Server Check v1.3

We recently released version 1.3 of Server Check, which introduces two new monitor types, as well as a window layout save feature, and some changes to monitor reports.

Server Check is free software for monitoring servers and websites for downtime, and provides email alerts (via your own SMTP server or via our built-in mail system) and SMS alerts to your mobile phone, as well as on-screen and audible alerts.

We recently released version 1.3, which adds two new monitor types – you can monitor NTP servers (Network Time Protocol) for downtime, and you can also monitor TLS certificates (Transport Layer Security) for downtime (which would usually indicate an expired or incorrectly-installed certificate).

We recognise that some users like to customise the layout of Server Check and now it’s easy to save your layout and recall it using the Work Area Save and Reload features, found in the Window menu. Now if you need to close some panels, change the size of others or move them around, you can bring back your own personalised layout simply using the work area reload feature, putting things back where you like them to be.

We’ve also added the option to choose any response code to the HTTP monitor type, which means you can monitor websites for downtime regardless of what the response code is. Of course, you can still specify the desired response code if that’s what you’re looking to keep an eye on.

Finally, we made some tweaks to the failure statistics reset functions to make these work better, and we improved the reports generation system to allow users to select how far back in time you want the report to cover. This means that if you had some failures six months ago as well as some in the last month, but you only want the boss to receive email reports covering the last month, you can now do this very easily.

We think you’ll love the improvements we’ve made, but if there’s anything else you’d like to see or you have any comments or questions about using Server Check to monitor your websites and servers for that all-important downtime, get in touch with us via our Contact page.

You can download Server Check, the free server monitoring software, by clicking here. Don’t forget to register your copy for a free 10-monitor license, which unlocks all monitor types!

Monitor eBay listings with Server Check

Server Check isn’t limited to monitoring servers or pinging IP addresses – you can even use it to keep an eye on an eBay item and get an alert when the price (or something else!) changes.

Click for full-size image

Simply set up an HTTP monitor, enter the URL of the eBay listing into the Hostname entry box, and set the monitor to check that the result contains the price on the page. Once you click OK, Server Check will start to check the listing page as often as you set the check interval. If the price changes, you’ll get an alert.

You could also set the monitor to check that the result does NOT contain a certain price, so that if the seller changes their listing at some point to the price you want, you’ll get an alert to let you know it has been changed.

We didn’t create Server Check to check eBay, Amazon and other websites for price changes, but it’s something we thought was too useful to keep to ourselves!

If you aren’t using Server Check, you can give the free 10-monitor version a try – and it includes everything you would need to start monitoring eBay your websites and servers, right out of the box!

Check Web Servers for Downtime

Server Check is 3 years young, and we’ve been checking web servers for downtime since 2018.

When we launched Server Check in March 2018, we thought it would be a tidy little utility that would allow simple monitoring of web sites and pinging of web servers, with a pop-up that alerted you to a problem.

Fast-forward to 2021, and Server Check has become a fully-featured application with monitoring for different types of connection, and alerts in several forms – emails, SMS text, audible alarm and on-screen pop-up.

Server Check also now has a web interface for remote monitoring of the system. With full control over the information that is displayed, and built-in uptime pages that your customers can use to check your system uptime stats, the web server is included with all versions of Server Check – even the free 10-monitor version.

We know our users love the “set-and-forget” aspect of Server Check. It’s simple to install, load up your monitor set and then let Server Check do the rest. In an ideal world, you’d never hear from it again – but we all know that servers and websites can go down or offline for all sorts of reasons. Server Check will always be listening and checking on those valuable servers, sites and connections, including HTTP, SMTP, MySQL, etc. If and when you get that email/text or hear the Server Check siren sound, you know that you’ve got a chance to sort out the problem before it becomes… a problem!

We’re busy working on some new features which will allow monitor sets to be synchronised between multiple Server Check installations, as well as allow one installation of Server Check to check that another installation is up and running. Yes, we want Server Check to be able to keep an eye on itself! It’s not that we think it’s unreliable, but we know that peace of mind can be very comforting, and this will add an additional layer of redundancy to the Server Check Monitoring System.

We are also working on adding a “response code” option to the HTTP monitor checks, which means that Server Check can check a website or web server and look for more than just a reponse code of 200.

Thanks for being a Server Check user! We’re proud of how far Server Check has come in only 3 years, and if you haven’t joined our growing user base yet, why not give the FREE 10-monitor version of Server Check a try? You can use it without registration and monitor up to 10 HTTP or ICMP PING connections, and if you register the software (again, for FREE) you can add different types of monitors including SMTP, IMAP, FTP, MySQL, TCP and POP.

Unique URL codes to view specific monitors

The daily stats page generated by the Server Check Monitoring System

Not everyone who uses the Server Check Monitoring System knows that it has a built-in web server that allows for remote viewing of monitor stats and monitor reports, as well as daily and monthly uptime pages which can be used for public uptime pages.

