If you own a website, you would expect it to be online at all times. The availability of the site can be crucial to your business, especially when the website is the business. Usually, uptime is defined as the total time your website is available divided by the total time. In this article, we will see if this is really the case, and we will show you five free online tools that you can use to monitor the uptime of your website.
- What exactly counts as uptime?
- Why is it important to monitor your site uptime?
- Uptime at ICDSoft
- Uptime monitoring tools
- 1. Uptime Robot
- 2. SiteUpTime
- 3. Montastic
- 4. StatusCake
- 5. Site24x7
- In conclusion
What exactly counts as uptime?
Calculating uptime should be a simple formula. In the best-case scenario, a website will be available 100% of the time. Nonetheless, you will come across different interpretations of what counts as uptime (or downtime, respectively). Here are a few situations that may or may not count towards the uptime of a given website, depending on the point of view of the hosting company or the site visitors.
- Maintenance. Any planned maintenance is often not counted as downtime. When the total uptime is calculated, the maintenance period is subtracted from the total time. This is why, if you are looking for a hosting account or some other online service, you may inquire how long maintenance periods are, and how often they occur.
- Network issues. Your server may be up and running, but there may be some connectivity issue that prevents some (or all) visitors from reaching your site. Even if there is no problem, the sheer volume of people opening the site simultaneously may lead to certain network throughput limitations, so some people will simply see an error message instead of your actual website.
- Degraded performance. Increased server load may reduce the website speed significantly. An embedded third-party service, which experiences a problem, or some scripting error, may interfere with the proper operation of your site. From the point of view of the hosting company, the website is up. From the point of view of site visitors, the site is not working.
You may come across other scenarios when you or the site visitors may believe the site is not working, while your hosting provider claims the opposite. It is important to know that there isn’t such a thing as 100% uptime, though. While some companies say they provide such a service, this is true only for a period of time. In reality, any website can be unreachable for multiple reasons. This is actually something we have seen through the years.
A government website being inaccessible due to a massive DDoS attack; a CDN going offline after a failed system update, making thousands of websites inaccessible for a period of time; a hosting provider suffering a major DDoS attack against its nameservers, resulting in millions of websites being affected. During the past ten years, even a number of Google services such as Search, YouTube, Gmail, etc., have been offline multiple times. These are all real-life examples, which show that any company and any website can experience some downtime. This is why it is more realistic to expect 99.9% uptime, but not full 100%.
Why is it important to monitor your site uptime?
The most obvious answer is to make sure that people are able to reach it. There is no doubt that your site should be up and running at all times. Any downtime can have a negative impact. Here are several reasons why it is important to monitor the uptime of your website:
- You can take prompt action. If you monitor your website, you will know if there is any problem right away. Depending on the problem, you can either take action, or contact the support team of your hosting provider. If you do not monitor your site, you may not find out it is down for quite some time, especially if you don’t check it every now and then or if a customer does not call you to inform you about that.
- Ensure that you are reliable. Keeping an eye on the uptime of your website allows you to keep track of your hosting provider, as downtimes may occur at any time of the day (or night), and online businesses should be up 24/7. Selecting a provider with a stable service will ensure that your site visitors and potential customers will be able to access your site at all times. They will see you as a reliable partner. The same is valid if you want to get in touch with potential investors – they will definitely want to see how your website and the services you offer perform.
- Adhere to an SLA. If you offer a service, monitoring the uptime of your site can help you to determine if you will adhere to the Service Level Agreement with your customers. Such information can help you to forecast if you will meet the SLA, so you can take measures if necessary. The uptime information will also tell you if your hosting provider adheres to their own SLA with you. Not all providers sign an SLA, though.
- Protect your (brand) reputation. Proactive monitoring can save your reputation as any prolonged downtime will have a negative effect on your business. If you operate only online, any issue can be detrimental, especially if the downtime takes longer. Monitoring your site will help you to keep the trust of your customers and your partners.
- Security. If your website goes offline for some reason, this could indicate a security problem – a DDoS attack, a breach, etc. Finding out promptly that the site is not accessible will help you to mitigate the damage and restore the site as soon as possible.
- SEO. The longer your website is not accessible, the more likely it is for search engines to rank it further back in their results. If you monitor the site and something happens, taking action as soon as possible will allow you to protect your site ranking. After all, you cannot afford losing everything you have achieved in terms of content, backlinks, and probably paid ad campaigns due to outages/downtimes you have not noticed on time.
