We wanted to do a price comparison between some of the better-known uptime monitoring services. Since we have time and time again stated the importance of frequent tests when monitoring websites and servers, we decided to compare the price for monitoring a website with a one-minute monitoring resolution (testing every minute).
Prices for many services tend to increase drastically the more frequently you want to test a website, so this should make the results even more interesting.
Wanted: Highly accurate monitoring
Now here comes a surprise. Even though we picked ten of the most visible and discussed uptime monitoring services out there, it turns out that five out of these ten don’t even offer a one-minute monitoring option.
If you don’t test a website often enough, you run the risk of completely missing downtime and other problems. Also, the reports will be less accurate when you test less frequently. It is like the difference between a low-resolution image and a high-resolution image. (The article we linked to above explains this in depth.)
We feel that one-minute monitoring is an option that should be available in any website monitoring solution concerned with a high level of accuracy.
Same monitoring, but NOT the same price
Above: Prices are from the homepages of the respective companies on October 23, 2007.
As you can see in the table, the prices are very different. The highest and lowest prices, WebSitePulse’s $76 versus Pingdom’s $1.99, differ by a factor of 38 (for the same kind of monitoring!). If that is reasonable or not, we will leave as an exercise to the reader…
Where does this huge price difference come from?
The uptime monitoring industry is quite young. Although there are players out there who started in the 90’s, it is only in recent years that a significant number of uptime monitoring companies have started to surface. This of course together with a growing market.
The older uptime monitoring companies have often built their business on a small user base that pays relatively high prices. If they were to adapt their pricing to current market conditions, their income would be cut in half or more, something they are most likely not willing to do. Newer uptime monitoring companies instead rely more on volume, which allows them to have lower prices but still provide the same or similar services. The difference in approach basically comes down to this: having few users who pay a lot, or having lots of users who pay less.
Even among newer uptime monitoring companies, both price models and price levels can differ significantly. This makes it difficult for the end users to compare prices, which is a clear sign that the uptime monitoring industry still has some maturing to do.
This survey revealed two things. First, half of the uptime monitoring services don’t even offer to monitor websites as often as every minute, and second, the ones that do have wildly varying prices.
The logical conclusion to this is that when you are looking for a website monitoring solution it pays to shop around. The difference could be hundreds or possibly even thousands of dollars per year depending on your monitoring needs.
About the survey
The prices are the ones listed on the homepages of the included companies on October 23, 2007. If there was a different price between HTTP monitoring and other monitoring types, we selected HTTP monitoring (which is what should be used for monitoring websites). If more than one check was included in an account, we have divided that price with the number of checks. For example, a Pingdom account is $9.95 per month and comes with the ability to monitor five websites or servers (any extra cost $0.50 each, but we didn’t include that price here since the initial five do cost the equivalent of $2).
It should be noted that some services charge extra for SSL connections (HTTPS), HTTP authorization and keyword checks. Many also offer some form of discount when you monitor a large number of websites or servers.
It should also be noted that there can often be a difference between the services when it comes to the number of monitoring locations (servers that test your websites), what kind of reports are offered, etc. Just like phone carriers and operators have slightly different setups and offers, so do uptime monitoring services.
Disclaimer: Pingdom is an uptime monitoring company, and this is a survey we have conducted ourselves, so it cannot be called an independent survey by any means. However, we have been as accurate and objective as possible when collecting the data.