How To: NodeBB Forum Monitoring



  • NodeBB Forum Monitoring

    Table of Contents

    • Executive Summary
    • Third Party Providers
      • Uptime Robot
      • Pushbullet
    • Monitoring Your Forum
      • HTTP Check
      • Other Checks
    • Setting Expectations
    • Quagmire
    • Known Working Compatibility
    • Contact & Version Information

    Executive Summary

    While using a third party monitoring service your forum may be able to obtain the level of service you wish to commit your effort to providing. I identify one provider who's free service tier seems quite adequate for my level of need.

    Third Party Providers

    My cursory investigation into providers of monitoring systems turned up many to which mostly were paid services. I did find a few that offered a free-tier but they were limited to a bare minimum amount, and type, of service checks. I am not saying that paid services are bad and on the contrary paid services are wonderful. If your forum is of the caliber to require a paid monitoring service then please get one. If your forum is just not there yet to warrant paying then my work investigating and testing different solutions and services at the free level may benefit you. If so please enjoy my research.

    Uptime Robot

    I then found Uptime Robot. https://uptimerobot.com Like many of the other providers they offer a paid and a free tier. What separates them from many of the others is that their free service, although limited, does not seem limited to a detriment. Specifically their free tier sets the service interval check to five minutes, limits to fifty monitors, offers a limited method of notification and only provides 2 months of history.

    Considering the price, free, I am happy to be constrained to those limitations. They are very generous actually. The forum I administer does not need service checks at a more granular level than five minutes and although SMS notification is not offered in the free tier they do offer email-to-sms (via your mobile carrier's email gateway -- if offered) but more to my liking they offer Pushbullet notification.

    Pushbullet

    If you aren't aware of Pushbullet take a look at their service. https://www.pushbullet.com Pushbullet provides iOS and Android apps and a plethora of web browser plugins for notification.

    Pushbullet via their apps offer push notifications which to me are almost immediate from when the notification has been sent from the source system. In my testing a Pushbullet notification is as quick as a SMS message.

    Lastly, a NodeBB plugin exists for Pushbullet. You could even add it to your forum for your users to receive your forum notifications.

    Monitoring Your Forum

    Go off and create your Uptime Robot account now. I'll wait. Oh, hi there. Welcome back. Be sure to create additional "Alert Contacts" if you want something other than email such as email-to-sms or Pushbullet or one of the other choices they offer.

    Let's get to creating a service check for your forum.

    HTTP Check

    I consider this the most important check. It's nice to know if you do not have connectivity to your server via ping or know the latency of that connection but at the end of the day you are here to setup forum monitoring. The http check is our bread and butter. Just because the server responds to pings does not mean your forum is up and usable by your customers. The http check examines the response codes after visiting your site. A "200" response means that everything is working as planned. Deviations from that code, possibly a "502" or "503", would set off a notification to you.

    • Click the "Add New Monitor" button
    • Choose HTTP(S)
    • Add a name for the check
    • Enter the URL of your forum
    • Choose to receive email and, or, another notification method by checking the appropriate check box
    • Click to "Create Monitor"

    Other Checks

    Feel free to add additional checks as you deem necessary. You may wish to add a "ping" check to report if your entire server and not just your forum is unreachable. You may wish to have your database checked via the port check, etc.

    Setting Expectations

    Receiving notification regarding the health of your forum does not mean your forum is self-healing. If the forum goes down you or your team still have to diagnose and repair the problem. If you run a forum for fun and don't look forward to fixing things then don't setup a monitoring system to look at it! Deal with the problems on your time but if you want to attempt to offer a reliable service for your customers then by all means setup a monitoring system and have a plan on how you will respond.

    Setting your own expectations ahead of time will go a long way to not being stressed when it is down. Here is a freebie for you. Take and have backups! Practice restoring and working with those backups before an emergency takes place.

    Quagmire

    You may ask, "why not run my own monitoring service?" That is a great question and a great idea. There are many suitable monitoring systems you could run which would be completely adequate for this problem. Nagios, for example, comes to mind. The catch-22 is how will you know if your NodeBB forum is having problems if your monitoring software is also having problems. This is most likely a truth if you attempt to run your monitoring system from the same server that your forum is running from. You could circumvent this predicament by operating another server on which your monitoring platform would reside but there is always the risk that your monitoring platform could run into problems or go off line undetected by you, thus leaving you in the same position as if you did not have monitoring at all. Let someone else manage your management service and benefit from their economy of scale.

    Known Working Compatibility

    This guide should be applicable to all versions of NodeBB.


    Contact me https://community.nodebb.org/user/rod
    Revision 1.2, 2016-MAY-26 @979.beats

  • Community Rep

    Great post! I have some additions you might have not been aware of.

    I've used Datadog a lot and have found it to be pretty easy to get set up, they have their setup instructions render with your own API keys so it's pretty much a copy paste exercise. The dashboards can be made really pretty too. They say there's a 1 day limit to metrics collected when the trial ends but I haven't seen that in effect.

    For monitoring i found updown.io, but I haven't tried it



  • @Bri Nice information, thank you.

    Updown.io intrigued me but I think they only use Slack as a notification channel (SMS costs money). Uptimerobot offers Pushbullet, Slack, Boxcar as notification methods.

    Datadog also looks well planned out but their free tier would only allow me to build an API to get notifications about my forum being down. I am not sure I trust my programming to handle getting the notification if my forum server is down also.

    I do appreciate the feedback and having these alternatives in this thread will be beneficial for other users. They too can look at them and choose the one that may fit their need best.


  • Community Rep

    You can set an alert that will notify you if the agent stops reporting (server down), and to email you or to hook into some third party notification system.

    Knowing that your forum is up is only half the picture! :) It's pretty easy to set up graphs and monitoring for CPU, memory, and disk usage



  • @Bri you've convinced me to look at Datadog again. I like the idea of having a history of the system statistics.

    I will keep my post updated if I feel I've found additional resources that may be beneficial to others.

    Thank you.


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