6 Self-Hosted Server Monitoring Tools

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Server monitoring tools are commonly used in web hosting, especially for commercial and large-scale websites. However, they can also be valuable for smaller projects, like managing a personal blog.

After two years of smooth sailing on a shared hosting plan, a sudden increase in traffic caused my website to crash, prompting a switch to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. This change revealed a gap in monitoring resources compared to my previous setup.

In searching for a solution, I discovered several server monitoring tools that might also be useful to you.

1. New Relic One

New Relic One - Cloud-based full-stack server monitoring tool.
New Relic One – Provides detailed server monitoring from the cloud, offering deep insights beyond basic system metrics.

Price: Free / From $0.25/GB onwards

New Relic One is a Cloud-based full-stack server monitoring tool, offering comprehensive monitoring across your entire server setup. It provides detailed performance insights that extend far beyond basic metrics like RAM usage, enhancing your understanding of your server’s operations.

What New Relic One Does?

Rather than offering standardized monitoring, New Relic allows users to choose the exact views of information relevant to them. For example, you can set it to show throughput, requests, and even Apdex monitoring panels.

If such detail confuses you, pre-designed dashboard templates are available based on how you use New Relic. The WordPress dashboard comes in handy for me – and the application monitor. New Relic pricing is tiered and starts free, sufficient for most new to server monitoring.

Installation is also easy, and they’ll provide the code you need to execute that will set up the application agent on your server. If you’re using Managed VPN hosting, simply provide your support team with the API key and let them handle the matter.

New Relic One Server Monitoring Features

  • Application performance monitoring
  • Infrastructure monitoring
  • Cloud, container, Kubernetes cluster insights
  • End-to-end performance analysis
  • Custom-build your dashboards or use templates
  • Real-time alerts

Note to Cloudways User

New Relic is integrated within the Cloudways Platform and can be accessed through the Server dashboard. You can easily monitor the activities of each application installed on your Cloudways server using the APM dashboard.

Full setup guide and details on what to track for your site performance.

2. PRTG Hosted Monitor

PRTG Hosted Monitor offers a variety of monitoring tools.
PRTG Hosted Monitor – Offers network flow and packet data monitoring, customizable dashboards, and system change alerts.

Price: From $149/mo (10-day free trial)

PRTG is a group of different monitoring products. It offers a variety of monitoring tools tailored to meet specific requirements. For server or VPS management, PRTG Hosted Monitor is likely the optimal choice.

What is PRTG Hosted Monitor Used For?

PRTG Hosted Monitor supports various platforms, including Linux and Unix. The distinction is important because some PRTG solutions run only on Windows. The dashboard it uses is graphical and can be modified using a drag-and-drop map builder.

All remote monitors will increase the overhead on your server. However, the capability of PRTG to draw data via very conventional means like SSH is helpful. It’s fast, secure, and creates minimum impact on your hosting budget.

You also get a good view of remote resources like storage space, system load, RAM, and much more. These practical functions make it viable for smaller website owners willing to pay the price.

PRTG Hosted Monitor Features

  • SSH data access
  • Flow and packet sniffing
  • REST APIs can return JSON and XML
  • Unlimited remote probes
  • Drag-and-drop dashboard builder
  • Flexible alerting system

3. ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager offers a cluster of server monitoring tools.
ManageEngine OpManager – Monitors network devices, offers customizable views, and integrates with Zoho applications.

Price: Free / From $245

ManageEngine offers a cluster of server monitoring tools that provide data collection and accessible insight. These tools cover the entire spectrum for server monitoring, including application, database, virtual, web, and more. 

Using ManageEngine as a Server Monitoring Tool?

It’s interesting to note that ManageEngine is a division under Zoho. The brand explicitly handles IT management for Zoho, meaning it’s tried and tested in a real production environment.  The Server Monitor tool is part of the OpManager and covers remote resources like CPU utilization, RAM, IO operations, process monitoring, etc. 

The process is entirely automated, leaving you free to ignore it once you set up the appropriate alerts. It has a user-friendly dashboard allowing a quick bird’s eye view of server health. Naturally, the view is customizable, allowing configuration for your unique needs.

ManageEngine OpManager Features

  • Network, CSV, Node discovery
  • Availability, interface, SNMP, WMI monitoring
  • Local authentication and REST API access
  • Custom dashboards with Widgets
  • Business views
  • Zoho maps integration

4. Instana

Instana offers straightforward server monitoring solutions.
Instana – Automatically discovers system components, maps dependencies, identifies performance issues, and optimizes them in real-time.

Price: From $75/mo per host

Instana is one of the most straightforward solutions to implement. All you need is to install the agent on your host, and the configuration is automated. The agent runs a discovery tool that automates everything, allowing you to focus on data.

What is Instana Used For?

Unfortunately, convenience, in this case, comes at a price. While not the most expensive, Instana isn’t cheap to operate. Still, it’s highly comprehensive in features. The sad part is that most website owners won’t need this usage level, and much will go to waste.

The good news is that data collection is complete. You can trace virtually anything, right down to individual requests and flow. It’s also highly granular since data collection happens in 1-second intervals. Despite this, the Instana is surprisingly lightweight.

