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Flexible server monitoring

Web Stats

I've been using the Web (HTTP) service to monitor the sites I maintain, typically watching the home page ...and quietly worrying about what I was doing to the site stats.

Tonight I re-read the User Guide and noticed this sentence:
> If monitoring your own site, you may wish to monitor a special page
> or file, to avoid skewing your site stats.

Would you suggest simply pointing the service at a tiny GIF image on the site, to keep from affecting the "Pages Served" and bandwidth stats? Or is there a better strategy?

As for affecting the "Visitors" stat, would you just trust to the filtering of "Unique Visitors" to minimize the impact of Simon's monitoring?

Thanks in advance for your help,

Jim
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Jim Kane
Rochester, NY

David Sinclair's picture

Avoiding skewing site stats

Yes, monitoring a small image or text file would probably be the best solution.

Of course, on a popular site, the Simon checks probably wouldn't make that much of a dent, but on less frequently visited sites, it could well become significant.

The "Unique Visitors" should presumably count the Simon checks as one visitor. It'd use the IP address to differentiate, so Simon's checks would only count as multiple visitors when your ISP changes your IP.

Re: Avoiding skewing site stats

David wrote:
> Of course, on a popular site, the Simon checks probably wouldn't make
> that much of a dent, but on less frequently visited sites, it could well
> become significant.

That's what I was quietly mulling over. If Simon is checking every 15 minutes, that's almost 100 bogus page loads a day.

Per your suggestion, I'll switch to monitoring a small file. (I use the same 1-pixel GIF "shim" on all my sites, and it's in the same directory (/images) on each, so switching them all will be a piece of cake!)

Thanks for being there for us, David.

Jim
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Jim Kane
Rochester, NY

Of course, the downside with

Of course, the downside with checking a shim gif is that you'll fail to detect failures relating to web server sub-system issues. Typical example of this is an ASP.NET handler failure in IIS, or a mySQL DBConnect failure in PHP/Apache. And, depending on your web server config, you'll likely be serving the gif out of memory cache and that may miss other developing problems.

Best bet is to create a subdirectory with a small page that does a dummy transaction and invokes all the sub-systems required for your website. A simple one on a LAMP server would be a database select query and display.

Great thinking

Terrific analysis and suggestion -- thanks!