12 min read

Finding the Best Website Monitoring Service

Compare the differences between Dotcom-Monitor, Pingdom, Uptrends, New Relic, AlertSite, AlertBot, Monitis, Site 24×7, Uptime Robot, & StatusCake — and find out who has the best website monitoring service for your business needs.

Why Web Performance Monitoring Matters

Website monitoring has extended beyond the IT department and into the Customer Experience (CX) realm. Shareholders, Executives, and Directors alike now view customer experience rating systems such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as an essential KPI and business metric.

As such, before we look at the top 10 website monitoring tools of 2018, it is important to understand how website downtime impacts the following areas:

  • Profitability: It’s a no brainer that if you make money from your website and you go down, you are losing revenue. In March of 2016, Amazon went down for around 20-minutes. Internet Retailer estimated this outage cost Amazon over $375,000,000 million in lost revenues. [1] On the smaller, more reasonable side of things, a small business being down for a few hours each month may still translate to significant revenue loss when the following equation is calculated.
    hourly website traffic / conversion rate * average order size * lifetime value of the client
    By going down you didn’t just lose the sales from that hour, you lost the repeat business of those lost customers.
  • Customer Satisfaction: It’s 2018, and our internet driven consumers expect websites to work 100% of the time. In our modern era of peer review driven trust, an upset customer will let their social-sphere know that your website is down with the tap of a thumb or swipe of a finger. In addition, website uptime goes beyond ‘is the webpage available or not’ as 47% of consumers expect a website to load in under 2-seconds, and 40% of website visitors will abandon a webpage if it takes more than 3-seconds to load. [2]
  • Investor Sentiment: Want a surefire way to piss-off your investors? Let them see your website in the news as being down, reviews of your site being unreliable, or better yet, have your site offline when an investor tries to pull up your website on his phone at a cocktail party to show his other investor buddies what a great company he just backed. Derp! In today’s digital age your website is often the same as your store on the street corner. Who would reasonably invest in a brick-and-mortar store that would randomly disappear from the street corner when customers attempted to visit it?!
  • Search Engine Rankings (SEO): Google’s primary business is search, and to that they must constantly strive to show their users the best and most expected results for their queries. If your website is constantly experiencing bouts of downtime, even if in off-hours (but really, is there a such thing as “off-hours” on the web?), Google will reduce your website position in its search results. This too goes beyond uptime/downtime, as Google has explicitly said that a slow website will be docked in the rankings, while a fast website will gain a boost in search positions. [3][4][5]

As we get into the website monitor reviews below, you’ll note that I am not publishing pricing as most of these solutions offer a “starting at” price which is for basic HTTP/S uptime monitoring, or generic packages that only encompass some general monitoring features. Beyond that they all have frequency intervals, number of monitors, network locations you wish to test from, and a plethora of other customizable options that impact price. The good news is most of these web performance solutions are customizable to create a package that suits your specific needs. Just don’t blindly signup for one service over another because their pricing says, “starting at $9.99” as you may find yourself facing a $300/month purchase option after your trial has ended. I recommend you take inventory of your monitoring and performance testing needs, then compare features of the services below, then signup for your top 3 choices via a free trial as they all offer some sort of trial engagement to test drive the platform before you buy.

Top 10 Website Monitoring Solutions of 2018

      1. Dotcom-Monitor: Monitor & Load Test from one Single Solution

        Dotcom-Monitor has been around since the late 90s making them one of the longest standing pioneers in the space. Their monitoring platform is broken down into several solutions. Server Monitoring for everything from HTTP/S uptime checks, SSL Certificate Monitoring and Media Stream Monitoring, to external Network Monitoring and Email Monitoring, which includes Microsoft Exchange, POP3 / IMAP, and SMTP server monitoring. Browser Monitoring to gain valuable end-user insights from testing externally from a real browser, just as your clients do. And Web Application Monitoring to test web apps such as shopping carts, portals, and logins, ensuring their functionality through scripted transaction monitoring.