The web server is part of Server Check and doesn’t require additional stacks or software to be installed – there’s no need to have Apache or IIS running, and no need for PHP or MySQL. Everything you need is built right into Server Check. You can even add an SSL/TLS certificate (in PFX format) to the web server configuration so that all web pages can be served securely.

The best thing about all this is that the web server is fully functional even in the FREE versions of Server Check!

The web server configuration settings built into Server Check allow users to select which monitors are displayed, select which types of monitors are displayed, restrict the web pages to show only monitors with particular information or statuses (for example, show only healthy monitors and exclude any that are failing or failed), and so on. The stats pages will show all monitors that have the web feature switched on and that match the selections in the web server configuration.

However, a company might want to make the stats for one (or selected) monitor(s) available to view without showing all the others that are set up in their Server Check installation (for example, if you’re a web hosting reseller or web developer and want to allow customers to view the stats for their own web sites only).

We’ve now added a new feature that makes this exact feature available to all Server Check users. It’s ready to go in the latest version (which you can download here). The new unique URL codes allow individual, specific monitors to be viewed in the stats web pages, easily and quickly.

Let’s see how this works.


Define your unique URL code in the monitor edit panel:

Server Check’s new unique monitor codes for use in URLs

Note: when adding new monitors, a unique code will be automatically generated but you can change this if you wish to.

The monitor can now be viewed by visiting the URL of your Server Check installation, plus the URL of the stats page you want to view, plus the unique code as a “?view=” query string key/value pair in the URL. For example, if your IP address is “1.2.3.4” and your default daily stats page URL is “/daily” then a specific monitor’s unique URL would look something like this:

https://1.2.3.4/daily?view=e006ffc8840cbffb244583255f321a90

Note: the base URL of your Server Check installation may be an IP address, or a domain name if you have set this up in your DNS correctly and opened/forwarded the correct port for the web server configuration.

The query string key “view” can also be abbreviated or omitted, as in these examples:

https://1.2.3.4/daily?v=e006ffc8840cbffb244583255f321a90
https://1.2.3.4/daily?e006ffc8840cbffb244583255f321a90

Multiple monitors can also be viewed at once by including commas between each code, for example:

https://1.2.3.4/daily?view=mysmtpserver,customer2,sqlserver

As you can see, this feature is extremely useful for sharing stats with different customers, departments, or for creating different views and combinations of stats pages.

The unique URL codes allow monitor stats pages to be visited even when your main default pages are password protected (if you have this configured in the Web Server settings panel). This way, you can still see all stats and results securely as an admin, whilst clients can visit their unique URLs without needing any log in details – they just need the URL you provide to them. If you wish to disable this type of access, simply leave the monitor’s unique URL code blank and the URL will no longer work.

Server Check v1.2.20201026

We’ve just released Server Check v1.2.20201026 which adds a few new features that offer greater convenience and easier, quicker management by system admins:

  • We’ve added a new bulk monitor editing panel to allow changes to be made to all or multiple selected monitors at once, and we’ve removed the individual bulk email and SMS edit options as the new panel includes these options.
  • An optional “Auto Unpause” setting is now available and can be configured via the settings panel. This allows a paused system to be automatically unpaused after specified time, which is great if you pause Server Check and forget to unpause it! This new feature is optional, and is disabled by default.
  • We’ve made the monitor edit window sizes consistent between monitor types – previously when you scrolled through the edit window for your monitors you may have found that the windows bounced around a bit, but we’ve fixed them all at the same size now.
  • Some improvements have been made to behind-the-scenes handling of licensing server connection failures, but remember that Server Check still requires internet access to keep your license valid and to check for software updates.
  • We’ve fixed some issues and conflicts with some anti-virus software. Any virus alerts that previous versions of Server Check were causing were, of course, false – Server Check is not malicious software and contains nothing untoward. However we noticed some false positives in certain anti-virus environments so we’ve fixed that.
  • A runtime error caused by the tray icon at program launch has also been fixed – this was very intermittent but would cause Server Check to terminate when it occurred.

If you already have Server Check installed, you can update your software right now in the Help menu of the main program panel.

Want to give these latest features a try? If you’re not already a Server Check user, you can get a FREE lifetime license to monitor up to 10 monitors – it will never expire! Download Server Check right away – it only takes five minutes to install and get going!

Setting Up Server Maintenance Times

Whether we’re changing out hard drives, replacing fans, rewiring racks, swapping out power supplies, or just dusting and cleaning our equipment, servers need regular maintenance and attention to keep running.

The problem is that we sometimes have to take these servers offline, even just for a few seconds or minutes, while this maintenance takes place. If we don’t plan things correctly and set up maintenance times in our monitoring software, these planned periods of maintenance could show up as unplanned downtime.

