in Misc

Host Tracker Website Monitoring – Complete Review

Notify at any cost. Practic advises about websites monitoring.

How to deliver an important notice to your customers? And we are not talking about annoying advertisements or special offers. Website monitoring service HostTracker is supposed to immediately inform its customers about the problems with their sites. Now they are ready to share their experience and provide a comprehensive review and comparison of different delivery methods.

Why is this important?

HostTracker checks websites and other accessible from the web resources for their availability. It could be a single web page, or a multi protocol analysis of a complicated site, including monitoring of CPU, RAM and HDD load, domain and certificate expiration check, database operations and so on. If anything happens – the customers wish to be notified, in order to decrease the duration of errors as much as possible. The longer site is unavailable – the more income is lost. Therefore it’s a matter of crucial importance – choosing the correct way to deliver the information. For now, HostTracker uses SMS, voice call, Hangouts, email, Skype, Viber, Telegram and POST request. Below there are a couple of words about each one.

Why customers entrust you their phone numbers?

SMS is the fastest and safest way to deliver a short message globally. But still, there are several problems.

The first one is based on the well-known fact that nowadays people do not like to share their phone number because of spam and ads. So it’s very important to make them believe in fact you are not going to do anything like that. No ads, only important notifications, and only in those cases, which have been selected by the customer consciously.

The second one is about reliability. HostTracker is used by customers from more than 100 countries. Fortunately, there are many companies which provide global SMS delivery. But each of them has its disadvantages and tricks to deal with. For example, it could suddenly appear that some countries of low demand are not covered at all, or have unacceptably high fares. And there is only one way to find out all such issues  – to start using. At the beginning of new version if HostTracker, it has been using 5 SMS gateways simultaneously, providing the choice for customers. But, of course, that bore additional questions and inconveniences, for now it is automatically set up for clients one of the most trusted ones: Infobip or Twilio. The first one serves well for Europe and most of the Asian countries. The second one is really beneficial for North America. Such distribution is suitable for 99% of customers. And what about the rest? HostTracker support deals with such cases manually, sometimes even having some financial losses on delivery, but customers’ satisfaction and own reputation are worth it.

The third one is about money. As it was mentioned before, SMS cost something. And, to be honest, a couple of times we lost lots of money because of a bug or vulnerability which didn’t count or didn’t limit SMS sending in some cases. So it’s necessary to think over carefully every detail of SMS notification scenario and how do you expect your customers to be charged for such service. If you wish to offer a turnkey solution and do not make your customer think of how much messages he or she can receive – it’s better to evaluate the real usage of SMS and include them into your pricing. HostTracker has resolved this problem in two steps: first, the number of contacts is limited for each pricing offer, and second, each service pack contains the limited SMS count, enough for the most of the usage scenarios. However, a customer always has a chance to consume more for extra money.

Viber and voice call

Viber is handy for many clients, and also it helps us to save money on SMS. Actually, to use Viber for broad message distribution you still have to pay, but cost much less than SMS. It has a simple rate for the whole world: $0.01 per message. And also it has increased message volume if compared with SMS. In some cases, it led to send a single Viber messages instead of 2 or 3 SMS, especially for non-latin alphabets. So it becomes even cheaper. Again, Infobip gateway is used for Viber.

Voice call has the lowest demand among HostTracker customers. However, it is indispensable for certain clients. Someone is just used to use the phone for professional purposes. For other people, it is useful to set up call forwarding to mobile or home numbers. For some crucial cases, when SMS could be ignored during night sleep, the voice call is more intrusive and hard to miss. The voice call is also paid service and the most expensive among others. So it could be a pleasant bonus for Business or Premium level customers.


Here are statistics for message delivery for a certain period of time.

As one can see, email is the most used method, more than 70% of all notifications are sent via email. But there are a couple of things to say about it. It is free, so every customer, including those who use some free features or just sign up for a trial and then leave, uses mail. Few of them cancel the subscription if they don’t need it, most just ignore and keep receiving messages later. Also providing a valid email address is compulsory for sign up, so it is automatically set up as the main contact and by default, all the messages are sent here. That’s why there are so many emails being sent.

This method is not that urgent and reliable – not everyone check their mailbox often enough. Also, sometimes such notification might be treated as spam. However, for many customers it is useful to receive a mail notification as a second method just to ensure the delivery and have a history stored in handy way.

Do we need IM services?

Yes, we do. For now, HostTracker supports Hangouts, Telegram, Slack and Skype via Microsoft Skype Bot. There might be problems while setting up those methods, but usually, they have handy API. And it is very useful for customers: now people are usually involved in several projects at once. It’s pretty nice to receive a message from the corresponding chat o group, isn’t it?

Automation: making life easier for developers

We are talking about notification with http POST request.

In the case of an event, for instance, website failure, a request for the certain URL is generated. It could start an automated consequence of actions to repair the errors, take snapshots, restart the system without human intrusion! Sounds good? With internet of things you can even start making coffee for your rescue team on your network coffee machine!\

There are several things we would like to emphasize in the summary.

First of all, be very careful with customers’ contacts. Create a reliable Privacy Policy and make sure nobody can use these contacts for spam or ads. Do not do that on yourself too. You can send some weekly (or better monthly or quarterly) newsletters, but only for those who agreed to receive them. Customers have subscribed for certain purpose, do not let them down.

You’ll never have enough notification methods. If you are popular service, there are always requests to add something more. Try to make as many methods as you can, you’ll see on the practice which ones are used for the most.

Reliability is the most crucial issue. In HostTracker’s case, customers pay us to keep an eye on their systems. If HostTracker misses a single message – the loyalty, grown for years, could disappear at once.


Alexandru is the co-owner of TopDesignMag. “If it looks easy, it's hard. If it looks hard, it's impossible. If it looks impossible, it's due tomorrow. At 8 A.M.”