Despite the fact that we are being monitored day and night by an entity that knows almost everything (even what we had for brunch on Nov. 5), and yes I'm talking about moon people, we still have an unsatisfied need of knowing what happens to our belongings.

Be it a website or a web app, we need to know what happens with it, while we are away, disconnected from the interwebs. But often we ask ourselves how can we achieve this without paying a dime?

Luckily, nowadays there are a lot of tools that can help us in our quest for monitoring stuff, and when I mean stuff I don't mean that website you build in the 9th grade for Mister Snookums.

Right, let's get to it then. What do we have available at the moment and what works out of the box? Here's a short list I made with the ones I find more useful:

  1. New Relic
  2. Port Monitor
  3. Jetpack monitor
  4. isup.me

Ok. Now lets see what each one does and if it's any good.

New Relic

We all saw the ads and some of us even got a shirt from these guys, and so the question arises, are they any good? At first glance you might think that this tool is for sysops only. And you may be right to some degree. The guys and gals at New Relic simplified the whole monitoring your server process.

They made it in a such a way that anyone who knows how to open up a terminal or command line and type, can install the monitoring daemon and start monitoring their web app or website (And yes there is a difference between the two!). The amount of information that these guys can gather, from your server or app, is amazing.

Everything is monitored and is presented in a pretty nice UI and on top of it all its customizable, so you can checkout only the stuff you're interested in. CPU usage, memory usage, bandwidth usage, are among the few things that the guys at New Relic have prepared to monitor.

Port Monitor

is the brainchild of Francis Yáñez. This tool basically does what the name says and more. You can use it for website monitoring and server monitoring.

It also records uptime, response times (performance) and downtime causes. The awesome thing about this app is that you can generate your own custom reports and each time something happens it will email you the cause.

I've been using it for some time now and it is super accurate. I mean it sends me emails for stuff that happen to this website (and stuff do happen, believe you me!) in a matter of minutes, and I always see what usually causes the downtime (It's usually the host provider!). As featured on its main page you can see a short list of the features that Port Monitor has:

  • Check websites status
  • Monitor for content changes
  • Ping servers to test if they are alive
  • Check any service with custom TCP ports
  • Monitor DNS records
  • Automatic checks every 60 seconds

I would say that these are more than enough for a free service that on top of it all offers an API and is developer friendly.

Jetpack Monitor

The Monitor extension for Jetpack is one of the new kids on the block. This monitoring app is targeted towards WordPress websites, because as you may know Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that offers similar features to self hosted WordPress websites as the ones hosted on WordPress.com.

Clicky, clicky and Jetpack is installed. Activating the Monitor extension is as easy as typing this word. After you've done all this the Jetpack servers will start checking your site every five minutes. Which is good, because you'll get an email that says either Bad News or Good News.

isup.me

We all know you're busy like a bee, but what if you're away from your computer and you get an email from a friend that says: "Hey man, is it just me or your awesome website is down?", what happens then? Well you can use isup.me and see if the website is actually down or it's just him.

Of course it was just him!

Bonus Apps

hurl.it

Not really a monitoring app but you can use it to make GET / POST / PUT / PATCH / HEAD / OPTIONS / DELETE requests. You can also add parameters or authentication to your request. Useful on many occasions when you just want to a test a certain output of some feature you're currently building.

builtwith.com

And last but now least, our last mention of the day is not really related to the ones above but it's useful because you can check the technologies behind a website.

For example did you know that isup.me is built using Ruby? Or that YouTube uses Joomla (Wait what?).

One more thing before I sign off, some of these tools are really useful for anyone that has a website they want to keep an eye on, so my advice is to go and check them out because they are worth it.

Alrighty then, hope I haven't bored you to death, If you know any more tools, that I forgot to add to the list, please let me know in the comments.

Until next time, code long and prosper!

Stefan

*Note: This article has not been sponsored in any way by the services mentioned above (But if they want to, I don't mind!).