In the previous lesson, we covered what website availability means and we learned about some of the challenges that hosting providers are faced with.
In this lesson, we're going to look at methods you can use to monitor your website's availability. So essentially, you are also monitoring your hosting provider's performance of their availability claim.
Now, you could always check your website by sitting at your computer and continuously clicking the refresh button every 2 minutes, 24/7, 365 days per year, but I think you'd get tired of this very quickly. An automated solution makes more sense.
Automated monitoring is when you have a program set up to automatically check your website for availability. You configure it once, then leave it to do the monitoring for you.
You can either purchase (or write) your own software to do this, or you can outsource this to a third party who specialize in website monitoring.
Website Monitoring Software
Website monitoring software enables you to schedule HTTP requests against your website at regular intervals. In other words, you can configure the software to continuously check that your website is available. You can configure it so that, if the website is unavailable, you receive an alert (eg, pager or email).
There are many solutions available and many allow you to monitor other network devices too - not just a web service.
An important thing to remember when using this software is that, you should always install the monitoring software on a separate computer to the one you're monitoring. Even better, you should install the software on two different machines, then use the second installation to monitor the first. That way, if the machine hosting the monitoring software becomes unavailable, you'll know about it. In other words, you're monitoring the monitor!
Examples of monitoring software includes: OpManager, WhatsUp Gold, and Enterprise Monitor.
Website Monitoring Service
If you don't want to install your own monitoring software, you can use a third party provider. Even if you do want to use your own monitoring software, there are still benefits in using a third party.
A monitoring service provides you with the ability to schedule monitoring jobs against your website without you having to install any software. You simply sign up with a third party service, then configure the monitor via an online form.
Some monitoring services have distributed monitors. They have monitors set up from different places around the world. This can be very beneficial. One of the problems with having your monitoring all in one place is that, if there's a local network issue on the monitoring end, it can appear as though your website has become unavailable. This can provide you with a false picture of your website's actual availability. The distributed model goes a long way to eliminating this. It is highly unlikely that there's a local network issue in say, 7 different locations around the world, all at the same time.