SmartMonitor PRO review – site monitoring on steroids

How do you know if your site is up, running smoothly and malware free? Well, if nobody is screaming and emailing me then it must be. That attitude is typical among webmasters. They know users will let them know when something is not working. The problem with that approach is that a lot of users will see it’s broken and just leave forever. What’s even worse is everybody that saw it broken or infected will remember that. So if they do come back, they’ll think of the site as “that broken one”. There’s no need to rely on visitors to give you the bad news. You can have the info far before anyone even realizes something has happened.

Downtimes happen. Deal with it.

It doesn’t matter how much you pay for hosting. It doesn’t matter how many redundant systems you have. Downtimes will happen. You can see how popular hosting providers work at any time – yes, even popular ones will have downtimes. Sometimes they are just “bad luck”, and more often they’re the result of malicious actions. SmartMonitor PRO won’t help you prevent bad events, but it will be your right hand in making sure they last for as little time as possible. Having the right information the minute something bad happens means you can act faster, take appropriate actions and minimize the damage that has already occurred.

How does it work?

SmartMonitor PRO is a regular and minuscule WordPress plugin; you install it like any other. Enter your license key and click “start monitoring”. That’s it. From that moment it looks over all key aspects of your site.

Monitoring is performed by 3rd party servers (more than 100 to be precise), so there is no additional load placed on your server.

If an incident occurs, you’ll get an email, SMS, or a mobile push notification. Again, all are sent from a 3rd party server, so the state of your site does not affect the delivery of those important messages.

The plugin has almost no options, and that’s great. It follows the one-click setup philosophy, and we love the simplicity of it. There are three options to configure. The email address, the phone number, and the mobile device push ID (they use the free Pushover service). Only the email is mandatory, and all incident reports will be sent to it. Other two communication channels are optional. We’re told that a Zapier integration is in the works and will be available in the next version. That means you’ll be able to route the incident notification to hundreds of different services.

SmartMonitor PRO Dashboard

Besides the options screen, SmartMonitor also has a beautiful status screen. As you can see from the screenshots, it truly looks awesome. The first part of the screen gives you the uptime percentages, time of the last incident, and response times measured from over a 100 servers that keep an eye on your site. The map features locations of all probe servers and the location of your server. Clicking on any of the points gives you more details – response time from the selected node to your server. As you can assume, the further apart the servers are the more time it takes for the data to travel between them. The last section features a detailed list of events that SmartMonitor PRO logged since monitoring started. Events note the status, date, description and the server that first reported the incident. Some reports are quite detailed. If any of your core files gets modified or deleted, the report will include the file name. You’ll get the same report on your email (SMS reports are shortened for obvious reasons).

Much more than an uptime tool

At first glance, SmartMonitor might appear as “just an uptime tool”. However, it’s much more than that. You can find a lot of uptime monitors, free and paid, but most of them just classify your site as online or not. That’s an overly simplified view of things.
Numerous things go into keeping a site online and in good condition. For instance, someone might steal your domain and not change the NS records. For most uptime services that would mean the site is online, alive and well – they wouldn’t report that! In reality, you’re just waiting for the thief to change NS records and make your site disappear forever. Same thing goes with someone defacing your front page. Yes, the site is online; it’s working, but there’s a huge dick pic on it instead of the latest products you’re trying to sell. There might be different signs that your site is hacked and you might not even now it.

SmartMonitor takes all of those situations into account. It watches over your domain, over nameservers and all NS records. It also monitors Google SafeSearch to check if the site is blacklisted. If the server completely dies, becomes inaccessible or starts returning strange response codes – that too will be noted. If a single byte is changed in your core WordPress files, SmartMonitor sends a list of modified and deleted files. Don’t worry; when a WP update occurs, it detects that and doesn’t freak out. Dick pic we mentioned earlier? Also taken care of. That would be a “significant change” to the front page, and you’d be immediately notified.

SmartMonitor PRO table

False positives? We have been testing SmartMonitor PRO for over a month and didn’t have any. Obviously, they are possible because no tool is 100% accurate, but any incident that occurs is re-checked on four reporting servers, so chances of false positives are taken down to an absolute minimum.

If you have a serious site – you need SmartMonitor

If you don’t mind your site being down or infected with malware for a few days, this is not the tool for you. You don’t need it. If you don’t mind finding out your site is down from your customers, again, this is not the tool for you. But, if you consider your site to be a valuable asset, a staple of your business or the only source of your income then not getting SmartMonitor PRO is borderline suicidal. It costs less than one coffee per month ($4.89/m for one site or $3.4/m for a 5 sites plan), and for that, you get a 24/7 watchdog that will let you know when things go south. An invaluable asset for any serious website owner. Highly recommended!

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