Winch Websites recently started using Uptime360 to keep tabs on a diverse range of servers, websites and related aspects for clients. Essentially, one place to check on how things are, with automatic alerts sent out when there are issues that might need attending to.

With an increasing array of online tools and services, the prospect of having one dashboard to look at is very appealing. See how busy things are, if anything is failing, or if a client has fallen afoul of antispam or website blocks. Plus, set customised alerts to notify appropriate people to pay attention to something.

Uptime360 aims to fill that need, and has become a part of the Winch Websites stable. It’s relatively new, but then, so are many online services really! I’m expecting the service to improve over the next few months as the developers add new features and facilities, and tweak what’s there in response to feedback.

What does Uptime360 do?

Creating an account and getting things going was straightforward, and the initial dashboard makes it quite clear what goes where. The available options are split into;

  • Server – for the underlying webservers (up/down, disk space, memory/process usage, network activity)
  • Website – for individual websites (up/down, response times,
  • Check – for particular services eg. is a mailserver accepting emails?
  • Blacklist – is a website blacklisted or blocked on any of 200+ providers?

These cover critical aspects for a client’s digital shopfront. Is the website up and running? Is it suffering slow responses for some reason? Has it been blacklisted by anti-spammers or internet security services? Are emails getting through OK?

At Winch Websites, we are on the lookout for any of these issues for client websites covered by a Website Care plan. We aim to avoid the scenario of a customer finally telling the website owner that they have a serious problem – probably after multiple other potential or actual customers simply gave up and moved on.

For client sites that we host and manage, it means we can jump on an issue quickly, find out what’s going on, and get it fixed. Right now, we have other monitoring services in place. Add a sophisticated infrastructure that aims to self-heal for serious problems (such a webserver crashing, or a website experiencing the White Screen Of Death!). Uptime360 builds on that infrastructure and provides greater insight into activity and performance. It has turned out to be a great addition to our arsenal – pulling into one place an overview of a dozen webservers run by several providers with differing technical architectures.

What’s Not So Good About Uptime360?

The Dashboard

There are some weak areas. The main ‘Dashboard’ is fairly meaningless – showing a large surface-chart of overall server uptime offers no value. It’s always going to be very near 100% (you’d hope!). Likewise, mini-charts for each major monitoring service (Servers, Websites, Checks, Blacklists) have an overall average with a vertical axis based on the recent lowest to recent highest. This means a large dip if one of them has even a slight variation. It can give a bit of a heart-start when seeing Servers drop from a steady 100% down to the bottom of the chart, and it turns out to be down to 99% (the difference between a quick hiccup and complete failure ????).

Snapshot of the Uptime360 dashboard

 

The Uptime360 Dashboard could provide more value

 

Personally, I’d like to see the Uptime360 Dashboard reflect what I as administrator need to know or see as an overview – and that’s who’s having an issue I might need to look into. For example, fix the vertical axis so that it is always 0% up to 100%, and if I see any line dipping then I can be concerned. Or better, only show anything that hasn’t been perfect in the last day or week, with a link to that item for more detail.

Lists on Summary Pages

A minor annoyance is the selector for how many items to show in a list. For example, when I go to the Server page, it always shows the first 5. I change to 10, 15 or All. Then I refresh the page (which should be automatic, by the way, just as it is on the server detail page). And I’m back to 5 again. I’d like that to stick on whatever number I ask to be listed.

Summary Page Chart Scaling

Detail pages suffer the same scaling issue; on the Server page, I can view the CPU (processor) busy-ness as a percentage and as a chart. If I see a chart with a spike, I need to read and interpret the percentage to assess if the server is actually ‘busy’ or if it’s just ‘busier’. Not a big deal, but it would be great to know I can speedily scan down and if I see a spike, know immediately it’s worth investigating. It’s how the brain works, we’re good at scanning images.

Snapshot of the Uptime360 Server summary page

 

Spikes may look large but are usually not

So What Do We Think About Uptime360?

These are user-interface niggles, though. Uptime360 is a welcome new addition to Winch Websites and is now a standard part of the Website Care toolbox. It gives us greater clarity into what’s going on with critical aspects of what we do – providing effective websites that positively contribute to their owners. Overall I’m happy to give this a browser tab of its own!

Oh, and one nice touch is the ability to create a Status Page with a dedicated and branded URL (webpage). Clients can check and see how well our servers and/or their own sites have behaved over the last week. This page needs a bit more sophistication, but it has potential as a place to refer clients to look at first if they think something is wrong. The page can include details of any incidents, which can be updated with our comments/explanations etc. It could be a way to deflect multiple helpdesk calls when there’s a major outage. It’s not ready for prime time as yet, in my opinion (there’s an issue with hooking up the custom URL with an SSL certificate, for example).

Pros

  • Nice layout – clean
  • Easy to learn & use
  • Quick
  • Nice charts & numbers

Cons

  • Main dashboard of no practical use
  • Chart scaling inconsistent
  • No auto-refresh or sticky how-many on summary pages

Yes or No?

Would I recommend this to anyone running multiple servers and websites? Yes.

Find Out More

Go to uptime360.net – this is not an affiliate link.