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How to Track Website Uptime? 10 Website Monitoring Tools to Consider (Free & Paid)
Updated: Jul 02, 2021 / Article by: Jerry Low
As you search for a web host, you’ll undoubtedly come across the term “uptime” and all sorts of guarantees surrounding it. But what does it actually mean – and why does it matter?
What is Website Uptime?
Uptime is the amount of time that your website is up and running.
Uptime is good – when your site is “up”, visitors can access your website smoothly.
Downtime, on the opposite, is bad. When your site is “down”, it means that people can’t reach your site – which can be frustrating and leave a bad image for your website. Additionally, if people aren't able to reach your site the first time, they may not try again.
“Uptime Guarantees” is promises made by hosting companies to have your site up for X % of time in a day. A 99.9% uptime guarantee means the provider guarantee that your website is accessible at least 23.976 hours (0.999 x 24) a day.
Why Monitor Your Hosting Uptime?
Two main reasons why you need to monitor your website uptime:
To react quickly and minimize the damage when your site goes down; and
To confirm that your web host is delivering their promises.
Sure – any good web host will monitor and keep track of their server uptime. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do your part as a web hosting users. The more eyes and ears you have, the better.
StatusCake goes beyond the “ping to see if it’s alive” norm of website uptime monitoring. It has a complete suite of performance monitoring tools that can keep an eye on everything from page speed to server resource consumption and SSL status.
The free plan gets more limited access and excludes the server monitor. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for website monitoring, this is the one for you. Paid plans cost $20.41 or $66.66/mo.
If you’d like to see uptime monitoring done in-depth then look no further than dotcom-monitor. They offer a complete range of monitoring features but split them up so you can choose the elements you need and pay for only those. Their uptime monitoring service includes response validation, access to a web API, and even retains three years’ worth of data – all for only $19.95/mo.
Not to be confused with Microsoft’s prototype software HostTracker, Host-Tracker is a comprehensive website monitoring service. The service has 140 nodes and multiple monitor points from all over the world. Host-Tracker comes in several different language package – Italian, English, Spanish, and Greek. The Free plan covers up to 2 website monitors (checks at 30 minutes interval); for paid plans, it covers up to 150 website monitors and nine different checking methods.
At time of writing, Host Tracker is monitoring more than 300,000 websites from 140+ locations. Their entry plan starts at $3.25/mo if you subscribe for a year.
Uptime Robot checks your sites every five minutes or so and if the site does not ping back, the program will e-mail you a message that your sites are down. The best thing about Uptime Robot is that it's completely free for your first 50 monitors. During the early days of WHSR, I used Uptime Robot to track my test sites' uptime.
Freshping is an useful tool that you can use to automatically monitor your site performance and publish your site status online. The system constantly checks your site every minute to see if it’s down and if so, will alert you via Slack, Twilio, and email.
Freshping free plan allows 50 checks at 1 minute interval and 6 months data retention. Paid users get to setup advanced alerting and store server performance data for up to 24 months.
Monitor Scout helps monitor websites availability from 15 different locations and runs checks on HTTP, HTTPS, PING, mySQL, MS SQL, IMAP, POP3, DNS, etc upt to every one minute interval. Users get email and SMS alerts in case of server outage; detailed reports including uptime, latency, and in-depth analysis are provided.
Got Site Monitor Free plan covers up to 5 URLs, 20 SMS alerts on signup, and unlimited email alerts. Website check (monitoring interval) is done every 10 minutes for Free Plan, every 1 minute for Paid Plans. The users get to track websites uptime from different locations, including Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and China.
Service Uptime provides six different service plans: Free, Start ($4.95/mo), Standard ($8.30/mo), Advanced ($24.95/mo), Professional ($74.95/mo), and Custom. For paid plans, the tool covers up to 110 website uptime checks from 10 different locations with up to 1-minute monitoring intervals. For Free Plan, you'll get one free monitor checked every 30 minutes via HTTP, SMTP, FTP, and PING.
