updown.io: Website uptime monitoring at an affordable price

updown website monitoring tool

A few months ago I was looking for a monitoring service to protect my Sir Apfelot blog against failure or to at least receive brief information when my blog is down. Some providers offer such a service, but most of the time it is only checked whether the web server is sending a response to the test request. If this is not the case, these systems sound the alarm. To put it exaggeratedly, this is like looking at a person to see whether they still have a pulse. But that is by no means an indication that you can also talk to him. You understand what I mean. : D

In practice, this check is not enough, because if the database has problems or a WordPress plugin is spinning, you often have an error message on the page or - even worse - it just gets a white side is displayed. This is very unsatisfactory for readers, but everything still seems to be in order for the test script of the provider, because the server sends a page back - albeit empty.

The updown.io service offers website monitoring for bloggers, shop owners and website owners.

The updown.io service offers website monitoring for bloggers, shop owners and website owners.

The right exam for bloggers and website owners

So for bloggers like me, checking the server response is not useful. Instead, I now do it in such a way that I check whether certain content appears on a subpage. In my case of the Sir Apfelot blog, I'm checking the subpage with the post about mine iPhone and iPad app and see if the text "If you like the contents of this blog" appears there.

This rules out the following error scenarios:

  • Database error, because then the text of the article would not be able to be read from the database.
  • Server error, because then WordPress would not run.
  • htaccess error, because then the subpage could not be accessed due to the permalinks.
  • Serious PHP error, because then the rendering of the page would be interrupted and the text would no longer appear.

I can do all of these points with the Monitoring service updown.io check. With these checks, the likelihood that I will notice a failure of my blog in a timely manner is relatively high. There could still be the scenario that an error message appears on the website, but the article content is still displayed. In this case, the broken layout might make the text unreadable or difficult to read for users, but the check would still give the green light, since the part of the sentence can still be found on the page.

Ok, updown.io has to fit here, but for me that is a compromise that I am happy to accept due to the good price of updown.io. But I would like to say a few more words about the pricing below.

With each test you can activate up to eight different locations - how many you activate does not affect the consumption of credits. Each check always costs one credit.

With each test you can activate up to eight different locations - how many you activate does not affect the consumption of credits. Each check always costs one credit.

How does updown.io work?

The creation of a new test at updown.io is relatively simple, as you only have to enter a few values:

  • URL of the page (optionally an alias for the overview)
  • the time interval in which the test should take place (adjustable from 15 seconds to 1 hour)
  • the location from which the request (s) should come (8 locations worldwide selectable)
  • the desired Apdex time (server response time)
  • Notification option (email, Slack, Telegram, Zapier or SMS)
  • optional: text to be checked if the HTTP status code is not required

Explanation of the Apdex time

The Apdex time may need some explanation. Here you can specify a time in which a server response is still acceptable. One subdivides into the categories "satisfied", "tolerating" and "frustrated". I've set the times so that an average answer under a second is still satisfactory. An error message is received here if the Apdex time (average of the selected server locations) falls into the "tolerating" or "frustrated" range.

Here you can see the Apdex time from Sir-Apfelot.de - measured from eight different locations.

Here you can see the Apdex time from Sir-Apfelot.de - measured from eight different locations.

As you can see in the screenshot, the Apdex time for me from France and Germany is significantly better than for inquiries from other countries. However, this is okay with me, as my readers are usually from Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

Should my blog be extremely successful at some point and I no longer know where to throw the money, then I'll book the CDN from Akamai or Cloudflare. Then it whispers from all countries. But at the moment that would still be a bit outside of my budget. At this point a reference to my steady sidethat you can use to help me financially. ;-)

Alternative application 1: checking backlinks

A positive note about the search function with text. This search updown.io checks in the first megabyte of the sent source text whether a certain text can be found, if this is not the case, an error is triggered.

The advantage of this function is that you can even search for strings in the website's source code. This can be helpful if, for example, you have agreed to a link exchange with someone (that is, the other website points to us and we to it) and you want to make sure that this link remains. For the test, you simply enter your own URL for the text to be checked and the updown script checks whether this text can be found in the source code. If the link partner quietly removes the link after 2 weeks, you will receive a notification from updown.

For the tests, you can choose a time interval in which the test is carried out. In the case of a backlink check, 24 hours would be enough for me, but unfortunately the maximum is one hour.

For the tests, you can choose a time interval in which the test is carried out. In the case of a backlink check, 24 hours would be enough for me, but unfortunately the maximum is one hour.

If you set an interval of one hour during the check, checking the URL for a month costs only one cent (0,01 EUR). In my opinion, an absolutely acceptable price. The cheapest SEO tool that includes this feature is Wise SEO, in which you can check a list of 10 URLs for a monthly price of 100 euros. But even that is ten times more expensive than updown.io.

