Over the past few years, the internet has advanced to such an extent that its operations seem totally seamless. It performs like artificial intelligence, a faceless omnipresent software, independent from human intervention and control.
However, when you look under the surface, you realise that the internet was made by humans, is supervised by humans and occasionally requires human interference.
Whilst, for the most part, the internet functions smoothly, receiving and processing user requests like a well-oiled machine, occasionally users will experience hiccups. These usually materialise into slow load times, pages not responding and entire websites periodically going off the grid.
Whilst these problems are often no more than a mere inconvenience for users, they can be extremely damaging for a website’s performance and reputation. Today, the majority of web hosting providers claim 99.9% uptime, but how can you be sure they’ll follow through on their promise?
So, using a good website monitoring tool is not only essential for preventing the worst case web scenario – a website going down, it also does wonders for improving a site’s performance, by closely monitoring the ways in which the site functions.
Let’s look a little closer at what website monitoring can do for your website…
What is Website Monitoring?
Essentially website monitoring functions by running tests on website in order to establish the site’s performance, checking on things like uptime, load time, security and the functioning of the site’s features.
There are three main types of website monitoring; availability monitoring (uptime), performance monitoring (speed and load time) and functionality monitoring (checking on the performance of the site’s added features, such as online shops or applications).
You could compare website monitoring to cooking, if you like. Imagine a chef, working on their signature marinara. After sautéing the onion and garlic, adding the tomatoes, herbs and seasoning, the chef will allow the sauce to simmer and then taste the sauce (or in other words, run a few monitoring services on it).
In that first steamy taste, they will be judging the sauce against a few standards; for example, its taste, its texture and its scent. For the food to pass the chef’s test, it needs to score highly in each category, as, if one element fails the whole sauce will be ruined.
Well, website monitoring is no different, except apart from testing the taste, texture and scent, website monitoring tests the uptime, speed and functionality of a website. If a website is lacking in one of its performance areas, the entire operation is thrown off.
Therefore, where the chef acts as the consumer, tasting their sauce as if they were a customer sitting in the restaurant, website monitoring acts as the user, re-enacting the process of entering and navigating the site, in order to spot problems and record functionality.
Why Should I Monitor My Website?
To answer this question, let’s look back to our good old friend, the chef. Their income rests solely on the fact that their food tastes good, it’s what puts a roof over their head, fuel in their car and food on their plate. With this in mind, they would be mad not to taste their food before sending it out for scrutiny.
The more complaints they receive from the restaurant, the more precarious their position becomes. Likewise, the higher the bounce rate of your website (the amount of times someone exits your page as opposed to continuing), the lower the overall rating of your website.
Knowing this, why would you forgo the opportunity to check on your website, before anyone has the chance to increase your bounce rate? It’s kind of a no-brainer. However, this question supersedes just the reputation of your websites.
It is likely that your website is linked to your business, or personal brand, therefore a direct reflection of you and your work. If this is the case, a poor performing website could be directly damaging to your business.
Let’s say you own an independent bookshop; if your online shop is constantly crashing on users, they might turn to bigger, more popular and reliable retailers, ruining both your reputation and revenue.
Furthermore, it is no secret that having an online platform, like a website, involves putting your personal information in unknown hands. Nowadays, our data is dispersed all over the web world, therefore it is more important than ever before to have strict security sanctions in place, in order to avoid cyber-attacks and data theft.
Website monitoring can troubleshoot potential security threats before they have an opportunity to come to fruition, securing your website and data through preventative means, rather than permissive means.
How Do I Monitor a Website?
Nowadays, there is a huge amount of competition in the web hosting field, making it increasingly hard to see the trees from the woods when it comes to deciding on the type of website monitoring service you need.
Before you even attempt to decide on your website monitoring service, it is essential that you establish exactly what kind of service you need, as website monitoring does not work on a one-size-fits-all model.
Without defining exactly what you do (and don’t) need from a website monitoring service, you run the risk of paying a premium price for a premium service, which you simply do not need.
With this in mind, the first step in finding the right website monitoring service for you is taking stock of the size of your website, thinking about how many added features it has, what kind of user interaction is requires and how much traffic it generally attracts.
For example, if you have a blog website with a fairly small flow of traffic, then you could probably get away with running fewer checks than if your website is an online shop, with high traffic and personal data being exchanged on a daily basis. There are a few different checks which are run within website monitoring.
The price of website monitoring is dependent on the type of service which your website requires and is generally structured in monthly or quarterly payments.
Different website monitoring providers group their pricing in various ways, however they generally charge per the size and type of your website, i.e. if your website is a small and simple blog on WordPress hosting it will cost, let’s say a couple of pounds per month, whereas an online shop may cost three times the amount to monitor per month.
