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Parse Nginx Access Logs with GoAccess

Learn how to parse the nginx-access.log file with GoAccess.

This section provides information on how to parse the nginx-access.log file with GoAccess to gather information on your visitors and referral traffic.

Pantheon runs nginx web servers for optimal performance. Your site's nginx access logs record web server events and activities that can help you identify potential issues and gather information about users.


Requests served by the Pantheon Global CDN will not hit the nginx web server and will not be logged in nginx-access.log.

GoAccess is a free, open source utility that creates reports by parsing nginx-access.log files. You can use the nginx-access.log files to identify the most used browsers and operating systems, visitor IPs, and the most frequent 404s from the command line.

Before You Begin

Be sure that you have:

The process below uses GoAccess version 1.5. This is the latest stable release of GoAccess at the creation of this document. You can review the GoAccess release notes for more information.

Edit GoAccess Configuration

You must configure GoAccess to read Pantheon's log formats to parse your nginx-access.log files with GoAccess.

  1. Run the goaccess --dcf command to find the location of your configuration file.

  2. Copy the configuration file to your home directory. For example, if you installed GoAccess with Homebrew, your command might look like this:

    cp /opt/homebrew/Cellar/goaccess/1.5.4/etc/goaccess/goaccess.conf ~/.goaccessrc
  3. Add the following lines to the configuration file:

    time-format %H:%M:%S
    date-format %d/%b/%Y
    log-format %^ - %^ [%d:%t %^]  "%r" %s %b "%R" "%u" %T "%h,%^"
  4. Name the file appropriately:

    • The file must be named .goaccessrc if you are providing the configuration file from your home directory.

    • If you're storing the file somewhere other than your home directory, it must be named goaccess.conf. Read more about the configuration file.

Create a report

  1. Download your nginx log files from Pantheon via SFTP.

  2. Navigate to the directory containing your nginx-access.log file, and then run GoAccess:

    goaccess nginx-access.log

    You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll down to view more of the report, or hit q to exit.

    Alternatively, you can run the command below to generate an HTML report:

    goaccess nginx-access.log > report.html
  3. Open report.html to access the report in your browser.

    For MacOS:

    open report.html

    For Linux:

    xdg-open report.html

Troubleshooting "goaccess.conf Not Found"

In certain MacOS Homebrew installations of GoAccess versions 1.3 and earlier, goaccess.conf is not found by the binary.

To resolve this issue, update your local packages, or you can update the GoAccess package specifically:

brew upgrade goaccess

Automate GoAccess Reports

  1. Copy the general log retrieval script from Automate Downloading Logs, and use this to download logs from all application containers in the desired environment.

  2. Add the code below to either or a separate file:

    # Unpack archived log files (optional).
    gunzip */nginx-access.log-*
    # Create a GoAccess report and open it in a browser.
    goaccess */nginx-access.log* > goaccess.html && open goaccess.html # Or xdg-open for Linux

Alternatives to GoAccess

You can navigate the nginx-access.log file using the CLI without GoAccess. The following commands are a starting point for navigating the nginx-access.log file:

  • Locate the most frequent client IP addresses:

    cat nginx-access.log | awk -F '\"' '{ print $8 }' | awk -F ',' '{print $1}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -frn | head -n 25

  • Locate the most frequent client IP addresses based on request path:

    cat nginx-access.log | awk -F '\"' '{ print $2,$8 }'| awk -F ',' '{print $1}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -frn | grep "/example.php"

  • Locate the most frequent URLs:

    cat nginx-access.log | awk -F '\"' '{print $2}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head

  • Identify the most frequent User Agents:

    cat nginx-access.log | awk -F '\"' '{print $6}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head

  • Locate the most frequent user agents based on request path:

    cat nginx-access.log | awk -F '\"' '{ print $2,$6 }'| awk -F ',' '{print $1}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -frn | grep "/example.php"

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