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5 Tools To Monitor Website Changes

7 Set/09

Want to know when prices drop at shopping sites? When someone posts a new message in a forum? When your favorite website updates that is not offering an RSS feed? All of these usage scenarios and many more cry for programs that can monitor website changes. What should a program that monitors website updates come with? It should obviously check the website in intervals and compare the active state with a previous state of the website. The website updates should then be announced to the computer user. Optional nice to have features for website monitors are highlighting changes on the websites, abilities to ignore minor website changes (e.g. date and time that are changing every minute) or logging functionality.

The following list contains five tools for monitoring websites. Three of the tools are Firefox add-ons, one is a online service and the last a software program for the Windows operating system. We encourage readers to add additional tools (should be a free website monitor software, service or add-on) in the comments.

Check 4 Change

monitor website changes

Check 4 Change is a Firefox add-on. It is probably the most basic tools to monitor websites that are reviewed in this article. The user can select text on websites and open the Check 4 Change context menu after right-clicking. It is there possible to define the interval for monitoring the website changes. Website Updates are then displayed in the tab of the website that is being monitored. This outlines one of the biggest weaknesses of this add-on. The website has to be open to be monitored by the Firefox add-on.

A few options are provided by the add-on. It is possible to change the intervals and configure several notification options that include playing sounds, popups or bringing the window to the front. The add-on is best used for monitoring websites that require authentication. It could for example be interesting for monitoring web email accounts.

Update Scanner

monitor websites

Update Scanner uses a different approach than Check 4 Change. The program will automatically monitor the complete website for changes with the option to ignore numbers and minor changes. Another benefit of using this website monitor is that the websites that are monitored do not have to be open for it to perform the update checks.

The interval of the checks for website changes is set to once a day by default. This value can be changed to a minimum of every 5 minutes or set to manual scan on the other end of the scale. The add-on will place an icon in the Firefox status bar. A left-click on that icon will open a sidebar that is displaying all websites that are monitored by the add-on. This sidebar contains buttons to perform a manual scan, open one of the monitored websites and to access the preferences of the add-on that allow the user to configure notifications.

website updates

Available are sound and popup notifications.

Site Delta

monitoring websites

Site Delta is the third (and last) Firefox add-on for monitoring websites. The add-on is a little bit confusing at the beginning as there is no apparent way to add websites that should be monitored to it. The add-on begins to monitor websites for changes if the user presses its icon in the Firefox status bar. The active url will then be added to the list of pages that are monitored by the add-on. The icon will glow green if the active website is monitored by it. A right-click opens a context menu that can be used to configure the monitoring in detail.

Users can configure the scan options in two tabs. The add-on will by default check for text and image changes. It is furthermore possible to ignore case or numbers and to create a backup copy of the page whenever changes are recognized.

website changes

The when to scan tab can be used to configure the intervals of the scans. It is possible to set a specific frequency or let the add-on handle it. It seems to use an algorithm that reduces the checks if the website that is monitored is not updated frequently.

website monitors

Change Detection

free website monitor

Change Detection is a free online service that can monitor websites for changes. An account is required before websites can be monitored by the service. The website url and an email address are provided in the first step of the process. The service will then try to scan the website. If the scan is successful step 2 is displayed.

monitor websites

The notifications and type of changes to trigger notifications can be configured in the second step. Notifications can either be provided by sending emails to an email account or by offering an RSS feed that is being updated with website changes.

It is possible to configure the online monitoring service to only send out notifications if sizable changes have happened on the monitored websites. It is furthermore possible to define text that should trigger notifications (either if it is added or removed from the page which could be interesting for link building purposes).

WebMon

website monitoring

WebMon is the only software program in this review that can be used to monitor websites. The website monitoring software has a few advantages over the Firefox add-ons. It can be run in the background even if all web browser windows are closed. The Firefox add-ons can only perform checks for updated websites if the web browser is running.

The program comes with an easy to use interface. It begins by adding an url to the program. Any url that is currently in the Windows clipboard will automatically be pasted into the form right away. It is then possible to configure the intervals of the checks using the minutes, hours and days slider in the interface. The process is complete if everything on the page should be monitored. Users who want to specify certain text or elements on a website can do so by clicking on the “specify content for check” button in the configuration window.

website monitor software

It basically allows the user to specify the range of content on a website that should be included in the checks. The website monitoring software notifies the user with popup alerts or sounds. It can furthermore run a command if an update is found.

Many additional options are provided that include proxy server support, logging or to import and export the list of monitored websites.

Verdict

The right website monitoring software, add-on or service depends highly on the usage scenario. Users who work with their web browser all the time might prefer the add-on solution to monitor website changes. The online service on the other hand will monitor websites remotely so that the computer system of the user does not need to be turned on at all to monitor changes (could be send to a smartphone per example).

The website monitoring software on the other hand is the most flexible tool that provides options to execute commands if changes have been detected.

Which do you prefer?

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  1. Is it necessary to monitor changes made to a website..

    Inserito da geetha | novembre 4, 2009, 14:53

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    Spina Rosario
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