4 Qualities of an Excellent Website Monitoring Service

Uptime is one of the most important factors in maintaining an effective online presence. Outages of any duration can be costly. Downtime can impact your organization directly by causing lost sales, signups, etc., or indirectly by hurting your reputation and brand image. We can all agree that downtime is never good.

No matter how good a job you do in building a robust, fault-tolerant website, unforeseen problems will still take it down from time to time. It’s just the nature of complex systems. You need a good website monitoring service to keep an eye on things so you can be notified when things go wrong, even in the middle of the night.

Many cheap services have appeared over the last few years, but be careful. Most of them are little more than simple scripts running on a shared server hosted somewhere in “the cloud”.

Here are 4 qualities to look for to make sure you get excellent website monitoring for your money:

1. Redundancy: Very few services maintain more than one network operations center (NOC). Many of them host their entire operation on a shared server with an outside hosting company where they have little control when something goes wrong. Make sure your service maintains its own servers and connections. The best services will have redundant, geographically separated NOCs, with the ability to easily switch between them in the event of an extended power failure, connection interruption, natural disaster, denial-of-service (DOS) attack or other related failure.

2. Multiple Monitoring Locations: Many services monitor from only one or two locations. When these services get an error connecting to your website they don’t know if you are really down or if they just lost their own connection. The result will invariably be a false alert. Look for a service that monitors from many locations and has a well-designed system for verifying errors from other locations so you can be confident when you receive an alert at any hour of the day or night that you have a real problem.

3. Monitoring Interval: Is it really enough to check your website once an hour, or even less often? Many services do just that. Make sure your service will give you a good selection of intervals to choose from so you can tailor the configuration to your needs. The best services will let you monitor as often as every minute for your mission-critical website.

4. Alert Methods: Many services alert by e-mail only. E-mail alerts are a great first line of defense, but there are so many things that can interfere with e-mail delivery that you run a great risk of not receiving a critical alert if e-mail is your only option. Better services will give you the option of receiving alerts by SMS (text message). Make sure your service is using real SMS delivery and not just your phone carrier’s email-to-SMS gateway. SMS and e-mail alerts are necessary, but the best services offer the ability to receive a real phone call when things go wrong. When you answer the call, you will hear an automated voice tell you what went wrong and which of your systems are affected.

You have worked hard to make sure your online presence stays online as much as possible. Nonetheless, it will go down for any of a hundred different reasons from time to time. Make sure you are protected by an excellent website monitoring service. Find a company that has worked as hard as you have to build their service offering.