22 May 2019

Our Free Plan allows monitoring of up to 60 websites. So why would you want to pay for a Pro Plan if you only need to monitor a few websites?

1) The kick-ass features available only to Pro users.

2) These Micro Pro Plans are so cheap they are almost free! Don't believe us? Check out the prices here.

Read on to see the kick-ass Pro features that are most useful for micro users...

cheap vs free

Content Monitoring (Pro Only)

If the content (text) of your website changes Downtime Monkey will send you an alert.

Content monitoring helps protect against hacked websites where the website content is replaced but the site technically stays up.

It also catches on-page errors that would otherwise be missed by uptime monitoring. For example, a database error that outputs a blank page with an error message would be missed by uptime monitoring but caught by content monitoring.

Custom Alert Times (Pro Only)

Custom alert times allow you to decide when alerts are sent.

For example, you can set alerts to be sent only if a site remains down for 5 minutes.

Options are: instant, 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 15, 30 or 60 minutes.

Records Of Individual Downtimes (Pro Only)

Every downtime that occurs, whether an alert is sent or not, is logged and the record can be viewed.

The downtime record includes: the exact time and date the downtime began and ended, the duration of the downtime, the http response and a brief description of the cause of the downtime.

These details can really help you to find and fix website problems.

Advanced Uptime Stats (Pro Only)

Pro users can view uptime stats with an accuracy of 3 decimal places (e.g. 99.999% uptime) for each monitor for up to 2 years.

Uptime stats are available for 24hrs, 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, 1 year and 2 years.

Advanced Response Time Graphs (Pro Only)

Pro users have access to in-depth response time graphs. Graphs are available for:

Individual response times (every minute) for 24 hours.

Hourly average response times for 7 days.

Daily average response times for 2 years.

1 Minute Checks (Pro Only)

Websites are monitored every minute for Pro users, as opposed to every 3 minutes for Free users.

All of the above features are as useful for monitoring 1 website as for monitoring 1000. So if you want premium website monitoring at an astonishingly low price our micro Pro Plans are for you. However, if saving pennies is most important to you then the Free Plan is the best option.

 

09 May 2019

Since the new year we've released a bunch of new features and plans. The total number of Downtime Monkey users has increased by over 50% and the number of websites being monitored has more than doubled.

So we've taken the last few weeks to relax, kick-back and take it easy catch up with some maintenance.

We've reduced memory use of clean-up scripts, automated the addition of free SMS credits upon sign-up and applied a bugfix to our Slack App.

Read on to see the details...

hard hats for work

Automation of Free SMS Credits On Sign-up

All Pro Plans that are purchased yearly come with free SMS credits (e.g. Pro1000 users get 200 free credits and Pro1 users get 5 free credits).

In the spirit of moving fast we sometimes do things that don't scale... and applying free credits was a case in point.

In order to ship our payment system quickly we used to add free SMS credits to a customer's account manually.

We would get notified of a new sign-up and within a few minutes we could add the credits to the account.

However, as things are now scaling-up it makes sense to automate this kind of thing... so we did. People now receive their free SMS credits instantly upon sign-up.

Improvements to Clean-Up Scripts

Downtime Monkey records the response times of monitors every minute. This means that we add a lot of rows to the database - 1440 rows per website per day to be precise!

To stop the database growing to the size of a small galaxy we regularly need to delete the old response times from the database.

This is done by a clean-up script which automatically runs once a day.

However, a few weeks ago the amount of data to delete became too much which meant the script hit its memory limit and stopped running. This wasn't a major problem (memory limits are in place for a reason) and Downtime Monkey continued to function just fine. However, it meant that the database grew to a gazillion rows in a few days.

This was easily fixed - we manually deleted the old response times and re-wrote the clean-up script to be much more efficient with memory.

Slack App Bugfix

One of our new(ish) features is the ability to receive downtime alerts in Slack.

To make the user experience as easy as possible we developed our Slack App so that everything can be managed in Downtime Monkey. You can connect to your Slack account, manage your alert settings and disconnect from your Slack... all on the Downtime Monkey website.

We missed something though: the possibility that someone might delete the Downtime Monkey Slack App directly in Slack while leaving alerts turned on in Downtime Monkey.

Needless to say, this did happen...

The result was that when the user's website went down the Slack alert was prepared as usual but failed to send. No problem so far...

