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!
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.
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!
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:
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
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.
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!
One of the most frequently asked questions amongst IT admins is: “How should I monitor my sites and servers, and what should I use?”
One of the advantages of using Server Check for monitoring websites and servers is that it does what it says on the tin. It checks your servers and websites, and other web-based services like FTP, SMTP, MySQL, etc., without being overly complex.
There’s no coding required to get Server Check up and running, and no complicated monitoring parameters to insert into the monitor check. It’s a bit like a “plug-n-play” monitoring system: 1. Add your website or hostname, 2. Give it a name and decide how frequently you want it to be checked, 3. Let Server Check get on with the monitoring.
We make reducing the amount of time your servers and websites are down a breeze. Server Check will send email and SMS alerts as soon as it detects a problem with any of your monitors, and it will then keep checking them until they are restored or become available again.
So what’s in it for you? Well, instant alerts so that you know something’s wrong. Would you rather find out there’s a problem from Server Check or from an angry client or customer? And a quick setup means that you could be up and running with Server Check in about five minutes, and all for free.
What else is in it for you? Total reliance on yourself, and no one else. Server Check monitors sites and servers from your own systems, and you can easily run it from multiple locations including remote data centres. This means you’re not relying on a third party to monitor your valuable assets – you can do it all in-house.
This release modifies the time Server Check will perform its auto-update check and adds a new layout option to the summary window. Now the summary window can be stacked either horizontally or vertically!
The added layout option means that Server Check is more flexible that ever, with a user interface that can be laid out exactly how you want it… making sure the information you need is right where you want it!