Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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General Questions about AlertSite Services

What are AlertSite's Web site monitoring services?

The AlertSite Monitoring Suite is designed to measure:

  • Web site performance and availability
  • Performance and availability of applications and servers, such as FTP and DNS
  • Web-based multi-step transaction performance and validity
  • E-mail monitoring, including Round-trip, SMTP, POP, and IMAP, from an end-to-end perspective
  • Simple TCP connection and ICMP (ping)

We notify you immediately if errors or significant slowdowns occur with any of your critical services.

How do I unsubscribe from automated System and Network Notifications emails if I'm not logged in to my account?

In your browser, go to http://www.alertsite.com/unsubscribe.shtml. Click the checkbox of the items from which you wish to unsubscribe, enter the email address and click the Unsubscribe button. You'll receive a confirmation email from alerts@alertsite.com. In the email, click on the link as directed to complete the task.

Please consider remaining unsubscribed, though. We send out important system information that could affect your monitoring results.

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Monitoring Questions

How does monitoring, verification, and notification work?

AlertSite monitoring servers are located in over 70 geographic locations (and counting) around the world. The monitoring stations you selected to check from will do a test of your Web site or server on a specified interval based on the rate configured for the device being monitored. If an error is detected, an automatic re-check is triggered immediately to verify if the error persists. If the re-check does not detect an error, it's reported as a warning (highlighted in yellow in the Report Details section of the Detail Report) and no alert notification is sent. If the re-check detects the error, and the device has Notifiers enabled and no blackout period in effect, an alert is sent to specified users configured to receive alerts. Specified users will continue to receive alerts until the configured number of consecutive errors has been reached, or until the error clears. The time stamp is highlighted in blue in the Report Details section when a notification was sent, and the Event Detail Report contains the notifications sent.

The type of monitoring (performance, availability, security, system) and Monitoring Type (Primary, Round Robin, Global Notify, Global Verify, or SLA (MultiPOP)) determines when you are notified and for what reason.

For more complete descriptions of these functions, see Monitor-Verify-Notify.

My IP address changed. Do I need to do anything?

Maybe. If you've selected Yes to Resolve DNS on the Manage Site form for the device in question, then the answer is no, since your IP address is resolved prior to every test that we conduct. Otherwise, we resolve your IP ahead of time in order to avoid repetitive DNS lookups. In this case, if your IP changes, you'll need to update your site(s). Go to Configuration→Sites in the Control Menu, then click on the site name to bring up the Manage Site form, erase the IP Address field and click Submit. The current IP address should appear.

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I'm sure that my site is up. Why does your service say that it's down?

1. If it had been working previously, then your IP address may have changed. See the answer to My IP address changed. Do I need to do anything?.

2. It's possible that the route from our monitoring station to your site is having trouble while other routes are operating normally. This is the nature of the Internet. If you have a Full-Service account and we cannot reach your site then we can generate a traceroute, which helps to identify specifically where the disruption is occurring. Site errors may also be generated if you are doing fullpage monitoring and all the content did not load.

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I am getting Status 51 errors. How do you handle DNS?

We have multiple DNS servers at each location and each one caches the data at different times. Our servers are set to cache at 3-7 times the TTL (Time-To-Live) value the customer has it set to or one day, whichever is shorter.

We cannot flush the cache at any given moment. We auto-flush the DNS at 23:15 GMT.

Every server at each of our monitoring locations is its own dedicated recursive DNS server and all are managed independently. To put it another way, they act as fully resolving DNS servers, running DNS as its own resolver. These servers all reference the main root servers on the Internet.

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How do you detect that my page has changed?

We support three methods: Content Change Detection, Keyword Verification, and Fullpage Content Change Detection. Content Change Detection looks first for HTTP header elements and then for the actual size of the retrieved page to determine if a page has changed from the prior test. Keyword Verification looks for a particular keyword or phrase that you specify within the retrieved page and raises an alert if it cannot find the text. Either method may be selected by choosing Configuration→Sites from the Control Menu and clicking on the site name you want to configure.

Fullpage Content Change notification is available to customers with optional fullpage monitoring. It sends alerts when page content (images, Flash, JavaScript) changes in size, or is added or deleted.