However, the alert remained in a queue and repeat attempts to send it were made every minute.

This wasn't ideal. Lots of errors were logged and the server was loaded unnecessarily.

So we fixed it - now if a Slack alert fails for this reason the alert is deleted from the queue and Slack alerts are turned off for the user.

 

30 Apr 2019

...now live!

UPDATE - 30 April 2019 - Beta testing has been successfully completed and content monitoring is now fully live :)

We've just rolled out another major new feature - website content monitoring. If the content of your website changes unexpectedly, Downtime Monkey will alert you.

website content monitoring - hacked websites


How Content Monitoring Works

A request is sent to the webpage and the source code of the webpage is checked to make sure that it contains a keyword phrase that you have supplied. If the phrase isn't found then the site will be recorded as "down: keywords not found" and alerts will be sent.

This works well as a complement to standard downtime monitoring, catching some website problems that would otherwise be missed...



Catch On-Page Errors

Most of the time when a website goes down the result is an http error. For example, "404 Page Not Found" or "503 Service Unavailable". These errors are caught by Downtime Monkey's downtime monitoring - no problem!

However, sometimes when a site goes down an http error is not produced. Instead the webpage is served with a normal response of "200 OK" and the error is printed on the otherwise blank page.

Database Problems

When a database problem occurs this usually produces an on-page error - an example is when a database is overloaded and the error is shown: "SQL Error: Too many connections[1040]". This is common on busy forums:

website content monitoring - database errors


Memory Limits Exceeded

When a script's memory limits are exceeded this also produces an error on-page - this is common in heavy content management systems such as WordPress: "Fatal error: Allowed memory size of xxxxx bytes exhausted":

website content monitoring - memory limits


These are just a couple of examples from a multitude of possible on-page errors - content monitoring will catch them all!

Catch Hacked Websites

It's a sad state of affairs but attacks on websites are now an everyday occurrence. Attackers regularly take over sites and replace the page content with their own, often malicious, content.

Content monitoring can catch this and send you an alert, so you'll get notified and can restore your website right away.

website content monitoring - hacked


Getting Started With Content Monitoring

It's really easy to set up content monitoring for your site - get started in less than a minute:

1) Login to your Downtime Monkey account (content monitoring is a Pro feature so you'll need to be on a Pro Plan).

2) Add a new monitor (skip this step if you want to add content monitoring to an existing monitor).

3) Go to your monitors, scroll to the monitor of your choice and click the monitor settings icon.

4) Select "On" from the "Keyword monitoring on/off" dropdown menu.

5) In the "Keywords" field, input an exact match phrase from your webpage.

5) Click update monitor - that's all!

Minimising Load To Your Server

One of the aspects that we spent a lot of time on when developing the feature was minimising the load to your server.

Unlike downtime monitoring, content monitoring requires that the webpage content is downloaded each time a check is made. This uses bandwidth and when considering the frequency of the checks it was important to take some steps to minimise this load:

1) Websites are monitored every 3 minutes (as opposed to every minute for downtime monitoring). This reduction in monitoring frequency reduces bandwidth by 1/3.

2) Only the source code (i.e. the text) of the website is downloaded. Images, video and other heavy content is ignored.

3) Where the website server permits, only the first 5KB of the page is accessed. However, not all servers are configured to allow partial page loads but where they do we take advantage of the savings in bandwidth.

4) When the website server doesn't permit partial page loads the page size is limited to a maximum of 50KB. This was a big decision for us as it means that some very heavy webpages won't be able to use this feature. However, we were also aware that we needed to place a limit as some sites have huge pages (over a MB of code) and owners of these sites probably won't want the load on their server to go through the roof. The limit of 50KB corresponds to roughly 50,000 characters of source code and when we surveyed a bunch of websites we found that 96% of sites either used less than this or allowed partial page loads.

Alerts

Alert settings for content monitoring are the same as the settings that are in place for downtime monitoring. If you already have alerts set to email, SMS or Slack then no need to change anything - you'll receive these alerts for both downtime and content monitoring.

Alerts are of the form: "URL is down: keywords don't match" or "URL is up: keywords match" so that you can tell right away that the alert is for content monitoring.

Rate limits that you have set for SMS and Slack alerts also apply to content monitoring - if you have a rate limit set the total number of alerts per hour won't exceed this.

