A great (free) way to receive SMS alerts

Introduction
For some time, I’ve been using IFTTT (if this then that) to simplify my online existence. For those of you who don’t know IFTTT is a free online service that monitors various information feeds and takes action when particular condition is met.

IFTTT describes these rules as “recipes” and a variety of different triggers can be used to prompt an action.

IFTTT sample recipe
IFTTT supports a variety of channels which can be used as triggers. Some are relatively simple such as date/time triggers; for example you may want to receive an email a few days before an important birthday. Others are more complex; for example you could use a trigger to notify you by SMS when you’re tagged in a Facebook photograph. Users can share recipes that they create with the wider IFTTT user base.

My problem
I’m a director of Vivit, the HP Software User Group and one of my responsibilities is social media, this means that I share some responsibility for the Vivit website.

Last week I was on holiday when the site suffered a temporary outage. This was due to a hardware failure and was rapidly resolved by our hosting provider. This got me thinking about how I could ensure that I received alerts when I didn’t have access to my Vivit email account.

Our site uptime is monitored using a free service from monitor.us and various Vivit directors receive email alerts in the event of a problem. I wanted to ensure that as well as the emails, I received SMS notifications of these problems.

The solution
I already had a gmail account and I arranged for email messages from monitor.us to be forwarded to my Gmail account. I gave IFTTT access to my gmail inbox and created a recipe to ask it to look for emails from [email protected] (this is the account used by monitor.us for alerts).

I created the following recipe http://ifttt.com/recipes/48127

My IFTTT recipe

Now each time that I receive an email alert, I get an SMS.

IFTTT checks my email every 15 minutes, which is more regularly than I check my own email. I have found this to be a pretty good way of keeping informed about problems.

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