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Website Uptime Monitoring: Good, But It's Not Enough

Jul 29, 2021
Oshyn
Oshyn

According to Fox Business, YouTube was down for 37 minutes in December of 2020. Considering YouTube’s ad revenue figures for the fourth quarter of 2020 (according to Statista), a 37-minute downtime works out to a $1.7 million loss.

Website downtime can happen for many reasons. In this case a Google spokesperson highlighted a “storage quota issue” as the cause of the outage.

Whatever the reason, downtime can be very expensive to your bottom line — and to your company’s reputation.

Having an uptime monitoring solution in place is vitally important. You need to know when your site is down, so your team can address the issue immediately.

But merely setting up a tool to ensure your users are not experiencing errors or outages isn’t enough. You need a proactive approach to managing your martech stack that includes improving your release process, utilizing automated testing, and monitoring that anticipates problems (just to name a few).

In this article, we’ll cover some definitions, the limitations of basic monitoring, and how to go to the next level.

First, what is website uptime?

Website uptime refers to the percentage of time that a website is available and operational. It is calculated as the ratio of operational time divided by the total time. The ratio can either be for monthly or yearly increments depending on the SLA.

The ideal target is 100% uptime, although perfection is mostly unattainable. The industry standard for high availability is set at 99.999%, sometimes referred to as “five-nines availability”.

With 99.999% uptime, you get a downtime of 0.86 seconds per day and 5.26 minutes a year. If the uptime were to be at, let’s say 99%, that’s 3.65 days in a year. That can easily translate to lost revenue, lost customers, or even a negative impact on your search engine rankings.

How is uptime monitored?

There are a few different types of tools for monitoring your site’s status:

  • Site availability or uptime monitoring: With this type of monitor, you can find out if your website, external server, database, or mail is available. In addition, the tool can also check for advanced services like DNS, FTP, and SSL.
  • API monitoring: It helps you monitor apps, web services, multistep APIs, and app transactions.
  • Performance monitoring: It deals with browser or full-page checks that demonstrate how each link or element of your website is performing. The tool identifies scripting and CSS issues, image problems, and timeouts that affect your website.

Limitations with Basic Website Uptime Monitoring

While uptime monitoring is a key part for any company seeking to offer a great customer experience that’s always available, monitoring alone falls short.

It’s Reactionary, Rather Than Proactive

Brands need the opportunity to respond to issues before they affect their customers. While being able to monitor website availability and receive alerts when outages occur is important, your team needs to be aware of impending errors or issues before they happen. Potential problems should be solved before they become actual problems.

Components Can Be Missed

Your site may appear to be up, but some functionality within your site (e.g. forms or links) may not be. ALL of the components of your site need to be monitored.

Security Isn’t Taken Into Account

You’ve been hacked and your attackers are in the process of changing the content on your website. Having a high availability uptime level will not help you in this situation.

You need to employ best practices as well as monitoring tools that can help you prevent or detect this scenario as early as possible. If an attack is detected early, cybersecurity specialists can limit the potential damage from the attack.

Performance Matters Too

When considering uptime only, you may neglect page load speed. Other components or elements on your website may also be experiencing slow load times.

Customers have little patience for websites with poor user experiences. According to Hosting Manual, 50% of internet users expect load times to be below two seconds. Why wait an eternity — anything more than three seconds — for a website page to come up when there are thousands of alternatives only a click away?

Beyond Simple Uptime Monitoring

A comprehensive approach, or even a fully managed service, can provide so much more than simple monitoring — and be much more effective.

To keep your site and marketing tech up and operating effectively, it’s really helpful to have the following:

Dashboards and Reporting

Dashboards and reports are an essential resource. They provide the ability to track and monitor trends. Reports are historical and provide accountability and the ability to identify if your website is headed in the right or wrong direction. In short, they give you the data to make better-informed decisions and provide visibility to others in your organization.

Access to Experts

During an emergency, it’s really helpful—not to mention reassuring—to have access to experts who know what to do. But experts can also be key to avoiding a crisis in the first place. By having the right processes in place and taking pre-emptive steps to reduce the likelihood of problems, they can take a load off your internal teams while ensuring that someone is focused on prevention.

Performance Monitoring

A website performance monitoring tool can be an early warning system for problems. For example, slowing loading times can indicate that your platform is not keeping up with your growing traffic.

It can also help you identify issues with your user experience or even your SEO. If your pages or your forms load or respond too slowly, it may be harming your conversion rates. In regards to SEO, poor page performance can actually affect your rankings.

Automated Testing

Test automation is a fundamental contributor to website uptime as it reduces errors that can cause a site to go down. Happily, it adds other benefits as well. It can help speed releases by reducing, or even eliminating, manual testing and QA. The reduction in manual testing means that a company doesn’t have to dedicate as many QA resources to a project. By automating error-prone processes, you save time and improve reliability.

Alerts

Automated alerting is, of course, extremely important when something does go wrong. The team responsible for dealing with issues needs to know immediately so they can respond.

But alerts are also central to preventing downtime in the first place as they can inform the team that a problem is growing that can cause the site to go down. By receiving the alert early, they can take action to prevent the problem.

Alerts also promote transparency. We’ve had clients come to us after experiencing downtime that they weren’t even aware of as it happened. In some cases, they didn’t know for hours or even days. With real-time monitoring and alerting, you always know what’s happening.

Proactive Updates and Patches

Staying on top of the latest bug fixes and security patches for your platform goes a long way toward minimizing problems. Having someone carefully monitoring for the latest patches and installing them quickly keeps your site safer and reduces issues.

Introducing Uptime by Oshyn

Hopefully the information above is helpful when thinking about managing and improving your site’s uptime. Buying an uptime monitoring tool is a great first step, but building or hiring a team that uses a suite of tools will provide the best results, not to mention peace of mind.

Uptime by Oshyn is a holistic, managed DevOps service that helps ensure your website stays up and running seamlessly. It provides you access to experts, real-time reports, CI/CD tools, an SLA, regular scanning and patching, bug detection and resolution, alerts and notifications, automated testing, and complete security coverage of your website.

If you’d like to talk to us about Uptime or have any questions at all, please contact us or schedule a consultation today.

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