Custom alert delays (e.g. only send alerts if a site is down for 2 minutes) don't apply to content monitoring. Alerts are sent instantly when a content mismatch is found - this is because content mismatches are an indication of a serious problem that usually doesn't self heal, so you'll get notified ASAP.

Content Monitoring Logs

All content monitoring records are logged and can be viewed on a monitor's stats page, along with the start time, end time, duration and explanation for the event.

Content monitoring events aren't included in the overall uptime stats for the site as content monitoring is treated separately from downtime monitoring.

A Short Period Of Beta

This feature is now live and will undergo a short period of Beta testing over the next few weeks.

Beta testing has now been completed successfully - this feature is live in full production.

If you have any questions check out the Content Monitoring FAQ.

Finally, a big thank you to all the people who submitted feature requests for this - you have really helped us to improve Downtime Monkey!

 

25 Apr 2019

Last night we rolled out some new very inexpensive Micro Pro Plans.

We've always provided a basic Free Plan alongside Pro Plans which have powerful features and allow monitoring of many websites.

cheap website monitoring

However, we recently received requests from users who monitor only a few websites but wanted smaller, cheaper Pro Plans with the same useful, advanced features as the bigger Pro Plans.

So we have introduced new Pro1 and Pro10 micro plans.

We expect they'll be popular with small businesses and individuals who want the very best monitoring service at an incredibly cheap price...

Introducing Pro1 & Pro10 Plans

The Pro1 plan is for users who only need to monitor one website and the Pro10 enables monitoring of up to 10 sites.

Both these plans come with exactly the same features as the larger Pro Plans.

Features like: access to detailed records of all downtimes (including explanations of why each downtime occurred), monitoring of webpage content (keywords), and the ability to hold alerts until a website remains down for a specified time.

The plans start at just $0.48/month (€0.43/month or £0.36/month).

Payments are available in 158 currencies worldwide so whether you live in Vancouver, Sydney or Timbuktu you can pay in your home currency and be sure that there won't be any surprise conversion fees.

To see the kick-ass features that most benefit Micro Pro users check out this post.

A big thank you to everyone who provided feedback on this - you've helped us improve Downtime Monkey!

 

04 Apr 2019

It's spring cleaning time at Downtime Monkey which, for us, means bug-fixing.

In our last post we described how we fixed an edge-case bug which showed up in rare circumstances.

Here are the details of our latest fix...

ladybug

URLs With Forced Trailing Slashes

It was brought to our attention by one of our new users that they couldn't add some URLs as monitors. The common theme was that the URLs all had trailing slashes, i.e. https://example.com/.

The other commonality was that these trailing slashes were forced. The webpage wouldn't show without the slash, instead the user was redirected to the URL with the slash.

What was the cause?

When you add a new website monitor, Downtime Monkey first checks that the URL is valid and then visits the site to check that it is up and doesn't redirect to another webpage. This prevents people adding monitors with typos and helps keep Downtime Monkey's monitoring efficient.

We also check that a new monitor isn't a duplicate. To do this we stripped trailing slashes - the logic being that http://example.com and http://example.com/ are effectively duplicate webpages.

However, this proved a little overzealous because sites with forced trailing slashes failed the redirect validation... and therefore couldn't be added as monitors.

More than an edge-case

Although websites with forced trailing slashes are not very common, there are plenty of them out there and we should have picked-up on this earlier.

Also, there is no-doubt that we would have missed this for longer if it hadn't been brought to our attention - so a big thank you to the user who let us know!

Easy Fix

As is the case with a lot of bugs: once we were aware of it, the bug was easily fixed. We simply don't strip trailing slashes as part of URL validation any more!

 

29 Mar 2019

There have been record number of visitors to the Downtime Monkey website 3 months running and this is great - thanks to everyone who is using our service!

A knock-on effect is that a couple of minor bugs were brought to our attention - they were both edge-cases that only showed up in specific circumstances. Here are the details of the first one...

bug

Unnecessary Warnings Output On Page

Users from some countries noticed a warning output at the top of the home page the first time they visited the site.

The error message was along the lines: "IP API failed to open stream - too many requests" but with some programming jargon thrown in.

What was the cause?

Since Downtime Monkey is a worldwide service we deliver different content to users in each country. For example, users in the United States want to see prices in US$, users in Europe want to see prices in € and users in Bermuda want to see prices in BD$ while sipping drinks at the beach.

