It is easy to start a WordPress site by purchasing a domain and hosting plan for few dollars. However, it is not an easy job to manage every aspect when your site started growing. There will be large number of activities happen even on a smaller WordPress blog. Therefore, it is necessary to monitor the activity log to protect your site or improve the productivity. In this article, we will explain how to monitor activity log in WordPress and use the data for analysis.
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Why You Should Monitor Activity Log?
The reason can vary largely depending upon the nature of your site. Here are some popular reasons for monitoring the real-time activity on the site.
- You notice a sudden broken layout on your site and wanted to check the previous actions. This will help you to quickly troubleshoot and fix the problem.
- You see a sudden traffic hike in Google Analytics and wanted to find who is visiting your site.
- There are multiple authors or editors managing content on your site and you as an administrator wanted to monitor their activities.
- You offer a membership site and want to monitor user registration, login and other activities.
- Tracking updates of WordPress core, themes, plugins and database.
How to Monitor Activity Logs in WordPress?
Whatever is the reason, you have multiple solutions for monitoring the changes on your site. There are plugins for recording activities log and you can use few services available in hosting account. We recommend you to install the plugin and use the available data directly from the dashboard. However, if you are not able to login to admin panel then the only option for you is to check the hosting account.
Using Hosting Account Options
The simplest option for troubleshooting is to use the server error log file.
- Your hosting server will record all the errors in a php file (generally error_log.php).
- You can either login to your account or use FTP to remotes check the file.
- The error log PHP file is available in the root of your WordPress installation.
- Depending upon your hosting company, the error log file contains few hours to few months of data for troubleshooting purposes.
As the file contains all fatal errors, it is very easy to find what caused the issue on your site. For example, you can find the fatal error was caused with WooCommerce when some customer tried to download huge file. This type of scenarios are difficult to predict beforehand and using server log or getting the help from your host is the best solution for finding the root cause.
Using WP Activity Log Plugin
You can use WP Activity Log plugin to record all activities happening on your site. This is useful for frontend monitoring like status change of posts or user role change. In addition, you can monitor IP address of users real-time to find any malicious activities.
- Login to your site’s admin panel and navigate to “Plugins > Add New” section.
- Search for “WP Activity Log” to find and install the plugin on your site.
The plugin will create a big list of menu items on your site. The items marked with up arrow mark in the menu are premium features and other options are free.
The plugin records huge number of activities for changes in database, users and files. Go to “WP Activity Log > Log Viewer” section to view all recorded activities on your site. you will be surprised to see the number of system and user activities on your site. Below are two of the system activities showing WordPress version was auto updated and a custom field was deleted.
The user activities log will look something like below including details of login, logout, post publishing, etc.
You can also change the list view into a grid if that is comfortable for you.
As you can see, the log views is super useful to analyze the activities going on your site. the screen contains the following details:
- ID – this is the activity ID the plugin uses to record each action. For example, 6004 is the id for WordPress auto update. You can get the complete list of IDs and events recorded by the plugin on their website. Hover over the activity ID and disable recording them if you do not want to see them in Log Viewer section.
- Severity – the plugin classifies the actions based on severity from security perspective. You can focus on critical items when you are looking for security issues on your site.
- Date – action recorded timestamp with date and time.
- User – person who did the action.
- IP – IP address from which the action was carried out.
- Object – item that was changed due to the recorded activity.
- Event Type – type of event like update, delete, modification, login, logout, etc.
- Message – details of the recorded action.
You can click on the three dots buttons at the end of each activity to view the alert data recorder. It will show you a pop-up containing technical details of the activity.
Enable / Disable Events
Log Viewer section is sufficient for general monitoring of activity log in WordPress site. the plugin also offers few other free options that will be useful for simplifying the monitoring. By default, WP Activity Log records each and every event happens on your site. However, you can go to “Enable/Disable Events” section and disable unnecessary events that you do not want to record.
- Select log level – you can choose from basic, geek and custom levels.
- The plugin will apply default selections for each log level.
- You can change any items manually and click on the “Save Changes” button. This will automatically change the log level to custom and save your settings.
The “WP Activity Log > Settings” section contains useful options for configuring the plugin. You can go through all tabs in the settings page and select appropriate options for your need.
For example, go to “Activity Log Viewer” tab and select the time period for retaining the log data.
Integration with Other Plugins
One of the useful features with WP Activity Log is that it helps to monitor changes happening on other plugin’s features. For example, you can track the changes to SEO title and meta description when you are using Yoast SEO plugin on your site. After installing WP Activity Log, the plugin will show suggestions for you to install additional extensions depending upon the installed plugins on your site.
Below are some of the third-party integrations you will get with WP Activity Log plugins:
- Yoast SEO
- Gravity Forms
- Advanced Custom Fields
WP Activity Log offers premium version that covers the following features. If you need to monitor the activity log on regular basis, it makes sense to use the premium plugin to get alerts and reports.
- Instant SMS and email alerts
- Search and filter option
- Comprehensive reports in HTML or CSV format
- User sessions management
- Store log files on external database
You can get the complete features on WP Activity Log website and purchase the premium version. All the above listed features are included in their professional plan that will cost you $99 per year. The basic starter plan will cost you $89 per year with email notifications and search feature. The highest business plan is available for $149 that includes priority support and dedicated setup.
All plans include 30 days money back guarantee so that you can get full refund in case if you do not like the plugin after purchasing.
WP Activity Log plugin offers free and detailed data to monitor activity log in your WordPress site. you can get IP address, event type and all basic information under Log Viewer section. This information is useful for monitoring changes and taking necessary action for critical security activities. If you are not able to login to the dashboard then try to get activity details from hosting server log file.