Website Monitoring

Written by Linda Alexander
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Website monitoring is a tool that many companies use to monitor website performance, 24/7. For all the work that you put into your website, it's useless if your site is down or is not working properly. Servers, networks, and your site itself, are all vulnerable to hackers, power failures, and software trouble, for example. Having a monitoring service automatically watch your site and notify you in the event of an error can save you from very costly downtime.

Examples of what can be monitored are business transactions, networks, secure websites, individual pages, email, routers or firewalls, DNS servers, FTP servers, digital certificates--even your server temperatures! The best way to monitor remotely is from several points across the globe to make sure that your site is accessible and operational anywhere. Every website monitoring company offers something a little bit different, so discuss your needs with potential service providers before you enter into any agreements.

How Monitoring Service Providers Work

Most monitoring companies work the same way. They will attempt to connect to your site at regular intervals of your choosing. This can be as often as every two minutes or as infrequent as once an hour.

If they can't connect or verify that your site is working properly, most services will retry. If they can't connect or verify a second time, they will notify your company contacts, usually by email or pager. They will notify your contacts again when the site becomes available once more.

Does Your Company Need Website Monitoring Services?

The interval at which the service checks your site will depend on the type of site you have. For example, at a bank, where customers could potentially lose money if your site isn't available for transactions, more than two minutes downtime is probably unacceptable. A small retailer might be able to get away with being down for as long as an hour without seriously angering customers or endangering customer service. A personal website or one that is informational rather than e-commerce based, might not need any monitoring at all.

Monitoring services can also monitor the content on your site to be sure it hasn't been altered by hackers. They can check to make sure that your site is fully operational, meaning that all your applications are running properly and your site is loading quickly. If your shopping cart isn't working or your email server is down, you will likely lose visitors and your reputation may be at stake.

An alternative to website monitors is software that does the same thing. There is even free software that can be downloaded from the Web. However, these programs are usually much simpler than the functions you would get from paying a service provider. They might be good for personal websites or sites that do a limited amount of business, but they're usually not enough for most companies.

Hiring a monitoring company to watch over your website is nearly as important today as keeping your site secure. Next to firewalls or routers, monitoring is the most crucial service you need in order to maintain your website. No matter how small or how large your business is, evaluate your need for this valuable service and take advantage of it before you encounter any problems.

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