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Monitoring "interval" is simply frequency in which a site or server is checked. Most monitoring services offer packages ranging from 2 to 60 minutes. Since monitoring costs are largely based on monitoring interval, it is important to determine downtime interval is acceptable. If site or server is mission critical, 2 minute monitoring intervals may be required to avoid revenue loss. On other hand, a site or server operating a hobby may not require monitoring at all.
Contact List and Methods
Most monitoring firms email a contact list in event of an issue. There are four important points to consider: (1) your e-mail availability; (2) number of persons that can be contacted; (3) testing your email devices; and (4) additional costs.
If you carry an email enabled cellular phone, pager, PDA, or other device 24/7 you are in great shape. However, if you check e-mail a few times per day, having your server monitored at 2 minutes intervals makes little sense if monitoring service uses email notification. Take a realistic assessment of your email availability. My personal solution was to email enable my cellular phone. The email address is not published and phone is with me 24/7.
Most monitoring firms offer ability to contact multiple persons. The logic is that someone on list will be available to react to an issue. While this approach may sound odd, it may make sense to contact your Webmaster, LAN administrator, yourself, or others depending on your staff size, work schedules, and hosting arrangement.
Most monitoring firms offer ability to send "test" messages to your contact list. This feature is provided to ensure everyone on your contact list is correctly receiving notification messages.
Read fine print. Some firms have "additional" charges for pager messages and if you exceed a specific number of notifications per month. As everyone involved in technology knows, unexpected normally happens, and on a daily basis. It is important to understand what you are agreeing to and your level of financial commitment.
Monitoring costs very greatly depending on monitoring interval, method used to determine operational status, and services provided. Generally prices range from free to $99.00 per month. Mission critical server packages normally range fall in $30.00 - $60.00 per monthly range.
Monitoring firms perform monitoring from outside your organizational IT infrastructure in same fashion world accesses your servers. Doing so ensures that your servers are truly available to your visitors and items such as firewall are correctly configured. Depending on your business goals, monitoring can be a valuable resource and play a critical role in your online success.