A Server-Friendly Stats App?

I’ve tried quite a few statistics solutions. BBclone, Shortstat and Refer to name the best. They’re all “client-side”, meaning for every page visited, a small script must be called to update the logs.

Compared to server-side logging, these solutions are usually more readily accessible and typically easier and faster to decode. Unfortunately for me it seems, they all suffer the same problem: after having run for months, stats having poured in, things start to slow down. The database grows with every hit and in the end the server dies because of it.

Having successfully gained useful answers to questions like these in the past, I will try my luck and ask you, esteemed reader:

  • What experiences have you had with client-side stats software?
  • Have you, unlike me, managed to install software that cleans itself up as it goes and shows only say, the latest month of statistics and successfully deletes the rest?

If at all possible, I would prefer recommendations for free software, since based on past experience, I’m likely to uninstall after a couple of months worth of data.

14 thoughts on “A Server-Friendly Stats App?”

  1. I use Mint, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. It is of course client side, and thus requires you to either insert a snippet of code into your footer/header or your .htaccess.

    It feels a bit expensive when you press ‘buy’, but I haven’t regretted getting it.

    And Mint actually does clean up after itself, keeping only relevant information, purging old info as it goes along.

  2. Joen says:

    And Mint actually does clean up after itself, keeping only relevant information, purging old info as it goes along.

    I was told that Shortstat also cleaned up after itself… could it be that it’s only me and my server configuration that makes my self-cleaning stats-apps not clean up after themselves?

    Or is Mint simply more housebroken?

    Edit: I also tried SlimStat which also failed to clean up after itself, even if it was pretty nice and did what I needed.

  3. Levi says:

    Oh, I’m interested in this too. I’m currently using ShortStat again after giving Google Analytics a fair run. GA is great, but the UI and menu system is too cryptic, I can never remember under which categories the stuff I’m interested in lives. The UI is very slow, I’m not sure if it’s just me but data always takes quite a while to load into each page and then of course it slows down client side page-loads on your site quite a bit. Putting the tracking code at the bottom helps but that it means for the page to completely load it’s a bit of a wait.

    I suppose it wouldn’t be hard at all to modify ShortStat to delete old data, but let’s just see if somebody already has a nice solution.

  4. Joen says:

    Levi,

    I’m using Google Analytics, and I will be using it even if I find a good alternative. Basically, while Google Analytics may make the page load more slowly (and be hard to dig through as you mentioned), it doesn’t kill my server, so to me it’s better than nothing.

  5. Stephane says:

    I’m using Mint but I still run the WP Shortstat plugin. I find that Mint, especially in conjunction with its many “Peppers” (plugins) is very reliable and displays more and better information than does Shortstat which indeed fails to clean up after itself. I have to admit that I was originally running a bootleg copy, but after a month of use I felt it was well worth the investment and have been very happy with my purchase. Moreover, the community is reactive and proactive in resolving any issues you might have or transforming good ideas into real plugins.

  6. I was told that Shortstat also cleaned up after itself… could it be that it’s only me and my server configuration that makes my self-cleaning stats-apps not clean up after themselves?

    Or is Mint simply more housebroken?

    ShortStat doesn’t clean up after itself, but there is a script included with the archive, called “_killprevious.php”, which deletes the previous month’s data when accessed manually via your browser.

    Mint is essentially what Shaun Inman wanted ShortStat to be. As far as database cleanliness is concerned, Mint has an easy-to-use Preferences interface with “Remove visit data more than x weeks old” and “Attempt to keep database size under x MB” options. Mint’s ease of configuration, comprehensive statistics, good looks, ability to ignore the visits of its owner via a simple cookie, and expandability via “peppers” (plugins) makes Mint well worth the $30 that Shaun is asking for. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good, client-side, live stats app.

  7. Joen says:

    James (aka MacManX) said:

    As far as database cleanliness is concerned, Mint has an easy-to-use Preferences interface with ?Remove visit data more than x weeks old? and ?Attempt to keep database size under x MB? options.

    Now we’re talking. Can you confirm this is actually working, though? I seem to remember similar options in both Refer and SlimStat, neither of them actually working. For SlimStat I remember trying to use the bundled script to clean up some of the db cruft, that not working either. Could it be a strange MySQL “rights” issue?

  8. “Remove visit data more than x weeks old” works perfectly. It removes all referrer, user-agent, and search term data that is “more than x weeks old”, but leaves the monthly total and unique visit data in tact so that you can compare historical visitation statistics. Since the monthly total and unique visit data is only saved as two numbers per month, it hardly makes an impact on database size.

    I have my preferences set to “Remove visit data more than 4 weeks old” and have never had to to make use of the “Attempt to keep database size under x MB” option, which is currently set to a rather generous 80MB, but I’m sure that it works perfectly. Thanks to Mint’s $30 price tag, Shaun has been very responsive to bug reports and support requests.

    Since installing Mint almost a year ago, my Mint database has remained at an average size of 1MB and has never been larger than 2MB.

  9. Joen says:

    It seems Mint is getting rave reviews here, but I’m still not ready to cough up 30 bucks for it, especially since I’m still unsure whether it actually will clean up after itself on my server or not (and I can’t demo it).

    Is there really NO alternative that simply shows recent referrers and cleans up after itself?

  10. Is there really NO alternative that simply shows recent referrers and cleans up after itself?

    The only free alternative that I know of is ShortStat. It does have the ability to clean up after itself, but that ability needs to be manually activated each month.

    Truthfully, Mint is well worth the $30. If you do encounter a bug with Mint’s automatic database maintenance, I’m sure that Shaun will do his best to fix it as quickly as possible. And, in the event that you are not pleased, he may be willing to give you a refund.

  11. Joen says:

    Truthfully, Mint is well worth the $30. If you do encounter a bug with Mint?s automatic database maintenance, I?m sure that Shaun will do his best to fix it as quickly as possible. And, in the event that you are not pleased, he may be willing to give you a refund.

    Persuasive argument. Do you own shares in Mint? 🙂

    But seriously, maybe you’re right.

  12. Ross Hill says:

    I was keen to use SlimStat but now I’m a bit doubtful..

    Who am I kidding, I don’t get enough hits to kill a database anyway 🙂

  13. shorty114 says:

    I purchased Mint but it doesn’t work with my server configuration, can I have a refund?

    All new buyers are encouraged to check the Requirements and required to run the Mint Server Compatibility Suite before purchasing Mint. Refunds will no longer be given for incompatibilities that can be detected by the suite before purchasing.

    (from the Mint FAQ)

    I guess if you run the Mint Compatibility Suite and don’t run into any problems, he won’t give you a refund.

    Personally, I don’t know if Mint is worth 30 bucks, but I’ll probably end up buying a license anyways.

  14. Sorry, Joen, I forgot all about the Mint Compatibility Suite.

    I guess if you run the Mint Compatibility Suite and don?t run into any problems, he won?t give you a refund.

    shorty114, you have that mixed up a bit.

    If the Mint Compatibility Suite reports that you will encounter problems, but you install Mint anyway and obviously encounter problems, you will not receive a refund.

    If the Mint Compatibility Suite reports that you will not encounter problems, and you install Mint but still encounter problems, either Shaun will work tirelessly to fix the problems or you will receive a refund.

    If the Mint Compatibility Suite reports that you will not encounter problems, and you install Mint and encounter no problems, you have nothing to worry about.

Comments are closed.