a click-fest if you have a large number of checks to disable. Our new features allow you to easily disable all of your checks at once, or to disable a group of them based on some powerful filtering capability (described more below).

Disabling All Checks
You can disable and re-enable all your checks with just a couple of clicks. In the “Account Settings” – “General Settings” tab, you’ll see a link for “Disable All Checks”. Click on it and all your currently enabled checks will be immediately disabled. To re-enable the checks, click on the new link that appeared that says “Re-enable Checks”. Please note that this will only re-enable checks that have been disabled using the “Disable All Checks” link. If you disabled a check using one of the methods described above in the “Disabling a Single Check” section of this post, the check will remain disabled.

Disabling all checks can be useful to silence monitoring and notifications during major outages, planned maintenance, or to quiet logs when troubleshooting.

Disabling Multiple Checks
Our new disable feature has some powerful filtering that can help you disable all checks where the label, type, and/or target are similar. Clicking on the “Show optional filters” link in the “Account Settings” – “General Settings” tab will display the available filter fields of “Type”, “Label”, and “Target”. After choosing the dropdown or typing your desired filters in the fields there, you need to click on the “Disable All Checks” link and NodePing will disable all currently enabled checks that match your filters.

If you’d like to disable all your HTTP Content checks, you can choose it from the “Type” drop down.

If all the checks you need to disable are named similarly (example: “Server1: website A”, “Server1: website B”, “Server1: website C”), you can disable all of them by putting “Server1” in the “Label” field. The matching works on any part of the label.

If a particular server is failing, you can disable all checks (no matter what type or label) that point to that server by putting the name or IP address used in the check “Target” field. For example, I can disable all checks that point to all nodeping.com hosts by typing “nodeping.com” in that field. It will disable checks to ‘smtp.nodeping.com’ and ‘www.nodeping.com’, no matter what the check type is.

The filters are additive so if you choose the “HTTP” type and type something in the “Label” field, only HTTP checks that match that label will be disabled.

Use the “Re-enable Checks” link to re-enable checks that were previously disabled using the “Disable All Checks” link and filters.

These filters have superpowers too, thanks to regex. You can geek out and provide a valid javascript regex expression for each filter in our UI or API. Run a curl one-liner to our API before your maintenance fires off to disable some checks and then re-enable them when it’s done. See our API reference for details.

NodePing is committed to bring you more functionality like these new disable check features available in all accounts now. If you don’t yet have a NodePing server monitoring account, we encourage you to sign up for a free, 15-day trial and see how our fast, accurate uptime monitoring can help you keep your services up and available.

NTP Monitoring

Host clock synchronization is important for server clusters and many other services. Having a node with the system clock drifting can cause all kinds of hard-to-troubleshoot issues (I’m looking at you, Cassandra). Thankfully NTP (Network Time Protocol) has been there since before 1985 to help us keep our clocks within a few milliseconds of each other.

If you run your own NTP servers or use someone else’s for mission critical services, you need to monitor that they are up and running. NodePing’s new NTP check can make sure the NTP services you rely on are available and responding and will send you actionable notifications when they aren’t.

Alternatively, if you have a private NTP server that should not be available to the relentless interwebs, we can monitor it’s expected silence well. If your private NTP server starts responding to the world, we’ll send you an alert that the dog got out of the yard.

NTP monitoring is available on all account plans today. If you don’t have a NodePing account yet, sign up for your free, 15-day trial today and we’ll keep an eye on your NTP servers for you.

Site update and feature releases Oct 2016

We’ve rolled out some UI and feature updates for NodePing today. We hope you find them helpful. I’ll summarize the changes here. Look here for future posts, which will go into more details for each.

Delayed Notifications:
You can now set a delay on ‘down’ alerts. This will help make your notifications more actionable for frequently flapping services. This new feature can also be used to escalate alerts or notify support/management if services remain offline. This feature has been available for a while in our API, but hasn’t been in our documentation, and has now been added to our UI as well. See the ‘Delay’ drop down in the Notification section of your check.

Check Cloning:
You can now clone an existing check, with all its settings, in our UI to create a new check. This will help reduce “clickty-clickty” syndrome when setting up a lot of checks with similar settings. Click on the label of the check you want to clone to display the details to reveal the ‘Clone Check’ link on the far right.

Notification Dependencies:
When an edge router or server fails, it’s assumed that all the services that depend on them will also fail. It’s not helpful to receive hundreds of alerts for dependent services. You can now set another check as a notification dependency on each check. If the dependent check is already failing, notifications will be suppressed. Use this to avoid alert floods when bottleneck services fail. You can find the ‘Dependency’ drop down in the Notification section of each check.

Disable All Notifications:
There is now a link in the Contacts tab to “Disable notifications”. Use this to suppress all alerts until you re-enable them using the same link. It’s another way to help avoid the distraction of alert floods during big outages.

Disable Checks:
Now you can disable multiple checks with one click. You’ll find the “Disable All Checks” link in the Account Settings – General Settings tab. You can also apply filters based on label, target, or check type to, for example, disable all PING checks or all checks pointing to “example.com”. Use this to disable checks during planned outages/maintenance or to quiet down your logs when troubleshooting.

All the above new features, except check cloning, are also available via our API. If you have any questions about these new features, reach out to support@nodeping.com; we’re happy to help.

Public Status Report Update

NodePing’s public status report feature allows you to create an uptime report for your sites or services in your own domain. It’s a popular part of our website and server monitoring service, and is available on all NodePing accounts. Today we added a couple of (hopefully very useful) enhancements to the public status reports.

The report now has a column on the right side that shows the uptime for each service over the past 30 days. It also allows you to display a column to show the check type, which can be turned on and off in the report’s configuration page. Plus, we’ve also tweaked the filtering on the title field, which has opened it up to a wider degree of customization. For example, you can include image tags and style tags in this field, which allows you to add your logo, as well as having significant control over the overall look of the report.

The report already gave you the ability to set which checks should appear on the report, and to set a custom URL for the report (so, for example, you could have it on the status subdomain of your own domain, so the URL would be status.example.com). And if you have public reports turned on for individual checks, those reports will automatically be linked from the status report.

We hope that these enhancements, on top of the features we already had for the status report, will make this report very useful to all of our customers. We put a lot of emphasis on feedback from our users, so please let us know what other features would help you make the most of our monitoring service.

If you run web sites or other Internet services and haven’t tried out our monitoring service, give us a try with out 15 day free trial.