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The 7 main types of server monitoring

Server monitoring tools aren’t created equal. Make sure the one you settle on has the types of functionality you need.

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Information technology has greatly improved the efficiency of the modern organization. But this dependence on technology is also a major source of weakness. When systems fail, they can cripple business operations, precipitate massive losses, disappoint customers and users, and inflict substantial damage to the company’s reputation.

This is partly why server monitoring tools are so vital. However, a server is a fairly sophisticated ecosystem with dozens or hundreds of components. Server monitoring is, therefore, a broad topic that can be broken down into several different subject areas.

Availability/Uptime Monitoring

Availability/uptime is the most essential metric of server monitoring. No other metric will matter if the server is unreachable or otherwise unavailable. Availability/uptime monitoring keeps an eye on the server to establish whether it’s on and if it’s responding to requests sent to it.

The possible reasons for unavailability are varied. Perhaps a system administrator tripped on a network cable or power cord while in the data center but didn’t notice it, or maybe someone deliberately switched off the server for hardware replacement or maintenance but failed to forewarn users.

Performance Monitoring

Keeping track of uptime is crucial. It’s important that your users and customers can reach your servers whenever they need to. Nevertheless, uptime and availability is the bare minimum of server monitoring.

Just because users can access your server doesn’t necessarily mean they are enjoying their experience. For that, you require performance monitoring. System performance evaluation is about ensuring applications launch quickly and respond to commands as expected.   

Resource Monitoring

A server isn’t a monolithic piece of hardware. Rather it’s an aggregation of various physical components. The performance of the server as a whole is dependent on the performance of these individual parts. The most important components of a server as far as monitoring is concerned are the hard disk, RAM and processor.

Effective resource monitoring is about checking that these resources are not being stretched to their capacity. It should be granular too and allow you to drill down to more specific metrics of each resource such as temperature and voltage. These metrics will give you advance warning if the server is in danger of failure.

Error Monitoring

System errors are inevitable. Whether it’s a user keying in invalid data, an application failing to save data to a database, or conflicts between two or more systems, errors will occur. What you should be concerned about is a spike in the number of errors.

Error monitoring software will send out an alert to administrators whenever the frequency or nature of errors deviates from the norm.

Log Monitoring

Servers generate a log of system events. Applications also have their own distinct log files that record events occurring within them. Log files have always been an invaluable tool in system troubleshooting so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that log monitoring is an important part of server monitoring.

For best results, all operating system and application log files should be stored on a central log server. That speeds up the monitoring process since the software doesn’t have to remotely read the logs.

Database Monitoring

Data is the oil of the digital age. Large corporations like Google and Facebook owe much of their success to their ability to capture, store and/or organize data on the Internet. To a much lesser degree, virtually every company in the developed world today holds business data in electronic form. This data is usually stored in databases.

If your server hosts a database, you need a database monitoring tool that will let you know when there’s a danger of the database itself or the data it contains losing its integrity.

Security Monitoring

The types of monitoring we’ve covered so far relate to issues that arise inadvertently. However, certain system problems are caused by the deliberate, unauthorized or malicious actions of users, malware or third parties. These can endanger your data, systems, and business.

The default solution to security problems is installing anti-virus software. However, antivirus isn’t always adequate in protecting your servers. A good security monitoring tool will not just look out for malware but will also pay attention to the suspicious system and user activity.

Server monitoring tools aren’t created equal. Make sure the one you settle on has the types of functionality you need.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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