Don’t Trust Awstats

What with the talk of hits recently and a few Awstats/Webaliser screenshots being flashed about as if they were some sort web badge (been there, done that, made a prat of myself) I have to chuck in my own tuppence worth: “hahahaha”. If you’re using any of the bog-standard, built-in stats trackers to try and measure your hits, don’t. Or — more specifically — don’t trust them to give you an accurate measurement.

The problem with the likes of awstats is that they don’t just track the people coming in to your website, they track hits to any file on you’ve uploaded. Imagine you’re a member at a popular forum and your chosen avatar is stored on your web space… post in a thread that is viewed by a hundred or so members and that’s a hundred of so hits making your website look oh-so-popular. The typical teeny webmaster is a member of a handful of these forums giving 300-400 hits (and God knows how many “page” views) before anyone has even looked at the website. Then of course there’s all the bots, scripts like the W3C validator…

If you’re keen on tracking the kind of traffic you get, don’t rely on Awstats: get yourself a JavaScript-based tracker. While there is the small problem in that those who browse with JS disabled or don’t support it won’t be tracked, these people are generally <1% of your web traffic anyway. If you can’t afford (or can’t justify) the likes of Mint, go for a free extreme tracker see the edit.

Don’t be naive — stats tracking is not a precise business generally. Use your common sense before bragging about your 309230349 hits (that are actually more likely to be direct linkers) because you’re just making an arse of yourself to those who know better.

Edit: Ouch! Didn’t realise extreme tracker had pop-ups now (it’s been a while since I used it). There are alternatives which get hosted externally, plus Shortstat and Slimstat if you’re up for installing a script.

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32 comments so far

  1. Chanel said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 12:14 am

    Yeah I’ve been using extremetracker for years. I got AWSTATS in my cpanel but the only thing it’s good for TO ME is notifying me on direct linkers.

  2. Kenzie said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 12:18 am

    Isn’t extreme tracker the one that has pop-ups included with their script?

  3. Belinda said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 12:25 am

    Hooray for extreme tracker! I love it to bits, gives all the stats I need and more.

  4. Mags said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 12:27 am

    I totally agree, I also use extreme tracker, and most of the time I see that the page the visor clicked was mysite.org/pagehere/. It’s like adding page views, really.

  5. Sam said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 12:34 am

    Actually, I used the free extreme tracker for ages, but then I realized my site was giving popups. Extreme tracker actually places popups on your page. Firefox blocks them, but all of my IE visitors were complaining. Somewhere in their agreement, they give themselves that privilege. I use google stats, and statcounter.com although I’m not sure if that is (blacklist blocked the J-S word) based? I forgot..

  6. Chanel said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 12:57 am

    Actually, I used the free extreme tracker for ages, but then I realized my site was giving popups. Extreme tracker actually places popups on your page. Firefox blocks them, but all of my IE visitors were complaining. Somewhere in their agreement, they give themselves that privilege. I use google stats, and statcounter.com although I’m not sure if that is (blacklist blocked the J-S word) based? I forgot.. Hmm, I never noticed any pop-ups with my extreme tracker. That’s the first I’ve heard that.

  7. Hillarie said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 1:41 am

    Ugg, I want mint, but my dad would probably have to investigate them, then say that it’s not worth the investment…

  8. Hillarie said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 1:44 am

    I’d also like to add that I buy it myself, but as I’m a minor, what he says goes…I’d never put ads on my site for a few extra bucks.

  9. Julie said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 2:27 am

    I was visiting a fanlisting collective the other day and the counter was going up on every single page I visited. Very useful…

  10. Manda said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 3:12 am

    I used to use Extreme Tracker, but a few of my visitors said it gave them popups so I took it off. I have a WP plugin that tracks my stats which will do the job till I find something better… I’ve never actually taken a good look at my stats in my cPanel. It just confused the crap out of me :P

  11. Loadx said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 4:44 am

    Currently im using the google Webmaster tools in combination with webalizer to track site traffic. Although google’s toolset is more oriented at showing google specifics and is still in beta stages, however it is turning into a handy little device. For those interested: http:/www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

  12. Jordie said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 5:07 am

    Just so’s you know, the LJ feed for this entry seems to be cut off…

  13. Chans said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 8:56 am

    I use statcounter and it seems to do the job for me. As far as I can see it has about the same features as Extreme Tracker, although I have to say I only quickly browsed through ET.

