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:
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 email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- AT&T: email@example.com
- Sprint: firstname.lastname@example.org
- T-Mobile: email@example.com
- Nextel: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cingular: email@example.com
- Virgin Mobile: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Alltel: email@example.com OR message.alltel.com
- CellularOne: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Omnipoint: email@example.com
- Qwest: firstname.lastname@example.org