Just like physical brick and mortar businesses, websites, and e-commerce websites don’t run themselves. They need to be maintained, serviced, updated, and secured against threats.
There are many aspects to the successful delivery of a website over the internet that could go wrong. Your site could also be vulnerable to hacker attacks and any number of hardware and software issues on the server or hosting service could render the site unavailable. The idea is to keep your website constantly available by heading off any potential problem.
A solid website monitoring system should be able to provide important metrics about site traffic, such as uptime, latency (response times), load times, load balancing, website health, and infrastructure capacity.
In this report, you will find out about some useful tools that will keep your eCommerce presence working successfully.
Here is our list of the best website monitoring tools and software for 2020:
- Datadog Synthetic Monitoring EDITOR’S CHOICE A cloud-based website monitor with remote agents for availability and performance testing. The important metrics covered by this tool include uptime, response times, load times, and load error rates. Try a 14-day free trial.
- SolarWinds Pingdom (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based tool that checks your website’s uptime, response times, load times, and error rate from more than 60 locations.
- Stackpath Website Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) A website delivery quality monitor from a content caching edge service.
- Site24x7 Website Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based website monitoring service that includes site management functions.
- Paessler Internet Monitoring Software with PRTG (FREE TRIAL) On-premises infrastructure management software that includes website performance monitoring features. Important metrics include uptime monitoring, load balancing issues, response times, server health, and application error rates.
- Better Uptime A website availability monitor that checks from five locations in the world and sends a screenshot of error screens.
- Uptrends An online website monitoring platform that includes visitor journey tracking and load and transmission timing.
- Freshworks Freshping Checks up to 50 URLs every minute from ten locations around the globe.
- StatusCake Monitors your website’s performance from 28 locations around the world.
- NodePing Checks site performance every minute and monitors SSL, DNS, and email issues.
- Dynatrace This service traces web page and service delivery times and identifies the causes of poor performance.
Website monitoring is a little different from regular network monitoring. As many performance threats occur far away from your own infrastructure, you need to look at how others access your site rather than how well your equipment is performing.
You can’t keep tabs on the whole of the internet by yourself, so the only serious strategy for keeping tabs on the availability of your site is to outsource the task to specialist services. This is particularly true if you don’t host your site on your own premises.
Small businesses usually opt to subscribe to hosting services for their websites. This is the only economically viable solution for someone who can’t afford the overhead of running a web server just for one website. Increasingly, hosted solutions are becoming more attractive to large online businesses as well.
Getting others to manage the infrastructure that supports your site creates a loss of control. However, it also enables you to employ expertise and specialist equipment at a fraction of the cost that running your sites in-house would incur.
Website monitoring tools that are delivered on the Cloud make just as much sense at Cloud-based hosting. The Software-as-a-Service model for website monitoring has many advantages over on-premises software.
Cloud-based tools are cost-effective and scalable. That means that very small enterprises get cost-effective access to the comprehensive tools that big businesses use. Most online services are charged for on a subscription basis per unit. They will charge per URL, per server, or per technician. So, you don’t need to pay the full price for the software if you just need to monitor one site.
The fact that the tools are run on remote servers and the infrastructure to support them is included in the price means you also save on the cost of hardware and the technicians needed to maintain it. You even save on accommodation space, power, and security costs.
Most website monitoring platforms allow customers to adjust the scope of the service, which means you can monitor more websites as your business expands. So, cloud-based monitors save on startup costs and they also expand incrementally as your business grows.
The best website monitoring tools
The following sections explain each of our recommendations in detail.
Datadog provides cloud-based infrastructure and application monitoring services. Its Synthetic Monitoring package specifically focuses on web monitoring and performance testing features. Datadog Synthetic Monitoring tests are run from servers around the world.
Datadog’s tests emulate user access rather than recording events during real user visits. This is a useful tool for checking important performance metrics on a new web page, such as response times, load error rates, and programming issues. Constant availability and latency tests highlight potential delivery problems such as load balancing or queuing problems. The tool will also log whenever the site becomes available. Uptime record-keeping is particularly important for those who need to prove compliance with SLAs.
The screens of the performance monitor include some great visualizations. An example is the waterfall root cause analysis view, which displays how one problem impacts many performance metrics. The service can pinpoint whether the performance deterioration is due to network issues, coding errors, or server problems.
Although the Datadog Synthetic Monitoring service performs its own check, you can design customized tests by recording walk-throughs. These simulations will then be implemented on the many Datadog testing servers to record the response-times of your webserver to those specific actions that you want to test. This is a great feature that will help you trial new features on a website to ensure that adding a button or a graphic won’t slow down the loading or navigation performance of that page.
