Pingdom Website Monitoring

pingdom logo Pingdom is a service that monitors your websites and/or servers and can let you know when something goes wrong. Despite your best efforts, something will go wrong, so it’s important to know right away when it does so that you can take action. That’s exactly what Pingdom helps you do.

I should have written this a long time ago – I’m a very happy Pingdom customer! I’ve used dozens of different monitoring tools and services over the years, and without a doubt, Pingdom is my favorite. I first got an account in August 2007, when I took advantage of a free offer for Mashable readers (if I remember correctly). I didn’t use it right away, but when I did, I was impressed. So much so that I bought Pingdom Basic account ($9.95/mo or $119.40/year).

The two Pingdom terms you need to know are checks and notifications. A check is basically a website, mail server, or DNS server (there are HTTP/HTTPS, Ping, TCP, UDP, DNS, and POP3/IMAP/SMTP checks). A notification is an email address or cell phone number (for SMS). Pingdom Basic gives you 5 checks, unlimited email notifications, and 20 SMS notifications. Additionally, you get included uptime reports.

The best thing about Pingdom is that it’s fast and reliable. I receive notifications generally within about a minute of something going down. That’s much faster than anything else I’ve tried. I feel confident relying on Pingdom to let me know if something is wrong with my servers.

Another thing I love about Pingdom is their blog, called Royal Pingdom. They occasionally post about Pingdom-related things, but more often than not they post about the industry in general. They obviously put some time and effort into it though, because their posts are original, in-depth, and very interesting. For instance, earlier this week they posted about 12 great iPhone applications for sysadmins and webmasters. It’s the kind of thing that keeps me subscribed.

If you’re looking for a website monitoring solution, I’d strongly recommend Pingdom.

Thoughts on backups with MozyPro

At around 1:30am on August 6th, a hard drive in one of our database servers died. It took down our mail server and WordPress blogs, but everything else (such as Podcast Spot) was unaffected. It sucks, but it happens. We’ve had many drives die over the last few years, unfortunately. All you can do is learn from each experience.

In this case, we had a full image of the server backed up. All we had to do was stick in a new hard drive, and deploy the image. That worked fairly well, though it did take some time to complete. The only problem was that the image was about 24 hours old – fine for system files, but not good for the data files we needed. For the most up-to-date data files, we relied on MozyPro.

(I should point out that we generally configure things so that data files are on separate drives from the system. In this case, we had about 250 MB of data files on the system drive. I have since reconfigured that.)

For the most part, Mozy has worked well for us. We’ve had a few bumps along the way, but no major complaints or problems. Until I tried to restore the data files yesterday, that is. The first problem was that I couldn’t use the Windows interface. The Mozy client would not “see” the last backup, presumably because the image was older than the last backup. You’d think it could connect to Mozy and figure that out, but apparently not. So I tried to use the Web Restore. It eventually worked, but it took about four hours to get the files. I don’t mean to download them, but for Mozy to make them available for download. Thank goodness it was only about 1000 files and 250 MB or it could have taken days!

So I learned that Mozy is reliable, but certainly not quick. If you need to restore something quickly, make sure you have a local backup somewhere. If you’re just looking for reliable, inexpensive, offsite storage then Mozy will probably work fine for you.

My next task is to upgrade this server particular to a RAID configuration, something we had been planning to do anyway. Should have done it sooner!