what is server monitoring

The Complete Guide to Server Monitoring and How It Can Help You Save Money

Most people are unaware of the “full stack” in web development that includes the front-end user interface, middleware servers, and backend database.

Casual technology users around the world usually only experience the front end. These are the cute graphics and friendly colors your brain enjoys seeing as you browse, shop, and comment on social media. Unfortunately, a common experience with a server is when some unfortunate error has popped up, bringing their online journey to a standstill.

Before discussing how to properly monitor servers, let’s talk about what exactly a server is and how they’re used in telecommunication.

What Is a Server?

The simplest analogy for a server is like a waiter or a waitress at your favorite restaurant. A hungry patron orders some chicken from a waiter or waitress, who then proceeds to place that order in the kitchen to be cooked. After the chicken is cooked, the waiter or waitress carries the prepared meal out to the hungry customer who is ready to eat. In this case, the server is responsible for carrying information to the back and a product to the front.

For our uses, a server is a computer or application that runs software services for other computers or devices on a network. Network types vary, such as an internet service provider (ISP) or an enterprise internal network. The computer takes requests from the client computers or devices and performs tasks in response to the requests. The tasks may involve processing data, providing content, or performing calculations. Some servers are dedicated to host web services — a software service offered on a computer connected to the internet that can be accessed by users who are not physically present in front of the server.

In both examples, the server is responsible for carrying information to the back end and returning with what was requested from the client.

What Is Server Monitoring?

Server monitoring is the process of continuously scanning a server and analyzing it for availability, security and operations-related processes in order to protect the server from possible failure. Software is used to check the working conditions of the server and report on parameters such as CPS utilization, storage availability and communication interface responsiveness.

Server monitoring is divided into several categories:

  • Firewall monitoring
  • Bandwidth monitoring
  • Router monitoring
  • Switch monitoring
  • NetFlow monitoring and packet sniffing
  • Network and VoIP monitoring.

Active server monitoring is the process of automatically requesting information from a server. The server returns what resources it has available and what operations have been triggered on it. Passive server monitoring is the complement, where the server is only monitored if it fails. In this case, a trigger decides what resources and operations are polled from that server.

A passive monitoring system can use a trigger to poll for resources, but it might depend on an external resource, such as an operator, to decide how often to do this or which resources and operations to check.

What Are the Benefits of Server Monitoring?

Server monitoring is a process of checking the health of a server and ensuring that it is running smoothly. Monitoring servers can help to identify issues before they become serious. There are many benefits to monitoring servers. Server monitoring can help you identify issues before they become serious, which saves time and money.

Monitoring servers can also improve customer experience by keeping their sites up and running at all times. Also, it is a great way to ensure your servers are performing at their peak. It will alert you when there is an issue and can help you address the problem before it gets worse.

Another great reason to monitor your servers is being able to perform post-incident analysis and reports. Without server monitoring, your services could go down, and you could fix them, but you could be clueless as to the “why” or “how” of the problem afterward. Essentially, you and your team would have to cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t happen again.

With server monitoring, however, your services could go down, you could fix them, and then you’d be able to discover the root causes of the incident. After discovering the root cause, then you’d be able to act in concert to prevent such dramatic failures from occurring again in the future.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid

While monitoring your server plays an important role in maximizing a website’s uptime, there are mistakes that can be made during the process. Here are three common mistakes that you should avoid:

  • Not monitoring your server at all. While this may be obvious to a tech savvy individual, many people are not aware of just how important a server monitoring is to the well-being of their website.
  • Not checking frequently enough. Server monitoring services can offer a variety of options. While one may check your network every 15 minutes, a different one may offer to check at one-minute intervals. Allowing too much time in between checks can leave you unaware of an unexpected outage. The more frequently your server is checked, the better.
  • Not properly directing notifications. When signing up with a server monitoring service, be certain that you list the correct person to contact in case of an emergency. If your network experiences an outage in the middle of the night, you will want the network administrator to be notified as opposed to the human resources manager.  Also be aware of how the notifications are sent. For example, if your network is down, you do not want to receive the alert via your company email address. Instead, you may choose to opt for a text alert.

How to Choose the Best Server Monitoring Tool?

In today’s world of advanced technology, there are many tools available for monitoring servers. Choosing between paid and free services can be hard.

Paid tools:

  • Uptime.com is an external website monitoring tool trusted by the world’s leading online businesses to monitor availability, transactions, speed, and experience.
  • New Relic is a software monitoring tool that monitors the performance of server applications. It provides real-time analytics and alerts to identify performance bottlenecks.
  • AppDynamics is a software quality management company that provides application performance management, business process management, and IT operations analytics solutions.

Free Tools:

  • Nagios is an open-source host/service/network monitoring program written in C++ for Linux and Windows platforms. It can monitor local computer systems as well as remote ones by using TCP/IP network protocols.
  • Netdata is an observability service for cloud-scale applications. It provides monitoring of servers, databases, tools, and services through a SaaS-based data analytics platform.

Why You Should Start Using Server Monitoring Today

Server monitoring is not binary — “true” it works; “false” it doesn’t work. It is far more dynamic and engaging, and uses all of the different server monitoring tools available on the market. Of those tools, some have their own strengths, and others have obvious weaknesses.

It’s important to do some research before making a purchase and find out which server monitoring tool will suit your needs best.

Check out Uptime.com’s website monitoring platform. Companies of all sizes trust us to check uptime, all the time, from anywhere.

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