Setting up a Monitor

Start monitoring your websites and servers successfully.

Screenshot of monitors in semonto

Monitors are the main feature of Semonto. With a monitor, you can keep an eye on the availability and behaviour of a website, server or web application.

Whenever something unexpected happens, you get notified so that you can fix the problem quickly.

One thing to keep in mind. If you want to monitor a server, it needs to be reachable over the internet. Otherwise, you are better off creating a PulseCheck.

What can you monitor?

The cool thing about Semonto is that you can customize it to your needs. For example, a website owner can use a monitor to make sure that his website is always available. A server owner can create a more advanced monitor to get notified when the available disk space is low or to get alerted when a maintenance task was not executed in time. So you can test only the basics or create very specific and advanced tests. To make it easy for all users, some default tests are automatically activated when you create a monitor. Custom tests, on the other hand, are for advanced users and have to be added manually.

How to create a monitor

  • Go to the Semonto dashboard directly or via the login button on the homepage.
  • Select ‘Monitor’ and then ‘Create Monitor’.
  • Enter the URL you would like to monitor.

You will now get a message that the monitor was created. At this point, Semonto will start monitoring the availability. You can come back later to the dashboard to see the results. Don’t worry, if anything happens in the meantime, you will receive an email alert. If you are an advanced user and want to add more configuration to the monitor, select ‘Configure this new monitor’.

How to pause a monitor

There are times when you do not want your monitor to perform any tests. For example, you do not want notifications to go out during planned maintenance. In that case, you can temporarily pause the monitoring. Just go to ‘Monitors’, click on the monitor in question and select the ‘Details’ tab. Next to ‘Monitoring’, you switch the radio button from ‘enabled’ to ‘paused’. Do not forget to switch it back afterwards.

How to turn off notifications

If you want to continue monitoring but want to turn off notifications for a certain period of time, click on your name in the main navigation and select "disabled" in the Notifications section.

How to configure a monitor

When you select ‘Configure this new monitor’, you are taken to an overview showing you all the monitor settings. You can always come back to the configuration mode by clicking on a monitor and selecting ‘edit’. Some settings have been entered by default so that you do not need to change anything to start monitoring. However, you are free to adapt them to your needs.

General settings

These are the general settings of a monitor

  • The name of the monitor (for example 'my website')
  • The testing interval (the time between two tests)
  • The test location (the location from which tests are performed)
  • The URL of the server,website,webshop or web application that needs to be monitored.
  • Tags. By adding tags, you can filter the view of all monitors in the dashboard (optional)

You can change the test location to better suit your needs. For example, if you are located in the USA, you might want to test from San Francisco or New York first.

Tags can be used to filter your view if you have a large number of monitors and/or PulseChecks. You can, for example, add the tag ‘internal’ or ‘external’ to make a distinction between your own monitors and those for your customers. Or you can sort them by their server, by purpose, or even by hosting company. Any monitor can have multiple tags. Tags are only visual and have no effect on the performance of your monitoring. They can be applied across Monitors and PulseChecks.

Alert settings

In the alert settings, you can define the group of persons that need to be alerted in case something happens. A default group has already been created for your monitor automatically. You can edit this group by selecting ‘Contact Groups’ in the side menu. Read the chapter on Using Contact Groups to read more about this topic.

The different testing options

1. Default tests

To make Semonto as user-friendly as possible, some tests have already been created by default. A few tests are automatically enabled, others are disabled until you activate them.

  • HTTPS SSL Validation - enabled
  • Ping - disabled
  • HTTPS SSL Validation - enabled
  • Required content - disabled
  • Forbidden content - disabled

Reachability (HTTP ping) tells you whether your website or server is currently available, whether it responds quickly, and it shows you the response time. HTTPS SSL Validation is also active by default. It tells you whether your security chain is valid and warns you if any problems arise. Semonto can also verify if specific ports are available which is useful if they are essential for one of your services. To enable port testing, simply add the name of the port you would like to monitor.

If you want, you can also perform content tests. They tell you whether certain words or phrases are either present on your website or missing, which could indicate that something is wrong. For example, sometimes websites display ‘will be back soon’ when they are offline. If you enter this phrase as forbidden content, you will receive an alert immediately when it appears.

2. Extended tests

When you are monitoring a server, you might want to measure some more advanced parameters, such as the server load, database accessibility or memory usage. This is information that is usually not publicly available, so we need to build a ‘bridge’ to get to this information in a safe way. To do this, you will need to install a small web application and give us its URL. You only need to do this when you want to perform extended or custom tests.

Know and whitelist Semonto IP-adresses

Sometimes, it can be useful to know the IP-addresses of the Semonto servers. Be sure to allow these IP-addresses in your firewalls, if you are using any. If you use log analyzers, you can filter those IP-addresses to ignore Semonto's hits/requests. Be sure to allow at least all Verification-servers and the TestCenters you use. When we perform a major upgrade, it is possible that another than the preferred TestCenter performs your tests. It is best to allow all our IP-addresses. The IP-addresses can be found in Semonto's dashboard, on the bottom left side of your screen, under the question mark button.

Setting up the bridge

When you would like to perform extended or custom tests, you need to supply a URL to the ‘bridge’ for Semonto to be able to find and perform those tests. This is because Semonto does not has access to your server settings or database configuration for example. This is for security reasons. If you want to monitor your database or want to keep an eye on the server-load, you will need to install a small web application on your server, the 'bridge'. This allows Semonto to access the needed data, without having too much access.

We provide some standard web applications available for you, at the moment written in PHP and a start in Ruby-On-Rails publicly accessible at GitHub. Feel free to use these and add more functionality.

The 'URL to Bridge' should be the URL to the main-root of the web application and should end with '/'. If you use PHP and the files are the directory semc in the root of your htdocs, the URL needs to be: https://myserver.com/semc/.

If you use Ruby-On-Rails, the path needs to be on the routings you defined for Semonto.

3. Custom tests

With this 'bridge' running on your server, you can also implement custom tests, tests written for your specific needs. Custom tests need to be implemented in the web application as explained in the section above. Let say Semonto wants to perform the test X, the called URL will be the URL to bridge'?test=X, for example: https://myserver.com/semc/?test=X.

It's up to your webapp to handle this GET-variable and print the correct test-result. The answers of the webapplication should be formatted as: X::INFO::MORE_INFO. Where X is the status, with:

  • 0: Everything OK
  • 1: warning
  • 2: critic
  • 3: Timed out
  • 4 and others: error

Contact Groups

For each monitor you can select one or multiple Contact Groups that define who is alerted and how when something occurs. You can read more on Contact Groups in this guide.

If you need more support on this, feel free to email us at info@semonto.com.