The Web Site Checker - WebChecker

This “freebie” is a VBScript to check web sites (URL’s) that you have written or are responsible for. The full program is a much more comprehensive application. Ideally this program runs in the background only raising the alarm when the web site is unavailable or incredibly slow.

The “freebie” writes the data to a CSV (Comma Separated Variable) file for later analysis. MS Excel can do this analysis and reporting. Any other piece of reporting software, such as Crystal Reports could also be used. The full program sends the data to a MySQL database, which is then displayed on my web site.

The script can be edited in Notepad to change the web sites that are checked. Simply copy and paste the urls into the quotation marks. As it is a ‘script’ you can muck it up quite easily and replace it from my web site.

By taking readings on regular basis, such as every half-hour, you can observe any regular network hold-ups that occur during the 24 hours. The VBScript version can do this if you attach it to the MS Windows scheduler. Simply go to the ‘scheduled tasks’ icon in the Control Panel and double-click it. Add a task and enter the path to the script. Set the advanced settings to run every 30 minutes or hour. Don’t forget to ‘run’ the task to prove that it will work later.

If you run the script, you will see that a file called “CheckedURLs.csv” has appeared in the same folder. This file contains the data collected from the program.

Why did I do this?

Some weeks ago, I tried to access a site called The browser failed with a completely blank page. I first thought that Noseweek had gone out of business. So I did a search on Google and found several links. One of these was the company that had written the Noseweek web site. I went to their site and found a link to on their ‘front page’, which also didn’t work. As I had no contact details for Noseweek, I couldn’t phone them to tell them that their page was down. So I phoned the company, who were a bit surprised at the report. They said that they don’t check their web sites on a regular basis. Apparently from my enquiries later, this is typical of the industry as most write the web pages, charge for them and disappear into the night.

The script should work on all MS Windows platforms from Windows 95 to Windows XP without problems. If you have any problems with the program please email me at ‘john_brock AT telkomsa DOT net’. Please be as thorough as you possibly can in trying out the script.

Download zip containing the script.

Application development

I am still working on the “full model” as there is so much more the program can do to establish what has made the web site disappear. A simple ping won’t do, as several servers don’t respond to the ICMP protocol any more. Remember the “ping of death” that afflicted NT servers a while back? But a “Trace Route” can show up a lot of other problems.

What’s in a name?

I was uncertain what to call this ‘useful’ piece of software. “WebWacker” sounded too much like a “weed wacker”. WebSiteChecker is probably a good enough name. WebChecker seemed the most appropriate. Though "URL checker" would also do. It doesn't matter, it works. That's all that counts.

Typical display of the data from the MySQL database.

The “worst of times” - time taken to load a page

These pages are off my ‘prototype’ web site. The data has been stored in a MySQL database, which is queried from the Apache 2 web server and displayed using PHP. The database resides on a linux box with the web server residing on a MS Windows 2000 machine.

A Picture may give rise to a thousand words

Here is a chart of one particular site, taken from the data stored in the MySQL database. It has been charted by a small application I wrote. (Excel can also do this and then save the complete workbook as an HTML web page.) Of course the whole process can be automated using my application. It provides a daily/weekly/monthly report for inspection on this web site.

Updates to software and Internet Explorer Microsoft have probably tried to download IE7 to your pc several times over the last month. Beware IE7 breaks many scripts and removes functionality from the Internet Explorer object model. My script will NOT work with IE7. I may modify it to work later but I am not promising.

If you are looking for a change that won't interfere with your Internet browsing experience, try FireFox. It doesn't require a new operating system and works quickly and reliably on older hardware. It also works on Linux with X Windows without major problems.

best regards
John Brock
John Brock Computing Services
[Helping people with "computer problems" since 1987]
(011) 764 4681 (bus)
(011) 768 1626 (home)
From "Overseas", dial +27 11 and the last seven numbers.