Why we got rid of Sentry

“Could probably scan every one of us and find five different doodads that look like cancer”
5 January 2024
Web development

In the company I work for, we've been using Sentry for five years. I was the original advocate for its use and enjoyed setting things up, experimenting with it, and monitoring the system. It's genuinely a powerful tool that would undoubtedly be invaluable in many situations.

Over those five years, Sentry has maybe caught three genuine production bugs. These were errors that somehow slipped through our development process, including unit and E2E tests, and evaded both our testers and users.

While catching these bugs was valuable, we otherwise receive between three to twenty false reports daily. These can be due to various reasons but mainly browser extensions causing errors, usage of outdated browsers, or just unsupported browsers.

Sure, we can, and do, filter these out the best we can, but new ones frequently appear, making it a constant task. Sentry makes it easy to filter more of it out if you’re willing to pay them for the privilege, but we find it hard enough getting the base product renewed each year never mind trying to convince bigwigs in the company to fork out more.

Whenever it's time to renew our subscription and I’m asked if we still need it, I always reply, "Yes, it's really nice to have and worth the money for the insurance it provides". I never really consider and certainly don’t mention the accumulative hours I spend filtering out and clearing non-issues from the system. Plus the many hours spent actually configuring it to get it working, with things like source maps and other plugins. Plugins that I spend time setting up, more time showing our team how useful they will be, and finally more time tearing them back out when in 30 days Sentry tells us that it was only a trial. Should have spent more time reading their pricing page instead of copy and pasting their example code so presumptuously.

There’s an episode of House where he wants to use a full body scanner as a last resort when they can’t find the cause of a disease, which goes against his ethos:

Cameron: You hate whole body scans.

House: ‘Cause they're useless. Could probably scan every one of us and find five different doodads that look like cancer

When I was asked again this year about renewal, I said “Nah, not worth it”.