Note that some pages are dynamic and cannot be effectively monitored by Content Change Detection since the size changes regularly. Your best option in this case would be to use only Keyword Verification.

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How do I set up a Round Trip Email Test? Are there any troubleshooting tips?

The RT Email Monitor will only work with a POP3 email server. Here are some important points to remember when configuring a Round Trip Email device:

  • The Round Trip Email Monitor should be set to the maximum response time, which is 180 seconds.
  • If you are using an Exchange Server, your POP3 Client must be enabled for the full Round Trip Email test to work correctly.
  • Make sure that the email address that you are using is dedicated for this test only.
  • Check your POP3 and SMTP Server Settings to make sure they are correct public names or IP addresses.
  • By default, the POP server setting is accessed through Port 110 and the SMTP is accessed through Port 25.
  • If you have a Secure POP server, the POP setting needs to be set similar to the following example: POP3s://mail.servername.com:995
  • If AlertSite is not allowed to relay email through the customer's SMTP Server, leave this setting blank and AlertSite will default as the SMTP Server for sending mail.
  • Make sure you are using the correct username and password. You should be able to log in to this email account with the credentials for your RT Email Monitor Configuration. (Be aware that, in some cases, the username is not the entire email address. It is possible that the username is only the prefix of the entire email address.)
  • If your RT Email Monitor was working and stopped, log in and clear out all of the messages that are currently in your inbox.
  • Sometimes, your Firewall or Proxy Server will prevent AlertSite from logging in to your POP server. If this is the case, you may have to "white-list" the IP numbers of your monitoring location.

Why does my Round-Trip Email device show 999.999.999.999 as the IP address in the Monitoring Console Status list?

The default value 999.999.999.999 is used for devices that do not resolve to a single IP address, such as Round-Trip Email devices that have IP addresses for both POP3 and SMTP hosts, and for transactions that have multiple IP addresses.

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How long do you wait for my site to respond to a test?

The default timeout is 30 seconds. You can select from a range of 1 second to a maximum of 180 seconds in the Manage Site or Manage Transaction screen.

Can I monitor a Secure FTP (SFTP) Site? What are my limitations for monitoring a secure FTP Site?

AlertSite supports FTP over SSL. Currently, AlertSite does not support FTP over open TLS or open SSH.

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How does FTP monitoring work?

Here's the basic handshake:

  • Connect to FTP (port 21) or FTPS (port 990) server
  • Confirm Response 220 - Service ready for new user

If Userid and Password are supplied in the Manage Site screen:

  • Send Userid with USER command
  • Confirm Response 331 - User name okay, need password
  • Send Password with PASS command
  • Confirm Response 230 - User logged in, proceed

If Upload/Download Test File box is checked in the Manage Site screen:

  • Construct a small file unique to this monitoring test
  • Upload file using STOR command
  • Download file using RETR command
  • Confirm downloaded file matches uploaded file
  • Delete uploaded file using DELE command
  • End session using QUIT command

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How do I filter out traffic from the AlertSite monitoring locations?

There are a few ways, depending on what traffic needs to be filtered:

  • Look for "AlertSite" in the user agent string
  • Filter by domain "*.alertsite.com"
  • Filter by monitoring location IP addresses. You can see them here.

How do I filter out AlertSite's monitoring hits from my Google Analytics data?

If there are Google AnalyticsTM triggers in the web site that your transaction navigates through, use DéjàClick's URL Exclusion feature to prevent recording and playback of any *.google-analytics.com advertising requests. Go to URL Exclusion for instructions.

How do I filter out AlertSite from Analytics using User Agent in DéjàClick?

This is described in the DéjàClick FAQs.

Does AlertSite have the ability to turn off JavaScript when monitoring an application?

Yes. We can disable JavaScript on a per-transaction basis if necessary. If you have an XML editor, add the following lines to the bottom of the DéjàClick XML script (before the closing </script> tag); this tells DéjàClick to temporarily adjust the Firefox preference to enable/disable JavaScript:

<boolprefs>
<pref name="javascript.enabled">false</pref>
</boolprefs>

The default browser preference value is always reset after script execution completes. If you need further assistance or you don't have an XML editor, contact customercare@alertsite.com if you would like us to do it.

