Uptrends Review: Simple, Yet Effective Website Monitoring Tool

Uptrends is a website monitoring tool that is trusted by such large organizations as IBM, NASA, and Virgin Australia.

Founded in 2007, Uptrends is a website monitoring solution with more than 20,000 users, including companies like IBM, NASA, and Virgin Australia. The company focuses on making it as easy as possible to get started with monitoring, from the hassle-free trial signup process, to the built-in dashboards and default SLA definitions that you can customize to suit your needs.

With daily emailed reports, an intuitive user interface, and easy alerting, Uptrends helps companies automatically detect when websites are slow or unresponsive. Uptrends has a separate internal monitoring product called Uptrends Infra, which requires installation of an agent that collects information about your network and devices (including CPU, memory, and disk space) from within your firewall. In this review, we will focus on Uptrends' core, external monitoring product, which does not require users to install an agent.

Pros

  • 162 testing locations, or "checkpoints," in major cities around the world.
  • Mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, for easy access to your account on the go.
  • Easy to get started with a risk-free 30-day trial -- no need for a credit card.
  • Updates to the product occur several times a year; see recent updates here.
  • Monitoring data is stored for up to 2 years (varies from plan to plan), so you can analyze historical performance.
  • Pre-configured, publicly available status page included at no extra cost.

Cons

  • Dashboard design could be improved. Tiles do not automatically shift to accommodate new tiles -- you may find that they end up completely overlapping each other.

Price

  • 30-day free trial.
  • Monthly plans range from $13.75-$192.49/month, depending on how many monitors and SMS alerts you need.
  • Additional fee for real-user monitoring. RUM is charged according to the number of page views, with plans start at $6 per month for 100,000 page views per month, and $36/month for up to 1 million monthly page views.

Table of Contents

Full Review

Uptrends is a cloud-based service that helps businesses monitor the availability and performance of their websites, as well as subcomponents of their sites (e.g. shopping carts, login forms, and other user transactions). In addition to HTTP/HTTPS website monitoring, you can also use Uptrends to monitor and collect data via other protocols, including FTP, SQL, and DNS.

Users can configure Uptrends to monitor their services from various types of browsers across 162 global locations, providing a comprehensive view of performance and availability for users around the world.

Upon setting up synthetic and real-user monitoring, you can view performance results in dashboards, and set up alerts that automatically notify you when performance suffers or when important services become unresponsive. Another great selling point is that Uptrends makes it very easy to get up and running with a 30-day free trial. Simply entering your corporate email and website will get you set up with a trial that automatically starts monitoring the website that you entered in the trial signup form.

Almost immediately after you submit the form, you'll get an email which will ask you to click to confirm the trial. This is much easier than other companies, which may require you to speak with a sales representative in order to start using the trial. We also liked that Uptrends did not send us many sales-related emails after we signed up for the trial. Instead, we received one welcome email that included links to resources and guides to help us get started.

uptrends signup welcome page

Once you've set up a monitor, Uptrends will automatically create a ready-to-use dashboard that will help you monitor your website's status. You can customize the dashboard in any way you like, save the updated version, and use it as a template for visualizing other types of metrics.

For this review, we tried the Business plan, which is currently the most popular choice among Uptrends' customers. The plan includes the ability to monitor your websites using various types of browsers, transaction recording, real-user monitoring, and custom dashboards, as well as 600 message credits for alerting through SMS and phone/voicemail. It also includes support by email and/or phone, if you have any issues or questions regarding the product.

Below, we'll highlight the key features of Uptrends' Business plan. In addition to reading our review, we suggest testing out the product for yourself -- this will give you the best idea of whether or not it will work for your needs.

Key Features

Synthetic monitoring

Uptrends has set up servers around the world so that you can check the availability and performance of your websites as they are accessed by potential users all over the world. Uptrends' 162 testing "checkpoints" include cities in the North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, and the Middle East.

setting up a website check in Uptrends

As shown above, to set up a basic monitor, you simply specify the URL, how often Uptrends should send a check, and which checkpoint locations you want to use. Uptrends will simulate requests and send them using the Chrome browser (as well as other browsers, depending on your account type) at regular intervals, as specified in the monitor criteria.

Aside from basic HTTP/HTTPS requests, you can also use Uptrends to monitor via other protocols. For example, you can set up Uptrends to test your Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) mail servers to ensure that their performance and availability levels meet your standards. As you can see in the screenshot below, Uptrends asks you to specify a protocol when creating a new monitor.

creating monitors via various protocols in Uptrends

Once Uptrends has started to conduct tests, you can filter the results by location within any Uptrends dashboard, in order to quickly spot which locations are experiencing slower page load times. Dashboards are easy to create and customize with draggable, expandable widgets that display information about errors, the most recent status of each monitor, and graphs of performance metrics to help you spot trends over time.

creating a dashboard in Uptrends

With the Business plan, you can set up a Full Page Check, which is another type of monitor that helps you identify the elements of each page that are slow to load and/or exhibiting errors. The loading time of each element is displayed in a waterfall report, as shown below.