        The real differentiator, however, is their new Load Testing platform, which offers a powerful cloud-based SaaS solution for load and stress testing. They use the same real-browser technology as their synthetic monitoring (yes, full browsers like Chrome & IE, not headless emulators like PhantomJS or Selenium IDE), and execute multi-step user behavior scripts to give their clients an excellent picture of how their systems handle increased load in near real-world scenarios. No other monitoring company I’ve come across has as robust a monitoring platform coupled with a load testing tool of this caliber.

        Dotcom-Monitor caters to SMB and Enterprise clients alike, offering base monthly subscriptions and customized annual contract options. The only thing Dotcom-Monitor lacks is Real User Monitoring (RUM), a fairly recent edition to some of the monitoring solutions listed below.

        The Dotcom-Monitor interface is a bit advanced and may be confusing to the less technical crowd as they attempt to navigate the plethora of options and custom configurations. The platform could use a bit of a facelift too, and ideally I’d like to see a ‘basic’ and ‘advanced’ mode for setup and management to better cater to the end-user. However, what the platform lacks in ease-of-use they certainly make up for in technical capabilities and customization. Their element-level waterfall charts and performance reports provide more detailed and comprehensive information than their competitors. Based on my research and testing of all the tools listed in this article, I’m crowning Dotcom-Monitor as the best mid-market all-in-one monitoring solution out there.

        Dotcom-Monitor

        BEST MID-MARKET ALL-IN-ONE MONITORING SOLUTION

        FREE 30-DAY TRIAL
      2. Pingdom: Website Performance and Availability Monitoring

        A household name in the tech world, Pingdom is the standard in website monitoring and uptime checks. What began as a simple up-down checker, has evolved into a mid-level system for growing SMB. Pingdom has recently been acquired by SolarWinds, which infused investor and R&D dollars into the already thriving SaaS platform. Pingdom boasts a suite of uptime monitoring tools which now includes Real User Monitoring (RUM), Synthetic Interaction Testing (think user-flow testing), and Page Speed Monitoring geared towards enhancing end-user experience. Pingdom does have some holes in their offering (as it’s not quite the all-in-one solution that Dotcom-Monitor offers) but give them a few years and it’ll be interesting to see where they end up. Either way, their 800,000+ users can’t be wrong – if you’re looking for a basic and simple-to-use, but robust website monitoring and error alerting platform, then look no further than Pingdom.

        While I crowned Dotcom-Monitor as the best mid-market solution, I’m giving Pingdom the title of best entry-level monitoring tool on the market.

        Pingdom

        BEST ENTRY-LEVEL MONITORING TOOL

        FREE 14-DAY TRIAL
      3. Uptrends: Website Monitoring You Can Count On

        A mid-market player like Dotcom-Monitor, Uptrends offers a powerful suite of web performance monitoring tools, including: website monitoring, web application monitoring, web performance testing, API monitoring, RUM, and server monitoring.

        Their interface is better than most solutions reviewed here, and their integrations are many. With in-interface hooks to Slack and PagerDuty, it’s very easy for your team to add Uptrends to the list of IT solutions and not miss a beat.

        They do have RUM where their competitor, Dotcom-Monitor, does not; however Uptrends lacks a Load Testing product. All-in-all they’re a solid option, and one to go head-to-head with Dotcom-Monitor to compare which solutions makes the most sense for your business.

      4. New Relic: Digital Performance Monitoring and Management

        New Relic is an Application Performance Management platform, but within their product suite they offer New Relic Synthetics, a proactive monitoring tool to monitor your website or application availability from the cloud. The interface is gorgeous, offering dashboard insights you won’t find in most other website monitoring tools. If your organization is looking to expand into Application Performance Monitoring (APM) but needs website availability monitoring, alerting, and reporting as the first step in implementation, then I’d recommend looking into New Relic. From there you can integrate your Synthetics data to dashboards that correlate to frontend and infrastructure layers, giving you visibility into the full application stack across your entire network.

