Downtime is a major problem for websites. For SaaS businesses that thrive on having their services available, even a few minutes of downtime can result in a direct loss of revenue. Here’s how to tell if your website isn’t working.
How to track downtime
The problem with downtime is that it’s hard to keep up with yourself. After all, you probably aren’t refreshing your website every 10 seconds while waiting for it to go offline. The best solution is to have a downtime monitoring service to track your website for you.
These services will check your website at regular intervals and trigger alerts if something is not working as it should. Since issues can be localized to different parts of your site, most downtime tracking services will check multiple pages and generally rank free and paid plans based on how many checks they perform.
If you have some form of static caching in front of your server (such as Amazon CloudFront), your services may be interrupted and the home page looks normal. In this case, you will want to check a page that is not regularly cached and needs to extract information from a database. Some of the tools in the list below can even perform content checks, which will verify that your webpage is intact and looks like it should.
How do downtime monitors notify you?
Site downtime is a major issue, so it’s important that you get notified early so that you can resolve the issue. Most services can send email notifications, SMS notifications, and Slack notifications, which can be enough for many people.
But if you don’t actively monitor your notifications, you might miss them, which can cause your site to crash for longer than it should. If you need to be warned about major issues urgently, we recommend Uptime Robot Pro Plan, which can be configured to call you repeatedly if your site is down for longer than a set amount of time.
They will call you to verify your number when you set up the voice call service. This will allow you to add the number to the whitelist so that it will always ring even if Do Not Disturb is activated.
However, voice calls cost money, so they’re not unlimited; you will need to purchase SMS credits separately. They include a few of them in all Pro plans, but you only get them once and they don’t renew.
Downtime monitoring options
Availability robot is a hosted monitoring service. The free version allows 50 monitors at 5 minute intervals, but requires the Pro version at $ 5 per month for SMS messaging. The Pro version also includes voice calls, which can be repeated at regular intervals to ensure you get the message.
Uptime.com does SMS messaging for $ 8 per month. It can perform content matches, API calls, as well as a service called “transaction monitoring,” which, for example, could attempt a login flow from a browser to verify that users can log in. connect.
During heavy traffic, your site may remain functional and visible but have much slower load times, which is still a major problem. Pingdom is a performance monitor and analysis suite that can tell you if your website is starting to slow down, and can often tell you what is causing the slowdown in the first place.
CULA is a free tool to test if your website looks like it should. It can monitor 50 URLs with 5 content checks per URL, and can send mobile push notifications with Pushover (but no SMS). Their paid versions allow more URLs, but the free version is very generous.
AWS CloudWatch is a comprehensive monitoring suite for AWS products. It does more than just monitor your website’s uptime, such as collecting logs and monitoring your overall infrastructure, but can be configured to track the performance of your services.
Open Source Options (host it yourself)
These tools are open source, which means there will be a package available that you can install and run on your own server. We recommend that you do not install any monitoring software on the same server, because if there are any issues with the server itself, there will likely be issues notifying you. The best solution would be to rent a small server from an entirely different cloud provider, to significantly mitigate this risk.
Zabbix is a comprehensive monitoring suite that not only tracks your website uptime but also the uptime of your backend apps and services.
Icinga can monitor many services and generate regular reports on the health of your servers. It can send you an email or SMS message if there is a critical issue.
Prometheus is a monitoring suite, built by SoundCloud before going open source, that works especially well with container orchestration engines like Kubernetes. It provides easy monitoring of your Kubernetes services and can notify you of any unexpected behavior.