We’ve built Server Check with this in mind. You can set a maintenance window for each individual monitor so that checks are not run during your hours of maintenance and no unexpected downtime statistics will be logged.

Double-click the individual monitor in the Monitors window, and in the Edit window make sure Run All Day is unchecked. Now you can set a Start Time and End Time for monitoring, and outside of these hours, Server Check will put these monitors to sleep. You can check in the Monitors window or in the web interface to see if any of your monitors are currently sleeping – if any of them are, they will show as SLEEPING in the Status column.

And yes, you can set start and end times that cross midnight, so a start time of 21:00 and an end time of 03:00 will keep the monitor alive for six hours, crossing midnight. Once 3:00am comes along it will go to sleep until 9:00pm that evening, when it will wake up again.

Server Check makes it easy to start monitoring your servers – whether its 24/7 monitoring, or only between certain start and end times – so that you can keep track of uptime and downtime, without maintenance time inccreasing your downtime statistics.

Not using Server Check yet? Start monitoring up to 10 Ping or HTTP monitors for FREE, and FOREVER! Download Server Check right away – it only takes five minutes to install and get going!

SMS Alerts when your website goes down

Today we take a look at why SMS alerts are the perfect way to stay ahead when you’re trying to monitor your websites and keep them all online.

Running a website, several websites, an email server, a web server… in fact ANY web-based service comes with a risk. The risk of it stopping working, or suffering from “downtime” as the system admins like to call it. Well, not “like” – no system admin likes to talk about downtime! You cannot completely guarantee that any server or website will run with 100% uptime and absolutely no downtime.

What you CAN do is keep a very close eye on everything and be alerted within seconds of something going wrong. Downtime can be an e-commerce company’s worst nightmare, a charity’s biggest headache, or a football club’s most embarrassing moment. Whatever type of website or web service you run, downtime is a no-no, and monitoring is essential. Keeping tabs on everything means that you will know as soon as something goes down, crashes or fails, so that you (or someone else on the alerts list) can act quickly to bring everything back up.

Email alerts are great, but they might not be the most reliable method of receiving alerts, and for people who need to receive alerts instantly, anywhere, anytime, emails might not always come through to a mobile device or tablet if reception is poor. SMS alerts, on the other hand, are far more reliable and don’t rely on a 3G, 4G, 5G or wifi network as they are carried via a more basic, widely available 2G GSM network. This means that the mobile data connection of a mobile phone or tablet can be switched off and most devices can still receive SMS alerts. SMS stands for Short Message Service, and SMS messages are often referred to as “text messages”, or just “texts”.

Server Check sends SMS alerts to as many contacts as you set up in the software, notifying you when a monitor encounters an error, or when there’s a problem with the mains power. Each SMS alert uses up one Server Check SMS Credit regardless of where it is sent to, and all licenses (even the FREE 10-monitor license!) include some SMS credits when registered. SMS messages can be sent to most locations and countries, and an SMS test facility is available within the software to check that it is working correctly where you are.

SMS credits can be purchased whenever you like and are shown in your Server Check account and in the software itself. You can use your SMS credits from one Server Check account for multiple installations of Server Check, so no need to set up separate Server Check accounts if you run the software on several machines.

You can find prices and more information about Server Check SMS Credits here.

This one thing saved the internet, and why you need it too

We recently received a message from a Server Check user, which stated: “Thank you so much – you guys just saved the internet!”

Intrigued, we followed up on the posting to see what was going on and get some more info. It turns out that a small internet and hosting provider here in the UK had started using Server Check and they were able to save themselves from an onslaught of thousands of angry customers thanks to two alerts they had set up in the software.

Here’s more of the story they sent us:

Thanks for getting back to me. We are a small ISP in UK near London. I downloaded Server Check about a month ago and we set up a few monitors in the free version. I am one of the sysadmins and we’ve been putting in some new servers in the last week. We’d deployed quite a few of these and we’d started moving customers to them in blocks. The alert came to me first by SMS, followed by an email about 5 seconds later telling me that the pings had stopped. It was just before midnight and I wasn’t on shift but I gave my colleague a call to find out more. He went to investigate and found one of our PDUs was running red hot and everything had just shut down in that rack. He quickly swapped it out for another and brought everything back online, and tossed the dodgy PSU onto the “needs looking at but will probably not get fixed” pile. It wasn’t quite that simple but you get the idea, he thought that was that and went back to other night shift necessaries.

So I’m back in the next evening and I get another alert by SMS and email. This time telling me the system running Server Check has lost mains power and is running on battery backup. I go to investigate and find another rack – which happened to be the one with the server running the software – with the same issue. PDU totally overheated, power shutting down to servers in the rack.