      5. AlertSite: Synthetic Monitoring Tools

        In 2011, website monitoring company AlertSite was acquired by SmartBear Software, a privately-held IT company built around delivering APM tools, software development, and software testing solutions. AlertSite positions themselves as tache leader in alerting (they are indeed aptly named), stating that they never send false alerts to their users. They accomplish this through a series of validation and false positive checks, apply static and dynamic alert thresholds, and once the designated number of failures is met to trigger an alert, they send the alarm to their users. Their alerting system is very robust, perhaps the most robust in the industry, however their positing is a bit of a marketing gimmick as literally every other provider on this list offers some form of false positive checks, alert thresholds and customizations.

        AlertSite offers the tools needed to monitor websites, web APIs, SLA, and mobile applications. Their transaction monitoring tool utilizes DéjàClick, a web-based script recorder that was originally released in 2006 as a Mozilla Firefox browser add-on (now available as a Chrome plugin as well). The tool is very slick with easy-to-use controls, the ability to interact with complex Flahs and Ajax web applications, keyword validation, and the ability to overlay annotations to recorded pages – a great feature for QA teams! DéjàClick has long-since been the best web-based script recorder out there, however as of mid-2018 Dotcom-Monitor launched a web-based version of their EveryStep Scripting Tool, which is extremely powerful for recording complex application and transaction scripts, which can be uploaded to the Dotcom-Monitor cloud to continuously monitor the scripts for uptime, performance and functionality, and can be run through their load testing tool to simulate real-world traffic situations to test a website or application under load. While incredibly easy-to-use, DéjàClick just doesn’t integrate at the level of Dotcom-Monitor’s EveryStep Scripting Tool.

        The primary benefit to AlertSite is that it is part of the comprehensive SmartBear suite of tools. If you’re utilizing any other SmartBear software for your API lifecycle management or software testing, you’ll want to add AlertSite to the mix as well, vs an outside vendor. As such, I’m dubbing SmartBear collectively (not AlertSite, specifically) as the best enterprise-level monitoring solution in the market today.

        SmartBear (AlertSite)

        BEST ENTERPRISE-LEVEL MONITORING SOLUTION

        FREE TRIAL

        EnterpriseAre you an enterprise, interested in Application Performance Monitoring?
        Get the rundown of the top APM tools here.


      6. AlertBot: TrueBrowser® Website Monitoring

        AlertBot features multi-step scripting, real browser testing, and a robust failure alerting system. They recently began a large marketing push for their TrueBrowser® technology, touting their real web browsers as far superior to simulated testing, providing users with a true end-user experience monitoring system. There is no doubt that real browsers are superior to emulated or headless browsers for capturing true end-user data, however this technology has been around for over a decade, and is integrated into the core of many tools such as Dotcom-Monitor, Uptrends, and more. The only providers they’re really demonstrating over is Pingdom, which uses HTTP-based monitoring scripts vs real browsers; however, Pingdom utilizes RUM, a core APM solution Alert Bot doesn’t have.

        AlertBot offers a solid tool with great technology; however, I feel they’re just a little late to the game with their feature releases, playing catchup with other providers that are often years ahead in their dev cycle.

      7. Monitis: Website Performance Monitoring Platform

        Since 2006 Monitis has been a staple in the website monitoring industry. Their product is straight forward, offering website monitoring, network monitoring, server monitoring, application monitoring, and the ability to customize your monitoring instances with their easy-to-use API. The platform is reasonably priced, stable and reliable, and offers a strong history with the backing of TeamViewer, their parent company (see TeamViewer on my list of favorite webtools). I have no complaints with the tool itself, however their interface leaves something to be desired. While it is relatively easy to setup and start monitoring, the interface is a bit outdated and clunky with widgets for their performance dashboard panel reminiscent of the popular design trends from their inception in 2006.