Basic State is a free service that helps track unlimited number of websites on 15 minutes check frequency. Downtime alerts are sent out from BasicState via email or text message; daily reports are available for 14 days history.
Pingdom, now owned and managed by Solarwinds, repackaged their services and comes in subscription model. At $10 per month, you'll get 10 uptime, page speed, and transaction checks and 50 SMS alert.
Types of Uptime Monitoring Tools
There are dozens, if not more, of uptime monitoring tools available online – some are free and some costs upwards of thousands of dollars annually.
Some run simple HTTP checks to confirm whether your site is running, while others perform very complex back-end jobs to monitor more than 50 checkpoints simultaneously.
The various tools run every end of the spectrum, which can be a bit overwhelming to users, but also ensures that there is a tool out there to fit your needs and budget.
Regardless of which uptime monitoring tool you go with, it will fit into one of the four types of monitoring: Ping monitor, HTTP monitor, DNS Server Monitor, and TCP port monitor.
1. Ping Monitor
A Ping monitor basically pings your website to confirm that it’s there and up and running.
Think of ping like a virtual ping pong ball; if you serve the ball to a wall, it should hit that wall and come back to you – if the wall is down, the ball isn’t able to connect. Same with a ping monitor – if your site is down, it senses the missing connection and notifies you.
This type of monitoring typically goes a bit above simply letting you know if your site is up, however – it does also provide insight into internet connection speeds and downtime statistics. The connection speed is an important factor, because slow websites are not much better than down sites for visitors, not to mention that slow speeds hurt your Google search rankings.
2. HTTP Monitor
We use HTTP to transfer data online, using set rules that tell the servers and web browsers which information to exchange. Because it is involved in the constant information exchange that occurs, HTTP monitors provide information about the HTTP traffic between the internet and computer. Advanced settings allow users to glean additional insights, such as whether an SSL certificate is in place.
3. DNS Server Monitor
Every computer corresponds with a numerical address; the DNS protocol translates the online address to the numerical address. By matching the information and running behind the scenes monitoring of the addresses, the DNS server monitor is able to provide in-depth information about uptime, protocol failures, network outages, and more. Particularly important, should a numerical address mismatch with the online address, the DNS is able to sense it and report the error which may be a result of hijacking.
4. TCP Port Monitor
The Transmission Control Protocol – or TCP, for short, transfers data from one network device to another network device, using a retransmission strategy to ensure that there isn’t any data loss that occurs during each transmission. Since it is part of quality monitoring and has a hand in establishing host-to-host communications, it becomes apparent quite quickly if there is a connection problem. Should a TCP port fail to respond or receive transmitted information, the monitor will alert the user of the failed or faulty transmission.
It is incredibly important to monitor your site’s uptime to make it successful. There are constant threats in the cyber world and working with a great host who carefully monitors uptime and employs great defenses proactively is the first step; taking secondary measures to monitor yourself is the second and both are equally important.
Which Uptime Monitor Service to Use?
A few key factors to look into when you are choosing an uptime monitor service are:
What is the interval between each check?
How is the alert messages sent out?
What reporting option does the system provide?
What is the price? Do you really need a paid tracking service?
As per my experience in the industry, monitoring a server or a webpage is not enough to ensure a bullet-proof situation for your business.
Several other aspects need to be monitored. To say for example, your e-commerce store is being affected due to downtime or some other issue; you are losing customers and making a loss. The most feasible solution is monitoring the web pages, the login page, database, hosting server, hardware components, and the vital applications. Choose the monitoring tool that packs in all these opportunities.
When the user finds it difficult to choose between 2 or 3 monitoring companies, the user should contact the customer support of those companies to check if free trial version of their services is available. . All major monitoring companies should be able to offer this to customers that are in the evaluation process.
– Johan, Monitor Scout CEO.
Your Site is Down, What's Next?
Your site is down, now what? There are a number of reasons that could cause a website to go down.
Here are a few immediate things you can do when your site is down:
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.