As a web hoster, sysadmin, or general site owner, keeping your sites and servers healthy is your daily number-one priority. But this involves having your eyes and ears on every aspect of your business, 24/7. Most small to medium businesses don’t have the resources to manage this without error.
That’s why all (smart) web pros depend on monitoring solutions to act as their complete, full-time detection system. Site monitoring provides an ideal set of tools to track performance and user experience, but just as important is your own server monitoring kit. Because keeping your servers healthy is the basis of a growing, sustainable online business.
So that just leaves one simple decision for you to make: Among the many monitoring tools available today, which one consistently suits your needs for now and the future?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the world’s top monitoring extensions, broken down into their core and innovative features.
Here are the monitoring options we will be exploring:
To gather a clear understanding of server monitoring and tools, take a look at this article. Now, let’s dive in:
The Basics of Monitoring Tools
Which core features should you expect from any leading monitoring tool?
Besides the basic site monitoring (i.e. downtime tracking) features that your extension should provide in detail, another must-have that each option offers is multi-channel alert integrations. It’s no use having tracking tools that pick up on all issues and changes if you don’t know about it!
All of the above mentioned monitoring options therefore provide integration options with various notification centers, such as email and SMS. Tools like 360 Monitoring and Uptime Robot even integrate with Discord, Slack, Telegram, and a dozen others, so you’ll never miss a notification, wherever you are. We strongly recommend choosing a tool that integrates with your most frequently used alert center, as it reduces the chance of missing critical notifications.
Another feature you can expect to find in all of the above monitoring tools is a Multiple Location Checker. This means that the uptime of your website is not only checked by one server, but also from other locations that you can choose yourself.
Popular Features: Less Common
Moving on to features that make a difference but aren’t always included in your monitoring tool:
- Keyword monitoring – You won’t find keyword monitoring in all monitoring tools. This feature allows you to check whether certain keywords (like ‘Error’) are present on your site, and deliver alerts of the same where necessary. Available by default in 360 Monitoring, Uptime Robot, & Pingdom.
- SSL monitoring – Useful additional site safety tracker, available with 360 Monitoring, Uptime Robot, & Pingdom.
- Managed infrastructure – Even with very flexible monitoring tools, it is often preferable for web admins to have their tools managed, as opposed to self-hosted. All of the above monitoring tools, apart from Nagios, offer the full solution infrastructure as managed.
- Hosted Status Pages – This tool shows your clients what the performance and availability of your services are. Offered by 360 Monitoring, Pingdom, & Uptime Robot.
Rare Features: Only the best
This is where the top dogs really shine – Let’s look at the monitoring extensions that go above and beyond:
Hardware monitoring (Server monitoring)
Site monitoring is great. But without a healthy server to back it up, your website efforts will ultimately be futile. That’s why the best monitoring tools keep a close eye on your actual hardware: the server(s) supporting your sites.
As any web pro will know, server monitoring provides a next-level toolkit to get you well acquainted with the inner workings of your products and business.
For example, here are some of the metrics you can access on 360 Monitoring server tracking tools (along with many others):
- Tracking CPU
- Load times
- Network statistics (ping, bytes, packets)
- Memory and Swap
- Disk usage (Overall, I/O)
Other extensions that include similar tools for tracking your server(s) are NewRelic and Nagios.
Process monitoring (Service monitoring)
Process level monitoring, also known as service monitoring, can provide sysdamins with a snapshot of which processes are running when issues arise, i.e. high CPU usage. This helps in finding the culprit of the problem that has arisen and fix it faster. Clearly, this is a top feature for the long-term health and maintenance of your inventory.
Extensions that include this super useful feature are 360 Monitoring, NewRelic and Nagios.
For both pro developers and admins with less technical expertise, there are times when the option to customize is highly preferable.
To compare how easily you can personalize the aforementioned solutions, we’ll look at two feature aspects:
Compatibility with other extensions such as NGINX, MongoDB, or CloudLinux can be highly useful for optimizing your monitoring tool. But not all monitoring toolkits have the option to install additional extensions and use them alongside other functionalities.
Here are the monitoring options that offer a wide catalog of plugins to customize your monitoring experience: 360 Monitoring, NewRelic, and Nagios.
Writing your own Plugins
This one is for very experienced developers. If you can’t find the exact right tool you need for monitoring your sites and servers, then you can always build your own. How much more customizable can you get? With 360 Monitoring, NewRelic and Nagios, you are given the option to develop and implement whatever features you can code for yourself.
Choosing what data you see first and prioritizing certain performance charts above others can make all the difference to how much time you dedicate to monitoring. What metrics are most important for you to see first on your dashboards? 360 Monitoring and NewRelic are solutions that allow you to customize your dashboards and improve your overall monitoring experience.
Usability, UX and UI
As a user, your first priority will be simple: is the tool easy and intuitive to use?
In this respect, at Plesk we favor 360 Monitoring: From its one-click set-up, to the clear, individual, and customizable dashboards, this intuitive extension is built for the user. Across four dashboards, the data is easily accessible and visually represented for at-a-glance insights. Unlike many of the competitors, the set-up for 360 Monitoring can be done quickly and simply in two ways:
- For Plesk users: Open the Plesk Monitoring Extension, and connect your server to 360 and 360 Monitoring. Then select all websites you want to manage. The extension takes care of configuring the sensor, setting everything up, and starting to check your server and website on a regular basis.
- For non-Plesk servers: To enable monitoring of your website, it’s as simple as adding the URL to a form on your 360 Monitoring account and selecting the monitoring location. Servers can be monitored by simply executing a “one-liner” on the shell and in seconds your server is reporting data back to your 360 Monitoring Dashboard. See more here.
Pricing is a very important consideration for any small (or large!) business owner. Having a free option is useful to getting started, and prices for upgraded versions can vary greatly:
Pricing (Per month)
Price of infrastructure & management
We know that keeping track of all your web inventory is tough, so we highly recommend using this comparison to choose the monitoring tool for you. Overall, taking into account features, pricing and usability, at Plesk we recommend 360 Monitoring, especially for tracking a large number of sites and servers. But what works best for your business?
Below we have also displayed the same information in an easy-read format as a quick reference:
Custom monitoring plugins
Write your own plugins
Hosted Status Pages