  14. Nan said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 9:14 am

    I use Shaun Inman’s Shortstat for WordPress – I am satisfied with it. It only tracks my blog traffic of course and I’m not really that interested in stats but looking at search strings can be hilarious!

  15. Gemma said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 11:36 am

    Some of the stats packages I’ve liked best were the kind that run offline, processing your downloaded log files. Though now I generally don’t bother with one and just read the log files, because I’m sad.I’d be curious to see Mint in action but, as you say, couldn’t really justify the money.

  16. Jordan said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    I definitely love Mint, and don’t even mind that I spent $30 to get it. It’s so useless, and the peppers for it, rock. For my other domain, hf.net, urchin came free with it, so while I don’t rely on it, I do use it to check referral logs, mainly because I only want to know where it’s being linked, as opposed to the number of hits it’s receiving. But Jem, if you want to include some freeware for people, I’ve used Slimstat before, and I’ve found it to be a lot better then the standard that most cPanel users rely on. I don’t have it attached to my site anymore, but it’s located at atourworst.org/slimstat and to download http://wettone.com/code/slimstat which is based off of Shaun’s shortstat, and we all know that Mr. Shaun does mint :P (i also have a hunch that this will have to be moderated because of the links.)

  17. Jordan said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    Wow, I said it’s so useless. I meant to say it’s so USEFUL. I suck at life.

  18. Corinne said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    I actually never checked my stats before reading this post specifically because I really didn’t care. I don’t worry about hotlinking stealing my bandwidth too much (even if I tell my visitors not to) because 1. I don’t think I have anything they would want to hotlink hosted on my site and 2. because I’ve got tons upon tons more than I need so it doesn’t hurt me at all. But, I did decide to try out slimstat (http://luve-me.net/slimstat/) for the time being. I just installed it.

  19. Corinne said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    I forgot, there is also the fact that I already know that I don’t get that much visitors. lol

  20. Sarah said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    I don’t use either. I just use phpmyvisits so i don’t have to have a little button at the bottom of my page. I like my stats to be mine, not everyone else’s to see :)

  21. Jenny said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    I used to use urSTAT.. until I realised that it was accessible by all and I had to mess up my validated code. :( *is looking at Mint*

  22. Stephanie said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    Mint looks great! Too bad it isn’t free. I use statcounter, which is good for small sites.

  23. Belinda said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 9:35 pm

    :o Extreme tracker has ads?! Noooo!!! Bah I’ve had my stats for years now and I don’t want to get rid of them, but I don’t want my visitors to suffer popups. Dammit!!

  24. Grant Mc said:
    On December 7, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    cheers jem i might onvest in mint over the christmas period as i use awstats. Thanks.

  25. Aravis said:
    On December 8, 2006 at 4:11 am

    I use Extreme Tracking. I just tested my site and Belinda’s too on IE, and I didn’t get any popups. Interesting case though. Maybe altering the code triggers them?

  26. Montoya said:
    On December 8, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    I recommend Google Analytics, it’s free and very accurate.

  27. Christina said:
    On December 9, 2006 at 12:10 am

    damn, extreme tracker has popups now? argh! thanks for telling us abt awstats :D

  28. Grant Mc said:
    On December 9, 2006 at 1:28 am

    i also use things like Google and Site Metre as a site monitoring system both very good i wont be using awstats any more thou.

  29. Saera said:
    On December 9, 2006 at 2:28 am

    Hey I just wanted to asy that people are really having a debate over you in Jess’ (swimchick.net) comment section LMFAO.

  30. Mallory said:
    On December 9, 2006 at 3:46 am

    Hey, I just installed WordPress on my website and used one of your templates(redberries). I got a parse error. It’s up on my website right now if you want to check it out. I don’t know if it’s a newer version of WP, and that’s why it has an error, or something else. I haven’t changed anything in the template code. Just thought I’d let you know… ^^;

  31. Leyla said:
    On December 9, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    For Jem: Hello, I’m Leyla. I’m a new visitor here =] I love your site and I was just wondering (I’m going to sound like a nerd) if you wouldn’t mind if I could email you with some questions? You make a lot of sense and im new in the whole website thing so I think talking to you will really help. Hey I just wanted to asy that people are really having a debate over you in Jess’ (swimchick.net) comment section LMFAO. that site gets all her comments and hits off stupid debates like these.

  32. Chrissy said:
    On December 13, 2006 at 3:27 am

    Is there anything that’s acceptable to use that’s free? I’d do the Mint thing if I could afford it, but right now, tracking web hits isn’t as important as other things in my life.