To deliver the correct content the site checks the IP address of the user, uses an API to find their country and serves them the correct page.

Occasionally though, our first choice of API is busy. No problem - in this case we have a fallback (and a fallback to the fallback) where another API is used.

However, what we didn't notice was that, under some circumstances, when the fallback was needed a warning was output to the page. Obviously this didn't give the best user experience - the warning wouldn't make much sense to anyone who isn't a web developer and the site was working fine so no need for a warning at all!

Why was it missed?

It was missed because the warning was only seen by users in a few countries (it was specific to certain country pages), only when the API fallback was needed and only the first time a user visited the website.

Easy Fix

Once we were aware of the bug it was easily fixed - no more unnecessary error messages.

We'll bring you details of the other bugfix in our next blog - watch this space...

 

04 Mar 2019

...new feature!

We've just rolled out another major new feature - website content monitoring. If the content of your website changes unexpectedly, Downtime Monkey will alert you.

website content monitoring - hacked websites


How Content Monitoring Works

A request is sent to the webpage and the source code of the webpage is checked to make sure that it contains a keyword phrase that you have supplied. If the phrase isn't found then the site will be recorded as "down: keywords not found" and alerts will be sent.

This works well as a complement to standard downtime monitoring, catching some website problems that would otherwise be missed...



Catch On-Page Errors

Most of the time when a website goes down the result is an http error. For example, "404 Page Not Found" or "503 Service Unavailable". These errors are caught by Downtime Monkey's downtime monitoring - no problem!

However, sometimes when a site goes down an http error is not produced. Instead the webpage is served with a normal response of "200 OK" and the error is printed on the otherwise blank page.

Database Problems

When a database problem occurs this usually produces an on page error - an example is when a database is overloaded and the error is shown: "SQL Error: Too many connections[1040]". This is common on busy forums:

website content monitoring - database errors


Memory Limits Exceeded

When a script's memory limits are exceeded this also produces an error on page - this is common in heavy content management systems such as WordPress: "Fatal error: Allowed memory size of xxxxx bytes exhausted":

website content monitoring - memory limits


These are just a couple of examples from a multitude of possible on-page errors - content monitoring will catch them all!

Catch Hacked Websites

It's a sad state of affairs but attacks on websites are now an everyday occurrence. Attackers regularly to take over sites and replace the page content with their own, often malicious, content.

Content monitoring can catch this and send you an alert, so you'll get notified and can restore your website right away.

Minimising Load To Your Server

One of the aspects that we spent a lot of time on when developing the feature was minimising the load to your server.

Unlike downtime monitoring, content monitoring requires that the webpage content is downloaded each time a check is made. This uses bandwidth and considering the frequency of the checks it was important to take some steps to minimise this load:

1) Websites are monitored every 3 minutes (as opposed to every minute for downtime monitoring). This reduction in monitoring frequency reduces bandwidth by 1/3.

2) Only the source code (i.e. the text) of the website is downloaded. Images, video and other heavy content is ignored.

3) Where the website server permits, only the first 5KB of the page is accessed. However, not all servers are configured to allow partial page loads but where they do we take advantage of the savings in bandwidth.

4) When the website server doesn't permit partial page loads the page size is limited to a maximum of 50KB. This was a big decision for us as it means that some very heavy webpages won't be able to use this feature. However, we were also aware that we needed to place a limit as some sites have huge pages (over a MB of code) and owners of these sites probably won't want the load on their server to go through the roof. The limit of 50KB corresponds to roughly 50,000 characters of source code and when we surveyed a bunch of websites we found that 96% of sites either used less than this or allowed partial page loads.

Getting Started With Content Monitoring

It's really easy to set up content monitoring for your site - get started in less than a minute:

1) Login to your Downtime Monkey account (content monitoring is a Pro feature so you'll need to be on a Pro Plan).

2) Add a new monitor (skip this step if you want to add content monitoring to an existing monitor).

3) Go to your monitors, scroll to the monitor of your choice and click the monitor settings icon.

4) Select "On" from the "Keyword monitoring on/off" dropdown menu.

5) In the "Keywords" field, input an exact match phrase from your webpage.

5) Click update monitor - that's all!

Alerts

Alert settings for content monitoring are the same as the settings that are in place for downtime monitoring. If you already have alerts set to email, SMS or Slack then no need to change anything - you'll receive these alerts for both downtime and content monitoring.

