Do I really need a website monitoring service?

First of all – please don’t mistake website monitoring with traffic monitoring. Every website is using some kind of traffic monitoring – Google Analytics, some commercial software or simply a web server feature of analyzing its log and displaying statistical data. Website monitoring is actually about availability monitoring. Watching your site 24/7 if it is working and visible to users. Sending immediate alerts in case of a failure and recording all the unavailability events.

What does it give you?

With email and SMS alerts it assures you that you are the first person to know about your website failure. You could react before any of your users/customers would contact you and complain. Or just leave your site and browse to your competitor.
If you run multiple pages it may be wise to use a RSS feed for notifications and watch it together with your other news channels.
Having the history of failures in your user panel is another benefit. You could use it to verify the quality of your hosting service. If you have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) signed, it can back up your claim of the refund in case the agreed availability level is not sustained.

How does it work?

A serious provider of website monitoring services uses at least 3 servers located in different data centers. One of the servers is continuously checking your website – by loading it just like a real user would – with his Internet browser. The service is really useful when the checks are performed every minute – please not that not all the providers offer that and some of them charge more for that option. 5, 10 or 30 minute period monitoring is useless. What good it gives you when you are informed about the failure 20 minutes later?
Back to the testing procedure. When only one monitoring station reports that it cannot load the page – it’s not enough. There can be some interconnection breakdown or a whole data center failure (yes it does happen). To confirm the monitored website failure, at least 2 other servers need to confirm the loss of access to it. Then come the alerts.

How much does it cost?

Yearly fees vary incredibly among the Internet. Starting from $59 and ending with more than $5000 (some providers charge a lot for 1 minute monitoring option). Several services can be paid on a monthly basis, but – of course – paying for a year in advance is cheaper.
The telecommunications costs (SMSes) are not a big deal. But again – one provider would give you 30 SMSes within the basic package, other 200 and another one nothing. If you expect many failures, you should consider this cost as well.

Free trial

Most of website availability monitoring providers offer a free trial period for their services. You could register an account, start monitoring your website and then – after usually two weeks – decide whether you’d like to purchase the service or not.
You could type “website monitoring” in Google to receive tens of results.

Advanced monitoring

There are also services offering very advanced services – monitoring not only the website itself (if it’s available) but also specific processes within it. This is the option for complicated on-line business applications, when one single feature being unavailable means a significant loss to its operator.


If you really care about your users – or I should rather say – you are aware how much visitors/registrations/customers/money you loose when your website is down, you should definitely consider ordering a website availability monitoring service.

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