SmokePing is a free, open source project. The tool offers a graphical interpretation of several Ping runs that give information about the quality of a connection over the Internet. This method of testing is very important for examining the availability and response times of websites. These factors are very important and they form the key metrics behind user experience (UX). The issue of UX is very important because a website can lose potential customers if its pages take too long to display in the browsers of visitors.
Uptime monitors and response time testers are in high demand now that the World Wide Web has become a cut-throat marketplace. So, there are many alternatives to SmokePing that have appeared to cater to this lucrative market.
Here is our list of the eight best SmokePing alternatives:
- Pingdom Synthetic Monitoring EDITOR’S CHOICE A Ping service to check for a website’s uptime. This is a cloud-based system that launches tests from more than 100 different locations around the world.
- Google PageSpeed Insights A free response time testing service run online with a large number of different loading metrics.
- Datadog Synthetic Monitoring A cloud-based website and page testing tool that launches tests from several locations. Examines uptime, response times, load times, and load errors.
- Sematext Synthetics Performs tests on websites and pages with HTTP and browser access from locations around the globe.
- StackPath Website Monitoring Automated testing for websites, web pages, APIs, and applications from 37 locations around the world.
- Freshworks Freshping A cloud-based availability and performance testing service that issues checks one a minute from 10 locations.
- StatusCake Website availability and performance monitoring from 28 locations around the world.
- Uptime Robot Available in free and paid versions that offer real-time performance monitoring and metric storage for historical data analysis.
All about Ping
At the heart of SmokePing is a network utility that is available for free and built into every operating system. The Internet is defined by the Internet Protocol and its related standards. One system that is very closely related to the Internet Protocol is the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). Ping is a method of using the ICMP facilities to test the speed and reliability of a path across the internet.
The Ping utility is available to any computer connected to a network. It sends out a series of ICMP packets to a named destination. That destination can be given either as an IP address or a URL (a web address). The message provokes a response from the destination and the Ping utility records the time it took for that response to arrive back.
The time measurement is called roundtrip time (RTT). The Ping system sends several packets and measures the response of each. On Windows, the default number of transmissions is four and it is five on Unix and Unix-like systems. That number can be altered by a variable in the command.
Once all of the tests have been run, Ping presents the minimum, maximum, and average RTT for the run. These figures are important because they express a factor known as jitter. Irregular transmissions can make websites and applications difficult to deliver, especially interactive systems, such as video conferencing or VoIP. The summary of Ping also notes the number of packets that got lost.
SmokePing and response time monitors
There are many tools available today that measure response times and record uptime for websites and most of them use Ping.
SmokePing has an option to test a destination from five different locations. This has become a very important test condition and newer uptime monitors test from up to 60 or 70 locations. Uptime monitors run ping constantly to a tested address and alert the site owner when a Ping test fails because that indicates that the site has gone down.
Many response time monitors offer the option of having tests run through an actual browser and they offer many more metrics than just the time it took for the request for a web page to be responded to.
The best alternatives to SmokePing
As SmokePing is free to use, there is nothing to lose by downloading the system and trying it out. SmokePing is delivered as a TAR file, which installs on Unix and Unix-like operating systems. That means it will also run on Linux and macOS but not Windows. The latest version is 2.7.3, which was released in December 2018.
More sophisticated uptime and response time monitors are usually available as edge services. These are delivered from the cloud. Services that are able to launch tests from many locations are particularly useful and systems that can continuously issue Ping tests to a destination operate as uptime monitors.
Our investigation of alternatives to SmokePing focused on uptime monitors that use Ping or other methods to issue checks on website availability.
You can find out more about each of these tools in the following sections.
Pingdom, from SolarWinds, is an online service that tests a website’s availability with Ping from more than 100 locations around the world. The service offers two subscription plans. These are Synthetic Monitoring and Real User Monitoring. The Synthetic Monitoring system is the most like SmokePing in that it is based on Ping tests.
Tests are issued periodically and if Pingdom fails to get a response, it double checks and then raises an alert. Alerts can be graded by severity and the administrator has the option of setting the system to inform key staff by email or SMS when an alert condition arises.
Every test is logged, so webmasters can see other details, such as response times and jitter. Those logs provide source material for historical analysis of performance. Successful tests lead to further probes to identify the load times of elements on the target site.
Uptime monitoring and response time tests use different methods for measuring performance. While the uptime monitoring system targets a URL and so an entire site, the response time monitor is launched for tests on a specific page. Those response time tests can also be targeted at a specific process on the web application server.
Response time tests are useful for developers when creating new pages or features on a site. System managers can use Pingdom to check on the speed of the new page or feature before signing off on its completion.
As an online service, Pingdom is charged for by subscription. The rate paid for the service is levied monthly and depends on the frequency of tests selected by the subscriber. The service is also offered at an annual rate, which works out cheaper per month than the monthly subscription periods. You can get a 14-day free trial of Pingdom.
Pingdom is our top choice for an alternative to SmokePing because it includes all of the SmokePing functionality but with more service options and more testing locations. The uptime monitoring service of Pingdom runs from more than 100 locations, which beats the five locations offered by SmokePing. The response time tests included in the Synthetic Modeling plan of Pingdom don’t have an equivalent in SmokePing. OS: Cloud-based
Pingdom is our top choice for an alternative to SmokePing because it includes all of the SmokePing functionality but with more service options and more testing locations. The uptime monitoring service of Pingdom runs from more than 100 locations, which beats the five locations offered by SmokePing. The response time tests included in the Synthetic Modeling plan of Pingdom don’t have an equivalent in SmokePing.
