Last month something weird happened, and I started getting messages from my Google search console like this:
Apparently, my sites were returning a “526” error – which indicates an invalid SSL certificate. Troubleshooting, it found out that it was caused by using wildcard Let’s Encrypt certificates while also using a Domain Name Server that was different from my host – in this case, Cloudflare. But once I cleared this up, I started to get paranoid.
I don’t want to rely on the Google search console to warn me when my site’s down! For one, there’s usually a sizeable delay between the error and notification, which waste’s precious time. Second, if there’s a search console error, it means that it’s already come to the attention of Google, and that can’t be a good thing.
What I wanted was a way to get ahead of these kinds of problems and be notified in minutes when my site is down.
Pingdom is Shutting Down its Free Service on 6th February 2019
For years, Pingdom has been my go-to service for monitoring website uptime (I don’t know why I ever disabled it in the first place – I’m an idiot, go figure!). Their free tier is perfect for my basic needs. I don’t want anything fancy. Just the following:
- A ping to my site on a defined time interval
- From random locations
- Instant notifications
Unfortunately, it seems that Pingdom is shuttering its free service on the 6th of February 2019. This is a pretty big disappointment to those who had come to rely on it for monitoring downtime without paying an additional fee. They’ve been around for so many years, that it seems almost like the end of an era.
Luckily, there are other providers who are waiting to pick up the slack, and here’s the one I switched to when I found that Pingdom would no longer work in a few days.
Using “StatusCake” Instead
I’ve been testing out a few alternative services, and the one I’ve currently settled on is called StatusCake. Signing up for an account is easy – they don’t even ask for an e-mail confirmation. Just type in your email and password and you’re ready to go!
From there, you can create your first basic test. Just enter your URL, choose the time interval, and the email ID to which you want notifications to be sent like this:
You can add up to 10 websites, and monitor them from the primary dashboard like this:
Other Services for Monitoring Uptime
One service that’s free to use for all WordPress sites is the Jetpack “Downtime monitoring” feature. You can find it under the “Security” tab in the Jetpack settings as shown here:
Honestly, I don’t know how well this works because I’ve yet to receive a notification from them. They claim to check your website once every 5 minutes from multiple locations around the world. But until I actually see it work, I can’t be sure of its reliability. They don’t provide any stats of successful pings, unlike other services, so there’s no way to know in advance if it works or not.
One would think that Cloudflare would be ideally placed to offer this kind of service, given their reach and the architecture of their network. Instead, they’ve outsourced it to another paid service that’s more expensive than all the other dedicated site monitoring services. Weird!
So what service do you use to monitor your site for downtime? If you’ve been relying on Pingdom all this while, how are you going to find a replacement?