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Free Site Monitoring Services

Web hosts often promise that your site will be up 99.9% of the time. That's a pretty good percentage. But are they delivering on their promise? How can you tell?

Chances are, if your site goes down for a minute or two, you'll never know about it - unless you happen to be calling up the page yourself when it's down, or a user reports it to you. For most Web sites, this is fine - a minute or two (or even ten) a month of down time has no effect. But if you suspect your site is going down more often than that, or if you're simply curious, you can use a site monitoring service to track it for you.

Site monitoring services periodically attempt to access your page, and immediately notify you if a page won't come up. Some will also track the speed of your page loading and send you reports via e-mail. A few will check various services at your domain as well, such as the email server.

Different services offer different notification methods. Almost all of them offer email. Other alert routes include:

  • ICQ
  • AOL Instant Messenger
  • Pager (via an Internet gateway)

As you might expect, free monitoring services check your pages less often than their paid counterparts. Most offer an upgrade to paid service with more features. However, unless you're running a mission critical site, the free version will probably alert you to any serious problems, as well as satisfy your curiousity about your site's performance.

When choosing a free site monitoring service, find out:

  • frequency and type of monitoring - some services just see if your page loads, others measure how long it takes, or check additional services.
  • frequency and type of reports - will you get regular performance reports, or only be notified in the event there's trouble?
  • notification method - how will you be notified if your site is down?
Even the best Web hosting services experience brief outages now and then, but such occurrences should be extremely rare. If it happens to you, here's what you should do:
  1. Wait 3-5 minutes and try loading your site again. Often it will be fine.
  2. If it isn't fine, visit the hosting service's support page. There may be a message there explaining what's going on.
  3. If there' s no message, send an email to your host's support address. Mark it urgent. Keep it calm - ask them nicely to look into the problem ASAP. Be sure to include your domain name. Make the subject something like: "Urgent - site down."
  4. If you don't get an answer back within half an hour, or if the down time is costing you money by the minute, call the hosting service's support phone number and ask for help.
  5. If you can't reach a real person, and the site stays down for more than an hour with no reasonable explanation to you, consider moving it elsewhere.
Are you ready to search for free site monitoring tools?

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