Aug 9 2011
I walked by my favorite burrito shop today. It must have been earlier than normal because they had a sign up- Store Closed. Perhaps the owners decided to sleep in today. Or maybe they always start later on some days of the week. Whatever the case there was no way to get an early morning burrito this morning, at least not from that place.
Websites are like stores, with a minor exception. They never close. Sure there are a few sites out there that have the audacity to only provide service during standard business hours, but for the most part websites are online all the time. For large industrial sites such as Ebay and Amazon this is no problem. They have full time staff working 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In the event of a major issue there will always be someone around to respond to it and resolve it.
Of course senior IT aren’t so lucky. You can always recognize them by their pocket protectors and pagers. The pen pocket protectors are there to adhere to the strict nerd dress code. Usually their shirt isn’t tucked in and they haven’t bathed in a while as well. The pager serves one and only one purpose, and it’s not to enhance their social life. It’s to contact them anytime and anywhere so they can be called into the office to fix the server. Their store is never officially closed.
Of the millions of websites online few of them have the luxury of a full time staff. The person in charge of ensuring the site is online is the same person that works the day shift. There are but a few people working on the site, and sometimes that’s only in their spare time. It’s possible for the site to go down and the site owner wouldn’t know for hours, or maybe even days. During the time the site is down people are arriving at it, many of whom will never return. These are lost customers, lost leads, and lost users. Websites aren’t allowed to have a store closed sign.
Fortunately there’s an easy way to check whether your site’s online, with Monitro. It’s a free utility that will check your site and let you know when it’s down. All you do is register, submit your site, enter the email address to be notified of any issues, and then the interval that you’d like it to be checked. It can be set to check every half hour all the way up to once a day. Once set up site owners can rest assured they’ll be the first to know if their site goes down.
Monitro comes with a bit of whiz bang. The first is that you’re allowed to check up to three URLs for free, (dubbed endpoints in Monitro terminology). If you need more than that you can register for one of their monthly plans. Next are their advanced settings. If the page you’d like to check requires HTTP authentication you can enter the details so Monitro can log in and check it for you. Next you can check for specific text. So let’s say you’d like to ensure the words, “My site is awesome” appear on the page. You can enter them there. It also allows you to check for words you don’t want to appear and be notified if so.
Another noteworthy aspect of Monitro is their API. It’s still in beta testing but developers can contact their support team directly to gain access to it. This will give them the ability to programmatically set up endpoints, update account information and turn monitoring on and off. The last feature is especially helpful if you’re have a planned downtime. It’s nice not to receive a bunch of warning messages if you’re launching a new version of your site over the weekend. Apart from the API, the monitoring can be toggled through the main dashboard.
Monitro is a perfect example of a great online service. They do one thing, do it well, and have a simple product offering for it. The ever popular freemimum pricing model makes it perfect for people to test out, and then sign up for more sites as needed. With it site owners can relax knowing their site is always online or respond immediately if there’s an issue.