If these servers had gone offline for any length of time we’d have been stuffed – we provide internet to lots of local businesses as well as hosting and email. We’re small so we’ve been very reluctant to pay huge amounts for monitoring systems in the past so when we saw that Server Check was a thing I thought I’d give it a go. We just need to know when something’s up and when it goes down, so it’s perfect. You guys saved the day twice with your ping alerts and your power loss alerts. We’d have lost the ability to provide internet connectivity if we hadn’t had the early warnings from Server Check.

The power units had faulty fuse modules and we’re getting them all replaced.

I’d tell anyone to set up Server Check – or get some kind of monitoring. Even if they are small, even if they have half a dozen clients and host a couple of websites for each one – Server Check just gives us peace of mind that if something goes down, or goes off, or stops responding, that we’ll know about it within minutes.

So there you have it. We saved the internet (in a small corner of a London business hub) and helped keep downtime, response times and fix times to the absolute minimum!

Hurrah for Server Check!

Feel free to try out the FREE version which gets you 10 monitors for free, forever. You can grab it here: https://servercheck.co.uk/download/

HTTP… to GET or not to GET?

We’ve just released our latest version of Server Check, which adds a search bar, better error information when testing a monitor, and improves the web page loading experience.

We also added a new mailing option to the software, which allows you to use the Server Check Mail System to send all emails instead of SMTP. This is great if you don’t have your own SMTP server, or your SMTP server has usage or technical restrictions in place. Using the Server Check Mail System option is also a lot quicker and hassle-free to set up, and it’s available in all licensed versions of our server monitoring software including the free 10-monitor version (as long as it is registered and has a license key applied to it!).

Another great new addition is the HTTP Request Method option, which is specific to HTTP monitors. This allows you to choose whether an HTTP or HTTPS request is made using the GET request method or the POST request method. On the surface, and particularly when monitoring a website with a plain address with no query string, these two methods appear to do the same thing. GET is the most common request method used, and is commonly used to request data from a resource. POST is often used to send data to a server for a variety of reasons, including submitting form data.

The magic happens when you are requesting a web address that includes a query string, for example:

https://www.mywebsite.com/index.php?variable=yellow&anothervariable=tuesday

In this example, https://www.mywebsite.com/index.php is the resource we are requesting, while variable=yellow&anothervariable=tuesday is the query string. The ? separates the requested resource and the query string.

The query string contains name/value pairs, which in our example above are set to:

variable = yellow
anothervariable = tuesday

There could be any number of these name/value pairs, all joined with an ampersand (&) between each. This is the data that is being used by the server in some way, to either process the request correctly and send back the correct information, or to provide information to the server for it to process, for example, to write to a database or look up something in a database.

The data in the query string can be sent to the server as part of the URL, which often means it is visible in the server logs (this is the GET request method) or sent more privately in the request body and not usually shown in server logs (this is the POST request method).

In Server Check, because we enter the URL in one text box, we include the name/value pairs as part of the URL, regardless of whether we want to make the request using the GET method or the POST method. Server Check will then either keep it as part of the URL when GETting the monitor check, or parse it out from the URL and send it in the request body when POSTing the monitor check.

So, if we use GET for our example above, Server Check will send a request to the server that looks something like this:

GET /index.php?variable=yellow&anothervariable=tuesday HTTP/1.1
Host: www.mywebsite.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0
Connection: close

And if we use POST, Server Check will send the request in this format instead:

POST /index.php HTTP/1.1
Host: www.mywebsite.com
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Content-Length: 39
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0
Connection: close

variable=yellow&anothervariable=tuesday

There are some other important differences between GET and POST. GET requests can be cached, can remain in a browser’s history, can be bookmarked, and they have length restrictions. POST requests are never cached, they do not remain in a browser’s history (only the URL without the data would remain), they cannot be bookmarked without losing the data, and there are usually no restrictions on data length.

Other request methods also exist, including PUT, HEAD, DELETE and OPTIONS, but these are not currently available within Server Check.

If you want to find out more about HTTP request methods, you can visit https://www.w3schools.com and https://developer.mozilla.org.

Latest Features

We’re excited to announce the new features coming in our next release of Server Check, our free server monitoring software.

We’re introducing a Server Check SMTP option, which means that you can use our SMTP system for server and website down alerts, instead of having to use your own. While using your own SMTP server will still be an option, quite a few of our users have requested an easier SMTP solution that doesn’t rely on having their own SMTP servers. The Server Check SMTP option will be available in all versions of Server Check, both free and paid.

We’ll also be adding a search bar to the toolbar which will allow quick searching for monitors – essential if you have hundreds or even thousands of monitors deployed and you need to find one of them without endless scrolling. Now you’ll be able to check your server status even more efficiently by finding it instantly with the new search bar.

We’re also tweaking how Server Check monitoring and uptime status web pages load to optimise their loading times, as well as improving the error information when testing a server or website monitor.

Look out for the new release of Server Check featuring all of these new features and improvements – coming very soon!