While most good hosts can guarantee 99.99% site uptime, unexpected problems with hardware, operators, and your own actions related to e.g. automatic with software updatemay cause the website to shut down.

For a private website, problems with temporary access or performance may still be swallowable, but for a business website it can lead to loss of sales, loss of confidence in the brand, or worsening of the position in search results.

However, it is possible to counteract such situations by reducing their undesirable effects to a minimum. If your website stops working for any reason, you can be notified instantly, allowing you to take immediate steps to resolve the issue - and also let your customers know via social media, for example, that you've taken action to fix it.

How do I get notified of a problem on the website?

Use one of the site monitoring services that will regularly test your site for accessibility issues and notify you whenever they are caught. Minor issues, such as a broken plugin, can stop your site working even if it's technically still online, which any good monitoring service will notice.

Free tools for monitoring website availability

You don't have to invest in this type of monitoring right away. In many situations, free tools are completely sufficient even if you want to monitor more than just one of your sites. Most of them in the free versions will notify you of an incident via email or push notifications on mobile devices. Here are 3, in my opinion, the best free tools for monitoring your site's availability:

StatusCake

StatusCake

StatusCake has been around since 2012 and is a fantastic application for monitoring not only your site's availability but also its performance. The extensive network offers around 50 testing sites located in around 30 countries.

Its users range from small businesses that use the feature-rich free plan to large companies that need slightly more advanced monitoring features.

Here are some of its features that StatusCake offers. Not all are available in the free plan.

  • Availability time monitoring - HTTP, TCP, SSH, DNS, SMTP, PING & PUSH
  • Instant and reliable alerts - email, SMS and third party apps such as Slack, Telegram.
  • Analysis of causes
  • Monitoring of page speed
  • SSL monitoring
  • Domain monitoring

The free plan allows you to monitor the availability of your site at an interval of 5 minutes.

Uptime Robot

UptimeRobot

Operating in Malta UptimeRobot has been around since 2010 and has become a very popular and respected provider of website monitoring services. Your sites will be tested from over 20 locations worldwide.

Uptime Robot allows you to monitor up to 50 sites at an interval of 5 minutes for free. You can also perform a basic level of damage monitoring by checking if such or such word/phrase is visible on the page. This is a simple way to monitor whether a page is displaying correctly. If a particular word/phrase is not found you will receive an alert about the problem.

Better Uptime

Better Uptime is a relatively young project, but it has ambitions to become a leading player in its industry. Whether they succeed, time will tell, but for now you can use their free plan to monitor your site, which allows you to track up to 10 pages in a 3 minute interval.

Monitoring of our website is carried out from four locations located in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. This may seem small in comparison to those mentioned above, but in practice it is completely sufficient. If the site becomes unavailable for one location, a test is run from another location to confirm if this is the case, and then from a third location. If the test from three locations shows the site is unavailable you receive an email notification.

Better Uptime

For the more demanding

If you run a small business website, a small shop, then the basic monitoring available in the free plans should be sufficient. However, if you run a larger project, you may expect a bit more from a monitoring and notification system. In such a situation, analyse the possibilities offered by the above-mentioned tools in paid plans. Or immediately direct your gaze towards solutions such as Pingdom, Uptrends, Uptime360 and similar.

For example, if you have a person or team responsible for the technical aspects of your website, you may be interested in the incident management system in the Better Uptime tool. A problem detected can be reported automatically to the relevant unit of people in charge of your website. Not only an alert will be sent, but also a screenshot of the page to help identify the problem faster. What's more, communication within the incident can take place within the team taking care of the site. It's quite an innovative solution that is worth looking into.

Not working for me

If you are using a standard hosting service it may happen that the monitoring system will not be able to control the availability of your site because the server protection system blocks its traffic. So make sure that your provider does not reject this type of activity, and if this is the case, ask if this can be changed.

Sometimes the monitoring system traffic can also be clipped by your site's plugins, such as WordFence. You will then need to find out which IP addresses the tests are running from and add them to the whitelist in the plugin's WAF configuration. 

Summary

All the tools mentioned above work very well in practice. So it doesn't really matter which one you choose, especially if you simply want to monitor the availability of one or more of your sites. It's just a matter of individual preference.

If you want to detect a problem as quickly as possible, Better Uptime from our list will probably be the best solution here because of the lowest interval of tests performed in the free version, which is 3 minutes. Interestingly, also in the paid version Better Uptime stands out in this field, offering an interval of 30 seconds. The question is whether such a high frequency of tests is necessary in your project?

If you use WordPressHowever, in my opinion it is better not to use them and not to stuff the website with other plug-ins if it is not necessary. Running tests in any of the mentioned tools is extremely simple and you do not need to take any actions related to integration of your website. You just need to enter its address into monitoring and that's all.

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2 Comments

  1. Free monitoring has also https://ping.pl. What distinguishes it from the aforementioned services is the fact that it monitors websites from Polish locations, which certainly has an impact on response time and sometimes on the level of availability.

    1. Thanks Adam for the link. In general, the services I wrote about monitor the site from many different locations, usually spread around the world. If a test from location X shows a problem, another test is run from another location to confirm or rule it out, and then another from yet another location (this can often be configured to suit your needs). As a result, false alarms are virtually eliminated.
      I've been testing BetterUptime for almost 2 months now and it performs superbly. Instant notifications, practically zero mistakes, great incident management and much more... I recommend trying it out.

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