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.

New Per-Host Notifications

If you are a Professional or Business tier user, you can now configure additional notifications on a per-host basis. This allows you to setup different alerting for each host. Have people in your organization that want to know when a certain site is down, but don't want to get every alert? You can now add those alerts from the notification page on the web client. Custom alerts can be configured for email, sms, Slack and HipChat notifications. You can even specify whether you want to send alerts on down or up separately.

As always, please let us know any feedback you might have!

Stay Vigilant,
The Vigil Team

How Will My Website Go Down?

As you can imagine, we see a lot of website failure scenarios running a website monitoring service. While every website downtime is unique, there are a lot of similarities. We thought it would be interesting to look at aggregate data to see what the most common failure scenarios were. We thought we would first look at the status codes we get back when a website goes down.

Website Failures

As you can see, the largest number of failures don't have a status code assigned at all. This means there was a failure sometime before we were able to get a status code response from the target server. This could mean we failed to look up the server address, there was a network failure somewhere between the monitoring server and the target server, or there was a failure when attempting to open the connection with the server. If we take out this data point, you can see the status code data in more detail.

Status Codes

Looking at just the status code errors we see two broad range of issues. The first fall into the 400 range. 401 and 403 are permission errors, which means either the current user doesn't have permission to access that particular resource, or the web server doesn't have access to the underlying file or service. 404 is the common File Not Found error, which means that the resource may have been moved or deleted. If you see any of these errors on a site that was working fine, you may want to check to make sure something hasn't been changed.

Because this scenario is so common, we've created a tool to help you track down broken links on your site. You can periodically run our Vigil Broken Link Checker to look through your entire site for issues like these.

The second group of errors we see are in the 500 range. A 500 error is an Internal Server Error and is usually indicative of some failure or crash in an underlying component. You will want to check your local log files to see what might be going on. This can also happen if a resource such as a database is not available.

A 503 or Bad Gateway error occurs when your site is sitting behind another service acting as an intermediary. This can be a proxy, or most often a loadbalancer that takes incoming requests and feeds them to a number of backend servers. a 503 error may indicate that there are no backend servers to fulfill a request, or that the gateway itself is overloaded. If you are using a large shared hosting provider, you can see an error like this at times.

Hopefully you found this information interesting. In a future installment we will look into more detail at that "other" category—all the failures that occur before we get a status code.

 

Vigil Web Client Updated

Back when we started working on Vigil it was only available on the iPhone. Over the last year we have been rolling out a Vigil web client so users could access their website status in their browser. We are pleased to announce a major refresh to the look and feel of our web client.

One of our goals with this refresh was to let the browser version of Vigil have its own identity separate from the IOS app. Instead of attempting to copy the flat aesthetic of iOS, we wanted the browser version of Vigil to feel like an app at home on your desktop.

We've worked hard at improving the overall usability of the web client by make more actions visible and explicit. You can now see more information about each host, or collapse all of your entries to see more sites on a single page. We've also improved the account and notification pages to make it easier to manage your subscription and alert options.

Please take the time to check out the new Vigil web client and provide us your feedback.

 

Vigil 2.1 is Here!

We have just released a new update to the Vigil iOS client that includes some important improvements. We are most excited about changes we've been making to improve the responsiveness of the client when downloading historical data, as well as some new metrics we are now tracking.

An important question website owners have is how their site is performing over the long-term. We are now calculating rolling 30-day response-time averages, as well as standard deviations. This means you will be able to see the general range of response times we've been seeing from your site, and determine if recent measurements are an indicator your site might be slowing down. In addition to seeing the raw numbers on a site's detail screen, we now overlay the average as a white line, and show the standard deviation range as a dark band on the graph.

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For those of your with an Apple Watch, we've also added a new watch complication so you can see the state of all your sites at a glance.

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With 2.1 out the door, we are working on some big improvements to the Vigil web client, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming changes.

New Vigil Servers

This weekend we rolled out upgraded hardware for our Vigil database and monitoring services. We've been steadily growing, and our old instances were starting to feel the strain. As part of the upgrade our network performance has increased as well. You may notice reduced response times for your websites from the Vigil monitoring system because of this change.

We've also submitted a new version of the Vigil iOS client to the App Store that leverages new features of our backend data collection. We'll have more to say about Vigil 2.1 when it is available.

Vigil Status Update

You may have noticed we've been performing a lot of maintenance on the Vigil servers lately. Vigil has been going strong now for over two years, but some aspects of our service are slower than we'd like. In order to improve performance, and prepare for upcoming features, we've been undertaking some major housecleaning. Unfortunately, this means we've had to bring down parts of the Vigil service from time to time. We are trying to keep these outages as short as possible, and appreciate your patience while we get through this transition process.

We've got some great updates coming out in the near future. We're hard at work on our iOS 9 and watchOS 2 update so keep an eye out on our twitter feed and blog!


Stay Vigilant,
The Vigil Team

Scheduled Downtime 9/26/2015

We will be performing some extensive updates to our Vigil infrastructure over the weekend that will require taking the service offline for a short period of time. This update is part of an effort that will help significantly improve the performance of our web and iOS clients. We expect the length of the outage to be approximately 2 hours, although we are hoping it will be shorter. We plan to begin maintenance at 8am PST. We will tweet out through our @vigilapp account when we take the service down and bring it back up. As always, if you have any questions, please contact us at support@vigil-app.com.

Getting More Out of Vigil Part 2

DON'T MISS THESE VIGIL FEATURES

There is a lot more to Vigil than just sending out alerts when a website goes down. We are constantly working to improve the way Vigil integrated with your business, and to find new ways to help you improve your customers' experience. Here are a few features you might want to check out if you haven't already:

BROKEN LINK CHECKING

Links are the cornerstone of the web. Link to anywhere, from anywhere with just a simple URL. Unfortunately, as easy as it is to create links, it is just as easy for them to break. A website might have hundreds, or even thousands, of links. Making sure every single one is still working can take valuable time. Using an automated broken link checker saves you time and money by letting you know when a link has stopped working without all the drudgery. With your professional or business subscription, you can configure an automated check to run once a month. Read more about the Vigil Broken Link Checker, and go here to try it out.

SMS ALERT DELIVERY

There are times when push notifications and email aren't quite enough. Especially if you want to get alerts when you otherwise might have Do-Not-Disturb enabled on your phone. Vigil has SMS Alert delivery available in the Professional and Business plans. Tap on the Gear Icon on the bottom of your list of sites to go to settings, and under notifications you will notice an SMS Delivery option. Enter your cell phone here, and we'll send out alerts to your phone!

SLACK AND HIPCHAT INTEGRATIONS

Does your team use Slack or HipChat? With Vigil, you can have alerts delivered right into your chat rooms so everyone can see what is happening right away. You can read more about setting up your Slack integration in this blog post. We can also setup HipChat integrations if that is the service your team uses.  Get in touch with us to find out more.

OTHER APP INTEGRATIONS

One of the first integrations we did at Vigil was for Panic's Status Board. Status Board is a great iOS app for creating useful dashboards. Add your list of websites right to Status Board with up-to-date statistics by visiting the client integration page from your iPad.

In addition to Status Board, Vigil also supports Panic's Prompt SSH Client. When you are viewing a site in Vigil, you can launch straight into Prompt and have an SSH terminal ready in a single tap. Find out more in this blog post.

A Vigil subscription provides a wide range of features to help you keep on top of your website. If there is a feature or integration you would like to see, or need help using a feature, or setting up an existing integration, please get in touch with us. We are always happy to help, or receive feedback.