What Is Uptime Monitoring? Everything You Need to Know


Monitoring your website’s uptime is a must if you plan to do business online. Doing business with no uptime monitoring strategy in place will leave your business open to crippling downtime incidents and the associated consequences.

But what is uptime monitoring? How can it help your online business? We answer these questions and more in this article.

What Is Uptime Monitoring?

Uptime monitoring is the process of using software to keep track of a website or web application’s uptime.

In the internet industry, “uptime” refers to the percentage of time a web property is accessible to end users. It’s a performance monitoring metric represented by a percentage value that ranges between 0 and 100. For reasons explained below, you’d want your site/application to be accessible 100% of the time.

Suffice it to say for now that monitoring your application/website’s uptime status is essential for maintaining an online presence. Monitoring checks ensure that critical business operations run smoothly.

How Does Uptime Monitoring Work?

Explaining how uptime monitoring works requires a refresher on key internet terminology first:

  • URL: short for uniform resource locator. It’s the web address where a unique resource (one of your website’s pages, a PDF, an image, etc.) is located on the web.
  • Server: a computer with the sole purpose of storing and serving up web files. 
  • HTTP Request: HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol. Think of HTTP as how your user’s computer (specifically, their browser) and the server holding your website’s files relate with one another. Their protocol, if you will. The user’s computer makes an HTTP request for the server to “get” files (an HTTP GET request) and the server processes these requests. 

How the server responds to GET requests depends on whether the files are present at the URL provided. They usually send back a three-digit response code along with the files (if they’re present).

Now that we’re on the same page, here’s how uptime monitoring works:

  1. The monitoring service or tool makes automated HTTP requests to your website/application’s server at preset time intervals. The frequency of these requests can range between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes. You might program it to request your website homepage’s URL.
  2. If the server comes back with a 200 response code, your site is up and running. The uptime monitor doesn’t take any further actions and resumes its monitoring duties. This process of making a request and receiving a response continues according to schedule.
  3. However, if the tool receives an error code from the server, it means your web property is down. The monitoring tool will send downtime alerts to report the incident.

There are numerous types of uptime and downtime monitoring techniques. The most common are passive and active monitoring. 

Why Is Website Uptime Monitoring Important?

Uptime monitoring is important for multiple reasons. The main one is that it saves you money by helping you catch and address downtime issues quickly. 

Website availability issues can be costly for your online business. 

According to an Uptime Institute study, two-thirds of outages cost north of $100,000. Considering that downtime causes a poor experience for users and, consequently, a loss of traffic and revenue, the stat checks out.

If you run a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, you may have it even worse during a downtime incident. In addition to the lost revenue, you’re at risk of breaching your service level agreements. Aside from the blow to your business reputation, you may also incur a hefty fine for the breach. 

On the bright side, there are many benefits of uptime monitoring, including being able to:

  • check for issues automatically 24 hours a day 365 days a year
  • get real-time data and insights into your website or app’s performance over a long period of time; and
  • ensure and maintain customer satisfaction

What is uptime monitoring? It doesn’t just keep money in your pocket, but it also helps you to potentially earn even more. Best of all, it requires no intervention on your part.

Businesses use uptime monitoring tools to check for performance issues and service outages. In addition to their monitoring capabilities, these tools send timely alerts when they detect potential issues. You set up the software and only get involved if one of its availability checks finds an issue.

How to Set Up Uptime Monitoring

The method for setting up uptime monitoring differs from one tool to the next. That said, the process can be summarized into the following steps:

  1. Choose a Monitoring Service – there are free and paid options. Once you’ve made a choice, sign up and log in to your account.
  2. Configure the Settings – this step involves inputting what you want to monitor and deciding on how frequently the checks will occur.

During this stage, you’ll want to monitor:

Essential URLS – don’t limit checks to your website’s home page. Also monitor URLs that bring in website traffic or convert visitors.