PageSpeed Insights from Google offers a free online response time check for any web page. There is no requirement to set up an account in order to use the service and you don’t even have to own the site that the tests are performed upon. Any page that can be accessed across the Web can be tested with this service, so it is a good tool for testing before a page gets included in the menu structure of a website and is still in staging.
This is an on-demand service and it focuses on response times rather than availability, so it isn’t an exact match for the services offered by SmokePing.
PageSpeed Insights launches tests for rendering on mobile devices and desktops. The main feature in a results page is an overall score for the response times of that page. All results are color-coded with traffic light colors with bands of results grouped per color signal.
Test results fall into three categories. The Field Data results are not always available. This is called the Chrome User Experience Report. The Origin Summary gives an overview of the performance of all pages on the same domain as the tested page. This gives an indication of whether site settings and delivery strategies are optimized. The Lab Data section details the performance of different elements on the page. It shows results for:
- First content paint
- Time to interactive
- Speed index
- Total blocking time
- Largest content paint
- Cumulative layout shift
Below the test speeds, the results page gives advice on how to improve the speed of the page. As a page loading time test, this tool is second-to-none.
Datadog Synthetic Monitoring goes far beyond the basic availability checks offered by SmokePing. This is a full website testing system that is ideal for running new trial pages and services before they go live and as a constant performance monitor for live websites.
The Datadog system is hosted in the cloud, so you don’t need to install any software in order to use it. The service is able to test web pages and services from several points around the globe, which also gives website owners insights into the efficiency of their caching and CDN services.
The Synthetic Monitoring service emulates a visitor’s journey through a site rather than tracking real users. This is good for those who want to test scenarios and spot inefficiencies before a page or a whole site goes live. Developers are able to check on response times, page load errors, and bugs in code before those problems get encountered by real users.
The Datadog service includes a root-cause analysis function that drills down through the application stack to spot a supporting service that might be the reason behind any performance issue. Datadog Synthetic Modeling is available for a 14-day free trial.
Sematext Synthetics doesn’t use Ping to test website availability. Instead, it offers tests run through real browsers or an HTTP-based testing option. HTTP and browser-based testing have a much greater breadth of testing capabilities than a straightforward Ping. The HTTP tests are much cheaper than the browser-based functions and they can be performed faster. The lower price makes them more affordable for repetitive testing at high volumes, which would provide uptime monitoring as well as performance tests.
This is a cloud-based service that users subscribe to, with a rate per month. The price of a subscription varies depending on the number of HTTP and browser tests that the subscriber uses per month. Another price factor is based on the data retention period that the user chooses. The lower of the two paid plans offers 30 or 60 day retention periods and the higher plan includes the option to retain data for up to 360 days.
There is also a Pay-as-you-Go plan, which charges per HTTP test. You can try the Standard or Pro plans on a 30-day free trial.
StackPath offers edge services for websites, which include caching to improve delivery speeds. The company has data centers located strategically around the globe and these locations also offer excellent bases for website performance testing.
The tests offered by StackPath Website Monitoring includes tests on the availability and performance of sites, web pages, APIs, and applications. The company has 37 data centers around the globe that offer testing services. These locations are in high-demand areas and are spread across six continents, so they offer good samples of potential user sources for a new site.
Test locations and frequency can be adjusted by the user. The frequencies available go up to a test every 30 seconds. Tests include DNS lookup, negotiation, time to first byte (TTFB), and content download. Each successful test is logged and results can be viewed in the dashboard of the service. Failed tests trigger an email alert and they also lead to more detailed tests to discover the exact nature of the problem.
Prices are set by subscription for this cloud service and depend on the number of tests expected each month. The base package offers five different tests, performed at five-minute intervals from 34 locations. This is called Monitoring 10 and you can access it on a one-month free trial.
Freshworks Freshping has a subscription service but it is also available free forever. The free service will perform status checks on up to 50 URLs per user every minute. The system notifies the user by email whenever a test fails. That means website owners can assume everything is working well unless otherwise notified.
Freshping tests are performed from 10 locations around the world and offer the option of tests performed with Ping, HTTP, TCP, or UDP. DNS negotiation monitoring is also available.
The free service is called Sprout and it includes six months of data retention. Two higher plans, called Blossom and Garden include more tests and longer retention periods. Both are available for 21-day free trials.
The StatusCake website availability and performance test cloud-based service is limited to testing Linux-based web servers. However, this is a very competent service that offers tests run with Ping, HTTP, SSH, SMTP, and TCP. The service is able to test servers, websites, web pages, and SSL certificates. It also offers a virus scan service.
Tests are available from 48 locations in 28 countries around the world. Test data centers are based close to the world’s population hotspots where higher access rates are likely.
StatusCake is an online service that is charged for by subscription. There are three plans available: Free, Superior, and Business. The Free service offers 10 different tests at five-minute intervals, the Superior plan includes 100 tests at one-minute intervals, and the Business plan gives 300 tests at 30-second intervals. You can get a seven-day free trial of the Superior and Business plans.
Uptime Robot is available in both free and paid versions. The free version checks website performance every five minutes, while the paid version, called Pro, checks on your site’s delivery speed every minute. As an online service, Uptime Robot boasts that customers can get up and running with the monitor in only 30 seconds.
The free Uptime Robot performs 50 different checks every cycle. You get to watch the results of those tests live in the dashboard and data also gets stored for two months to enable historical performance analysis.
The paid version is customizable. You can choose from 50 to 10,000 monitors and the price increases accordingly. The subscription fee for the service can be set on a monthly payment plan or a yearly renewal charge. The annual rate works out cheaper per month than the monthly payment schedule. However many monitors you choose you get data storage for two years, additional SSL monitoring, threshold alerts, and notifications by SMS or email.