Looking to formalize your website monitoring by picking a professional solution? Or just checking alternatives to what you’re already using?
Then look no further.
Since website monitoring includes anything from basic availability (uptime) checks to monitors that simulate browser behavior on different devices, we grouped the most well-known tools into common categories:
Browser and transaction monitoring tools: Tools focused on simulating perceived user experience on a given website using a specific device or browser and for checking common user paths like signup, user login, or payment confirmations.
Real user monitoring (RUM) tools: Used for measuring real-life analytics of website users - very similar to browser and transaction monitoring tools just in real-time, not simulated.
Complete observability platforms: Alternative to dedicated monitoring tools. Some platforms offer monitoring together with logging, visualizations, and other tools under one roof.
Sidenote: Several of the mentioned tools have multiple functionalities. For example, offer both availability monitoring and RUM. In those cases, we have put them into the category based on what we thought the tool is most suited for.
What didn't make the list?
We didn’t include APM: Application Performance Monitoring (Application Performance Management) tools.
An APM tool is a good addition to a monitoring stack, giving insights into errors, traces and key transactions. However, it can be replaced by dedicated logging, bug tracking, or observability tools depending on the specific problem one is trying to solve. Since they are not essential in solving the website monitoring challenge, we have left them out of this selection. Alternatively, if you are interested in reading more about APM, head over to our APM tools to see who made it onto our list.
Availability monitoring tools
Also called uptime monitoring tools - they alert you when your website goes down.
🧭 Availability vs. synthetic monitoring, what’s the difference?
Availability monitoring is a part of the synthetic monitoring toolbox, which consists of monitoring for:
Availability (with availability or uptime monitoring)
Performance (with real-browser monitoring)
Function (with transaction monitoring)
Synthetic monitoring works by sending automated requests from a robot client to your app, simulating what a regular user would do. Availability monitoring is a subset of those checks, specifically aimed at whether the service is reachable.
Better Stack is a tool that offers monitoring, incident management, and status pages in one product.
Monitoring includes basic uptime and keyword checks, as well as SSL, ping, port, and DNS checks.
Better Stack alerts have screenshots, responses, and incident timelines for better debugging.
Alerting options include unlimited phone and SMS alerts on paid plans as well as E-mail, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other 1-click integrations.
Most known uptime monitoring solution, which has been around for years.
It’s a basic tool for uptime monitoring that also includes SSL and ping checks. Recently they have also added status page functionality.
Alerting is the main limiting factor with only 20 SMS or phone calls on the first tier of their paid plan.
Their free plan has 5-min checks and 1 status page, which is suitable for smaller indie hacker projects.
StatusCake offers basic availability monitoring as well as insights into page speeds.
Status page is also offered, however only as an addon and not within the regular plans.
Alerting includes SMS credits and emails. Phone call alerting is available via 3rd party integrations.
Great project of a french indie hacker, with pay per request model. You can select a number of websites, check frequency and immediately see the price you will pay.
Offers all availability monitoring options and a hosted status page.
Also accepts cryptocurrency alongside regular methods as a mode of payment.
Real-browser and transaction monitoring tools
These tools give you visibility into the perceived user experience and valuable user actions on a given website.
⚙️ How real-browser and transaction monitoring works?
It checks the website not by sending an automated HTTP request as a regular uptime monitoring tool would, but by emulating a browser window and checking a website from it.
This way the website loads all its elements exactly how a regular user would see it. Because of this, it’s also called real browser monitoring or mobile website monitoring (when simulating screen sizes of specific mobile devices).
Using Puppeteer and Playwright frameworks ChecklyHQ offers reliable workflow monitoring. Currently, only the Google Chrome browser is available for browser and transaction checks.
On top of browser simulating transaction monitoring an option to include error traces is available.
Overall a very nicely designed product with a modern look and easy-to-integrate alerting.
Uptrends offers monitoring from Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer browser. It also has one of the best selections of worldwide monitoring locations (IPs): 229.
Uptrends offers availability monitoring and a basic status page and RUM together with browser and transaction checks.
There is no free plan available. Priced plans are based on the number of monitors used.
Dotcom-monitor has both browser and transaction monitoring capabilities. Compared to others, it offers auto-generation of Google Lighthouse reports.
There is no free plan available. Pricing is quite complex based on what monitors are used and how.
Real user monitoring (RUM) tools
Get real-life analytics of website users including core web vitals, load times, and more.
⚖️ RUM vs. synthetic monitoring, what’s the difference?
Synthetic monitoring is called an active monitoring solution as it runs automated tests at a pre-defined frequency. In comparison, RUM is considered a passive monitoring solution, meaning it needs real users to initiate the test.
In brief, synthetic monitoring is simulating user experience by sending automated requests from a robot client, while RUM is monitoring the experience of real users on the website.
7. & 8. Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Many of the main functionalities of RUM tools can be found in those two free tools.
If you don’t need detailed analytics of specific features, like load times of different website elements in real-time then this might be a great alternative to the majority of RUM tools.
Google analytics offers all the information about browsers, regions, bounce rates, and more in real-time.
Google search console offers in-depth performance analytics including core web vitals with a 1-day delay. It might not be the best, but it’s very reliable and free.
An established tool from SolarWinds, it offers both uptime monitoring and RUM.
Pingdom’s RUM offers all the basic statistics about active sessions, bounce rates, visits from different regions, load times, and more. Overall it doesn’t have much more features than Google products offer.
