It is normal to assume that a web site is visible to everyone all the time but this is not necessarily the case. We host over a hundred websites for our clients and use various monitoring methods to check the status of their sites and to advise us when they are ‘down’.
Over the past few weeks we have had more exceptions than previously experienced where a website has not been accessible but the systems we use to monitor it have not worked as intended. Status Cake is a tool that actively monitors a site’s status by checking the home page (or another) is live and issues alerts if there is failure. However the default out-of-the-box settings mean that it can misreport and suggest the site is fine even when it is not.
Using the generic status codes means that as long as a domain is serving a page it is enough to satisfy the monitoring software that the entire site is up and live, this approach can give a false positive. A way around this is to ask the monitoring software to search for a specific string in a web page and then point the app to that instance. When it runs it’s regular test, if this string is found then all is good, if not then an alert can be sent to notify the web master of the event.
There are several good web-based monitoring services out there and some offer a free option for single sites. The free versions provide only a basic service whereas more advanced features such as the ‘string search’ above will require a subscription or incur a cost. If you run an e-commerce site then downtime is costly so a PRO licence is essential. This allows you to monitor the website more frequently so that is can be tested every minute. Additional tests can also be executed allowing you to monitor additional features such as checking the validity of the sites SSL.
If you are serious about your website and its uptime then we strongly advise using a tool such as Statuscake to keep an eye on up time.