Free web server statistics

In a previous article I talked about Google Analytics and the benefits of tracking your web stats and visitor activity. It’s a good tool, however there are better options if you have more than one site and you are looking for more control over your own stats. Google Analytics is based on JavaScript, which means that only single web pages are tracked when using the so called “out of the box” configuration. Any clients with disabled JavaScript will also be missed, as will any pages with the missing Google Analytics code.

If you have many sites and you want to track the whole server, the best option is to use a single web server script. These are easy to install and run. You can contact your hosting support and they will install it in a few minutes. Some hosting companies have a 1 click install of these tools. Others come with stats installed by default.

Many different free and paid web stats tools are available. I will show two of the best known free web stats tools. I tried both on my own sites and I will show you how they work, along with their pros and cons below.

Webalizer:

Webalizer is a free open source script written in C. It has a very simple interface with a straight to the point approach. Some people like using Webalizer because it’s a nice tool for viewing web stats quickly. You can choose to have the stats either protected by username and password or open to the public. Remember the best part of using your own server based script like webalizer or awstats, is that you don’t have to insert any code on your pages. If you have a lot of pages, webalizer will track the activity in all of them automatically. No codes needed like with google analytics. This is a huge advantage and you also have full control over your stats.

Visitor tracking and stats information are GOLD nowadays. With Webalizer, you’ll be able to see your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly traffic stats. Also referrers, spiders and KB’s used. Sometimes you see a lot of traffic coming in and you don’t know who’s sending you that traffic. Webalizer will tell you. It will recognize most traffic sources. You can sort the traffic by Hourly Statistics, URLs, Entry URLs, Exit URLs, Agents, Systems and Countries. Here is just a sample screenshot, as you can see the graphic environment is pretty basic, but in terms of information it is a great script. It’s a “lite” script, which means that it can be used in very small servers and still process big amounts of traffic. You can get Webalizer here.

AWStats:

AWStats is a free open source script written in Perl. Some webmasters prefer AWStats due to its fancy report format. Although the type of information AWStats displays is similar to the type of information Webalizer displays, for some statistics the reporting values might vary between Webalizer and AWStats due to the different way they process logs. To choose the one that’s right for you, review both types of reports. One report may be clearer or easier to understand for a specific web metric. You may also have an aesthetic preference. The key is to find something that works for you and meets your needs and comfort level. Here is a sample screenshot of AWStats:

You can download AWStats here. There is a more detailed graphic analysis of both scripts on their sites. You can take a look at the demo account to get a better idea.

Many other web stats tools are available, and although we covered only two of the most popular ones, don’t be afraid to experiment with others until you find the one that meets your requirements. You could also look for a paid tool if you or your client can afford it. These two tools we covered are the standard scripts in shared hosting environments.

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Good luck everyone!