Synthetics monitoring is a crucial aspect of any modern application’s performance management strategy. It allows developers and operations teams to proactively monitor the availability and performance of their applications from various locations around the world. New Relic, a leading application performance monitoring (APM) tool, offers a powerful synthetics monitoring feature that can help organizations ensure their applications are running smoothly. In this article, we will explore how to get synthetics monitoring to work effectively in New Relic, providing valuable insights and practical tips along the way.

Understanding Synthetics Monitoring in New Relic

Before diving into the details of setting up synthetics monitoring in New Relic, let’s first understand what it entails. Synthetics monitoring involves simulating user interactions with an application to monitor its availability, functionality, and performance. It allows organizations to proactively identify and address issues before they impact end-users.

New Relic’s synthetics monitoring feature provides a comprehensive solution for monitoring web applications, APIs, and other critical components. It offers a wide range of capabilities, including:

  • Monitoring application availability from multiple global locations
  • Measuring response times and latency
  • Monitoring transaction flows and user journeys
  • Alerting and notification mechanisms
  • Integrations with other New Relic features

Setting Up Synthetics Monitoring in New Relic

Now that we have a good understanding of synthetics monitoring, let’s explore how to set it up in New Relic. Follow these steps to get started:

Step 1: Create a Synthetic Monitor

The first step is to create a synthetic monitor in New Relic. A synthetic monitor represents a specific test scenario that simulates user interactions with your application. To create a synthetic monitor, follow these steps:

  1. Login to your New Relic account and navigate to the Synthetics section.
  2. Click on the “Create a monitor” button.
  3. Select the type of monitor you want to create (e.g., Simple Browser, Scripted Browser, API Test).
  4. Configure the monitor settings, including the URL, locations, frequency, and alert conditions.
  5. Save the monitor and give it a descriptive name.

Step 2: Define Test Scripts

Once you have created a synthetic monitor, the next step is to define the test scripts that will simulate user interactions with your application. New Relic provides two types of test scripts:

  • Simple Browser: This type of script allows you to record and replay user interactions using a web browser. It is ideal for monitoring web applications with basic authentication and form submissions.
  • Scripted Browser: This type of script provides more advanced capabilities, allowing you to write custom JavaScript code to simulate complex user interactions. It is suitable for monitoring applications with dynamic content and complex workflows.

Choose the appropriate script type based on your application’s requirements and define the necessary test scripts to simulate user interactions accurately.

Step 3: Configure Alerting and Notifications

Alerting and notifications are crucial aspects of synthetics monitoring. They allow you to stay informed about any issues or performance degradation in your application. New Relic provides various alerting mechanisms, including email notifications, webhooks, and integrations with popular incident management tools.

To configure alerting and notifications in New Relic, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Alerts section in your New Relic account.
  2. Create a new alert policy or use an existing one.
  3. Add conditions based on the metrics you want to monitor (e.g., response time, error rate).
  4. Configure the notification channels (e.g., email, webhook) and recipients.
  5. Save the alert policy and ensure it is associated with your synthetic monitor.

Best Practices for Effective Synthetics Monitoring

While setting up synthetics monitoring in New Relic is relatively straightforward, there are several best practices you should follow to ensure its effectiveness. Let’s explore some of these best practices:

1. Define Realistic Test Scenarios

When creating synthetic monitors, it is essential to define test scenarios that accurately represent real user interactions with your application. Consider the different user journeys, transaction flows, and critical functionalities of your application and simulate them in your test scripts. This will help you identify and address potential issues before they impact end-users.

2. Monitor from Multiple Locations

Monitoring your application from multiple global locations is crucial to ensure a comprehensive view of its availability and performance. New Relic allows you to select from a wide range of monitoring locations worldwide. By monitoring from different locations, you can identify regional performance variations and ensure a consistent user experience for your global user base.

3. Set Realistic Alert Thresholds

Alert thresholds play a vital role in synthetics monitoring. It is crucial to set realistic thresholds based on your application’s performance characteristics and user expectations. Setting overly aggressive thresholds may result in false positives and unnecessary alerts, while setting lenient thresholds may lead to missed performance issues. Continuously monitor and fine-tune your alert thresholds to strike the right balance.

4. Leverage Integrations with Other New Relic Features

New Relic offers a wide range of features beyond synthetics monitoring, including APM, infrastructure monitoring, and log management. Leveraging these integrations can provide a holistic view of your application’s performance and help you identify the root cause of any issues more effectively. For example, if a synthetic monitor detects a performance degradation, you can correlate it with APM data to identify the specific component causing the issue.


Q1: Can I monitor non-web applications using New Relic synthetics?

A1: Yes, New Relic synthetics supports monitoring non-web applications as well. You can use the API Test monitor type to monitor APIs, microservices, and other non-web components. The API Test monitor allows you to define custom HTTP requests and assertions to validate the functionality and performance of your non-web applications.

Q2: How frequently should I run synthetic monitors?

A2: The frequency of running synthetic monitors depends on your application’s criticality and performance requirements. For critical applications, it is recommended to run synthetic monitors at least every few minutes to ensure timely detection of any issues. For less critical applications, running synthetic monitors every 5-15 minutes may be sufficient.</