Insight into Web Server Logs

Using the Internet and browsing websites have become an integral part of our lives these days. As per statistics, around 4.66 billion people across the globe are active Internet users. Reports suggests that as of early January 2021, 1.83 billion websites existed on the World Wide Web and this number is on the rise constantly.

Every website that can be accessed over the Internet is hosted with a certain web hosting company. The purpose of a web hosting company is to not only provide server space for storing the files of a website but also to deliver the necessary technologies and services that are needed to make a website accessible over the Internet. There are various types of hosting services that are offered by every web hosting service provider. A web hosting service can be shared, dedicated, VPS, reseller, cloud, or WordPress. The most popular and reliable web hosts are often referred to as the “Best Website Hosting Company”, the “Best Windows Hosting Company” or as the “Top Cloud Hosting Company”.

Website Statistics

Any website’s details can be tracked along with understanding the behavior of those that visit it through web statistics contained in log files. Web statistics that depict trends in users’ behavior, prove to be extremely beneficial and essential for gauging those aspects of websites that contribute towards attainment of both, its business as well as general objectives.

The statistics of websites are based on server logs. The activities that take place on a server in a given period of time are recorded in a simple text file, which is known as a server log. Server logs, which are maintained by a server, can be of several types and are created automatically.

Web Server Logs

One of the examples of server logs is a web server log. It is a text file that gets created in accordance with the activity that a web server generates. Page requests’ history is maintained in it. The World Wide Web Consortium, which is the World Wide Web’s main international standards organization, is responsible for maintaining a standard format known as the Common Log Format for the files that are related to web server logs. Apart from it there are other proprietary formats. A server log helps to provide in-depth information regarding a website’s visitors, the browsers and the operating systems that had been used to access a website, content that is browsed on the site, web pages that are viewed etc. Information gets revealed through it with regard to the web pages that generate the least and the most web traffic, the sites that refer visitors to one’s website as well as any visits made to a site by directory editors and search robots.

Any web server request related information, such as the requested page, served bytes, service name, server name, client IP address, HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) code, request date and time, user agent, referrer etc. are usually included in a web server log. All this data can either exist in distinctly separate logs (error log, access log etc.) or these can be incorporated into a single file. Usually a server log does not gather information that is user-specific and is not accessible to any regular Internet user either. It can be accessed by either a Webmaster or by an Internet service’s administrators. Server logs’ statistical analysis serve the purpose of examining patterns with regard to web traffic, depending on time, day, user agent or referrer. Moreover, when web server logs are analyzed properly it helps to administer websites efficiently and host resources adequately.

Types of Server Log Files

In this section information will be provided on server log files that are either an access log or an agent log or an error log or a referrer log. An access log is meant to record information regarding the HTML (HypertextMarkup Language) files as well as the graphic images that are being requested from a server. This type of a log provides information about the number as well as the origin (.gov, .edu etc.) of website visitors, the most request page by visitors, usage patterns etc. An agent log file records and makes available all the relevant information regarding the web clients that make requests on a server. Information related to the failed requests of a server are recorded and maintained in an error log file. An error message is generated by it automatically whenever anyone tries to access a file that doesn’t exist on the server. Another type of a server log file is a referrer log. It records information about that particular URL (Uniform Resource Locator) which was visited immediately prior to visiting one’s web page and making a request on one’s server. Such a log aids in collecting information regarding the web pages that are referring traffic to a particular server.

Benefits of Web Server Logs

There are numerous advantages of web server logs. One of these is that it is easy to implement as it does not require any page tagging or page coding. Moreover, it aids in data ownership. It makes it possible to have flexibility in data collection. One’s web servers can be called on to gather a certain type of data and ignore the other types. This aids in enabling one to select the type of information (server errors, file types etc.) that is required to be analyzed. Direct requests to a database application are permitted by certain web servers. Web server logs are capable of measuring robot traffic. Robot activity data proves to be useful when analyzing SEO’s (Search Engine Optimization) endeavors’ effects.


It is evident that web server logs have many advantages as these contain essential information about the activity that takes place on a web server and by analyzing these server logs valuable insights into a web server can be gained.

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