The standard tests aren’t just repetitions of the same access runs. Datadog includes AI-based machine learning techniques that proactively seek out features in a page and attempt every combination of execution. Over time, tests establish what should be considered a typical performance of your site. This enables you to see a log of expected response times and it also adjusts alert thresholds so that you aren’t pestered by an overactive alerting system.
- Performs uptime and response time monitoring from several locations around the world.
- Enables user-journey modeling to check for load errors, programming mistakes, and poor website design.
- Enables website tests to be compiled through browser recording.
- Uses AI methods to vary user journeys during test runs.
- Tests are run through actual browsers for real-life user experience modeling.
Datadog Synthetic Monitoring is a subscription service and you can access it on a 14-day free trial.
Datadog Synthetic Monitoring is our 1st Choice. Overall, we particularly enjoyed the ease of setting up site uptime alerts and validating HTTP requests from various locations worldwide. Excellent visualizations, root-cause analysis, and troubleshooting features set this product apart.
Start 14-Day Free Trial: datadoghq.com/product/synthetic-monitoring/
Pingdom is a cloud-based platform that monitors website performance and internet connection quality from an external viewpoint. The service includes checks from more than 100 locations around the world. As you don’t need to own any specialist equipment to use this service, you can get set up in just three minutes and have the monitor checking your websites.
It doesn’t matter where your websites are hosted because Pingdom looks at the access to your site from all around the world, not from within your building.
The checks available include synthetic user monitoring. This can be deployed to test the capacity of your web server, it’s applications, and also traffic managers, such as load balancers. It will spot load errors and record a range of load metrics and response times. You can set the tool to run through a user journey for any number of expected flows through the site, such as the sales process, onboarding, support delivery, and regular operations.
Once a site is up and running, Pingdom can sample real user activity to check on the response times for each page and service that each visitor’s requirements trigger. General performance monitoring includes uptime monitoring and threshold alerts, which can be delivered to you via SMS or email. You can get alerts conditionally routed to different team members and a filtering check strips out false reporting and non-critical conditions so you don’t get pestered constantly by the alerting system.
- Offers synthetic monitoring for pre-publishing performance testing and A/B testing
- Includes real user modeling for live web page performance monitoring
- Includes uptime and response time monitoring from more than 100 external locations.
- Reports on page load errors and a range of load time metrics
- Performance alerts are filtered to reduce false alarms.
Fees for the platform are paid by subscription, which can be set either monthly or annually. You get a discount for the annual payment plan, but be aware that you have to pay your subscription for the service in advance and you will be automatically rebilled when the payment period expires. Pingdom is available at four different service levels: Standard, Advanced, Professional, and Enterprise. You can get a 14-day free trial of the Pingdom system.
StackPath’s main line of business is as an edge service provider to websites. It is able to speed up the delivery of content by hosting it on strategically located servers around the globe. StackPath Website Monitoring is another service that the company provides.
Over time you will be able to monitor exactly where the majority of your visitors are located. Those hotspots of activity need to get fast access to your site. A trial out to a new geographical market also requires that you get performance data from that location before you can fully support your marketing effort in that location. These are the situations at which Stackpath Website Monitoring excels.
Stackpath has 37 monitoring nodes and you can get simultaneous feedback from all of them to check the health of your web infrastructure, or zoom in and watch the performance from one part of the globe.
The frequency of tests is customizable and can be launched as often as every 30 seconds. You can also specify exactly which conditions should be tested, including code performance and transmission times, so you don’t need to get swamped by too much information arriving all at once.
- Website performance monitoring for 37 locations around the globe.
- Options for global performance metrics or test results from a specific location.
- Uptime and response time metrics.
- Tailored tests to focus on response times, load errors, or code inefficiency.
- Enables pre-release testing as well as live monitoring.
As with all of Stackpath’s services, the monitor is a cloud-based service. You can subscribe to just the monitor or take out a combined package that includes site performance acceleration services. The standard monitoring service is called Monitoring 10. It includes the monitoring of five services from 34 locations at five-minute intervals. You can get Monitor 10 on a 1-month free trial.
Site24x7 Website Monitoring offers website performance monitoring that issues periodic checks from 90 locations around the world. This is a cloud-based website monitoring platform, charged for by subscription.
Checks include a Domain Expiry Monitor, an SSL/TLS Certificate Monitor, and a Website Defacement Monitor, which spots errors in the code of your site. Performance timings cover DNS fetches, connection establishment times, first-byte time, download time, and SSL handshake time.
The monitor includes user experience tests that track visitor journeys through a site. These include the amount of time a sample visitor spends on each page, giving you a bounce rate for each part of your site and letting you know which pages help the marketing effort and which need to be spruced up or removed. The information discovered by the monitor will help you reorganize the hierarchy of your site and move better performing pages to become landing pages, or to site at better positions in the hierarchy.
