October 18, 2008

512 words 3 mins read

Awstats versus Google Analytics

So for along time now I’ve been running both Awstats and Google Analytics on my domain here. Mainly I watch Google Analytics because it provides me with much more “real” data. That being said Awstats has its uses too. Today I’ve been taking a look at both of them and I though I’d share what I’ve found.

First off, the easiest thing to spot in my Analytics records is September 28, 2007. You may wonder what is so special about that, nothing really. Other than a bunch of minor technical glitches turning a submission to Digg, into a fairly major story. I wrote up a story titled “Password Security — Or Lack There of” and sent it off to Digg. The submission managed to hit the front page which isn’t that big of a deal, but then the Digg servers glitched out. For several hours the story got stuck at or near the top of Digg. It gathered 1500+ diggs and even hit the top 10 for a while also. The main problem was that it sent more than 7,000 visitors to my blog over those few hours. Needless to say Apache crashed several times.

One of the features that I enjoy with Analytics is the ability to compare 2 time periods. I’ve compared the first 2 weeks of October ‘08 with ‘07. All in all, traffic is more or less the same. I attribute this to the fact that there are really very few regular readers of my blog. It especially helps that I’ve been a slacker and not writing regularly for the last few months. I do get most of my traffic to older articles that are helpful to people. MKV’s on Ubuntu, OpenVPN on Vista, Symantec Uninstall Password, and Daemon Tools / Itunes — are the articles that seem to stay on top generally.

As a comparison of Analytics versus Awstats. For the last month Analytics says I’ve been getting about 22-65 visits a day. Awstats says I have 3463 total for the month so far. My “hit” count on Awstats is even more insane. The last 6 months have all been in excess of 55,000 hits a month. Now, I know there aren’t that many people stopping by — I simply get hammered by bots _A LOT_. For a while I was taking an active role in fighting them, but it is simply too much work. I even went as far as blocking all but 12 countries in the entire world. Sadly that only drove the hit count to 25,000 a month. Oh well.

The one major advantage Awstats has over Google Analytics is the fact that is reads the actual HTTP logs. It can tell me a lot more about the stuff that happens that Google Analytics will never see. Plus I have history in Awstats going all the way back to April 2006 (Versus September 2007 in Analytics).

And hopefully I’ll get around to writing more useful techy stuff in the near future. Maybe I’ll do some example codes from the PHP I’ve been working on.