Uptrends waterfall analysis

This is particularly helpful for identifying areas of each page that could be optimized; for example, you may notice that your Content Delivery Network is not performing as well as you would like, so you could try testing out another service and seeing if that improves anything.

You can also test out specific user transactions/journeys across various components on one or multiple webpages. Once you've set up each transaction, you'll be able to measure their performance, broken down by various components. To record specific transactions, you will need to install the Uptrends Chrome extension. Once you have the extension up and running, you can start recording the exact path that you want to measure (e.g. log in, navigate to the furniture section, add a sofa to the shopping cart, and check out). You can also set up the transaction to check for specific words or phrases on the page, which adds another layer of detail to each test.

SLA management

Uptrends can help make sure that you stay on top of your Service Level Agreements. You can define SLAs that are specific to your particular objectives, and create alerts to find out when your objectives are in danger of being violated.

Defining a new SLA is as easy as selecting the desired uptime percentage, page load time, and operator response time. You can also define SLAs to exclude certain times and/or days of the week (for example, you can exclude Sunday nights if that is when you are normally performing maintenance and/or not as concerned about downtime).

SLA status in Uptrends

You can ask Uptrends to send regularly scheduled reports of SLA status on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Uptrends also includes a pre-configured public status page for your account that you can customize to include the status of all of your monitors (or just a select few of them). You can also specify a different color scheme if desired. Then just check "publish" and the page should be publicly accessible at the provided URL.

public-facing status page in Uptrends

Specialized services like StatusPage offer more sophisticated customization options (at an additional price). However, it's a nice bonus that Uptrends automatically includes a basic status page that may be enough to suit your needs; and setting it up takes just a few clicks in the Uptrends app.

Real-user performance monitoring

For the most part, Uptrends has focused its efforts on synthetic monitoring, rather than real-user monitoring. However, the company is increasingly moving into the real-user monitoring space. In June 2017, Uptrends announced that it would start offering real-user monitoring as a free trial to all of its customers (previously limited to certain tiers). Because RUM is currently in beta, users may encounter some areas that need improvement; however, Uptrends has stated that it would appreciate user feedback during the beta period, so this potentially gives companies the opportunity to have a voice in shaping a new product to meet their needs. RUM will be free for users during the entirety of its beta period, which is an unspecified but limited time window.

To implement real-user monitoring, you will have to upload Javascript to the HTML of each web page you want to monitor, which takes a bit of technical aptitude, but is still not as complicated as some other solutions on the market. The Uptrends Knowledge Base has more details about the setup process.

Alerting

The simplest type of Uptrends monitor is defined by entering a website, check frequency, and whether or not you want it to generate an alert. You can specify various Escalation Levels for each monitor, in order to ensure that each alert is being communicated to the right people, using the most effective mode of communication, and at the right frequency.

For example, you can specify that a monitor should send an alert when X number of errors have occurred, but only send up to Y reminders, every Z minutes. These are parameters that let you control the accuracy of the alerts, so that you can control the false positives (false alarms) that occur.

setting up a monitor alert in Uptrends

Uptrends gives you the option to get alerted through email, phone, or SMS/text message (but keep in mind that each pricing plan only includes a limited number of phone/SMS alerts per month). If one of your monitors encounters an error, and you specified that it should alert you by email, you will receive an email that tells you:

  • which monitor is failing
  • when the error started occurring
  • how many consecutive errors have occurred
  • the time of the last check
  • the location of the last checkpoint that was used to test the URL

If the situation resolves on its own, you will receive notification that the monitor has recovered. Otherwise, you will continue to receive reminders that the monitor is still failing its check.

Uptrends monitor recovered email notification

Uptrends' alerting currently only integrates with Slack and PagerDuty. Therefore, if you use other tools like OpsGenie, VictorOps, or HipChat, you will have to put in a request for Uptrends to develop the integration, or use the API to set it up manually.

Is Uptrends the right software for you?

Uptrends is a smart option for businesses that want an easy way to get up and running with website performance and availability monitoring for a low price. The service makes it easy to keep team members in the loop about the status of each monitor. Uptrends also sends a helpful daily overview that reports a high-level status of each of your monitors' uptime and performance. The customizable dashboards, support for SLA reports, and ease of use make it a top choice for any business that wants to ensure that its services are delivering a good user experience across various types of browsers and locations. To truly get a sense of whether it will work for your business's needs, we recommend signing up for a 30-day trial.

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