You’re browsing a hot clothing website, and you’ve picked out something you really like. You’ve got your credit card out and you click the purchase button.
Boom. 503 error. That means the server’s down.
What’s worse? The fact that you’re not getting your items shipped, or that it might’ve already charged your card?
Now think about this from the perspective of your website. If you had a potential lead and your server shuts down, you just lost the game.
But you don’t have to be in the dark. There are tools out there to let you know when something’s up.
In this article, we’re going to explain what ping monitoring is and why it’s a must-have for your website.
Why Would a Server Go Down Anyway?
There are millions of people surfing the web at once constantly. So many devices, so much data, so much transfer.
It’s important to know what could put you at risk of downtime.
Some examples include:
- Heavy server traffic. If a lot of people are requesting information from your network when it’s not dense enough to handle it, it’ll overflow.
- Denial of service attacks. An attacker may induce heavy server traffic, and thus overflow.
- Software crashes. Sometimes the supporting architecture behind your network isn’t working properly.
- Hardware failure. You may be receiving more than your server can physically sustain. Or the actual parts of the host device are broken.
This is why we have to give our websites regular checkups with ping monitoring.
The Ping, the Packet, and the Protocol
Ping monitoring starts and ends with a basic understanding of how the Internet works.
Here’s a very rudimentary clarification of what’s going on with the wobbly waves in the sky.
When you want to access something on the web, your device has to communicate with another device to get the proper information. That’s why we refer to your device as the “client”, since it’s making the request for data.
To make a request, your device sends a letter to the “server”, or the device that stores the web content.
That letter, just like snail mail, must indicate where it’s coming from and who it’s going to and what it wants.
We call that letter a packet. Packets can be sent through certain modes of transfer, called protocols. Some are faster than others, but the one you know is HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol).
Now, provided the server doesn’t think you’re a weirdo, it’ll process your request and send back the information you want in a series of packets.
The most basic kind of packet-based communication is the ping, which is a simple test of connectivity between a client and server.
In fact, this communication is so universal that you can do it right now, without the need to install any software.
How to Ping
If you have a Windows computer:
- Hit Win (the Windows key) + R at the same time.
- A “Run” dialog box will appear. In the box, enter only the letters “cmd” and hit Enter.
- The command prompt will open. Enter the following command exactly as shown:ping 126.96.36.199
- You should get a response from the server.
Alternatively, Mac OS X users:
- Press command + the space bar at the same time.
- Type in “Network Utility” and open it.
- Click the “ping” tab.
- Enter 188.8.131.52 into the address bar (any website name will do, really).
- Hit “ping”.
The number sequence “184.108.40.206” is Internet Protocol (IP) address which points to a server Google owns. It’s where some of Google’s storage “lives”.
The response you get will tell you how many packets were attempted, how many were received by the server, and how long it took to get there and back (latency).
Using this method, you can determine whethe any public server is up or down (or if your Internet connection is broken).
There’s one problem, though.
Why Ping Monitoring
How are you going to sit there and ping your own website constantly to make sure it’s up?
And surely you don’t want someone to hire someone else to do it.
To be real, there are actually a lot of problems with the aforementioned method of pinging.
You’ve got stuff to do and people to see.
Using the command line utility to check your server status is downright ineffective.
Not to mention, you’re using your own precious resources for this redundant task.
While you might be able to access your website in the States, someone in Canada or New Zealand or South Africa might be having a hard time.
You can’t really know what your website uptime looks like unless you have servers ’round the world.
Different kinds of packets and different protocols produce different results.
It’s important to test your server with a variety of different settings, but taking the time to learn their nuances and what they mean for you can be a challenge not worth undertaking.
What’s the easiest way to fix these issues?
The Solution: Ping Monitoring Tools
Lucky for you, there are servers all around the globe dedicated to checking other networks.
Software engineers designate these servers to automatically check a huge batch of addresses every so often.
When there’s packet loss, you’ll be notified immediately of the issue.
With ping monitoring tools, you can save yourself a lot of time and money simply by creating a fast, reliable website. 100% uptime generates trust and authority in your services.
You’ll also get a lot of important statistics about the speed, reliability, and outage history of your site. An analysis of this data could tell you if you need to upgrade your server, or when you’re getting a particularly abnormal flood of traffic.
Some of the best ping monitoring services provide alerts via SMS or phone call, included with specific error messages and intensive analytics.
It’s Not an Option
When you simply ping a website from your command utility, you cannot determine when or why the ailment arose.
Needless to say, an extensive diagnostic program is salient to any Internet business looking to establish their name.
If your website is down, your business is down.
You can set up a basic ping monitoring tool for absolutely no cost. Sign up for direct access to an advanced starter plan.
But if you want to be taken seriously, get a professional plan. We have the most frequent server checks in the biz, along with detailed graphical reports and dynamic contact options.
Don’t risk a single moment of downtime ever again. It’s not worth it. Set up the right tools as soon as possible.