Pingdom Accounts [Christmas Giveaway]

23 Dic/09

Many webmasters and system administrators need to know immediately when they websites or servers go down. Downtime can mean that business is lost, that search engines record errors when trying to crawl a website and that first time visitors never come back because the website or service is not loading or displaying error messages.

Big companies usually have IT staff that is monitoring the server infrastructure 24/7, something that most website and server owners cannot (and do not have the desire to) afford. Some webhosting companies provide 24/7 monitoring of their dedicated servers, virtual servers and web hosting packages but the effectiveness varies a lot and the account owner is usually not informed at once if something goes down (and back up again).

A third alternative are so called web monitoring services. These services are web based and offer a set of tools to monitor web servers and websites. Most of these services offer email, sms and even phone notifications as soon as the server goes down.

Pingdom is one of those services. The web monitoring service offers various http, network and email checks that can be configured easily. The number of services that are monitored depends on the user’s account level. Pingdom offers a free account that is good for monitoring one web service on one domain. The basic and business accounts raise those limits to 5 respectively 30 checks with the option to buy extra checks if needed.

Website Monitoring Setup

Pingdom does not require any installations or configurations on the web server or website that the user wants to monitor. All monitoring services are setup on the Pingdom website.

It starts by selecting one of the available check types.

This ranges from http checks over network checks that test the DNS, TCP port or UDP to email checks that can check Pop3, SMTP and IMAP connections. The check resolution, that is the interval in which the check is performed can be selected in this step as well. The interval ranges from every minute to every 60 minutes.

The next options differ depending on the choice in the first step. A http check for instance requires only the url of the website that should be checked. Entering the url completes this step which does provide optional settings which can help a user in performing specific tasks.

The Check For String On Page parameter for instance can easily be used to check if a database is up and running. To do that the webmaster needs to write (or copy and paste) a small script that displays certain text on a custom url if the website is up or down. This can for instance be UP if it is up and DOWN if it is down. The string check can be configured to report downtime if the DOWN string appeared on the page of the website or server.

Other optional settings in this step include configuring a username and password for websites that require authentication and changing the user-agent of the Pingdom service (which might make sense if third-party websites are monitored).

The final step of the process configured the notification options. Pingdom uses a contact database that can be filled with contacts that should be notified if a check fails. This can always be the same user or individual webmasters or system administrators depending on the website or even check that is performed.

Pingdom supports four types of notifications: SMS, Email, Twitter and iPhone. The number of available SMS depends on the account type. The free account comes with 20 SMS with the option to buy additional SMS if needed. An option that is missing is phone support which is offered by some other website monitoring services.


Pingdom starts monitoring the configured services as soon as they have been created by the user. Reporting is one of the strengths of Pingdom.

The overview displays the most important data at a glance including the uptime, downtime and response time. This report can be filtered by data to provide an overview of a specific time frame.

Detailed reports are available for each website that is listed in the overview and from the sidebar menu.

Pingdom operates servers in many countries in the world that are used to monitor the configured websites, servers and services. Successful and failed attempts to connect will be written to an extensive log file that provides error analysis for some failed attempts. This includes information like the date and time of the operation, the datacenter used to perform the check and a traceroute which can be very helpful for the error analysis.

Pingdom Review Verdict

Pingdom offers a sophisticated web monitoring service with excellent reporting. The service is aimed at webmasters, system administrators and professionals mainly which is reflected in the interface which could use additional help overlays to guide the user through the creation. It would also be nice if they would add an option to receive phone notifications and if they would provide basic scripts to test specific services like MySQL databases.

But those are marginal and the overall experience and service lives up to its promises. The free basic account should be enough for many users who only run one website. Professionals on the other hand can use the basic and business account along with the optional services to monitor all their servers and websites.

Christmas Giveaway

We are giving away 10 Pingdom Basic Accounts that are paid for for one year. Please let us know if you currently use a website monitoring service and if so which to enter the draw for the accounts.

Raju is giving away two programs today: Corel Digital Studio 2010 and Corel Painter Essentials 4.

Beecher is giving away a copy of Team Fortress 2, best online fps game since UT99.

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