Suppose you already have redundancy systems in place, the system would not be complete if you don’t have a way to tell when the site has went down. That’s why we have monitoring tools of all kinds, even if you have a personal site or dozens of servers, it’s best to find out about shortages immediately.
On this occasion, we are presenting a tool by Apica that allows you to monitor several websites in a fairly simple manner.
External is better
When your site goes down, it could be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s not even your site or your hosting fault but circumstances of the complex network that’s Internet.
The first step is to accept that no connection, server or site is perfect. That there can be shortages at any moment. Once you come to terms with that fact, the next logical question should be “how do you find out really quick?”.
The answer is simple: with a monitoring tool that, for obvious reasons, runs externally to your site and provides an alert system.
Apica WebPerformance gives you a simple web-based interface that you can use to get a quick grasp of how your site is performing. You also have, as one would expect, reporting and alerts (via email or SMS).
Getting our hands dirty
Fortunately, getting to test Apica WebPerformance is free, just head to this address: http://www.apicasystem.com/web-performance-monitoring.aspx
You can start small and then upgrade according to your needs. The system is reasonable priced and you can upgrade at any time.
The first thing you need to do is to complete a simple form and then fill in two site addresses. Make sure they are running sites, or you won’t be able to proceed.
Here you can have a quick glance of all your site addresses, a graph of their average response time and a summary of how many errors and events there have been in the past 24 hours.
You can easily add or remove graphs to the summary with the plus sign.
Detailed view: Checks
Here you can see a detailed list of sites, their median response time, Service Level Agreement (SLA) goal and a few more relevant details.
If you click on a site URL, you will get to a detailed view section of that site. There you can see important information about warnings, error and fatal occurrences (such as site not being accessible at all). Apica has paid special care to show everything over time, which is one of the key factors when understanding downtime problems. You usually worry about a segment in time, not a point.
Here you can also see several other sections with useful information, such as “Trends”, “History”, “Times”, “SLA” and “Setup”. Let us give you a brief description of each one:
- Trends: Trends show you a table where you can see several variables that help you understand changes over time. You can quickly realize that your site is behaving great or poorly by looking at the changes, minimum, maximum and median values. Best of all, you can compare the data to previous periods of time. Periods include daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly.
- History: A historic view of check points. You can select a date range and see if there has been any failures, and how many attempts have been.
- Times: A nice graph about access times, which can be displayed over a time period.
- SLA: Here you can take a quick glance at how your SLA’s are being met. Service Level Agreement are usually defined by hosting companies.
- Setup: Here you can change important variables. The site URL, request method, where is the check performed from and check interval, for instance. You can also define SLA targets, which you can then check on the aforementioned section.
Reports & Tools
Reports are just that, you can create a PDF report that you can download and peruse afterwards. Comes in handy when you have a lot of sites and you have other departments doing the monthly report on availability.
Tools are useful to ping a site to manually see if it’s running, and check the response from the web server. You also have different methods to connect to the server, “ping”, “URL response” and “TCP port”.
While we covered all the basics about Apica WebPerformance, there are a lot of variables that you can tweak to your heart content. The flexibility you get is really great since you can adapt to several situations.
As you have seen, this tool is also aimed to give you an overview of how your site is performing. And while it´s not as focused as LoadTest, it can be the cue you need to start investigating on why your site has slowdowns.
It’s all about uptime and with this tool you can rest assured that you will be notified immediately, giving you ample time to react to any issues.