Set up SMS Monitoring for Your Sites for Free in Less than Five Minutes

Earlier this week I set out to sign us up for an independent website monitoring service.  In case you don’t know, these services periodically check your websites to ensure that the site is up and running.  If it isn’t, they contact you.  It’s really pretty simple, but it’s also very useful, especially for someone like me.

Now that we run our own server and I can control everything, I can usually fix any issue.  If I can’t, I can call Liquid Web and their awesome help usually resolves it for me in a matter of minutes.  However, I need to know when there is a problem and since I’m not on our sites 24×7 there are times when I’m not aware of issues as soon as I should be.  Enter a monitoring service.

A quick Google search brings up hundreds of options.  After extensively looking through them, I got frustrated.  I/we were willing to pay for good monitoring.  All that it had to do was allow for multiple sites, check them frequently (several times per hour),  check from different physical locations, and alert me via email and text message when something goes down.  Since I only check my email a few times each day, email alerts only are useless.

Much to my surprise, I couldn’t find a service that met those requirements.  They either charged per site, charged per text message, or didn’t offer text messaging.  Frustrated, I decided to get creative.

The site I liked best by far was Montastic.   It’s free, it’s super simple to use, and it offers everything except the text messaging (including RSS, which is a nice bonus).  Here’s a screenshot of our account with TD and DI set up:

Montastic

Then there was a matter of the text messaging.  After some Googling around I learned that every cell phone can be sent a text message by sending an email to yourphone#@yourcarrier.com.  I then added both my email address and my phone number’s email address to Montastic.  To test the service, I put in a fake site that didn’t exist and minutes later received an alert via both email and text message.  Voila, problem solved.

For anyone interested in replicating this set up, here’s a list I found of email addresses for US phone carriers.  It’s taken from this article from a few years back so I cannot vouche for the accuracy of every one of these, but the Sprint one worked for me:

  • Verizon:     10digitphonenumber@vtext.com
  • AT&T:     10digitphonenumber@mobile.att.net
  • Sprint:     10digitphonenumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com
  • T-Mobile:     10digitphonenumber@tmomail.net
  • Nextel:     10digitphonenumber@messaging.nextel.com
  • Cingular:     10digitphonenumber@mobile.mycingular.com
  • Virgin Mobile:     10digitphonenumber@vmobl.com
  • Alltel:     10digitphonenumber@alltelmessage.com OR message.alltel.com
  • CellularOne:     10digitphonenumber@mobile.celloneusa.com
  • Omnipoint:     10digitphonenumber@omnipointpcs.com
  • Qwest:     10digitphonenumber@qwestmp.come

6 comments on Set up SMS Monitoring for Your Sites for Free in Less than Five Minutes

  1. Leigh says:

    That’s awesome! Thanks for the information. I’m seriously slacking on getting my site up and running – I’ve got the domain and the hosting. I just haven’t gotten around to writing the content yet (which I should make a priority).

  2. The list of email address that you have compiled is extremely useful not only for monitoring the status of your website, but also in general for sending texts via a computer.

    I’ve been sending texts like this to Verizon phones but didn’t know the address for the other carriers. I suppose I could have looked them up. But this is very convenient.

  3. Adam McFarland says:

    Glad it helps! Even though that article was a few years old, that was the only place I could find a full list so for some reason the list isn’t as widely publicized as it should be.

  4. Adam McFarland says:

    An updated list I just found http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/email-to-sms/

  5. Adam McFarland says:

    Update – Montastic was very disappointing and didn’t come through when our sites were down (they hadn’t checked the sites within 2 days when it says they check every 10 minutes on their site!). So I switched to SiteUptime http://www.siteuptime.com/ and did the same process to send SMS alerts, and it’s working great.

  6. […] Speaking of raising hell, it turns out that the error was showing for a good 2 hours before I discovered it.  Turns out my website monitoring set up didn’t work.  Or, more specifically, Montastic hadn’t monitored our sites in 2 days!  A far cry from the 10 minutes they claim on their site.  So while Liquid Web was sorting everything out, I signed up for free accounts for SiteUptime, a service I used for years with SL, and immediately received the text message that both DI and TD were down (I configured it to forward emails to my phone as text messages just like I did on this tutorial). […]

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