There is a good chance that at some point your websites will go down, regardless of where it is hosted. Most hosting platforms typically will promise you around 99% uptime, and that's because 100% is pretty much impossible. Things happen, such as CDN's going down or physical servers crapping out that are outside of the hosting companies hands sometimes. Alot of hosting companies tend to lease server space from even larger tech companies. If you are on a shared hosting account, with potentially hundreds of other websites then you are also at the mercy of any of these other websites.
Other times though, there is something that you can do about it. If you use GoDaddy for example, I recently discussed 3 quick ways to bring your site back up if goes down.
I have been using UptimeRobot (not sponsored) for over a year now to check the status of my websites. The main reasons? It's free, they have an app and they have consistently kept me informed. Their free plan is generous enough that it matches most of my needs.
So keep reading to find out the benefits that UptimeRobot provides.
Why you'll want to use it
The free plan offers 50 available monitors that you can set up however you wish. That includes checking the HTTP status of any URL, pinging an IP or even checking for keywords on a page. 50 monitors should be more than enough to handle any basic monitoring needs on your websites. I, for example, simply have monitors set to check the status of my homepage. If my homepage is down, then my website is down. If I had multiple endpoints however, each on separate processes, then I could definitely set up checks for each of them.
Monitors for the free tier run every 5 minutes, which means that at most, you will only have to wait 5 minutes before you are notified that your website is down. This works for both when UptimeRobot detects that your site is down and when it goes back online. For the most part you will be notified by email, but, if you have the mobile app installed on your phone, you can also configure monitors to send you a notification through the app as well.
You can also set up a custom status page so that you can offer your audience a view of the state of your website.
You can set up a custom domain to point to your status page as well. This would be a great page to link your users to in place of a more traditional 500 error message. You can also show your users a timeline of uptime/downtime.
Not quite 99%, but close enough.
The free plan only gives you 1 status page that is branded with the UptimeRobot logo. If you just need to have more customization however, then the pro plan gives you unlimited status pages plus the ability to remove the branded logo.
You can check out my status page right over here.
On the free plan, notifications are sent through standard email messages. It's a relatively simple notification, but essentially, it tells you that your website is down. Once your site is back up, you will also get another notification letter you know just how long your website has been down.
These notifications are sent out in 5-minute intervals be default, but you do have the option of extending the time frame if you so wish.
Users on any of the paid plans will get the benefit of being able to set up SMS notifications as well. While convenient, this might be more beneficial for say a Dev Ops team of some sort.
If you download the free app you can also set up monitors to alert you there as well. And you can also view a history of your entire downtime, which is surprisingly useful in checking the overall performance of your server.
The pro plans include features that could definitely be beneficial depending on your web traffic. The main one being 1-minute notifications. You will not have to wait 5 minutes in order to know that your site is down. This could be useful, but it really depends on the nature of your project and just how much downtime you can afford.
Multi-location checks: UptimeRobot will perform checks from various geolocations to help prevent false positive notifications.
SSL certificate monitoring: You can set up monitors to alert you when your SSL certificates are getting close to expiration. I would consider that useful, as personally, having to monitor the status of 5, 6 or 7 websites at any one time can become challenging. Having all notifications set up on one platform with a giant green "ok" status symbol is surprisingly helpful.
The pro plan also includes a 24 month history of your monitors. Again, this might not be the most useful for your typical blog or portfolio website, but for something with substantial traffic and complexity (and a dev ops team) this could definitely be valuable information.
A downtime monitor is essential these days to ensure a good user experience. Having UptimeRobot checking this blog daily has helped me to turn potentially all-day outages into a 10-minute server restart.
Really the best part is that the free-tier is fully funtional and very reliable overall for most small to mid-size projects. And if you ever find yourself handling millions of users per day, then the pro features are definitely worth checking out as well as the price is very affordable.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.
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