In my previous article about High Availability I talked about uptime, which is basically a measure of how long your site is up. So how do you know when your site is up or not?
No one wants to hear from their customers to tell them that their website is down, do they? So rather than waiting until you or someone else notices there is a problem, you should get a computer to do the job for you!
System Monitoring is how we do this. Quite simply system monitoring software is an entire category of software that allows us to do this. We setup a computer server to regularly log onto our website and see if it is up and running. When the system notices an issue it well send a notification to the responsible person to investigate.
With system monitoring you should know within minutes of your site becoming unavailable that there is a problem.
What do you monitor?
System monitoring isn’t just about checking websites are up. They are used to monitor everything from network connectivity, database availability, the amount of disk space free on a server and much much more. More advanced system monitors even allow you to monitor a transactions as they are processed through the many servers that are required to complete it.
Most of the low level monitoring is handled by your hosting provider and so you shouldn’t need to worry about it. However the uptime of your website is not something that they will specifically be monitoring. As long as the server is running then they have met their uptime obligations.
There are many problems that could cause your website to be unavailable including:
- errors in configuration files
- database corruption
- mis-configured WordPress plugins
- issues with security patching
Now you don’t need to monitor each of these individually you simply need to make sure your website is up and responding correctly.
Monitoring for Free!
So how do you do it? Well there are many monitoring providers out there that will provide a free account that will let you track a small number of websites for free!
Free plans typically have slower check times, such as checking your site every 5 minutes instead of every minute. They will also usually only include email alerting, rather than SMS or phone calls, which the paid for plans usually provide. For most small and medium businesses this is more than enough.
I use enterprise level monitoring on my own servers and sites, so haven’t used any of these free plans for long. That being said after a bit of researching I have signed up for a free account at statuscake and it looks like it is a great option for setting up the monitoring needs for a small or medium sized business.
Do you have monitoring setup for your sites and systems? If you are then please add a comment below and let us know what you are using and how you find it!