HTML and CSS Reference
In-Depth Information
Log Files
The best way to figure out how often your pages are being seen, and by whom, is to get
access to your server's log files. How long these log files are kept depends on how your
server is configured. The logs can take up a lot of disk space, so some hosting providers
remove old logs frequently. If you run your own server, you can keep them as long as
you like, or at least until you run out of room. Many commercial web providers allow
you to view your own web logs or get statistics about how many visitors are accessing
your pages and from where. Ask your webmaster for help.
If you do get access to these raw log files, you'll most likely see a whole lot of lines that
look something like the following. (I've broken this one up into two lines so that it fits
on the page.) - - [17/Feb/2003:12:36:51 -0700]
“GET /index.html HTTP/1.0” 200 8916
What does this information mean? The first part of the line is the site that accessed the
file. (In this case, it was a site from the United Kingdom.) The two dashes are used for
authentication. (If you have login names and passwords set up, the username of the per-
son who logged in and the group that person belonged to will appear here.) The date and
time the page was accessed appear inside the brackets. The next part is the actual file-
name that was accessed; here it's the index.html at the top level of the server. The GET
part is the actual HTTP command the browser used; you usually see GET here. Finally,
the last two numbers are the HTTP status code and the number of bytes transferred. The
status code can be one of many things: 200 means the file was found and transferred cor-
rectly; 404 means the file was not found. (Yes, it's the same status code you get in error
pages in your browser.) Finally, the number of bytes transferred usually will be the same
number of bytes in your actual file; if it's a smaller number, the visitor interrupted the
load in the middle.
Most web hosts provide log processing software that will take the logs generated by the
server when users visit your site and turn them into reports, often with graphs and other
visual aids, that you can use to easily see how many users are visiting your site as well as
how those servers are finding your site, whether it's through search engines or links on
other web pages. You'll want to check out the support site for your web host to deter-
mine how to set things up so that your logs are processed and find out the URL of the
reports that are generated.
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