What is an access log?

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Access Log is a type of log that contains all requests to resources of a website.

For example, a user navigates a website to seek a product, the web servers fetches that product image and the access log will record the requests of the visitor to that image resources.

Inside an Access log you can find information about visitors, timestamp, referral address, specific web page requests, etc.

Access log can be read with various log analyzers and viewers like Xpolog log viewer & analysis tool.

Logs are everywhere. Most of us rarely think of them, and many don’t even know of their existence, but without them, our modern computerized world would drown in a chaotic apocalypse.


Because every time you click on your mouse, swipe your finger across a screen, or even just answer the phone, every little step of action is, well, frankly… being logged somewhere.

Many types of logs have been developed to collect various types of data.

  • For security controls, you have firewall logs, web filter logs, and antivirus logs just to name a few.
  • For WebSphere you have system error logs, start server logs, and activity logs. And the lists go on.

Yet, there is one type of log that is hard to avoid in nearly any niche: the access log.

In this little series of posts, I will talk a bit about access logs and show you a few examples of them.

I will also show you some of the things you can learn from viewing and analyzing your access logs using the powerful XpoLog Search Engine and XpoLog Analytic Search.

I will show you what XpoLog can teach you about the performance of your website and how you can visualize it all in the upgraded XpoLog Apps and Dashboards.

If you own a website, XpoLog Access Log Analytics can teach you many things about the activity on your website.

There are a number of examples, such as, HTTP Status code, Top URLs, Hits over Time, Top hits per user, Top hits per client IP, Number of users over time, top countries, users GEO IP, Average Bandwidth (MB) Over Time, etc. But first, let’s talk about access.

Without access, how do you even begin?

Just like you need a key to unlock a door (or a swipe card, or perhaps a screw driver).

You need a user name and password to open your computer. You need a valid URL to see the content of a website.

Every time you enter your password and click enter, and for every window and tab you open, for every phone call you make, for every message you send or picture you take, access logs are being created.

In fact, for each and every action you take, hundreds of them are conceived right there and then.

In its essence, an access log, sometimes simply referred to as “raw data”, is a list of requests for individual files that have been requested from a Web site.

For example, open the home page your favorite online newspaper.

As the page is loading, access logs are being generated by the hundreds, possibly even thousands.

Every bit of code, text, every embedded graphic image or film, every link on the page is being logged with its very own set of personal access logs. Every HTML file and any other associated file that gets transmitted.

Every Request HTTP, from the browser and through the firewall, load balancer, web server, application server etc. and every Response HTTP going back, for each step, another access log is established.

Now imagine thousands of visitors opening this home page to read the latest news. For each one, all these logs are created over and over, so millions of access logs come about every second, from just one internet page alone.

Final words

In my next post, I will show you what an access log actually looks like. From then on, I will show some things you can learn from analyzing your access logs. So, Stay tuned.

I now suggest you have a look at and experiment with XpoLog on your own.

You can download our tool in just a few minutes and it’s absolutely free.

If you need any help at all, configuring, navigating, or anything else, don’t hesitate – support@xplg.com