Instana Server Monitoring Features

  • Automated discovery
  • Real-time dependency mapping
  • Root cause identification
  • Performance optimization
  • Micro-route tracing

5. DataDog

DataDog – Provides comprehensive server stack monitoring, detailed infrastructure insights, and customizable dashboards.

Price: Free / From $15/mo

DataDog solutions are precise, and prices depend on what you need to monitor. This structure allows lower-cost access to powerful Cloud-based monitoring capabilities. For those who need to monitor the essential performance of virtual servers, the infrastructure tool is sufficient, and you can use it for free.

Why Use DataDog to Monitor Your Servers?

At this level, you can monitor up to five hosts with a dashboard, app integrations, mapping, and more. You can also provide information access to unlimited users. Of course, there’s a catch, and the biggest I find is the limitation where data retention is concerned. Still, a paid plan is also relatively reasonably priced if you need more.

Paid plans also include a user alert system to notify you if things go wrong. Also available will be custom metrics, Single Sign-On (SSO), live process and forecast monitoring, and more. You can easily add on features to go beyond essential infrastructure monitoring.

DataDog Features

  • Complete stack coverage
  • Complete infrastructure performance visibility
  • Granular process impact tracing
  • Ready-made or customized dashboards
  • Host and container mapping

6. Dynatrace Infrastructure Monitoring

Dynatrace Infrastructure Monitoring
Dynatrace – Offers cloud-based monitoring, focusing on detailed and extensive infrastructure performance data collection.

Price: From $21/mo (up to 8GB)

Another Cloud-based monitoring tool, Dynatrace is split into multiple use cases. For most of us that want to monitor a VPS, their infrastructure monitoring is sufficient. It’s also highly automated and can provide near-instant visibility across multiple environments.

How Does Dynatrace Work?

What I love most about Dynatrace is its ease of use. There’s little need for granular adjustments from implementation to the dashboard unless you have particular needs. In most cases, the default configuration will work wonders.

While it will work fine for low-needs users, the price can be prohibitive once your requirements increase. The basic price per month covers a limited amount of data transfer. 8GB may be sufficient in some cases, but even a medium-volume blog can blow past that figure in mere days.

Dynatrace Monitoring Features

  • Digital business analytics
  • Unlimited container and process monitoring
  • AI assistance with anomalies
  • Log entry analysis
  • Extendable with over 560 integrations

What is Server Monitoring?

Server performance monitoring refers to using software and services that collect metrics and statistics on server usage. Data collection is automated, and a good tool can usually analyze these metrics to identify areas where you can improve performance.

Server Monitoring Tools At A Glance

PlatformFeatures HighlightsPrice
New Relic OneCloud-based platform, provides deep visibility beyond basic metrics like RAM usage, offers comprehensive server monitoring.Free / Starts from $0.25/GB onwards
PRTG Hosted MonitorSSH data access, flow and packet sniffing, REST APIs, unlimited remote probes, drag-and-drop dashboard builder, flexible alerting system.Starts from $149/month (10-day free trial available)
ManageEngine OpManagerNetwork, CSV, Node discovery, availability, interface, SNMP, WMI monitoring, custom dashboards with widgets, business views, Zoho maps integration.Free / Starts from $245
InstanaAutomated discovery, real-time dependency mapping, root cause identification, performance optimization, micro-route tracingStarts from $75/month per host
DataDogComplete stack coverage, infrastructure performance visibility, granular process impact tracing, customizable dashboards, host and container mapping.Free / Starts from $15/month
DynatraceCloud-based, focuses on infrastructure monitoring, suitable for VPS monitoring, comprehensive data collection.Starts from $21/month (up to 8GB)

Why Monitoring Your Server is Necessary

Keeping an eye on metrics to ensure things are running smoothly on your server is your first line of defense. In web environments, each second of downtime is money, even if you’re just running a small commercial site.

Case Study: Blog Disaster 101

Case study on my blog
Panic quickly sets in when your blog goes from hero to zero.

The best way to clarify this is to illustrate what happened on my website. The resource monitor provided by the shared hosting control panel showed me what was in use – but only on demand. There was no automated notification to let me know if anything went wrong. 

In the case of a problem arising, I’d also have to learn what to do independently. The result, in my case, was a disaster. My blog was constantly misfiring, and web traffic came to a standstill.

It took me a few days of panic over lost revenue before I understood what happened.

Thankfully, migrating to a VPS was fast, thanks to the assistance of my web host. Since then, I’ve implemented a Cloud-based server monitoring utility that constantly tracks performance and will let me know when bad things happen.

Final Thoughts on Server Monitoring Tools

The total duration of my website mis-behavior was almost one full week. Now, imagine that was you. Calculate the revenue loss you’d suffer over that one week, and you’ll quickly realize the importance of a practical server monitoring system.

At first, I lamented the loss of my easy-to-use Resource Monitor. Then I realized it was what caused my complacency. It wasn’t fulfilling a core need of letting me know when things are about to go wrong, and the result nearly cost me dearly in SERPs.

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Article by Timothy Shim

Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.
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