A lot of WordPress users are enticed to use the software because it’s free, highly customizable, and highly extendible. We tend to get caught up on the design and functionality of our sites–since that is primarily what we have control over.
However, just as important as our site’s functionality and design may be, knowing that it is actually available to those looking for it is just as important–but not easy to do by yourself. After all, you can’t sit at your computer simply refreshing your website all day and night to make sure it’s still there.
That’s why in today’s post we’re going to talk about some easy ways you can monitor your WordPress site’s uptime using outside services, plugins, or a combination of both.
First: What, Exactly, is Uptime Monitoring & How Does It Work?
First, let’s make sure we all know what uptime monitoring is. Uptime monitoring is simply the act of checking regularly with your server to make sure your website is up and functioning as it should. This is typically accomplished by having a plugin or service “ping” your server and share the results with you.
Each plugin or service that does this tends to offer their own twist on the service (beyond just telling you if your site is up or not) in order to add the most value, as they see it. But we’ll get into that more when reviewing the service and plugin options below.
The Importance of Monitoring Your WordPress Site’s Uptime
Even if we spend a considerable amount of time in front of our computer, looking at our website, that doesn’t mean its always up when we’re not there or that everyone else is seeing it. Obviously if that is happening, especially on a regular basis, it can become a fairly large problem.
There are a few ways this can damage your brand and business:
1. You will be seen as unreliable. If you can’t keep your own website up and running, why should your customers or clients trust you with their business?
2. You will lose potential clients/customers. If they can’t see your products or services, how can they buy?
3. You will lose the trust of search engines, resulting in poorer SEO rankings. If every time they index your site it is down (or simply too many times) then they will give your search results less priority.
Obviously, site uptime is important. And it is not as if hosting companies don’t know it. Uptime is usually one of their top selling points. So I can see how some of you might be wondering why this is necessary. Don’t most hosting services offer a 99% uptime guarantee?
Yes, it’s true that most hosting providers do offer this guarantee, but without monitoring it is impossible to tell whether or not they follow through on that guarantee. That’s where uptime monitoring tools and services come in quite handy. They insure that you’re getting the service you’re paying for and help protect you from the unfortunate consequences of an unreliable host.
Easy WordPress Website Uptime Monitoring with Third Party Services
The services below are a handful of the top third party services recommended for website uptime monitoring. They work with all kinds of sites, not just those running WordPress. These services may be the preferred choice for someone not looking to add another plugin to their install, but still want solid uptime monitoring.
Pingdom is probably the most popular service for monitoring website uptime. They are 100% free and offer several key features and benefits. Obviously the first is that they will monitor your websites uptime and notify you if it goes down. They do this via email and SMS. They also provide detailed performance reports, help you analyze key interactions, and share that data with others on your team. Price: FREE | More Information
Site24x7 can help you monitor servers, apps, and websites. They can track your uptime, downtime, performance and more. Their key features include email, SMS, RSS, or Twitter notifications for site downtime or unavailability. They will also track response times and other performance metrics; along with the tools you need to analyze them. All in all, this will work for any operation large or small but it is definitely designed to be scalable for larger sites and companies. Price: $4.50/month | More Information
Service Uptime offers much the same as the options above: Uptime monitoring, performance monitoring, data analysis, and notifications. Where their service seems to differ is that they drill down a bit and monitor the uptime/availability/performance of different sections of content on your site–making sure your visitors are getting the experience you’ve created. Price: Freemium Plan (Full feature package starts at $4.95/month) | More Information
Monitor.us is a one stop shop for all your site monitoring needs. Their product/service is meant to be a replacement for the complex monitoring software typically used by IT professionals. They offer website monitoring, network monitoring, open API monitoring, and more. For the average WordPress users, this may be a bit overkill. Thankfully you can choose to use just the website monitoring and forget about the rest (unless you want/need it.). When used this way, it really is a free and easy solution that may will enjoy. Price: FREE | More Information
DownNotifier is all about simplicity. It’s free and they cut out even the process of having to create an account in order to get right down to the business of monitoring your uptime. All you have to do is enter your domain, email, and optional phone number so that in the event of your site going down they can notify you via email or SMS. It’s a super simple free tool with a premium upgrade available for those who are interested. Price: FREE | More Information
Are My Sites Up?
Are My Sites Up is designed to be an extremely easy and simplified version of uptime monitoring. Their focus, as opposed to a lot of features, is speed. They want to detect and notify you of a downed site as soon as it happens. Or, as they promise, within one minute. Which is pretty great! Price: $8/month | More Information
Easy WordPress Website Uptime Monitoring with Plugins
The WordPress plugins below are all ways in which you can monitor your site’s uptime. For the most part, they bring the notification and analysis process into the WordPress dashboard, which will probably be preferred by those who don’t want to be jumping around a lot.
The Jetpack plugin by WordPress.com (Automattic) is an extremely popular plugin with a lot of features/extensions bundled together. One of those is uptime monitoring. You can activate the Monitor feature to begin receiving this free service. Notifications are sent via email. Price: FREE | More Information
SensorPress is another extremely simple plugin. Once installed all you have to do is activate it and provide contact details. The plugin will check your site ever 15 minutes (or faster) and immediately notify you if any uptime problems are detected. Price: FREE | More Information
ManageWP is the first of what I’m calling the “‘hybrid” plugin options. The larger ManageWP services–which is designed to help you manage a large number of separately hosted WordPress installs from one dashboard–requires a plugin to work. But its universal dashboard is at ManageWP.com instead of the backend of your WordPress site.
Website uptime monitoring is just one of the many features offered by ManageWP. If that is the only thing you are looking for then I wouldn’t suggest using ManageWP. But, if its core service is valuable to you then its monitoring feature is sure to be helpful as well–since it will monitor all of your websites, not just one. Price: $2.40/website/month | More Information
Real User Monitoring by Pingdom
And finally, we have our last plugin option; the second “hybrid”. This plugin is by the first service we mentioned in the section above–Pingdom. The advantage of using this plugin over just the third party service is that it brings everything into your WordPress dashboard, saving you the hassle of going to other websites to monitor activity. And it’s still free, which is nice. Price: FREE | More Information
It’s never fun to log into your email or social channels to find that people are talking to you and about you because your website is down. Neither is it fun to attempt pulling up your website only to realize it has been down and inoperable for who knows how long, potentially costing you new business, search engine rankings, and dings to your brand reliability.
Thankfully, any of the tools featured above can take care of this by making it easy to monitor your WordPress website’s uptime and downtime. Many of them even offer tools for analysis–both of site uptime and performance.
What I like about the tools showcased in this post are not that you can have your choice between third party and WordPress plugin options–which is nice–but within those there is another scale or spectrum ranging from feature rich to bare bones simplicity.
Personally, as a blogger and content creator, I think I’m a fan of bare bone simplicity. I just want a notification as soon as my site goes down and a recommendation on how to fix it. But I like knowing that more robust options are out there if I ever need them.
What is your preference and how to do you monitor your website’s uptime and downtime? Please take a moment or two to share any thoughts or tips in the comment section below.