Uptime at ICDSoft
We always strive to offer the best possible service. We mentioned that 100% uptime does not really exist, so we do not guarantee such uptime. We have quite a lot of servers that have had full 100% uptime for quite some time, though. To get up to these numbers, we invest very heavily in hardware, as hardware issues can cause significant downtime. We use server-grade hardware with multiple power supplies per machine, each connected to separate power line, reliable Intel Xeon CPUs and redundant SSD arrays as reliable hardware is the first and most important layer.
Our goal is to offer the best possible hosting service to all our customers, and it is not a surprise that we received a Top Tier Award by Review Signal in their WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks for 2022. Review Signal is an independent company, and their benchmark tests are considered by many to be the most respected ones in the industry. They have measured the uptime of our servers using two different tools, and both show uptime of 99.95% and up.
Any planned server maintenance we perform is announced well in advance to give you a heads up. This includes both hardware upgrades and software updates. We also have an automated maintenance notification system that alerts customers for any planned maintenance operations.
Uptime monitoring tools
You will find quite a lot of tools to monitor the uptime of your website. We have selected five free ones, which you can use for various types of websites. They are all online tools, so you will not have to install anything on your computer or on your hosting account. Of course, if you have an important website, you may want to consider using a paid tool that will give you access to various advanced options.
1. Uptime Robot
This is one of the best tools in terms of the features that are offered for free. You can add up to 50 different URLs and Uptime Robot will check if they are online every 5 minutes. You can select different options – standard site monitoring, HTTPs monitoring that will tell you if there are any SSL errors, Ping monitoring that will check if the site IP is reachable, Port monitor to check specific ports (such as an outgoing email port), and Keyword monitoring that will check if a specific word is present on the monitored page. For your convenience, you can receive incident reports via email, or you can use an API. Uptime Robot has been around since 2010.
Another tool that offers a feature-rich free plan. Apart from the standard website monitoring, you can monitor specific services (SMTP, POP3, FTP, DNS) or a custom port. You can choose between 11 different locations worldwide to monitor your site. What sets SiteUpTime apart from other tools is the detailed reporting you will have access to with the free plan. With a few clicks you can access a daily report or a monthly summary of outages, and you can even generate a graphical report for any period of your choice. You can use this information on your site or for some presentation, for example.
This tool allows you to add up to 9 URLs and to monitor them every 30 minutes. You can add a domain name, a URL with a port number and an endpoint, or even a URL with login credentials. Montastic allows you to check if a word/phrase is present or not on a specific page. If you need a status page for your website, you can easily create one and customize it with your logo. An advantage over similar monitoring tools is that Montastic allows you to add custom services and set their status (operational, degraded, etc.), so you can use the status page for other purposes as well.
If you need something more than simple URL monitoring, then StatusCake may be the solution you have been looking for. You can create a test to monitor HTTP, HEAD (a site without the body), TCP (various services, including FTP, game servers), DNS (including A record), or SSH. You can even create Push tests where a server will send its status to StatusCake, and not the other way around. The latter can be used to test cron jobs, for example. Page speed, SSL and domain monitoring along with detailed reporting are among the other perks that you will receive with the free tier package.
When you sign up for an account, you will start using a 31-day evaluation account, which gives you access to lots of paid tools. If you do not upgrade, the account will be downgraded to their free plan automatically. The latter allows you to monitor up to 10 servers/websites with a total of 50 monitors for them. You can use a mobile app to monitor your site and receive email or push notifications if any problem arises. The free tier of Site24x7 doesn’t have as many options as the other tools we have listed above, but it does what it is supposed to – it monitors if your site is up for free.
The websites above offer paid plans as well, but all features we have mentioned are available with their free-tier plans. We have not listed providers that offer limited trial plans that expire after a certain period, but only ones that will monitor your site for free for as long as you have an account.
The tools we have mentioned are suitable for monitoring for personal websites or small online stores. They will allow you to monitor your sites and some other important related services, so if any issues arise, you can act right away. If you run a large online store and your business depends on it, so you want to be sure that you will not miss leads or revenue, if you want to monitor something more than the site uptime, or if you are in charge of an important project where every minute counts, you should look for a paid monitoring solution.
The uptime of your website is something you should really pay attention to. You can have the best possible content, and you can use a very fast server. This won’t matter, however, if something goes wrong, and you are not aware of the site being down for quite some time. Some failed automatic update can mess up your site, for instance. Any prolonged downtime can have a drastic negative impact on your brand reputation and on your sales.