Guide for Apache Log Analysis

Apache log files can be a treasure trove of information providing insights into the health and performance of your web server. They record every request processed by the server, and with the right tools and techniques, you can extract valuable insights about your server's performance, troubleshoot issues, and improve your web applications.

Understanding Apache Log Files

Apache log files are text files that record requests processed by the Apache HTTP server, including what was requested, who made the request, when it was made, and how the server responded. The Common Log Format (CLF) is the standard format that Apache uses to record these logs. However, Apache can also be configured to log in the Combined Log Format (CLF) which includes additional information such as the HTTP referrer and user agent.

Example of a log entry in Common Log Format: - frank [10/Oct/2000:13:55:36 -0700] "GET /apache_pb.gif HTTP/1.0" 200 2326

In this log entry, is the IP address of the client (or proxy) that made the request. frank is the userid of the person requesting the document. [10/Oct/2000:13:55:36 -0700] is the date, time, and time zone when the request was received. "GET /apache_pb.gif HTTP/1.0" is the request line from the client. 200 is the HTTP status code that the server sends back to the client. 2326 is the size of the object returned to the client.

Log Analysis Tools

Manual analysis of these log files can be time-consuming and error-prone. Therefore, using log analysis tools can be beneficial. Two popular tools in this regard are Datadog and Splunk.


Datadog is a cloud-based log analysis tool that provides real-time tracking and visualization of your server logs. It supports Apache log file analysis out of the box, and its features include anomaly detection, event correlation, and automated log parsing.

To analyze Apache logs with Datadog, you first need to install the Datadog Agent on your server. Then, you configure the agent to collect Apache logs.


Splunk is another powerful tool that can ingest and make sense of your Apache logs. Splunk excels at handling and analyzing large volumes of data. It offers advanced search, visualization, and alerting capabilities, which help in quick troubleshooting and real-time monitoring.

To start using Splunk for Apache log analysis, you install the Splunk Forwarder on your Apache server, which will send the logs to a Splunk indexer for analysis.

Analyzing Apache Logs: A Real-World Example

Let's consider a simple use case where we want to find out all the client IP addresses that have received a 404 response code. In this scenario, if we are using Splunk, we would execute the following search:

source="/var/log/httpd/access_log" status=404 | table clientip

This search looks for logs where the status field is 404, and then generates a table of the clientip field.

Apache log analysis is a critical component of server monitoring and management. By understanding its intricacies and harnessing the power of tools like Datadog and Splunk, you can transform your raw logs into actionable insights.