Uptime Robot offers a free service that regularly checks your websites are up and available for visitors. It can alert you when your website is down or badly affected by issues such as hosting problems, high bot traffic, or hacking.
This guide is for people with smaller websites who are looking for a reliable service to monitor availability and uptime.
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Why Do You Need Uptime Robot?
You may be wondering why you need a monitoring service if your hosting provider also protects your small website.
Cheaper can’t be perfect
If you’re like me, you put your new and smaller websites on economy hosting. Reputable hosting providers should still give you a decent standard of reliability, but there will be no guarantee of 100% uptime. And they don’t proactively inform customers of brief outages.
But what if you pay a premium for dedicated hosting with higher availability? As a tech professional, I assure you that larger companies who pay top dollar will also pay for separate monitoring services. They do not rely on their hosting provider as the sole custodian of their business.
Too much traffic
If you’ve got a small website, a spike in traffic is usually welcome and exciting. But what if you’re on a cheaper host and get a sudden flood of traffic?
Visitors may see lengthy timeouts as the cheaper server resources struggle to meet demand.
This can happen because an article has gone viral, or you’ve launched a special time-limited offer. It can also happen through malicious bot traffic. Either way, you will want to take action.
If you’re notified in five minutes, you can use a tool like Wordfence to analyze live traffic and take appropriate measures.
We all make mistakes
Your provider also can’t protect you from your own mistakes (which we all make). If you install a plugin with a security vulnerability, a hack could change your home page. You don’t want your visitors seeing recommendations and links to casinos and worse.
What Does Uptime Robot Do?
The Uptime Robot service is completely separate to your website or hosting provider. When you create a free account on their website, they offer four free ways to monitor one or more websites.
This section explains what you can get using less technical language.
Uptime Robot checks if your website is available
If you choose the most common option, Uptime Robot sets up a regular 5-minute visit to the web page you nominate.
Let’s say it’s your home page. The Uptime Robot service visits the page just like any other viewer.
If your website is down, the page (like all other pages) will not be found. There are other problems that can cause a page not to load properly. Uptime Robot catches a range of downtime issues.
Check out our step-by-step guide on how to use Uptime Robot to monitor your website.
Uptime Robot checks for hacked pages
The availability check is easy to set up, and the only thing you need to think about is which webpage you choose to monitor.
Checking for hacked pages requires a little more thought and set-up. We have a separate tutorial on using the Uptime Robot Keyword Monitor.
Two less common checks for WordPress sites
There are two other types of checks that you’re less likely to deploy if you’re running a WordPress site.
If you have a dedicated server, then you may wish to check your entire network and not just a web page. Uptime Robot gives you this as an option.
You can also monitor that services like email or FTP (file transfer) are up and running. If frequent email is a big part of your business, then you may want to keep an eye on availability with this kind of check.
Is Uptime Robot Free?
Uptime Robot has both a free and paid tier. The free tier gives you 50 monitors (or checks) that run every five minutes. Let’s look at how the free tier can work for two specific scenarios.
New and smaller websites
The first scenario is a website on a reputable shared hosting provider.
It may be generating a nice side-hustle level of income, but an outage of up to an hour would not be significantly damaging to the website owner. However, downtime damages your visitors’ experience and your website growth, so you want to keep an eye on availability.
Personally, when I set up a new website, I create one monitor. All I need is a simple five-minute check that the home page is available.
Down the line when the site grows in traffic and revenue, I move to a more sophisticated set of monitoring services. But I’m happy to have five or six websites monitored by Uptime Robot. I’m nowhere near the capacity of 50 monitors.
One of the main sources of risk on your WordPress site are plugins or themes with security vulnerabilites. You can minimize your risk by limiting your installs to highly reputable and popular plugins and themes (and making sure I update them in a timely fashion).
But suppose there’s a new little-used plugin that you know can generate or save you plenty of money? In that case, I’d make use of Uptime Robot’s keyword monitor to alert me if my homepage is hacked.
Another scenario is that you’re working with a partner or you’re providing admin services as a consultant. In other words, you can’t control the installation and update of all plugins and themes. In that case, I would set up the extra keyword checks for peace of mind.
Is a five-minute schedule frequent enough?
If you’re worried that five-minute intervals are too long, then you probably have a monetized website with significant revenue. You should take a look at alternative options, including the paid tier of Uptime Robot which can drop down to 1-minute frequency.
Even if your website isn’t generating income, you may want a temporary increase in frequency to take a closer look at the reliability of your host.
One of my acquaintances was suspicious that his hosting provider had become unreliable, but the outages weren’t lasting long enough to trip the five-minute check. He paid a few extra bucks for one month of 1-minute checks.
Does Uptime Robot Work?
I’m a member of a private group of several hundred website owners. Most of our websites generate some level of advertising income.
Uptime Robot is a popular choice across the group for monitoring availability on low to mid-level income websites. I personally use the free tier on two or three websites at any given time. I’m satisfied that the service works very well.
The service has been around since 2010. It started as a side project until the small team went full-time as a business in 2014. That kind of longevity brings advantages in experience and business stability.
I will say that the dashboard interface is showing its age a little. There are slicker alternatives that may be a little easier to use when managing a large number of websites.
When Uptime Robot is wrong (and how to fix this)
Occasionally, you may find that Uptime Robot sends alerts that your webpage is down, but there is nothing wrong with your site. This is known as a false positive i.e. the tool is falsely reporting that the page is unavailable.
Our guide on solving Uptime Robot false positives will show you how to investigate the issues. The solution usually involves whitelisting the Uptime Robot locations, and the article goes through this process in detail.
Does Uptime Robot work with Cloudflare?
You should usually have no issues with these two services working together. We have an article on Uptime Robot and Cloudflare which should clear up any questions you may have on using them both.