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Keeping an Eye Out: The Basics of Site Monitoring

January 23, 2019 0 Comments RSS Feed

Keeping an Eye Out- The Basics of Site MonitoringDowntime is inevitable. Yet pursuing it will make your shoppers feel safe and keep them coming back to your store.  Alternatively, sluggish or unavailable sites annoy customers and may even leave them thinking your site isn’t up to the task of safely handling their credit card information.   

This is why site monitoring is important. It keeps Nexcess support technicians up to date with what, if anything, needs to be done to keep your site running at peak performance.

Site Monitoring Begins With Us But Ends With You

At Nexcess, if we manage your server, then we monitor your website for trouble. However, like most things tech-related, redundancy means reliability and so it’s worthwhile to monitor your own site. Using a variety of methods, it’s possible to monitor traffic levels, sales, speed, errors, availability, and other critical factors. The more varied your methods, the more effective your monitoring.

Our monitoring service monitors very specific services on your server, such as the status of PHP, Apache, Nginx, MySQL, and so on. In addition to service-level monitoring, we also watch the server’s memory usage, load level, and general availability. Technicians monitor these sites around the clock for stability, and will also notify you if they detect other problems specific to your site, but beyond our direct control.

An example of logs in the Nexcess Client Portal

An example of logs in the Nexcess Client Portal.

On your end, third-party applications can provide many of the essentials. For example, Google Analytics can reveal your site’s ranking in search results, gauge performance, and even suggest optimizations. Free uptime checkers such as Pingdom, while prone to some false positives, can track how frequently your site is unavailable or slow to respond to queries. Most modern content management systems (CMS) provide built-in charts for tracking traffic and sales data, or have plug-ins available to do so. As with any plug-in, do your research. Not all plug-ins are created equal, and some can pose additional security risks.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

As noted above with Pingdom and other uptime checkers, false positives are a possibility. The problem of “too much site monitoring” is a very real one. Using multiple uptime checkers can give conflicting data, skew the average, and even cause downtime. If not properly configured, certain uptime checkers generate so much traffic that they impair the performance of your site.

If you plan on using such a service, settle on one and only one. If you are supplementing the built-in analytics of Magento or another CMS, consider one that tracks overall traffic or sales, as these benefit most from additional monitoring. For example, the built-in sale and data collection within Magento can be reinforced by plug-ins that either provide more detail, or track it separately and log the information in a separate database or log file. Such backups can prove invaluable if and when you have any issues with corrupt data.

Analyzing Your Data

Once your monitoring systems are up and running, organizing your data takes priority. A single instance of downtime often doesn’t supply enough information to diagnose the root cause, but an organized collection of data helps to identify patterns in frequency and duration that can lead to issue resolution. With proper site management, this data can be compared with other logged information, such as time and nature of site changes, the timing of cron jobs, and other helpful information.

We’re Here to Help

If you have any questions about how to add plugins to your site, or want more details about their functionality, please feel free to contact our support team by email or through your Client Portal.  Many server and service-level functions are configured by default when signing up for our service, but we can give guidance on services you may want to use for your own monitoring purposes.


Troy Evans

Troy Evans has been a support technician at Nexcess for just over 5 years, and has been helping to improve and refine the monitoring procedures and services.


 

Posted in: Web Hosting Basics