Monitoring URLs for free with Google Cloud Monitor

As somebody who runs a few sites, I like to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re up and responding correctly.

My go-to for years has been Pingdom, but this year they gutted their free service (update 2021 it's toally killed and now owned by Solarwinds... yeah, the people who got hacked and unknowingly distributed a back door to all their customers) so maybe not that service.

The free service with Pingdom also had limited alerting options and can only monitor a single endpoint. Instead, I went looking for something better as $15 a month to monitor a couple of personal low-volume sites is not money well spent.

Google Cloud

I’ve played with the Google Cloud Platform offerings for a while, and like many others, theirs includes a monitoring component called unsurprisingly Google Cloud Monitoring.

It’s currently free in beta and is based on StackDriver - acquired by Google in 2014. I can imagine more integration and services to continue to come through as they have a complete product that also monitors AWS.

Uptime checks

Screenshot showing uptime check options

You can create HTTP/HTTPS/TCP/UDP checks, and while designed to monitor the services you’re running on Google Cloud, will happily take arbitrary URLs to services running elsewhere.

Checks can be run every 1/5/10 or 15 minutes, use custom ports, look for specific strings in the response and setting custom headers and authentication credentials.

Each URL is monitored and reported from six geographical locations. They are split between three in the USA (east, central and west), Europe, Asia and Latin America. For example:

  • Virginia responded with 200 (OK) in 357 ms
  • Oregon responded with 200 (OK) in 377 ms
  • Iowa responded with 200 (OK) in 330 ms
  • Belgium responded with 200 (OK) in 673 ms
  • Singapore responded with 200 (OK) in 899 ms
  • Sao Paulo responded with 200 (OK) in 828 ms

Alerting policies {#alerting-policies}

Here’s where Google’s offering surprised me. It has alerting options for SMS and Email, obviously, but also HipChat, Slack, Campfire, and PagerDuty. You can specify combinations together, mixing and matching with different uptime checks etc.

Screenshot of alerting policy options


Like Pingdom, if the endpoint monitored goes down, an incident is opened. You can write details (comments) to the incident, and like Pingdom, the incident is closed once the endpoint starts responding again.

Graph & dashboard

The cloud monitoring product has a configurable dashboard geared around monitoring Google Cloud specific services. There is an uptime monitoring component that still provides some value.

You can download the JSON for a graph, an API as well as iframe sharing functionality.

Final thoughts

I’m very impressed with this tool given the lack of limitations in a free product. I am using it for my sites, but it has no SLA right now!

Any other recommendations for free URL monitoring?


2 responses

  1. Avatar for Harry McIntyre

    I've been using UptimeRobot's free offering for a year or two.

    Harry McIntyre February 29, 2016
  2. Avatar for PS is nice and has an app that alerts you on your phone.

    PS March 18, 2016