Announcing Support for Amazon Alexa

Do you have an Amazon Alexa device?  If you do, you can now link your Vigil account with it!  Once integrated, you can ask Alexa to give you a quick report on your Vigil sites' status.  With Vigil's Alexa skill, you can ask:

 

  • Alexa, ask Vigil for my website status
  • Alexa, ask Vigil is my site down
  • Alexa, ask Vigil for status

 

 

Before you get started, be sure to authorize Alexa to obtain your sites' status.  Once complete, you will get back a detailed report of your sites' status.

We'll be adding additional support for more specific questions and even notifications in the future.  If you have an idea to make the skill better, an additional integration, or any feedback at all please let us know!

The Vigil Team

What Does Downtime Cost Your Business?

When we tell people about Vigil, we often get the question "Why would I need to monitor my website?" This question is often rooted in the assumption that a little downtime here and there isn't that important. Computing infrastructure is now such an integral component to almost any business, and even a little downtime can cost serious money.

Gartner puts the average cost of downtime for a company at $5600 per minute. This number will vary depending on your industry, and how you use computers in your business, and many factors may raise or lower this estimate for your particular company.

Lost Business

The most obvious cost of an offline website, and the one most people think about when they consider the impact of their website being down is lost business. If a customer is coming to your site ready to buy your product and instead they see a 404 Not Found or 500 Internal Server Error Page that is a sale you may never get back. This is also usually the easiest cost to estimate since you can calculate how many dollars pass through your website on an hourly or daily basis.

Lost Worker Productivity

Besides lost sales, it is also important to consider the amount of time your employees lose when your servers are down. These might include mail servers, internal tools, and websites they might need to use to get their jobs done. All of these can go down and leave your workers stranded. An hour of downtime in even a small company can mean thousands of dollars in payroll for employees waiting to get back to work.

Lost Trust

In addition to the immediate cost of lost sales and worker productivity, it is important to consider the long-term consequences of lost trust when your website is down. As more and more of our lives move online we depend on the services we use to be available 24/7. Every interaction we have with our potential and existing customers helps to build trust. A website that is frequently offline sends the wrong signal. 

This loss is expremely hard to measure. We often assume we'll learn about problems our customers are having, but more often than not we simply never hear from them again as they move on to a competitor's offering. For every customer complaint there are tens or hundreds that simply move on.

How Long Will I Be down?

The other important number that goes into calculating the cost of downtime is of course how long your servers are down. The average downtime for most companies is 87 hours per year, which represents 99% uptime—a number most find sounds perfectly acceptable—until you consider that based on the average per-minute downtime costs, those 87 hours can end up costing a company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Even if you think your services are up 99.9% of the time, that is still 8.7 hours a year, and 99.999%, which is considered best-in-class, still represents over $3700 in downtime risk. The sooner you know something is wrong, the sooner you can stop losing money.

Causes Of Downtime

While it seems like every week there is a new major attack on computer networks, the reality is that most network downtime is still caused by mundane issues.

  • 40%: Hardware failure
  • 25%: Service provider outages
  • 25%: Human error
  • 10%: System attacks

While it would be nice to be able to focus on one area that most often causes downtime, the reality is that websites are dependent on a plethora of systems and interactions. A failure in any one of those—be it hardware, software, or human error—can bring a website offline.

Does Monitoring Help?

One additional objection we hear when discussing monitoring is "Well, I can't do anything about it anyway." We are seeing more and more customers outsourcing their website hosting to large service providers. We even host the main Vigil website on a third-party service. If your website goes down, it often feels like there is little you can do other than just wait it out. 

However, given the importance a website has in any business today, it is important to know if your service provider and internal infrastucture are doing their jobs right. Even large providers can run into issues, and if those issues keep cropping up it is imporant to know. Without proper monitoring in place, you may never even realize how much downtime you are suffering, and how much money you are losing.

The New Vigil Essentials Plan

Today we are announcing changes to Vigil plans and pricing. We are eliminating the multi-tiered pricing model, and Vigil will now be available under a single plan known as Vigil Essentials:

  • Checks Every Minute
  • 1 Week of History
  • Email, Push, Slack, HipChat, and SMS Notifications
  • Weekly Summary Report
  • GET, POST, PUT, DELETE Method Support
  • SMTP(s) Monitors
  • Configure Custom Headers
  • Custom Status Code Check
  • Content Match Check (substring and regular expressions)
  • Broken Link Checker
  • Domain Expiration Warning
  • API Access

Vigil Essentials is available on a per-host basis. Pay for only the number of hosts you are using, and add or remove hosts from your plan at any time. Never worry if you are paying for capacity you aren’t using again. As we have done with all previous pricing and plan changes, if you are an existing Vigil customer and happy with your current plan you can stay on it as long as you like.

Vigil Essentials is priced at $9.99 per month plus $2.99 for each host you wish to monitor. You can read more about the new Essentials plan on our pricing page.

Why are we making these changes? 

When we first launched Vigil our core idea was to provide a simple, well-designed monitoring solution for a single low price so website owners that never considered monitoring could have the added security of knowing if their website was down all from the convenience of their phone. Since then we have been steadily expanding the features we offer customers, and along with those new services we expanded from one plan to multiple tiers, all with different options and price points. We realized we had gotten away from our original concept, and were starting to look more like every other competitor on the market.

