Most hosting providers advertise close to 100% up time for websites hosted on their servers. But they typically don’t notify you when your website is down. If you’ve ever had reports from a site visitor that your website is unavailable or visited your website yourself only to find that something is wrong, it may make you feel more secure to be able to monitor the performance of your hosting provider yourself.

There are a number of free online services that allow you to do just that. Here are just a few:

To give you a few more specifics on one of the services, Pingdom allows you set up one check for free. You can have the service search for specific text on a page, which is great for making sure content is being delivered from your database if you have a database-driven website. Pingdom will run the check at an interval you specify, from every minute to once an hour. They’ll send you an email alert or text message (though you have to pay something for those) if your site is down when the check is run. You can also schedule periodic email reports to see the performance of your site over time.

There are quite a few more similar services out there. Do a search on “website monitoring” to find the one that will work best for you.