Many developers use ok.html files to keep track of the availability of their websites. In this post I'd like to call your attention to some of the disadvantages of this method.

How does it work?

You create an empty file or one that contains only a few characters and name it to ok.html. Then you upload it to the root folder of the web server that you'd like to monitor.

After you uploaded the file you can check whether the server is working properly by downloading it regularly from different locations in 1-5 minute long intervals.

If the file arrives at the computer that you are monitoring the server with then probably the website which is hosted by the server is also working properly.

What can you measure this way?

By using ok.html files you can find out if your web server was available from the location you downloaded the file at the time you requested it. In other words you can measure the server uptime with this method.

What can't you measure?

The problem with this method is that it could mislead you concerning your websites' availability. Since the point of the whole process is to find out whether the site is available or not it's a rather big flaw.

On top of this these measurements don't tell you anything about the download speed and other characteristics of your website's performance.

Why should you choose another method?

  1. The reason why these measurements could mislead you is that, in many cases, you can easily download the ok.html file from a web server of your site while it is unable to serve your visitors.

Maybe the scripts don't work on it or it is full of database errors and all your visitors can see when they arrive is an error message. And these are just a few of the possible errors that you are going to be unaware of if you rely on ok.html files.

  1. The lack of information about site speed is also a serious disadvantage. If you are able to download a very small file that doesn't mean that your visitors will be able to download your web pages, which are much bigger with a speed that doesn't test their patience.

  2. Monitoring with ok.html files doesn't inform you about the health of the most important pages on your site. Maybe your most popular category or product pages are unavailable due to problems with your CMS or your visitors are unable to put an item into the basket while everything seems OK.

Monitoring these subpages is crucial for e-commerce sites as undetected errors on them could cause significant financial losses.

Is there a better way?

Yes, and you don't necessarily have to pay for it.

WebyMon’s free version allows you to constantly monitor two domains and collect information about the home page and a subpage on each of them.

Besides unavailability, we also notify you about speed issues and errors of the crucial functions on your website. Just click here, if you'd like to give it a try.