An often ignored yet critical element of maintaining an Internet presence is Web sitemaintenance. Sloppy HTML, dead links, oversized graphics, and slow download times plaguethe Web, despite the vast number of free (or inexpensive) solutions available toWebmasters. Most of these problems can be resolved in a matter of minutes. First, you mustunderstand the problem itself, however.

Sloppy HTML can manifest itself on a Web site in a visible form or simply wreak havocwith spiders and Web browsers. Either way, it can hurt your Web site's long termprospects -- visitors are less likely to frequent a site riddled with errors, and will avoidsites that don't load properly on their browser. Dead links also send upa red flag to visitors -- be vigilant. And finally, weigh your graphics. No, not with ascale -- a graphic's " weight" refers to its byte count. More bytes mean a longerdownload time, which can translate into sudden death for a site.

The Doctor Is In

Imagiware's Doctor HTML is a comprehensive diagnosis toolthat scans your site for multiple problem types and then returns the results. The basic Doctor HTML checkup includes spelling errors, image load time(estimates for different modem speeds are provided), HTML errors, table structure (whichis handled as a separate entity from HTML), and a dead link search. The program reportserrors in data format. Reported spelling " errors" often include proper names andInternet-centric spellings not recognized by the dictionary. The best feature isthe " Summary Report," which is presented in a bulleted list.This tool is recommended for non-technical types.

Service Check

NetMechanic offers a slightlydifferent lineup from Doctor HTML. NetMechanic's tools include Link Check and HTML Check(for tracking down dead links and bad HTML code, respectively), plus GIFBot, which canreduce the size of Web graphics by up to 90 percent. Smaller graphics mean faster downloadtimes -- a boon for your site's visitors.

During your checkup, try Server Check Pro -- it will monitor your service and alert youif something is not performing correctly. Server Check Pro allows you to monitor severalURLs at 15 minute intervals, 24 x 7. You can create customized testing events as well ascustom notifications (numeric pager, e-mail, or alphanumeric pager). This utility is recommended for allusers.