We decided to re-evaluate our approach and get back to why we originally started Vigil: provide a simple monitoring solution at a great price. We believe the new Vigil Essentials plan does just that. We know there are lots of options when it comes to monitoring your websites—you can find everything from small services offering free checks to well-known providers with pages of offerings—but we believe Vigil Essentials provides a great value for the price:

  • Full featured checks, including more complex options for users with advanced monitoring needs
  • Easy-to-read weekly reports that let you know how your sites have been doing
  • Multiple notification delivery mechanisms, including SMS, push, email, Slack and HipChat, with NO limit on the number of alerts
  • Broad package of built-in tools such as broken link checking, domain expiration warnings, and SSL checking

Try Vigil Essentials today free for 14 days, or if you are an existing Vigil subscriber, upgrade your plan any time from your Account page.

Beta Testers Needed for New SMTP Monitor Type

One request we often hear from users is the desire to be able to check the status of email servers. Our backend team has been hard at work, and we are happy to announce we now have support for SMTP monitoring! We are rolling out this new feature, and are looking for customers interested in helping up beta test this new monitor. If you run an email server, and would like to check it out, please get in touch with us at support@vigil-app.com with "SMTP Beta" in the subject line.

How To Add an SMTP Monitor

Once your account has been setup to support the STMP monitor, it will automatically appear as an option when you click on the Add Host button. You will see it on the list as SMTP(S) MONITOR:

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Clicking that menu option will pop up a new creation dialog:

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There are a number of options available depending on how your SMTP server is configured. The first options are for including your server address and port. If your server supports secure connections you will want to select the SSL/TLS option. You can also provide vigil-specific authentication if your server requires it for the monitor to connect. We highly recommend setting up a specific Vigil monitoring account for this purpose with a unique username/password combination. 

You can use the NAME field to spefify a friendly name you would like to give this monitor so you recognize it on the dashboard and in notifications and reports. The NOTIFICATION SENSITIVITY can be used to adjust when we send out alerts.

We support two methods of checking: VRFY and NOOP

VRFY Command Option

The VRFY command is a part of the SMTP protocol, and you can read more about it here. This command sends an email address to the server, and the server will respond with a status code indicating whether that account exists on the system. When you select the VRFY SMTP COMMAND option, you will need to provide an email address. This will cause our monitors to issue a command VRFY <email> to your server on the normal monitoring schedule. You can use the Advanced VRFY tab to adjust which status codes are considered good responses:

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It is important to note that some administrators consider the VRFY command to be insecure, and it is either disabled, or always returns a positive response. If the command still responds, you can still use it to verify the server is online and responding the external requests. If your server doesn't support the VRFY command at all you can use the second option: NOOP.

NOOP Command Option

The NOOP command is spelled out in the SMTP RFC and you can read more about it here. This command sends just the NOOP string to the server, which responds with an OK. If your server doesn't support the VRFY command, you can use the NOOP as a fallback option. This will verify that your server has connectivity to the internet, and is processing at least minimal requests.

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For NOOP, you do not need to provide a recipient email.

Plans and Pricing

When we roll out SMTP monitoring, it will be available automatically for all users at the Business Plan level as a new monitoring option. There will be no additional charge over the regular monthly or annual charge for your plan. If you are not currently on the Business plan, you can upgrade at any time. You can view all our plan options here.

Bug Fixes and New Client Work

This last week was filled with bug fixes and new client work at Vigil HQ. Late last week we discovered an issue with the iOS Client that was causing issues when freshly installed on a new device. We fixed the bug, and pushed a new build to Apple. They approved our expedited review, and we were ablet to get out a new release on Friday (v2.1.4). 

We've also been fixing bugs and improving our backend services. Most people see the clients, but behind the scenes are numerout servers that perform the monitoring, collect statistics, and serve up data to the web and iOS clients. We rolled out a few updates this last week with some small improvements and bug fixes.

Work still continues on the Android client. Hopefully we'll have more news on this front soon. In the meantime, have a great February, and as always—stay vigilant.

iOS Client Issue v2.1.3

UPDATE: Apple approved our expedited review, and version 2.1.4 is now available in the app store. Thank you for your patience while we worked through the issue.


The most recent iOS Client that was released (v2.1.3) has a bug that causes issues with new installations which stops users from logging in or creating new accounts from their iOS devices. We have uploaded a new build and have requested an expedited review with Apple. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. The web client is unaffected, as are any users who had already created an account on their device. Hopefully the fixed client will be available quickly.

Domain Expiration Alerts

We are getting ready to roll out a new Vigil alert: Domain Registration Expiration. Never have to worry about your domain expiring out from under you again! We will be rolling out WHOIS monitoring soon. When your domain registration is about to expire we'll send you a notification. Failing to renew a domain can be everything from a minor inconvenience, to a major headache if someone comes in and buys it. Because domain renewals happen very rarely they are easy to forget. WHOIS monitoring will be a free feature for all Professional and Business Plan subscriptions.

New Support Documents

We had a few important explanations about how Vigil worked hidden away in blog posts, and realized we needed to make the information more accessible. You can visit the support link in the menu for more detailed documentation on Vigil's monitoring service now.

Android Beta Testers Needed

We have been busy expanding the client platforms where you can use Vigil, and our next target is Android. If you are an Android user, or know someone who is, please get in touch with us. We are looking for a few testers willing to brave our early builds and give us feedback.

New Timezone Setting

You can now configure the timezone Vigil should use when reporting events. If you visit the Account page in the website client, you will see a new row with your current timezone setting, along with a button 'CHANGE TIME ZONE'

Clicking this button allows you to select the timezone Vigil uses in weekly reports and alerts.

By default we use UTC time when reporting events on your account. If you log in from the Vigil mobile app, your timezone will be set to the configured timezone on your device. If you have any questions, please get in touch.