Top 3 Monitoring Tools You Need For Your VPS

VPS monitoring tool

Okay, you got your VPS setup and completed the installation and configuration of the services. What’s next? While you can move on to start putting your live websites on the VPS to draw traffic in, there’s another important aspect of work that’s missing over here. Monitoring!

Without any tools to help you monitor your VPS, you will never know why your VPS services go down and when it goes down. The monitoring tools act just like the monitoring dashboard on your car, alerting you when it’s time for server maintenance or when the fuels are on the alert refill level.

You can’t be staying 24×7 in front of your VPS server checking things and making sure they are working as exactly, that’s where this monitoring tool comes in handy.

Monitoring tools can be categorized to be either internal and external monitoring tools. Internal monitoring tools are to be installed on the same VPS or reside on the same network as your VPS is installed while external monitoring is to be executed the check outside your VPS network.

There is 3 important aspect of monitoring that generally all the VPS will be needing – Application, Website & IP Monitoring and Network Monitoring.

Application Monitoring

Most of the common services that are running on any server or VPS will be Web Services, Database Services, Email Services and FTP Services. You wanted to know how well these services are performing. Example for Web services such as Apache running on Linux and IIS on Windows, you wanted to find out how much of HTTP request your VPS server is processing during the normal operation day and if there’s a huge spike, when does that happened and at what particular time. This is needed so that you will know if an upgrade of resources is required to cater for the demand (to ensure your website continues to loads smoothly) or fine tune is required.

Monitoring the database services such as MySQL allows you to know how much of MySQL queries you are processing and if a fine tune is needed if the application is slowing down.

You wanted to also monitor your mail server queue in the event of any spam outbreak that could have jammed up your mail server queue that will, in turn, cause your mail server to be blacklisted on any major RBL spam listing that will affect your email delivery.

A couple of Free monitoring applications are available on the market that allows you to install on your VPS server for this type of monitoring.

Nagios

  • One of the famous open-source monitoring tools available in the market
  • Required it to be installed on the VPS – can be on the same server or different server.
  • Extensive plugins available for you to choose to monitor which services and their matrix such as the CPU, disk usage, mail queue..etc

Munin

  • Linux open source monitoring tools work in Windows as well with SNMP support.
  • Monitor aspect such as Apache, Exim, Disk, MySQL, Network throughput, no. of processes..etc
  • If you have cPanel control panel installed, this could be installed easily via the WHM addons.

Website & IP Blacklist Monitoring

Aside from monitoring the performance and status of your application services installed on your VPS server, you will also wanted to monitor and get alert when your mail server IP or domain is blacklisted by Google either due to spamming or being exploited to host any malicious activities such as hosting any page that contains malware to be downloaded to your visitors workstation as they browse your website.

The blacklisting usually being hit when an application was being exploited due to not being updated to the latest version. A very common attempts that happens to all the open source Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

Most of this CMS installation was done and left un-patched until an exploit that was released to the public that allows malicious files to be uploaded to the website without the awareness of the website owner. This attempt usually will be used to host malicious content web pages for scamming purpose or to host any malware web pages that would infect the victim’s workstation. The other will be used as a channel to blast out a mass volume of emails and eventually cause the mail server IP of your VPS to be blacklisted.

There are 2 solutions that can help to protect your VPS:

Sucuri

  • Web Application Firewall Proxy that masks your actual web server IP
  • DDOS mitigation protection for your Website
  • Daily Malware Security Scans and Detection
  • Intrusion Detection System (IPS) for your website
  • Block any hack attempts
  • Website Reputation and Monitoring

Patchman

  • Automated vulnerability patching and malware removal.
  • Automatically integrates with cPanel, Plesk, and DirectAdmin.
  • Scanning process optimized to be incredibly fast, lightweight and distributed in larger environments.
  • Works for both WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and WooCommerce.

In short, Patchman is installed on your VPS and actively scanning all your applications installed and automatically patch them if there are any application files which are found containing the potential exploit. Sucuri gives you an extra layer of filtering protection on the web request and mitigation any DDOS attempts.

With this 2 solution in place, you will greatly reduce your websites being exploited and being used as the channel by the bad guys as a station to carry out their nasty activities.

Network Monitoring

Aside from tracking and monitoring how your application is performing and IP blacklisting, another aspect of monitoring required is to monitor the network availability of your VPS. Without the network (connection), your visitors will not be able to access the content or applications that are hosted inside your VPS.

Some of the monitoring tools such as Nagios or Munin though can also provide the information of your network usage, however, this application usually is installed on the same VPS or on a separate VPS that resides on the same provider network. With the same monitoring tools installed on your VPS, you will not be able to get any notifications when there’s an outage on your provider’s network even though all your application services are running perfectly.

To stay 24×7 alert on any possible network outage, the easiest and fastest way is to sign up for a 3rd party Uptime Network Monitoring Services that will monitor your VPS IP.

Most uptime network monitoring providers will allow you setup PING, DNS, Email Service Monitoring (SMTP, POP3, IMAP), Database Response Monitoring and Website (HTTP) Monitoring. Through this services, you will find packages that are often free or you can opt for a commercial plan. The FREE Uptime Monitoring usually comes with certain limitation such as triggering a check on every 5,10 or 15 minutes vs the 1-minute check when you go for their paid plan.

Of course, if you wanted to save a little bit budget out of it, you can host the Nagios monitoring on another provider VPS so you can have something out from your production VPS to help you to monitor the network. However, you will achieve greater savings and reduce the overhead maintenance (such as what if your Nagios VPS is down) when you sign up for a 3rd party monitoring services. You can go by the number of checks you will need that start from as low as $0.99/mo per monitoring or by bundles of 10 checks at $9.90/mo that gives you also Unlimited of SMS, Email, and mobile push notifications.

The reliability of your VPS will help you to ensure a better uptime and accessibility for your visitors and SEO rankings. Imagine Google tries to crawl your website and is down, it will give a signal that your website does not exist and will impact your overall ranking.

Do you have any monitoring in place and if yes, what are the monitoring strategy you have in place? Share with us on your thought below.