Do you know if your website is running right now?
By Steve Claridge on 2nd September 2015
How confident are you that your website is online and working properly as you read this? No peeking now, is your website up and running? When was the last time you looked at it?
As an important part of your practice's marketing and customer acquisition strategy, your website needs to be online 24/7. If there is a problem with it and it goes offline, you want it back up and operational as soon as possible.
Monitoring & Minimising Disruption
We monitor all website's that run on our Audiology Engine platform and we will know within 5 minutes if there is a problem with one of them, which means we minimise disruptions in service to the website's customers.
A website can be down (i.e. offline) for a number of reasons and some of those are not always immediately noticeable. If, for example, you have a third-party supplier running your website for you, they would probably be immediately aware if one of their machines stopped working but they might not notice if your site's DNS entry was removed.
DNS is kind of the phone book of the Web and holds information about where a website is located, so if for some reason that phone book entry was changed or removed (it happens), your website supplier may not notice and your website could be offline. Another reason for unexpected and unnoticed downtime could be if you forget to renew your domain name purchase. There's no point in me listing all possible ways a website can stop working, there are many, the point is you need an easy way to be alerted when something goes wrong.
We use an external monitoring service called Uptime Robot to keep a watchful eye on all the websites we run. The idea behind monitoring services like Uptime Robot is that they will periodically fetch the content of the website's homepage (or page of your choice) and check that the retrieved page is valid. These services will usually perform this check from multiple locations around the world, which serves as an extra sanity check that your website can be seen from all corners of the Web. There are many monitoring services to choose from, we continue to use Uptime Robot because we have been using it since day one and it has never let us down.
I decided to write this post because we had exactly this situation the other day. Our machines were running absolutely fine and all websites were up and running apart from that of one customer, we got an alert from Uptime Robot and started to investigate it immediately, turned out that a third-party's DNS server was down, so even though our infrastructure was ticking along nicely, people wishing to browse the effected site could not because of a fault somewhere else. If we hadn't had Uptime Robot checking the site every 5 minutes we wouldn't have noticed it.
Sisters (and brothers) Are Doing It For Themselves!
Sorry, that's Geoff's input, in case you missed it, it is an Annie Lennox song. Don't rely on your website provider monitoring their own infrastructure, a problem that stops your website may be external to them and not easily noticeable to them. If your provider is not running an external monitoring tool then run one yourself, it is free, simple and real peace of mind.