Let’s look in a little more detail at some of the industry leading website monitoring services…
The Best Website Monitoring Tools 2021
UptimeRobot offer both a free and paid plan, making it perfect for both novices and experienced web users. The free plan includes an impressive 50 monitors, checking on your site every 5 minutes, which is a pretty good deal.
Conversely, the paid plan charges per number of monitors you require. Its cheapest plan costs around £5 for 50 monitors, offering HTTP(S) monitoring, response time monitoring, ping monitoring and pong monitoring, every 1 minute.
On the other side of this scale, their most expensive price plan costs around £600 per month, offering 10,000 monitors, running the same checks, every 1 minute.
#2. Pingdom – Best for Medium to Large Sized Businesses
Pingdom does not have a free package, however they do offer a 14-day free trial, which includes Synthetics and Real User Monitoring.
The paid packages start with the Synthetic Monitoring package at £11 per month, including transaction monitoring, page speed monitoring and uptime monitoring.
The more advanced (and slightly more expensive package) is Real User Monitoring, costing £12 per month and including user experience monitoring, shareable reports and user behaviour metrics.
#3. Uptrends – Best Budget Website Monitoring
Uptrends do not offer a free service; however, they do have a free 30-day trial, which is pretty generous. They have 5 different paid packages, covering a whole host of monitoring needs.
These packages start at £6.12 per month, with 10 monitors, going up to £85.63 per month, with 250 monitors, which for our money, is pretty pricey.
However, they do have a cool feature, whereby you can add on Real User monitoring to your plan, with prices starting at £4.20 per month, for 100,000 monthly page views, going up to £105 per month for a whopping 5 million page views. A nice add-on if user experience is important to you.
#4. StatusCake – Best for Small Sized Businesses
With a starter package which is completely free, StatusCake are strong contenders for the ‘best website monitoring service’ title. This plan includes 10 monitors, checking on the speed and uptime of your page, every 5 minutes.
They also have two paid plans, the ‘Superior’ at £12.49 per month, with 100 monitors, checking every minute and the ‘Business’ plan at £41.66 per month, with 300 monitors, checking every 30 seconds.
#5. Monitis – Best for Custom Monitoring Plans
Monitis unfortunately do not have a free monitoring option, however they do offer a 15-day free trial, so that you can have faith that the service you are paying for is a good investment. However, with their cheapest and most basic plan costing around £0.70 per month, Monitis prove that website monitoring does not have to break the bank.
However, with a reduced price often comes reduced features, and the same can be said for Monitis’ most basic plan, as you only get 1 monitor in this price (although you do get checks every 1 minute, which isn’t bad). Conversely, their premium plan costs around £90 per month, with the added inclusion of 100 monitors in 3 different monitoring locations with, once again, a check carried out every minute.
Furthermore, you can get 20% off the price if you commit to their annual plan, which is a nice money saver. They offer monitoring services across the following areas; server performance, website uptime and speed, network performance and custom metrics.
It’s all well and good understanding the ins and outs of using a website monitoring service, but what you really want to know is whether or not you should be using one. Unfortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to waste your money in the web world.
A nicely marketed add-on here and there can swiftly turn into a pretty hefty bill, so you have to be wise when it comes to investing. Many web services are advertised as ‘essentials’, so that you find yourself in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position, whereby rather than supporting your income, your website is simply draining it.
Whilst there are a fair amount of money traps out there, in our humble opinion, website monitoring is not one of them. Like we mentioned earlier, deciding on both if you need a website monitoring service and consequently what kind of website monitoring service is totally dependent on the size and nature of your website.
You can’t seriously expect success and growth without having a method for checking and maintaining said success and growth. Using a website monitoring service means that you can run these checks automatically, without having to get involved yourself. Plus, there are so many free and cheap options out there, that website monitoring only needs to be a serious investment if you have a seriously big website.
However, if your website is pretty small, like a personal blog or portfolio, then there probably isn’t any need to pay for a website monitoring service, it would just be a waste of money. Despite this, if you want to give website monitoring a try, you can always sign up for a free trial with one of the above services. Here’s a quick overview of the plans in this guide:
- UptimeRobot – Best free website monitoring service
- Pingdom – Best for medium to large sized businesses
- Uptrends – Best budget website monitoring
- StatusCake – Best for small sized businesses
- Monitis – Best for custom monitoring plans
The very fact that you are researching website monitoring suggests that your website is probably a professional one, either linked to a business or designed with the intention to host a fair number of users.
If this is the case, then we would definitely recommend that you use a website monitoring service!