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Hosting: Monitoring Uptime
Monitoring uptime is often forgotten by the most scrupulous webmaster Ė a lot of people will just check their site daily and thatís the end of that Ė but it is important for two reasons. Firstly, if your hosting package comes with an uptime guarantee, you will need to monitor your site to make any claims for downtime compensation, and checking once a day just isnít an adequate test of how reliable your host is. Secondly, if you know quickly that your site is down, you can contact your host and they can do something about it faster. This is particularly important if your site is used for business purposes.
Usually, when you visit a website, you do so via HTTP, a communication protocol, the details of which are not important at present. You visit the site, and it loads, so you know that the server is switched on and that the HTTP software server is working correctly. However, software servers other than HTTP servers run simultaneously on your hostís server: POP servers, FTP servers and so on. You may also use PHP services, which will need checking as well.
There are companies which provide what is called hosted monitoring; this is a service whereby the company runs monitoring software on their server which regularly checks the status of whichever servers you ask them to monitor for you. Most monitoring companies will let you choose which uptime you want to monitor: HTTP, FTP and so on. There are free monitoring companies which will just monitor the HTTP server for you, but they will not do so particularly regularly; if you want to have your site monitored with any degree of seriousness, you will need to pay for a service which checks the servers at least every ten minutes.
The major advantage of hosted monitoring is that the company will have several servers all over the world which can all be testing your site. That means that if one internet service provider is down for some reason, it wonít skew your results. These companies can also send you monitoring bulletins in a broad variety of different ways: via phone, email, SMS, MSN, pager and so on. Alertra is one good monitoring company, and it has a free trial if you want to try the service out. Many hosting companies offer free trial periods, and some also offer a free HTTP monitoring service.
However, a cheaper (or even free) option is "in-house" monitoring, in which you download or buy some monitoring software yourself and run it from your home computer. There is opensource software available, such as Netstatus Monitor 2.0, and Nagios.
Author: Natalie Catchpole