Servers web servers send visitors the files that their browsers assemble into a web page. Thus, it’s essential that you monitor them.

SSL – SSL (or secure socket layer) technology ensures that data that’s transferred from the server to your website visitors’ browsers is encrypted. It’s vital for e-commerce websites that store customer’s credit card details.

Other aspects to monitor include content delivery networks (CDNs), domain name systems (DNS), and, of course, any third-party providers (e.g., cloud storage companies).

  1. Program Alerts – decide how you’d want the tool to alert you to downtime (i.e., whether via text, email, or push notification)

With the configuration done, you just use the tool’s dashboard to monitor your site’s uptime. 

Website Uptime Monitoring Strategy

The best uptime monitoring strategy takes a proactive multi-pronged approach to detecting and mitigating issues. At the minimum, you should incorporate active monitoring, real user monitoring, and service level agreement (SLA) management into your strategy. 

Let’s discuss each aspect of a decent uptime monitoring strategy:

  • Active Monitoring – active monitoring involves using agents (software scripts or nodes) to emulate the behavior of website users. They differ from passive monitoring, which involves using a third-party tool to conduct the checks.

During active monitoring tests, the agents check for downtime, outages, and other issues. These round-the-clock tests ensure you provide a seamless user experience by anticipating and neutralizing threats.

  • Real User Monitoring – these tests involve using performance monitoring software to collect usage data from a website or application’s users in real time. As you gather the data, you can see what percentage of users are facing issues and predict potential uptime issues before they happen.
  • SLA Management – as mentioned, SaaS companies (and other variants like platform-as-a-service businesses) risk breaching their service level agreements during downtime. An SLA is a contract under which the company is obliged to provide an agreed level of service, typically 99.999% availability uptime for apps. You’ll need to use the above two strategies to ensure you meet your obligation to customers.

Also, if your app relies on third-party services to function, your uptime monitoring will need to go beyond it. For instance, it’d make sense to monitor a Google product you’ve integrated into yours. Incidentally, in such a scenario, your business will have an SLA with Google. Monitoring the Google product not only lets you cover your bases, but also allows you to hold it accountable for a breach. 

With a strong uptime monitoring strategy in your business plan, you won’t be blindsided by preventable issues, nor will you breach your SLA obligations.

Uptime Monitoring Solutions

Uptime monitoring solutions vary in the tasks they can perform. While some include advanced monitoring capabilities like real user monitoring and synthetic monitoring, most solutions offer the key features discussed below:

  • Instant Alerts: monitoring tools send alerts as soon as they encounter website or server downtime issues.
  • Multi-channel Automated Alerts: the solution should be capable of sending alerts via SMS, email, push notifications, and so on.
  • Summaries: when the solution sends an alert, it should provide a summary that details the root cause of the issue. This capability will help IT professionals remedy the problem expeditiously.
  • Double Status Checks: to prevent false positives from occurring, a monitoring solution needs to double-check uptime issues.
  • Historical Data: in addition to showing the website’s current uptime status, the tool should let users look back on past uptime issues.

When choosing a monitoring solution, look for the above features. They represent the bare minimum capabilities these tools provide. Also, if you run a SaaS business, your chosen monitoring solution should have third-party data-validation capabilities. This feature lets you validate the uptime data provided by other businesses who are involved in the critical aspects of your business.


What is uptime monitoring? It’s a strategy that ensures your website or application is accessible to visitors/users at all times. Monitoring uptime lets you pre-empt downtime issues, buying you the time needed to prevent them altogether.

A robust strategy incorporates real time user monitoring and active monitoring to ensure you meet SLA obligations. When choosing a monitoring tool, make sure it includes features like instant multi-channel alerts, summaries, and historical data to make monitoring seamless.

Now all you have to do is put all these tips into practice. Good luck!

About the author

Nicholas Prins

I'm the founder of Launch Space. We work with global companies helping them scale lead generation through SEO and content marketing. Head over to the homepage to find out more.

By Nicholas Prins