Alerts are of the form: "URL is down: keywords don't match" or "URL is up: keywords match" so that you can tell right away that the alert is for content monitoring.

Rate limits that you have set for SMS and Slack alerts also apply to content monitoring - if you have a rate limit set the total number of alerts per hour won't exceed this.

Custom alert delays (e.g. only send alerts if a the site is down for 2 minutes) don't apply to content monitoring. Alerts are sent instantly when it is a content mismatch is found - this is because content mismatches are an indication of a serious problem that usually doesn't self heal, so you'll want notified right ASAP.

Content Monitoring Logs

All content monitoring records are logged and can be viewed on a monitor's stats page, along with the start time, end time, duration and explanation for the event.

Content monitoring events aren't included in the overall uptime stats for the site as content monitoring is treated separately from downtime monitoring.

A Short Period Of Beta

This feature is now live and will undergo a short period of Beta testing over the next few weeks.

If you have any questions check out the Content Monitoring FAQ.

Finally, a big thank you to all the people who submitted feature requests for this - you have really helped us to improve Downtime Monkey!

 

21 Feb 2019

In a recent blog post we answered the question: Why Whitelist an Email Address?

TLDR; "If you expect to receive important emails from a trusted email address it is worth whitelisting the address to make sure that emails won't be accidentally blocked by an overzealous email client."

In this post we show you how to do it in cPanel by adjusting the SpamAssassin spam filters. If you use cPanel webmail (e.g. Horde, Roundcube or Squirrel Mail) then this is what to do...



Overview of cPanel Webmail and SpamAssassin

When you manage your own email accounts through cPanel the spam management of messages to these emails is usually handled by Apache SpamAssassin.

Rather than managing spam settings for each email account individually, the spam settings for all email accounts in the cPanel account are managed together.

If you use cPanel webmail such as Roundcube, Horde or Squirrel Mail to access your emails then there is no whitelisting option inside each webmail account - instead use these SpamAssassin spam filters in cPanel:



How To Whitelist Emails with cPanel Spam Filters

1) Login to cPanel, scroll down to the email section and select 'Spam Filters':

cPanel select spam filters


2) Check that SpamAssassin is enabled. The 'Process New Emails and Mark then as Spam' button should be on. If it's off then there is no need to whitelist email addresses as spam management is not running:

cPanel SpamAssassin enabled

3) Scroll down and click 'Show Additional Configurations':

cPanel show additional configurations


4) Select 'Edit Spam Whitelist Settings':

cPanel edit spam whitelist settings


5) Click on 'Add A New "whitelist_from" Item':

cPanel add new whitelist from item


6) Add the email address that you want to whitelist. Here we have added monitor@downtimemonkey.com to ensure that we receive email alerts if one of the websites that we monitor goes down. Once the email address is added, click 'Update Whitelist (whitelist_from)'. The email address is now whitelisted:

cPanel add email address to be whitelisted


Whitelisting A Whole Domain by using Wildcards

cPanel spam filters allow the use of the wildcards: * and ?

* can be used to represent any string of multiple characters and ? to represent any single character.

In step 6, if instead of adding monitor@downtimemonkey.com we add *@downtimemonkey.com we would whitelist every email address belonging to downtimemonkey.com.

 

23 Jan 2019

The software review and comparison site CompareCamp recently reviewed Downtime Monkey, and we’re really pleased to have received awards for ‘Great User Experience’ and ‘Rising Star 2018’.

website monitoring awards


The CompareCamp review analyzed several important elements of Downtime Monkey. They considered the main features, ease of use, customer support and value for money. We’re pleased to announce that Downtime Monkey impressed the review experts, with the website monitoring tool receiving an 83% overall rating.

It’s great to have our hard work recognized, especially our efforts in delivering an outstanding user experience, which has been a top priority. From the start, our aim has always been to make Downtime Monkey incredibly quick and easy to use. This is why we’re proud to be recognized with the Great User Experience award by a notable review platform.

The Rising Star 2018 award highlights Downtime Monkey’s achievement in disrupting the website monitoring space last year. This award is also a recommendation from the review site that our app is considered as a reliable monitoring tool for alerting users to all instances of website downtimes.

To experience just how easy it is to use, sign up here and start monitoring your websites... in seconds.