A website slowdown or outage could be disastrous for your business. Site-monitoring tools can't prevent problems, but they can let you know when something goes wrong. We tried out three using a test site--and, as luck would have it, we experienced a crash. Below, the results, rated by stars in ascending order.
Like the other tools here, Pingdom monitors websites and servers. To get started, you register on Pingdom.com and enter your site's URL. You can log on to a dashboard to see historical data on uptime and speed and get alerts via text, email, Twitter, or smartphone push notification if your site crashes. Then, you can use diagnostic tools to find and fix problems. During our test, Pingdom detected a slowdown because of heavy traffic but did not register a crash when our host, GoDaddy.com, went down. Cost: Free for one site and 20 text alerts, then $9.95 a month and up
New Relic ★★
Unlike Pingdom, New Relic can monitor Web applications, including e-commerce platforms, running on a site. As with the other services here, it has a dashboard with historical data on uptime and speed, along with diagnostic tools. It can alert you to crashes and slowdowns via email, text, Twitter, Campfire, and other third-party services. New Relic sent us text alerts when our site dropped below a critical speed and more alerts when it crashed. One gripe: Setup involved adding code to our server. Cost: Free for a basic version, then $24 a month and up
Zoho Site24x7 ★★★
Our top pick, this service can monitor database programs and Web apps. Setup was easy: We simply pasted our site's URL into a dialog box on the Zoho site. If your site crashes, you can get alerts via text, Twitter, or push notification. During our test, Zoho detected a slowdown and sent several texts when our site crashed. Cost: Free for a basic version, then starting at $1 a month per site