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Other than pinging a particular endpoint like to see if my website server is returning, do these server monitoring (ping) type services offer anything else?

I'm just thinking it is cheaper to get a VPS to ping my servers than signup with them.

I just want to make sure I'm not missing something here :)

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3  
just two points: sometimes you want 3-rd party monitoring to prove your availability, also many offer "pinging" from multiple locations around the globe. –  Sandman4 Nov 21 '11 at 21:28
    
Also, you might want to consider going back to your past questions and actually accepting the answers that have been given to you. Typically, a 0% answer rate is frowned upon. –  TylerShads Nov 21 '11 at 22:37

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

When you pay for hosted monitoring (even just a basic uptime/ping solution) you're paying for three principle things:

  1. The pretty reporting interface these services usually offer
    (Because you have to show this stuff to the big bosses and justify the cost!)

  2. The uptime/availability of the service provider
    (Because what good is it if your monitoring system is down more often than your real site?)

  3. The luxury of having someone else maintain the monitoring software.

If you're satisfied you can get (1) from the tools you want to use, and that a VPS will be adequate in terms of (2) there's no advantage to a hosted monitoring service beyond (3), which has never been enough for me personally to fork over money to someone else. A half-day every few months to vet and upgrade monitoring software isn't too high a price to pay in my personal opinion.


Edit to add: Some of these services do offer valuable additional functionality - @Alex mentioned one such feature: The bigger ones have geographically distributed locations and will tell you if you're unreachable from (e.g.) Thailand, but up available to your users in Chicago.
This sort of functionality becomes more important as your geographic coverage needs expand.

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  1. Redundancy - A good service runs from multiple data centres, and will corroborate any problems before reporting to you; so you get less 'false positives' from intermittent errors in the data pipe.

  2. Support - You don't have to maintain a VPS, update security patches, ensure the uptime software is still running.

  3. Service Integration - A lot of uptime tools have mechanisms to plug into your running system and give more data (Bandwidth usage, memory usage, plus specific counters on services e.g. table locks in MySQL). You can of course get this functionality with a self-hosted solution, but it's available as a service as well.

  4. Third-party verification - If your SLA is mission-critical, having an outside provider perform checks against your network is useful in cases where you need to prove either that your system remained available (if a client challenges you) or that your provider's network was unavailable (if you need to challenge your hosting company).

So it comes down to price - is it more cost-effective to run and maintain a free/cheap tool yourself, or is a hosted solution right for your business.

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I use pingdom to check a specific webpage (/ping) and look for a response ("pong"). I do this to make sure that my server is up and also my webapp is responding. It charts the uptime and latency for me.

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