FAQ: What is a Log File?

What is a log file?

Short Answer

Log files are text files created by your server, recording each hit on your site. Sawmill generates its statistics by analyzing log files.

Long Answer

Log files are large, ugly text files generated by web servers, proxy server, ftp servers, and just about every other kind of server. Every time something happens on the server (it serves a file, or delivers a message, or someone logs in, or something else), the server logs that information to the file, which continues to grow as new events occur. Log files are not particularly human-readable, and do not generally contain summarizing information, which is why Sawmill exists -- Sawmill processes your log files, summarizes them and analyzes them in many ways, and reports it back to you in a much friendlier format-- graphs, tables, etc.

You need to have access to your log files to use Sawmill. If you don't have log files, Sawmill can't do anything for you. If you don't know where your log files are, ask your server administrator (hint: they are often stored in a directory called "logs"). In some cases, servers are configured so they do not keep log files, or the logs are hidden from users; in these situations, you will not be able to use Sawmill. Again, your server administrator can help you find your log files, or they can tell you why they're not available. If you're trying to analyze a web site, and your ISP does not provide logs for you, you may want to consider switching to one that does.