Website availability is one of the most important issues that both webmasters and web hosts need to address. For non-mission critical sites (such as hobby sites), an occasional downtime is not really much of a problem, but for those engaged in ecommerce, a minute of downtime could spell thousands of dollars in lost revenues.
It is therefore important for webmasters like you to make sure that your site(s) remain(s) available, not just when it’s convenient, but round-the-clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Although a 100% uptime might well be impossible, there are ways that you can ensure that your web host keep to its uptime guarantee.
How? Via web site and network monitoring.
Network monitoring, according to the Hosting Guidebook, is the proactive measurement of the performance of your computer hardware and communication pipelines to ensure they operate within a specified range. At its most basic, this simply means notification in case your system fails to work or becomes unavailable and typically involves the monitoring of: ping, port, URL and the web site. It is therefore only recommended if your site can afford some downtime while the system is being repaired.
But if you want to avoid system or network outages, then advanced network monitoring might be for you. This involves measuring the performance of such things as CPU and memory usage, server load, disk utilization, and could include SNMP polling of every piece of equipment on the network and as well as measurement of the response time of transactions and applications that are critical to your bandwidth utilization.
All these can be done remotely, and supported by hardware monitoring devices (or probes) or through software or a combination of both. Information collected include packets sent, bytes sent, packets dropped, statistics by host, by conversations between two sets of addresses, and certain kinds of events that have occurred.
This allows network administrators to find out how much bandwidth or traffic each user is imposing on the network and what Web sites are being accessed. An alert is then sent in the event that any of these measurements fall beyond preset boundaries so corrective action could be taken before the situation became critical.
Examples of network monitoring services include:
* We Manage Servers – Enterprise Network Monitoring
* NGEN – Remote Network Monitoring/Administration
* SplitInfinity – Network Monitoring
Website monitoring services include:
* WebSitePulse – mission-critical subscription-based remote website, web server and web transaction monitoring service
* Alertra – web site monitoring service
* EasyMonitor – free service, level of monitoring is perfect for anyone with a personal web site or file server
* Dotcom Monitor – advanced web site testing and monitoring service
Some tools you or your web host can use in monitoring website availability and performance are:
* IPAUDIT – useful for monitoring intrusion detection, bandwidth consumption and denial of service attacks
* Nagios – an open source host, service and network monitoring program
* GFI Network Server Monitor – commercial software which checks networks & servers for failures and fixes them automatically, before your network users notice them; limited freeware version is also available
* Advanced Host Monitor 4.07 – system management tool that continuously monitors servers availability and performance
* Web Site Monitoring – Performance Monitoring 1.1 – free website monitoring application released under GPL (uptime monitoring tool)
* Web Site Monitoring – free, open-source website (uptime) monitoring tool under GPL
* NetStatus Monitor – a php/MySQL script from TLC Scripts that provides a visual picture of the status of various services across multiple servers and is ideal for webhosts that want to provide a page where clients can view the status of all of the webservers and their services.
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