      8. Site 24×7: Monitoring Availability and End User Experience Made Simple

        Site 24×7 is an all-in-one monitoring solution provider, offering website monitoring, server monitoring, cloud monitoring, network monitoring, application performance monitoring, and recently, the addition of RUM.

        The product suite is powerful, the pricing is fairly inexpensive, and the reports are comprehensive, but from my perspective Site24x7 is another all-in-one mid-market player with nothing extremely unique to offer. Their interface and reports are very outdated and in need of a serious facelift (think Windows XP), the offering is generic, save the addition of RUM, and there is no load testing platform like some of the other providers have. If you’re in need of a mid-market all-in-one tool and are looking to utilize several platforms but export the data via their API into your own system, then they may be worth checking out. Otherwise, there are just better options out there.

      9. Uptime Robot: Free Website Uptime Monitoring

        No, seriously… FREE! I kid you not, with UptimeRobot you can setup 50 monitors, checked as fast as every 5-minutes – completely free! The tool was originally launched in 2010 as a side project by a small group of designers and developers. Their goal was to keep the tool free, however they were straight forward to their users with their concerns about infrastructure cost and ongoing expenses on their end. In 2015 they introduced a Pro Plan which enabled them to keep the Free Plan. The Pro Plan offers 1-minute monitoring frequency with SMS alerts, a year of logs, and SSL monitoring, along with a few other features.

        Well, as my grandmother would say, “You get what you pay for.” This holds for UptimeRobot as well. Monitoring is run from Dallas, TX – USA on 2 IP strings. Once an issue is detected they’ll ping your site from some other cloud locations around the world, but keep in mind these are very simple HTTP pings for uptime server response codes, not performance or functionality. If you’re a freelancer managing a few smaller client websites, or perhaps a hobbyist with a personal page, then automating HTTP pings for uptime for free with UptimeRobot might not be a bad place to start. But if you are making any revenue directly from a site, then at minimum you’ll need a tool like Pingdom with additional features that reports on performance in addition to just simply uptime.

      10. StatusCake: Website Uptime & Performance Monitoring

        First off, where do they come up with these names? Dotcom-Monitor – duh, makes sense. Pingdom – began as an HTTP ping tool, makes sense. Uptrends – monitors for uptime, reports on performance trends… StatusCake? Uh, website status… is a piece of cake? StatusCake is a subsidiary of the parent company TrafficCake Limited, which I don’t understand the reference there either. I don’t know, they’re from London (and I’m from the US) – perhaps something is lost on me. But as Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?” Anyway, little rant over, now onto the monitoring toolset!

        StatusCake has a robust network with over 200 monitoring servers across 43 countries and 6 continents (sorry, no Antarctica monitoring station… yet). StatusCake offers some uniquely cool features, like domain monitoring to prevent against hijacking or renewal loss, or virus scanning to ensure your website code doesn’t become maliciously infected. Beyond that they offer standard website monitoring, supporting HTTP/HTTPS, TCP, SSH, DNS, SMTP, PING & PUSH protocols. They also offer page speed monitoring, server monitoring, SSL monitoring, and the standard uptime and performance reports you’d expect. Their pricing is very cheap, and they’re a solid low-tier option for those looking to begin monitoring for the first time, with basic uptime and performance capabilities.

    In Summary – Best Website Monitoring Solutions:


    pingdom

    Best Entry-Level Website Monitoring Tool

    FREE TRIAL
    Dotcom-Monitor

    Best Mid-Market All-in-One Monitoring Solution

    FREE TRIAL
    AlertSite

    Best Entry-Level Website Monitoring Tool

    FREE TRIAL

    References

    1. ^ https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2016/03/11/how-much-did-amazons-outage-cost-online-giant/
    2. ^ sources: gomez.com, akami.com
    3. ^ https://ai.googleblog.com/2009/06/speed-matters.html
    4. ^ https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
    5. ^ https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html