If You Like It Then You Should Have Put a Ping On It

All the web servers, all the web servers…

Web servers are fickle things. You never know what’s going to set them off into a fit of high loads, disk swaps and general sluggishness – it could be bad code, hack attempts, denial of service, old hardware, who knows.

The problem is you never know when these types of things are going to happen, and it always seems to be at the worst time – a visit day, app season, the day your big fund-raising campaign starts, you know, pretty much the opposite of beneficial.

I spend a lot of time online, but I can’t watch my web server 24/7 to make sure its up. I’m trying to be more proactive about monitoring my web server and its uptime, because I want to be the person to find out our website is down, not our university’s president (that happened this past weekend. Ugh.)

There are a few tools, some of which are free, that will keep an eye on your site and alert you when they find that they can’t reach it.

The one I’ve been trying out the last month or so is Mon.itor.us. They monitor, for free, over 250,000 websites across the world, checking that they’re up. It just takes a moment to set up an account, and you let it know what sites to watch. It starts pinging, every 30 minutes, to make sure you’re up. If it doesn’t get a response, you can have it text your phone, email you, or do nothing. If you want, they’ll even send you a weekly report, that looks like this.

As you can see, this blog had 100% up-time last week, as did the benchmark site, Google. My school’s site had a bit of downtime, which we’re addressing. This type of information is very important to keep our website, our most important marketing tool, online and available at all times.

Mon.itor.us has a paid service, Monitis, that will ping your site every 5 minutes from servers around the world. Plans start at $9 USD a month and go up from there to even a plan that pings your site once a minute. That might be overkill, but if you’re selling things online, every minute you’re offline means you’re losing money.

But, Mike, you say. My IT staff is already monitoring the server. Yes, that’s true and that’s very good, but if you as web person at your institution doesn’t live in the IT area, you may not be in the loop when it comes to outages and other IT issues. Since several monitoring services are free, why not sign up for one so that you are in the loop and at least have some knowledge about uptime when the issue is inevitably raised in a meeting. And trust me, it will be.