| Tools

pingdomThis is the first in a series of blog posts on the tools that we find indispensable at OSTraining.

Most of us run a few websites.

Some of the sites are personal blogs, and no-one really cares if they have a few occasional minutes of downtime.

However, some sites, such as OSTraining, are mission-critical. Even if this site is down for a few minutes, there's a good chance that will cost us real money. Either new customers will be scared away or existing customers will be disappointed.

So, we do our best to make sure that our site is always available. One very useful tool to help us monitor our important sites is Pingdom.com. For less than $10 per month it allows to easily keep track of our site's uptime and response time.

Here's an introduction to Pingdom:

Setting up a Pingdom check

Here's an example of a check we have for the OSTraining homepage. Every minute, Pingdom checks out site to make sure it's available.


We've got 3 staff members who get notified immediately of any downtime. We choose to get emails and iPhone notifications of any downtime.


Here's an example of a downtime notification on an iPhone:


Useful tip: check for text

We've been Pingdom customers for about 6 years now. When we first started using, we'd sometimes find that Pingdom wouldn't record any downtime. This was because the server was up, but there was a problem with the site itself.

Now we ask Pingdom to search for a string on the page. For example, under Pingdom's "Optional Settings" we ask Pingdom to report the site as down if the words "WordPress Beginner" don't appear.


Here are those words on our homepage:


Useful tip: check inside pages

We always run at least two checks on our sites. We test the homepage, but also at least one inside page too. This helps to collect more data on our site, but also helps us track another type of edge case. Sometimes a URL problem may emerge, perhaps with the PHP configuration or the .htaccess file. In that case, the homepage may be up but inside pages may not be. Tracking inside pages can help us catch those errors.


Results: Response Time

Pingdom tracks the response time of our sites whenever it visits then. Here's a record of OSTraining.com's speed over the last three weeks:


Results: Uptime

Pingdom also tracks the uptime of our sites. Here's a record of OSTraining.com's uptime and downtime over the last three weeks:


So in total, we have an uptime of 99.75%.

We had 4 outages of 5 minutes, 20 minutes, 20 minutes and 30 minutes. Pingdom gives us the specifics on each one: