Fast Serve

PC Pro logo Posted: 1st October 1999 | Filed under: Press Articles, Technical
Author: Paul Ockenden
First Appeared in PC Pro 1999

As well as total failure, your armoury of useful tools should be able to address performance issues too. To users, one thing that's even more annoying than a dead site is a dead slow site. With NT servers, fullish drives that are badly fragmented can really start to slow things down, while Linux/Unix seems to be less badly affected. Web server log files are particularly effective at trashing a nicely ordered hard drive, and IIS' default setting that stores them within your main WINNT root means that it's your main system partition that'll receive this vandalism. The first thing to do is configure IIS to log on to another drive. NT 4 doesn't come with any built-in defragmentation software, so again you'll probably need to buy something. We swear by Diskeeper from Executive Software (, particularly its 'set and forget' mode, which defrags as a low-priority background task at times of server inactivity.

Finally, you'll need to know when things have gone wrong: how many times have you seen a Web site fail on a Friday evening and then stay down until the IT staff arrive on Monday morning and notice that there's something wrong? There are a number of external monitoring services available. We've mentioned LinkAlert from Interpage ( here before. A new player is WatchMyWeb, which offers a basic service absolutely free. If you have a pager or GSM phone that has an email address - we use the genie service from Cellnet - WatchMyWeb will send you a message whenever it discovers that your site is down.

WatchMyWeb's monitoring isn't as frequent as LinkAlert's service, but its real beauty is that you can also configure it to check for content changes, which means that you'll be alerted if your site has been hacked. We're currently talking to the people who run this service about a number of enhancements that we feel would be useful for many commercial sites, although these will probably make it into a paid-for service rather than the free offering.

Hopefully these tips will help keep your site running well, keep it off the pages of the tabloid newspapers, keep your company stock market valuation where it should be, and ultimately keep you in employment. Otherwise you might have to start offering your next set of customers 'fries with that'.