How can I identify a latency issue for one particular monitoring location?

There are several methods for identifying a latency problem in a particular monitoring location. Please see Monitor Latency for details.

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Server Questions

What are the IP addresses of your monitoring servers?

You can find them here. You can use these IP addresses to filter AlertSite from Analytics or to white-list AlertSite monitoring locations through your firewall or proxy server.

Which Internet backbones do you utilize to monitor my site?

For our current list of network backbones, see Monitoring Locations.

Why does it seem to take a while for the monitoring data to show up in my Console or the reports?

Please see Latency Times Information for a detailed explanation of what can cause these delays.

Console Questions

How do I change monitoring locations for one of my devices? For all devices?

To change the default monitoring locations for the Account:

  1. In the AlertSite Console, click on Account in the Control Menu to get to the Manage Account screen.
  2. Click on the button in the upper right labeled Locations. This displays a table of our worldwide monitoring locations, sorted with the current account default Active locations at the top, Primary location first.
  3. Click the checkbox to de-select any locations you no longer wish to monitor from and/or click any unchecked box to select any new locations.
  4. Click the Submit button in the upper right of the screen to save the changes.
  5. If you have de-selected any locations, a message will be displayed warning that you will no longer have access to the monitoring data from those locations for any device using default locations. If you want to continue, click the button labeled Yes, I'm sure!.

The new account default locations will be applied to all existing devices that are using default monitoring locations as well as new devices added thereafter. Devices that have their monitoring locations manually changed (see below) will not be affected.

To change the monitoring locations for an individual device:

  1. In the AlertSite Console Dashboard Devices tab, click the "wrench" icon next to the device name you wish to change. This displays the device configuration page in a new window.
  2. Click on the button in the upper right labeled Locations. This displays a table of our worldwide monitoring locations, sorted with your current Active locations at the top, Primary location first.
  3. Click the checkbox to de-select any locations you no longer wish to monitor from and/or click any unchecked box to select any new locations (only an Active location can be Primary so if you de-selected the Primary location, click a different radio button to select a new Primary).
  4. Click Submit in the upper right to save your changes as device-specific locations.
  5. If you have de-selected any locations, a message will be displayed warning that you will no longer have access to the monitoring data from those locations for that device. If you want to continue, click the button labeled Yes, I'm sure!.
  6. You can set the locations back to the account defaults by clicking the Reset to Default button.

NOTE: De-selecting a location will disconnect the logs for that location and the monitoring data for that device will no longer be available.

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Notification Questions

Can I customize alert contents?

Yes, you can change the contents of email, email-to-text and AIM alerts by creating custom notification templates. You can assign different templates to different notifier groups, or set your templates as default ones so that they are used for all alerts of the matching types.

Each device also has the Alert Note field for device-specific notes that can be included in alerts.

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How do I receive alerts on my pager?

There are three options, two using alphanumeric pagers and one using numeric pagers. AlertSite recommends the use of alphanumeric pagers.

  1. The simplest method is to use the E-mail gateway provided with your alpha pager service. Just select Alphanumeric (text) pager from the Send a(n) dropdown on the Add Notifier form in the Notifiers Control Menu of the Console and enter the E-mail address provided by your service in the To field.

  2. To have AlertSite send page requests directly to your alpha pager, we need the phone number of your paging company's Central Office (CO) facility. We have a list of known paging companies. This list is also displayed in the "Send alpha pager messages to" dropdown that appears in the Configure Standard (Availability) Notifications section of the Add Notifier screen when you select the Alphanumeric (text) pager notifier type. If your CO facility is in the list, select it from the dropdown, and then enter your pager ID in the To field. If your service is not listed there, contact your service and request that information. Finally, send a request to AlertSite Support to complete the configuration.

  3. If you have a numeric pager then select Numeric pager (wait for quiet) or Numeric pager (pause after dial), depending on the pager call method, and enter the phone number of your pager in the To field.

