If you have already gone through the hassle of constructing a website and hosting it with a reliable company, you will obviously expect your website to be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, as downtime can result in lost sales and customers being frustrated.
Regrettably, many technical problems come into play which are beyond your control and can cause your web site to go down or to become sluggish. Sometimes, server hardware and software can fail and your host might schedule downtime for maintenance chores. A fast recognition of failures can be the best defense for getting things back on track, so many companies will offer website monitoring services that will automatically alert you if your site goes out of order.
Hundreds of companies are available and can provide monitoring services. Some might be free of charge, whereas others will charge you anywhere from $5 to $60 per month. Of course, the paid services usually offer more features and will also allow you to use the same service with many different web sites. Web monitoring is not done in a continuous way – and time intervals tend to range from every 3 minutes to every hour. The paid services generally offer the most comprehensive monitoring.
Monitoring functions by sending an automatic request to your website and then checking for the response. These requests are similar to what a web browser makes and the response to that request will determine whether the site is up or down. Requests are usually sent from many different geographical areas in order to ensure that the site can be accessed from many different parts of the world.
If the response code reads OK (200, 301, 302, 401, 403) then nothing happens and the monitoring software will wait for the next scheduled check. If the response code indicates that the web site cannot be reached, there will be a second check a few seconds later from a different location. An alert will be issued after 3 or more checks.
An alert can be sent to one or numerous email addresses or to a mobile device such as a pager or mobile phone. This will enable you to keep in touch with your hosting company as soon as possible in order to ensure that they are aware of the problem and are working to solve it. Together with HTTP traffic, some website monitors might also check HTTPS, FTP, SMPT and POP3 so that all the functions of your website are seen to.
Apart from alerting you about downtime, these services will also provide some useful statistics in the shape of log files that will indicate how often a site can go down. This third-party information will be used in order to demand better service from your web host or for a refund in the event of severe amounts of downtime.
If you find that your site has had an amount of downtime which you think is unacceptable, you might want to look for another hosting company. The best method for finding a good host is to ask for other website owners advice. If they are satisfied with their own service they will usually be more than happy to direct more business to their existing host.
Michael Beattie is contributing editor at WebDesignArticles.net. This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.