A UK startup has relaunched a service that monitors website performance and availability worldwide at no cost to its customers.

MyWebAlert, founded in 2006 by network management industry veteran John Earley formerly of Chevin and Mutiny, is basing its business on the premise that far too many websites don't perform up to scratch. According to the company's own research, some 70 percent of US government websites failed against the five nines annual target across a two-month timeline.

Armed with similar performance statistics about UK sites, the company initially launched in January 2006, but this year decided to revamp its offering and make it available for free to garner more interest from IT managers.

"With this demonstrably poor performance, we had hoped that businesses and public sector organisations would be interested in a service that costs about $40 per year, but this has proved not to be the case," said Earley, MyWebAlert's managing director. "I have decided that this and subsequent network management services will be provided completely free of charge."

MyWebAlert said it will offer its monitoring services free to IT managers looking to get an idea of how well their websites perform from an external perspective. To use, IT managers sign up here and let the service run. Customers do not have to install any software on their systems as the service checks for availability using software installed at external sources. MyWebAlert service runs 24/7, polls every five minutes from three independent locations and provides IT managers with email alerts, monthly statistics reports and diagnostic information - such as DNS queries, HTTP error codes and other metrics to help get the site running smoothly.

The company said it will be offering more free services - specifically IP polling and trace route analysis - that will further provide external assurance that network devices are operating as expected, page load times don't exceed thresholds and sites meet visitor expectations.

"The system is industrial strength, with monitoring from three separate international locations (UK, US and Switzerland) and analysis that ensures alerts are only issued when failure has definitely occurred," Earley said. "I have built capacity for a half million users with a preparedness to expand if demand dictates."

MyWebAlert could face competition from Keynote and Gomez, which offer commercial website monitoring services. It remains unclear how the company intends to profit while offering its services for free, but Earley - who developed the service with telco network management veterans co-founder Dave Morgan and Dennis Doyle - said it's been a long-time goal of his to provide easy to use, low cost management services to the masses.

"I have long searched for a means of attracting critical mass interest in network management amongst all organisations large and small," he said. "It struck us that website availability must be crucial to just about any business and that monitoring and management would be a must, provided of course that the costs were low."

For more information on network monitoring, our sister site Techworld has a comprehensive network monitoring resource page.