There is no free option available and the pricing is based on monthly page views.
Very similar offering to Pingdom’s RUM. Has all the basics tracking metrics including device, OS, browser, and location usage.
There is no free option available and the pricing is based on features and longer data retention.
Apart from basic web vitals and load times, Raygun offers great performance analytics based on different deploys. This is useful for correlating and improving performance over time.
Pricing is based on monthly sessions (per 10.000), which can be cheap for smaller projects, but quite expensive for sites with high traffic.
Open-source monitoring tools
Simple and advanced tools that can be self-hosted and customized to a great extent.
Upptime is a GitHub-powered open-source uptime monitor and status page manager. It uses GitHub actions, which allows a minimum interval of 5 minutes, which explains its monitoring frequency.
Upptime automatically opens a new issue in your GitHub repo. You can edit this repo and add additional information about the outage, including the root-cause analysis.
Uptime Kuma is a self-hosted monitoring tool with a UI that feels a lot like Uptime Robot.
It offers integration with more than 70 notification services, including Telegram, Discord, Slack, Email, and more. Uptime Kuma does not have a website. However, everything you need can be found on Github.
Probably the most popular open-source monitoring tool - having over 42k stars on GitHub.
It has all the monitoring functionalities imaginable (from uptime to server or container monitoring) and offers wide customization opportunities and integrations. Especially when it comes to visualizations with Grafana - an open-source visualization tool with over 49k stars on GitHub.
Prometheus has a built-in alert manager that handles basic on-call alerting. However, for more options a dedicated incident management tool (mentioned below) is recommended.
Zabbix is an enterprise-build solution allowing you to monitor networks, servers, cloud, logs, databases, apps, and yes, websites.
Although powerful, it’s one of the tools that require a lot of learning. Its UX is very basic and honestly quite dated.
Incident management and On-call tools
These tools work in tandem with purely monitoring tools, offering advanced alerting options and on-call schedules.
Once a monitoring tool spots an incident, it sends the alert to the incident management tool, which then decides who, how and when is someone (or everyone) alerted. For example, it can hold off a low-priority alert till the morning and then send a Slack message or immediately call the whole team in case of a severe incident.
🔔 What is incident management?
It’s the process used by the developer teams to respond to system failures (incidents) and restore normal service operations as quickly as possible. It can be broken down into four main parts:
Monitoring: detecting incidents, usually via monitoring tools
Communication: communicating incidents, usually via status page
Resolution: working on resolving incidents, usually via incident management tools
Learning: learning from incidents, by writing postmortem, usually via incident management tools
What is on-call?
On-call calendar is a set of scheduled duties that define which team member is responsible for incoming incident alerts. Being on-call means that you are the first person that will receive an alert when something goes wrong.
Statping has slightly more features included in their dashboard compared to Cachet - mainly well-designed maintenance and status announcements.
However, the main benefit of Statping is the notifiers, which are built-in. These include Slack, Discord, Telegram, Webhooks, and emailing.
For those that don't want to host and maintain your status page there is a hosted option as well.
What about complete observability platforms?
For more advanced users an alternative to having a dedicated website monitoring solution might be using an observability tool. These tools offer monitoring, logging, APM, and more in one place - making it easier to integrate and manage.
🔭 What is Observability?
Observability means that we can understand a system from the outside, without knowing its inner workings. Practically this means we can troubleshoot novel problems and improve the system’s overall performance.
To achieve observability we need to edit our code to emit signals like traces, metrics, and logs. Observability tools allow us to do this, with a present side effect of solving website monitoring for us in the process (the majority of tools offer some type of monitoring together with other features such as logging).
Better Stack observability stack is centered around Logs. Better Stack Logs centralizes logs from different services (from apps, servers, Kubernetes clusters, and yes even Heroku hosted websites) into one place.
Better Stack Logs has charting capabilities thanks to built-in Grafana. This allows to draw conclusions from metrics and logs and optimize websites or any other services.
Its 1-click integration with Better Stack Uptime allows to pass any irregularities in form of an alert and notify the right team members.
Datadog offers a wide range of tools including RUM, synthetic monitoring, logging, APM, infrastructure monitoring, and more. It’s a very powerful platform with all the major observability features one might need.
27. New Relic
Very similar to Datadog and its main competitor. Offers similar functionality including RUM, synthetic monitoring, APM, infrastructure monitoring, error tracking, and log management.
Splunk is an enterprise-first solution for observability. Apart from the on-call tool, it offers RUM, synthetic monitoring, and infrastructure monitoring as well as APM and log management.
The main downside is that Splunk on-call is not directly integrated with other Splunk apps, which means users need to integrate them like they would any other external app.
As you could see, picking the right website monitoring tool depends mainly on the desired functionality you want to get out of it.
I would recommend writing down the things you really want to monitor on your website and then finding a solution to accommodate those needs. It’s tempting to go with a powerful solution because it has all the features. But it’s often the case that most of such features are never used and just result in more complex management, longer onboarding, and a higher price tag.
There are plenty of amazing tools around, so explore and pick the one that’s the most right for you.
Jenda leads Growth at Better Stack. For the past 5 years, Jenda has been writing about exciting learnings from working with hundreds of developers across the world. When he's not spreading the word about the amazing software built at Better Stack, he enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, and playing tennis.
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