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6 Self-Hosted Server Monitoring Tools
Updated: 2022-04-19 / Article by: Timothy Shim
Self-hosted server monitoring tools are often seen in the web hosting space. Yet we usually associate them with company websites, large enterprises, or massive commercial deployments. As my situation showcases, it may come in handy even if running a blog.
After chugging along happily on a shared hosting plan for two years, the traffic on one of my websites crashed overnight. I’d finally outgrown its capabilities and needed to migrate to Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting.
Unfortunately, the VPS account didn’t come with the Resource Monitor present in my previous shared hosting plan. So the quest for a new way to monitor my server began. These server monitoring tools are what I found – perhaps they’ll come in handy for you.
1. New Relic One
Price: Free / From $0.25/GB onwards
New Relic One is a Cloud-based full-stack server monitoring tool. These few words may sound confusing but are incredibly potent. New Relic One can provide a massive depth of data that surpasses basic questions like “how much RAM is my server using?”
What New Relic One Does?
Rather than offering standardized monitoring, New Relic allows users to choose the exact views of information relevant to them. For example, you can set it to show throughput, requests, and even Apdex monitoring panels.
If such detail confuses you, pre-designed dashboard templates are available based on how you use New Relic. The WordPress dashboard comes in handy for me – and the application monitor. New Relic pricing is tiered and starts free, sufficient for most new to server monitoring.
Installation is also easy, and they’ll provide the code you need to execute that will set up the application agent on your server. If you’re using Managed VPN hosting, simply provide your support team with the API key and let them handle the matter.
PRTG is a group of different monitoring products. Each of the PRTG solutions fills specific needs. In the case of those running servers or VPS, the most likely you will be looking towards is PRTG Hosted Monitor.
What is PRTG Hosted Monitor Used For?
PRTG Hosted Monitor supports various platforms, including Linux and Unix. The distinction is important because some PRTG solutions run only on Windows. The dashboard it uses is graphical and can be modified using a drag-and-drop map builder.
All remote monitors will increase the overhead on your server. However, the capability of PRTG to draw data via very conventional means like SSH is helpful. It’s fast, secure, and creates minimum impact on your hosting budget.
You also get a good view of remote resources like storage space, system load, RAM, and much more. These practical functions make it viable for smaller website owners willing to pay the price.
ManageEngine offers a cluster of server monitoring tools that provide data collection and accessible insight. These tools cover the entire spectrum for server monitoring, including application, database, virtual, web, and more.
What is the Use of ManageEngine?
It’s interesting to note that ManageEngine is a division under Zoho. The brand explicitly handles IT management for Zoho, meaning it’s tried and tested in a real production environment. The Server Monitor tool is part of the OpManager and covers remote resources like CPU utilization, RAM, IO operations, process monitoring, etc.
The process is entirely automated, leaving you free to ignore it once you set up the appropriate alerts. It has a user-friendly dashboard allowing a quick bird’s eye view of server health. Naturally, the view is customizable, allowing configuration for your unique needs.
Instana is one of the most straightforward solutions to implement. All you need is to install the agent on your host, and the configuration is automated. The agent runs a discovery tool that automates everything, allowing you to focus on data.
What is Instana Used For?
Unfortunately, convenience, in this case, comes at a price. While not the most expensive, Instana isn’t cheap to operate. Still, it’s highly comprehensive in features. The sad part is that most website owners won’t need this usage level, and much will go to waste.
The good news is that data collection is complete. You can trace virtually anything, right down to individual requests and flow. It’s also highly granular since data collection happens in 1-second intervals. Despite this, the Instana is surprisingly lightweight.
DataDog solutions are precise, and prices depend on what you need to monitor. This structure allows lower-cost access to powerful Cloud-based monitoring capabilities. For those who need to monitor the essential performance of virtual servers, the infrastructure tool is sufficient, and you can use it for free.
What is Great About DataDog?
At this level, you can monitor up to five hosts with a dashboard, app integrations, mapping, and more. You can also provide information access to unlimited users. Of course, there’s a catch, and the biggest I find is the limitation where data retention is concerned. Still, a paid plan is also relatively reasonably priced if you need more.
Paid plans also include a user alert system to notify you if things go wrong. Also available will be custom metrics, Single Sign-On (SSO), live process and forecast monitoring, and more. You can easily add on features to go beyond essential infrastructure monitoring.
Another Cloud-based monitoring tool, Dynatrace is split into multiple use cases. For most of us that want to monitor a VPS, their infrastructure monitoring is sufficient. It’s also highly automated and can provide near-instant visibility across multiple environments.
How Does Dynatrace Work?
What I love most about Dynatrace is its ease of use. There’s little need for granular adjustments from implementation to the dashboard unless you have particular needs. In most cases, the default configuration will work wonders.
While it will work fine for low-needs users, the price can be prohibitive once your requirements increase. The basic price per month covers a limited amount of data transfer. 8GB may be sufficient in some cases, but even a medium-volume blog can blow past that figure in mere days.
What is Server Monitoring, and Why is it Necessary?
Server performance monitoring refers to using software and services that collect metrics and statistics on server usage. Data collection is automated, and a good tool can usually analyze these metrics to identify areas where you can improve performance.
Keeping an eye on metrics to ensure things are running smoothly on your server is your first line of defense. In web environments, each second of downtime is money, even if you're just running a small commercial blog.
Case Study: Blog Disaster 101
The best way to clarify this is to illustrate what happened on my website. The resource monitor provided by the shared hosting control panel showed me what was in use – but only on demand. There was no automated notification to let me know if anything went wrong.
In the case of a problem arising, I’d also have to learn what to do independently. The result, in my case, was a disaster. My blog was constantly misfiring, and web traffic came to a standstill. It took me a few days of panic over lost revenue before I understood what happened.
Thankfully, migrating to a VPS was fast, thanks to the assistance of my web host. Since then, I’ve implemented a Cloud-based server monitoring utility that constantly tracks performance and will let me know when bad things happen.
Final Thoughts on Server Monitoring Tools
The total duration of my website misbehaviour was almost one full week. Now, imagine that was you. Calculate the revenue loss you’d suffer over that one week, and you’ll quickly realize the importance of a practical server monitoring system.
At first, I lamented the loss of my easy-to-use Resource Monitor. Then I realized it was what caused my complacency. It wasn’t fulfilling a core need of letting me know when things are about to go wrong, and the result nearly cost me dearly in SERPs.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.