Alternative application 2: Checking price changes on Amazon

I also use updown.io to be informed about changes in prices on Amazon. For example, if I have a tip on the blog that describes that item XY is available with a 43% discount, then I would like to adapt this notice if the discount changes on Amazon. I am informed about this by entering the Amazon product URL as the URL and the string "43%" as the text to be checked. If the discount no longer applies, updown.io can no longer find this string and sends me a notification.

This is what my Amazon test looks like, with which I see whether a discount is still available.

This is what my Amazon test looks like, with which I see whether a discount is still available.

If you can think of any other applications, please feel free to send them to me. I am happy to add these to the list here.

 

What does not work: "Text does not contain ..."

One option that some people have sent as a feature request is to check for "does not contain" - a test that would react to the sudden appearance of a certain string in the code.

Unfortunately, the updown.io team rejected this suggestion from users and will not upgrade this feature because they think this is not a good practice for testing servers. I don't think they realize yet that people are using their service too much more than checking the uptime of servers.

The website uptime monitoring also works optionally with a check for a string, as I set it for Sir-Apfelot.de.

The website uptime monitoring also works optionally with a check for a string, as I set it for Sir-Apfelot.de.

 

Unfortunately updown will not receive a "does not contain" string check. The team explained it in the support post.

Unfortunately updown will not receive a "does not contain" string check. The team explained it in the support post.

Information for nerds in key points

Most bloggers, web shop owners, and website operators will be unfamiliar with some of the following features, but for the nerds among us, I would like to mention what updown.io advertises:

  • Dual-Stack: Zero configuration dual-stack monitoring (IPv4 / v6), same price.
  • Hosted status pages: Provides multilingual availability & performance reports.
  • REST API & Webhooks: Hack and integrate updown.io with the REST & WebHook APIs.
  • Fast checks: You can set the check frequency down to every 15s.
  • Accept BTC, BCH and more: We accept bitcoins and altcoins, alongside Paypal and credit cards.
  • Text search: Match the presence of a string instead of the regular HTTP status.
  • Various integrations: SMS, Webhook, Zapier, Telegram, Slack (or compatible).
  • Double-check: Downtimes are confirmed from multiple locations (8 total).
  • SSL testing: Receive alerts in case of invalid or expiring soon certificate.

Please excuse me for not translating the key points. My English is not that good and the people who care about the points can translate it for sure. And if necessary, you just throw the text in Deepl.com. : D

The prices from updown.io: extremely cheap

I looked at various monitoring services (I will publish a list of the services in a separate post and then link them here) and also compared their prices. The result is clear: while other services like distill.io For example, if you pay 12 dollars a month to check 50 URLs every 10 minutes, updown.io works with a credits system where it costs one credit to run a test run on a URL.

On Homepage of updown.io you will find a calculator with which you can calculate the monthly costs. This brings me to 50 euros compared to the example with the 10 URLs that are checked every 2,93 minutes.

Updown.io's price calculator: Checking 50 URLs once an hour costs only 49 cents a month.

Updown.io's price calculator: Checking 50 URLs once an hour costs only 49 cents a month.

The whole thing becomes even cheaper, because you can extend the interval of the tests to up to an hour. In most of my use cases, this is sufficient, so that when I switch to an interval of one hour with 50 URLs, I only get 49 cents per month. This service is nowhere cheaper to get.

For 25 euros you get 1,5 million credits. Enough that I can use it for over 12 years if I need it.

For 25 euros you get 1,5 million credits. Enough that I can use it for over 12 years if I need it.

 

If you order new credits from updown, you will immediately receive a small extrapolation of how long you will be able to use the credits.

If you order new credits from updown, you will immediately receive a small extrapolation of how long you will be able to use the credits.

Conclusion: server and website monitoring good and cheap

After using the updown for a few months now and have already recognized one or the other breakdown and quickly fixed it, the service has become an absolute recommendation for me. Today - after my free credits were only recently used up after several weeks - I invested the amount of 25 euros in the service and topped up my account. The dashboard shows how many credits I now have and how long they last: I now have 1.499.898 credits that last for over 146 months (yes, over 12 years!). What in the world does this company live on?!? : D

I've tried a few alternatives such as Pingdom, Distill.io or Monitoor and I'm still convinced of updown.io both technically and in terms of price. The ability to search for text with an error message when it disappears is perfect with updown to check the function of WordPress blogs.

The quick overview of all the checks and the detail page for each URL are visually very clear and meaningful. The whole service and the technical implementation simply convinced me. For people with higher demands there is also a REST API, various webhooks and the possibility to modify the HTTP requests. For example, you can run the test with a specific browser identifier and do other things. That's not important to me, but I wanted to mention that you can still set and change a lot here - if you like it.

100.000 free credits for testing

If you want to check out updown.io, you can register here and receive 100.000 free credits with which you can put the service through its paces. There is no subscription that you can automatically slip into. When the 100.000 credits are used up, you will receive a short message and that's it.

This is what the detailed view of a test looks like. In the overview you can also see the availability in the history.

This is what the detailed view of a test looks like. In the overview you can also see the availability in the history.

 

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