As well as monitoring sites, the Site24x7 platform includes some website management functions. It can be particularly helpful if you decide to more or retire pages because it manages status pages, enabling redirection and preventing visitors from being artlessly dumped with a browser error code page.
The web-based console is well laid out and has a mobile-friendly version. The dashboard has some great visualizations that include maps and graphs with color-coded statuses and thresholds to help you spot problems quickly. Performance thresholds trigger alerts and you can get those sent to you by SMS or email so that you don’t have to sit in front of the console all day.
This service is available in four subscription plans: Starter, Pro, Classic, and Enterprise. You have to pay for your plan monthly or yearly in advance – yearly payment schemes get a 10 percent discount. There are also a number of add-on services available that you can select from to tailor your chosen plan. You can try out this internet monitoring system on a 30-day free trial.
If you aren’t interested in accessing website monitoring services on the cloud and want on-premises monitoring software, then Paessler’s Internet Monitoring Software with PRTG is probably your best bet. PRTG is an all-in-one infrastructure monitoring tool. It will monitor your in-house network as well as internet performance. The server and application monitors in the package include sensors that specialize in website performance.
PRTG is actually a bundle on monitors and each of them is called a “sensor.” You pay for the software according to how many sensors you want to activate. The lowest pricing band is free. That is if you only want to enable up to 100 sensors. The minimum paid bundle includes 500 sensors.
Internet and website monitoring sensors in PRTG include a Ping function that gives the roundtrip time of requests to your website and the responses that go back from them. This gives live uptime monitoring and response time metrics for your website. Other checks include the load time of the pages on the site and a load error alert and count.
PRTG focuses on monitoring the infrastructure of your website, so it will help you to spot problems with load balancers, servers, and web applications very quickly.
All test conditions can be set to have performance thresholds that trigger alerts. Those alerts can be sent to you via SMS or email, so you don’t have to sit in front of the monitoring screen.
All test conditions can be set to have performance thresholds that trigger alerts. This enables you to spot problems before they become critical. Those alters can be sent to you via SMS or email, so you don’t have to sit in front of the monitoring screen.
Internet monitoring with Paessler PRTG includes bandwidth monitoring which aides in network management and troubleshooting. You can automate the Ping sensor to check website availability and load times on regular intervals giving you ample warning should any issues arise.
- Infrastructure monitoring that can be tailored to focus on website delivery performance.
- Performance alerts with customizable thresholds.
- Ping for constant uptime monitoring.
- Network drill-down to spot problems with load balancers and other traffic issues.
- Onsite software for in-house website resource management.
If the free PRTG is not big enough for you, you can get a 30-day free trial of PRTG with an unlimited sensor allowance. This should enable you to check through every monitor in the package that you might possibly need, so you can tailor the number of sensors that you really need before you come to pay at the end of the trial period.
Better Uptime monitors the availability of clients’ websites from five locations around the globe: The USA, American Samoa, Australia, South Africa, and within the EU. The availability checks are performed through Chrome, Mozilla, Safari, and Apple user agents.
The Better Uptime system includes human technicians who communicate with the clients when they spot system errors. Clients are notified by phone, SMS, email, or Slack message when a monitored website goes down. The operations offices of Better Uptime are located in Huntsville, Alabama, and Belgium in Europe.
Each failure event on a website is documented by the monitoring team. The monitors gather evidence and produce timestamped incident reports that include screenshots. These are sent to the client’s tech team with each failure notification. Problem identification can be fed through to Help Desk management software, such as Zendesk. The notifications can be directed to specific people by setting up an attendee schedule within the Better Uptime notification system.
Better Uptime offers four plans. The lowest of these is Free. This plan gets notifications by email and checks are performed every three minutes. The service will include telephone notification with a limit of five calls per month for sites that display the Better Uptime logo.
- Website performance monitoring from five locations around the world.
- Tests carried out through real browsers.
- Constant uptime monitoring and live response time metrics.
- On-demand test runs for user experience modeling.
- Failure notifications can be fed through directly to a service desk scheduling system.
The cheapest paid plan is called Freelancer, which includes availability checks every 30 seconds and gets notifications by phone. The two higher plans are Team and Enterprise. Team allows for an on-call roster to be set up, directing notifications to different people at different times of the day with up to five team members included. The Enterprise plan is suitable for international enterprises that have support teams located in multiple sites around the world. All paid plans are available for a free trial period.
Uptrends is an online website monitoring platform that also checks on network and internet performance. It doesn’t matter where your web servers are physically located or who manages them. As a remote service, Uptrends can access them, masquerading as a user and report on its findings. It can even test the sites of your rivals and let you know how the performance of your website compares.
Checks performed by Uptime include DNS records, and times for DNS fetches. It also monitors SSL certificates to ensure that they don’t go out of date, provoking the browsers of visitors to block access. It also monitors FTP server performance for download delivery. The monitor also tracks user journeys through a site and records the load times for each of the visited pages. It will also assess the mobile-friendliness of your site.