The Manage Notifiers page has the formats for all Notifier Types.

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What is the format of numeric pager alerts?

The format of numeric pager messages is "777", followed by:

  • Status code (00-99)
  • Site or device type:
  • Last octet of the IP address of the site being monitored (000-999)

For example, if we could not reach your site with IP address "216.65.123.194" due to a TCP error, we would send "7770101194" to a numeric pager, which breaks down to:

  • 777 - numeric page
  • 01 - TCP Connection Failed error
  • 01 - Web site
  • 194 - last octet of IP address 216.65.123.194

Once the error had cleared we would send "7770001194".

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The time on the alerts and reports that you send to me is different than my time. Can I change that?

Our servers use UCT (GMT) time. You can change the time that is displayed for your alerts and reports to use any time zone. Choose Account from the Control Menu and change the Timezone and Adjust for Daylight Savings Time fields as needed. For example, to use US EST (Eastern Standard Time) select GMT -5 hours. For Arizona, which is Mountain Time but does not use DST, select GMT -7 hours and don't adjust for Daylight Savings Time.

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I sometimes get alerts for Internet errors beyond my control. I'd prefer not to be bothered with these. What should I do?

All AlertSite monitor types except Global Notify and Global Verify are designed to verify local connectivity problems. A Performance Advisor is available to answer any questions you may have about which strategy is best for your requirements.

Many customers opt for our Uptime ECT upgrade for Service Level Agreements (SLA) which supports correlation of errors in real-time so alerts are only issued when all locations detect an error simultaneously. Another solution would be to utilize notification escalation as follows:

  • Monitor your site every 5 minutes.
  • Create 2 Notifiers - 1 for E-mail and 1 for an Alpha pager with an E-mail gateway (most Alpha pagers can accept E-mail).
  • Set the E-mail option to notify after the first error and set the Pager to notify only after the second (or greater) error.

The E-mail will tell you that there might be a problem and the pager will tell you that it's persisted for at least 10 minutes.

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How might I use Notification Escalation?

See the previous question for one possible application. Also, organizations with multiple parties responsible for a monitored site may wish to add notifiers directed to different individuals. Depending upon the severity of the problem, notifications would be generated as appropriate. You would notify, for example, the Webmaster after 1 error, the Systems Administrator after 2 errors and the Director of IS after 3.

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Is there a way to group notifiers?

Yes. Under the Notifiers dropdown in the Control Menu, select Notifier Groups. From that page, you create the groups you need and select the notifiers and devices to assign to each group. The notification escalation (when to start notifying, when to stop, etc.) remains in effect. Bear in mind that groups are device-oriented, that is, if a device is in a group, ONLY those notifiers in that group will receive alerts for that device. If a device is not a member of any group, all enabled notifiers will receive the alert, according to the configured escalation.

If you have a situation where you need to assure that only certain notifiers get notified when only certain devices are in error, all devices must be in groups. In this case, all notifiers must be assigned to a group or they would not get any alerts.

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What are the phone numbers that AlertSite uses to send VoIP notifications?

The numbers we use to dial from are:

  • 954-312-0188
  • 561-886-6695

Please note that our VOIP provider may change without notice.

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Report Questions

How would I add or change recipients for the daily, weekly and monthly reports?

To add or change recipients for the Scheduled Reports follow these steps:

  1. Login to your AlertSite account.
  2. From the Control Menu, hover over Reports and select Scheduled Reports from the dropdown.
  3. Click on the report name under Site/Device to display the Report Scheduler dialog
  4. Add or delete names and E-mail addresses in the Distribution List. You may also disable E-mail addresses to temporarily stop the report from being sent.
  5. Click Save to save the changes.

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Why don't my reports show an equal number of Fullpage checks compared with my regular checks in Round Robin mode?

If the regular monitoring interval and the full page monitoring interval are not the same, the number of fullpage checks will not equal the number of regular checks. With Round Robin mode, the difference may be higher depending on how many locations you selected and how many locations you rotate through during each check. If you are an AlertSite Usage Based Monitoring customer, then all fullpage or regular monitoring intervals are the same so this will not be a issue.

