Keeping an eye on your site's downtime

December 30, 2009 Off By Chris Hinton

Every now and again I try to get into Geek-Speak and discover that the server’s down. I realise that no hosting company has 100% uptime, but discovering the site’s unavailable is never a nice thing!

I start to worry that it’s been offline all night and I’ve only just noticed, that a load of regular visitors have been unable to… well… visit, and that any first-time visitors who’ve come during the downtime will have been put off forever.

A couple of weeks ago I found a site that promised to monitor my site and let me know if (or rather, when) it went down: Binary Canary.

On the free account you can add up to five monitors, each of which will test a page to see if the server is up and running. I just have a monitor testing Geek-Speak’s home page, since that’ll pretty much tell me whether the server is up, but if I had a secure shopping page or chat server I could check those out too with additional monitors. Binary Canary will check each monitor at fifteen minute intervals and, should there be a failure, e-mail you to let you know via e-mail.

Binary Canary also have paid accounts offering more frequent checks and the ability to notify you by SMS, but for my purposes the free account is just fine.

So last week I got an e-mail on my mobile phone saying the site had failed and was down. I could see the server being offline in my provider’s status page, which meant they knew about it and were working on it. An hour later I got another e-mail saying that the site was back up again. In the end I couldn’t do anything to fix the situation myself, but I knew how long the server had been down for and that in itself was a great relief! At least I knew I hadn’t missed a whole night’s traffic!

If site uptime is something that’s of particular concern to you, or if you just want to see what the uptime’s like because you’re nosey, Binary Canary is a free and effective solution. Why not try it out and, if you’ve found it particularly useful, tell us in the comments? Or, if you have another solution that you make use of, tell us about that too.