Performance tests are issued once a minute. The console for the monitor displays test results in real-time and those results can also be exported to PDF or Excel format Test results are stored by Uptrends for two years to enable historical analysis.
Uptrends is available in two plans: Basic Web Monitoring and Advanced Web Monitoring and you can get a 30-day free trial.
Freshping is a very tempting package of website monitoring and it will be particularly appealing to small businesses. This is because the service’s entry-level package is permanently free to use. The free plan is called Sprout and it performs 50 different status checks on a website’s performance every minute.
Tests performed by the system include a standard Ping, that checks on the round-trip time of a request to your site’s host and response back to the requestor. It also checks on HTTP status, your site’s DNS entries and TCP and UDP performance. Each of these tests is performed from ten different locations around the world, so you can see who people in different countries around the globe experience your website.
Sometimes things go wrong, and it heightens the credibility of your site if you can put up branded error messages rather than letting the user’s browser display standard error message screens. If the browser can’t get through to your server, it won’t be able to receive that meaningful error page. Freshping provides that for you and externally supplies five different status pages if your own host becomes inaccessible. This is a very useful edge service.
The service is delivered from the cloud and the console shows live results from those repeated checks. You also get storage for performance data bundled in with the package. This enables you to use analytical tools that are included in the platform to see the performance of your site’s delivery over time.
Each Freshping plan subscription covers one URL. As well as the free service, there are three higher-paid service plans. These are Blossom, Garden, and Estate. These offer 60, 80, and 100 different tests respectively. The Blossom plan includes performance threshold alerting and to get SSL performance monitoring, you need to go for at least the Garden plan.
Other differences with each plan include the number of user accounts that you get and the data retention period for analytical data. For example, the free Sprout plan lets you have 10 user accounts and retains data for 6 months; the Blossom plan includes 12 user accounts and 12 months of data retention; Garden and Estate give you 20 user accounts and 24 months of data retention.
Freshworks are very confident that businesses will profit from using Freshping and they offer any of the paid packages on a 21-day free trial.
StatusCake is a cloud-based website and internet testing platform. Performance tests by the service are issued from 28 servers around the world. The checks that the StatusCake service includes are Ping, HTTP, SSH, SMTP, and TCP. It will also monitor the DNS entries for your domain. You can see live feedback on performance in the dashboard and you can also get reports run on schedule and emailed to you.
One detraction of StatusCake is that its server monitoring service is only available for Linux servers. There is a free version of this service, which performs ten tests every 15 minutes. The paid plans are Superior, which performs 100 tests every minute, and Business, which issues 300 tests every 30 seconds. All plans include page speed tests and root cause analysis. SSL and security monitoring is only available in the paid plans. You can get a 7-day free trial of both the Superior and Business plans.
NodePing is a cloud-based website monitoring system that is charged for by subscription. The service includes test nodes in 28 locations around the world. If one node reports a problem with your site, it is checked by tests from another node. This reduces the number of notifications that you get by filtering out blips that might have been momentarily caused by an internet problem.
Those checks are performed at one-minute intervals and cover up to 200 services. The monitor checks on SSL status and email performance as well as websites. Those email checks include references to ensure that your domain is not on a blacklist.
The dashboard for the service can be rebranded, making it possible for managed service providers to create subaccounts and sell on the monitor to clients. Website checks include HTTP monitoring, SQL performance, SSL checks, RDP, DNS references, and SNMP network monitoring alerts. The console also includes on-demand root cause analysis and analytical functions that operate on historical data as well as live performance reporting.
NodePing is available in three service plans: Starter, Business, and Provider. You can try any of these on a 15-day free trial.
Dynatrace is a web application management service. The features of the service include website performance tracking through response time monitoring, real-user monitoring, and synthetic user behavior modeling.
The user journey monitoring is a handy tool for operations and marketing managers. This function allows planners to reorganize a site to improve the path to the site’s best earners. Synthetic user modeling is also a useful tool for site designers to highlight new pages and products on a site.
The service is charged on a subscription model and you can try it for free for 15 days.
Website monitoring tips
As an internet entrepreneur, you are probably more excited by your product or concept than the performance of the website that conveys your marketing message to the world. That’s understandable. However, you need to buy-in expertise to take all of the performance tasks off your shoulders rather than just ignoring the issue.
One solution to website performance monitoring is to outsource those functions to a managed service provider. However, if you don’t’ think you could fully trust other companies to have the same interest in your website as you, then you would be advised to simplify your website performance monitoring by using tools that automate the process.
Do you use a website monitor? Have you tried any of the tools listed in this guide? Leave a message in the Comments section below and share your experience with the community.