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What are the Total Transaction Time and Individual Page Time in the Fullpage Time Distribution section of the Detail Report?

The Fullpage Time Distribution tables, shown only for transactions with the Fullpage option applied, break down response times in 9 ranges from 0.0 to 30.0+ seconds.

  • Total Transaction Time displays the transaction response time as a percentage within each of those ranges, averaged over the report's date selection. Transaction response time includes all network components and content download times for the whole transaction.
  • Individual Page Time displays the response time of each HTTP step as a percentage within each of those ranges, averaged over the report's date selection.

For Site devices with Fullpage enabled, only the Fullpage Time Distribution table is displayed.

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What does "Cancelled" mean in the HTTP Status column of the Report Details?

For each HTTP request, Firefox tells us: making the request, resolving the IP, going to connect, connected, etc. We do some bookkeeping for analysis and use this data to collect and report the timings. Sometimes Firefox decides it doesn't need to actually make a request and cancels it. For example, Firefox may choose to cancel subsequent requests for a resource that the browser already has, say, multiple JavaScript-driven requests. Our report shows the HTTP-request-cancelled status.

What does "Content" mean in the Load Analysis table, or "Content Download" in the Report Details?

This is the time it takes for the HTML content of the requested document to be downloaded, after the First Byte is received until the final byte of the HTML is received.

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Why do I see Status 82 in my AlertSite console and reports when the transaction completed within the configured timeout?

Status 82 does not involve network timeouts, but behind-the-scenes activities occurring inside the Firefox browser itself when a page is loading. Firefox informs DéjàClick about the progress of page loading with multiple notifications, for example:

  • Base (HTML) page is completely transferred,
  • All Objects have been transferred
  • Ajax activity is in progress

and so on. DéjàClick then compares all these notifications (the "page loading pattern") with the ones encountered during the recording in order to determine if the page has finished loading.

If Firefox does not notify DéjàClick about this progress within the threshold specified in configured Browser timeout and HTTP step timeout values, DéjàClick reports it as a Status 82, "Page took too long to load."

However, since our reports show network timings only, you might see response times displayed in the reports that are within the configured timeout thresholds even though a Status 82 is displayed.

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Security Questions

I don't use PHP. Why does the vulnerability report show numerous cases of PHP-related issues in scan?

The false positives are due to the fact that the remote server does not return HTTP code 404 for invalid (file-not-found) requests. Instead, it returns a custom error page with a 200 OK reply. This leads our Nessus scanner to believe the page is present, triggering the vulnerability. You can set the current results as false positive, but to prevent future false positives, configure the web server to return the HTTP 404 result code along with your custom error page.

The Nessus security scan runs against the Internet ports. If a port responds, it throws a range of possible vulnerabilities at it to see what could get in and reports on possible culprits, even if the specific program is not actually running on that port. Please see the solution at the end of the "High Risk Vulnerability" section of your vulnerability report. This is the standard recommendation from the Internet security community. There is a "See also" website referenced in the report that may provide further information to assist you. If you're certain that there's nothing making the port vulnerable, mark it as a false positive.

The AlertSite Standard scan runs checks against the ports defined by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). All publicly available services will appear in this list. The list is updated frequently and can be found in the IANA Port Numbers List.

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Why do I keep receiving daily emails from the Security Scan? It says either 'new' or 'no longer detected'.

The IP address listed in the plugin output changes between runs, causing false notification. When plugins create report output, that output is used as a signature. That signature is what is used to determine if a vulnerability is new or recurring. Since the internal IP address is changing across runs, this is leading to this false notification (look for recurring IPs in the Security Scan Summary reports).

Recommendation: Mark this plugin false positive when it reappears on the edit security device page.

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InSite Questions

For a comprehensive list of InSite related questions, go to InSite Private Monitoring Frequently Asked Questions.

For more help and information, check out the AlertSite Help Topics and DéjàClick Help Topics.

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Still can't find the answer to your question?

Contact your assigned Account Manager. This information can be found on the AlertSite Console Control Menu under Support→AlertSite Contact. To contact one of our Performance Advisors, email customercare@alertsite.com or call 954-312-0188.

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