There’s a 100% chance your website will go down at one time or another.
Maybe it’s down right now? Go check and come right back…
Was it down? I hope not!
Downtime may only last a few seconds or a couple of minutes, but you won’t know it’s happened unless you have a tracking tool in place.
If your site goes down too often, and for too long, contact your host to see if they can shed any light on why it’s crashing so much.
Automatically check every five minutes
There are a lot of tools around for automatically checking the status of your website, and quite a few of them are free.
One of our favourite tools for automatically checking and alerting us when there’s an issue is the online service, Uptime Robot. It does a lot for a free tool, and it looks really nice too.
Here’s a screenshot of the dashboard.
Uptime Robot – how it works
It’s free and monitors up to 50 domain names.
The monitoring system works by requesting your website’s headers (which doesn’t distort your analytics data) every five minutes.
- If the system receives a ‘200-ok‘ message, it does nothing (your website is running so there’s nothing to worry about).
- If it receives a ‘404-page not found‘, a ‘500-internal server error‘ or any equivalent message, it sends further requests every 30 seconds to establish the severity of the problem.
- If your website continues delivering the same negative response codes, Uptime Robot sends you an alert via email, SMS, Twitter or to an app like Pushover.
- And when your website comes back online, the system sends you another message to let you know your website is working again.
All in all, it’s a very useful tool for keeping an eye on your website’s uptime so you don’t have to.
Another reason for using a tool like this is to alert you to a potentially more problematic scenario – forgetting to renew your domain name.
It’s easily done (I hold my hand up to this at least once), especially if you don’t use the auto-renew function used by many domain registrars.
If your site goes down because the domain expired, you will receive an alert within a few minutes of your site shutting down, so you can go ahead and renew the domain without losing too much traffic or business.
Getting started with Uptime Robot
All you have to do is create an account, add the domains you want to track, set up the notification method and let Uptime Robot deal with everything else.
In an ideal world you would go through this process and never hear from the site again. From experience, this won’t happen, but at least you’ll know when your site goes down.
Something else you shouldn’t do: panic when you receive the first notification.
Sure, it’s scary, but it might not be as scary as you think.
Give your site a minute or two as it may just be a blip on the server that naturally (and quickly) corrects itself.
Detailed stats over an extended period
Once you’ve had the tool tracking your site for a little while, you can monitor how your site is performing with regards to downtime.
Here’s a couple of reports from two sites we’re monitoring. The first is from a site that has very little downtime, the second is from a site that’s currently having a few issues with its hosting company.
Here’s the link again – Uptime Robot. I hope you find the service useful.