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I recently wrote an article about why you should use a VPS instead of shared hosting. Those who read the article have obviously now upgraded to a VPS, because my argument was so compelling. Right? Of course you have. But all joking aside, if you do have your own web server, it’s very important to keep a close eye on what resources are being consumed.
Maybe your server is under-powered, or maybe it’s too powerful and you’re wasting money when you are not utilizing it optimally. Monitoring your web server will not only tell you this kind of useful information, but also help you in troubleshooting problems if and when they arise.
There are a number of paid systems that allow you to monitor both your web server and web sites, but using one or more of the tools listed in this article will not only save you some money, but give you similar functionality to those services that cost a lot of money.
Monitor.us is a simple to use, no frills monitoring tool that allows you to monitor both your server, and your web sites. Setting up websites with simple server monitoring tools like ping is extremely simple to do. More in-depth server monitoring set ups for processes like CPU, RAM, and disk utilisation can be a little tricky. So make sure you’re comfortable with using the command line interface (CLI) before giving this a try.
With the Monitor.us free account, there are no limitations as to how many websites and servers you can monitor. However, it will only poll your servers and web sites once every 30 minutes; and it will only keep 24 hours worth of stats.
But for $5 a month, you can upgrade, and have your servers/websites polled as often as once a minute. It will also save a whopping 2 years of stats. Monitor.us is a really great tool if you have the technical knowledge to setup the application on your server via the CLI, but even if you don’t, it can be easily setup to carry out some simple monitoring without you going near the CLI.
Monitor.us also has a suite of mobile apps that help you keep an eye while on the move.
What I really love about Uptime Robot, is the fact that it’s just so simple to set up and get working. We’ve featured Uptime Robot here briefly on MUO before, but it has matured a lot since then. Unlike the other tools listed in this article, Uptime Robot won’t monitor your server hardware, like RAM and CPU etc, but what it does do is monitor your server and websites via ping, or a HTTP request.
Unlike Monitor.us, Uptime Robot will poll anything you monitor every 5 minutes, but there is a maximum of 50 devices that you can monitor on any one account. If a check fails, you will instantly receive an email notification telling you so. Alerts also come in via Twitter, SMS, or mobile push. Uptime Robot will generate stats like the overall uptime of your websites/servers, and also the response times from the last 24 hours.
Uptime Robot’s aim is to provide simple, yet effective monitoring for everyone — and it has definitely ticked that box. The time it takes from signing up, to getting your kit monitored is literally minutes, and it’s all 100% free. What more could you ask for?
I saved the best until last here. New Relic is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to server monitoring, and it’s what I use to keep an eye on my servers. New Relic isn’t quite as simple to get set up as the some of the other services in this article, but once it’s running – boy is it good! Here’s a list of just some of the things that New Relic can monitor for you:
- CPU utilisation
- RAM usage
- Disk I/O and capacity stats
- Network throughput
- How much memory & CPU specific processes are consuming
- Server load average
- Plus much more…
As well as the free plan, there are a number of paid plans that New Relic offer, but with the free account offering real-time stats on as many servers as you like, most users probably won’t need a paid account.
The only limitation on the New Relic free account, is that you can only see 24 hours worth of data, but if you check up on your servers regularly (which you should be doing) then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Unlike Monitor.us, New Relic offers step-by-step instructions on how to setup their monitoring system via the CLI. It takes just a couple of minutes to get working, and is really straight forward.
New Relic also offers an iPhone app with push notifications for monitoring your server performance anytime and anywhere.
Although New Relic does require a small amount of command line work to get it up and running, it is a lot more simple to set up than Monitor.us. However, the trade off here is that New Relic doesn’t offer monitoring for specific web sites. So if you’re only using New Relic, you may not know if one particular website goes down. Therefore, I would personally recommend using a combination of both New Relic for monitoring your hardware, and Uptime Robot for monitoring your websites. That’s what I personally do, and it’s working really well.
So if you’ve mastered the art of blogging, and need a more powerful server to host your site on, make sure you’re monitoring it closely, as downtime problems could cost your dearly.
Is there a monitoring tool that you use, which isn’t listed here? If so, I’d love to hear what you’re using to keep an eye on those pesky servers.