I recently wrote an article about protecting your website from hackers and I’ve received a lot of interest and questions from you about this and about website downtime and monitoring in general.
And that’s not a surprise to me – a lot of people simply don’t even consider this as a possibility until it affects them, and by then it’s too late as the damage has been done. So well done for trying to protect your sites and your business – after all, prevention is the best cure of all.
One specific aspect of safeguarding against hackers and other causes of downtime that I spoke about is monitoring. Time is of critical importance with these hacker attacks and the longer it is before you notice something is wrong, the worse it’s going to be.
And that’s why today I want to share a service/company with you that can monitor your website or an online shop (self hosted) for any outages, as well as any issues with performance.
The company is called Pingdom and they have a range of plans available, starting from £9.95 a month all the way up to £329 a month (that plan offers a lot more than simple up-time monitoring).
And they also have a completely free plan so if you only need to monitor one website or server and can’t quite afford the monthly options, this is a great alternative to still ensure that your site is monitored. I personally use free account too and just purchase extra credits to receive SMS notifications.
For a full comparison table between the different plans, head here: https://www.pingdom.com/pricing/ but in essence it just depends on how many sites you have and how popular they are (monthly pageviews etc.) so for a small blog or site the Starter plan should be more than sufficient and possibly even the free one!
One thing I like about Pingdom’s service is that as well as the usual up-time monitoring, their plans also include Real User Monitoring.
What is Real User Monitoring?
RUM basically means tracking actual users on your site, live. This will provide you information on what browser was used, where the visitor is from and most importantly – how fast did the pages of your site load for them.
I’ve spoken about speed before and it’s something that is becoming more and more important. A sluggish and slow to load site just isn’t good enough anymore… and it’s simply not enough to check this yourself and say “yeah, it seems fine”.
There are a number of factors that can affect page load time and the only way to get a clear and accurate representation of this is by using Real User Monitoring.
That way you can monitor your website’s speed by time (maybe during peak hours your website slows considerably), by location (maybe your site is very slow to access from certain areas and you’re losing sales as a result) and by browser – and this includes mobile vs. desktop.
It’s 2015 and by now we all know how important mobile users are and while of course mobile connections are usually slower than home or office, with RUM you can see the exact performance for all of your site’s visitors.
With the variety of devices and browsers being used, as well as the increasing importance of international orders, I think that every business should conduct real user monitoring on their site’s visitors.
Just think about what a difference it can make to your bottom line if you uncover a problem you would never have even guessed existed… it could easily cover years of paying for this service in one go!
There are a variety of notification options (email, in-app, SMS etc.) which is in my view a must-have. After all, what’s the point of paying for a service to let you know as soon as your site is down if you’re only going to see that message hours later!
Another thing I’ve found, that has been a problem for me previously and when using other free services, is that the number of false alarms is minimal. You also get a notification when everything is back online so you don’t waste your time and energy looking into non-existent or temporary issues.
Overall, I’m very pleased with Pingdom and taking everything into account, I’m happy to recommend it to others – particularly their free plan which I think is outstanding value and does actually provide a decent level of service.
While of course not everything is included in the free plan, they have a great system where you can buy individual credits for other features or services as and when you need them.
So for someone who only needs minimal extras, this will work out much better in the long run than paying a monthly subscription but rarely using utilising it!
Of course, there are a number of website monitoring services available online and while there may be some out there that are better or cheaper than Pingdom, I’m happy with the service I get at the price paid (FREE!!!) and sometimes it’s just better to go with a trusted provider who’s been around for a while.
Now just a quick note about the yearly plans, as though I usually suggest going for the annual plans with such services as the savings can sometimes be substantial, in this case you only get 1 month free when paying yearly, which is obviously not a huge discount.
Of course if you know for sure that you’ll be using the service for a full year and paying up-front is not going to negatively affect your cash flow, then by all means, go for it!
However, if you’re just starting out and can’t be certain that you’ll need this service for a full 12 months, then just be safe and opt for the monthly billing plan as you won’t be paying significantly more anyway.
Well that pretty much covers everything in this short introduction/overview of Pingdom.
If you have any questions about website monitoring or want to share your own experiences, then feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll answer you personally.
Otherwise, until next time!
All the best,