Open Web Analytics – How to Install Free OWA Software in 10 Minutes

Open Web Analytics is free and open source software that helps you track your website visitors. This software is similar to Google Analytics. Once upon a time there was some other free open source software called Trace Watch.

However, that software is no longer supported. I then turned towards Open Web Analytics, when I had either my own virtual private server or physical web server. Then I eventually went back to using shared web hosting from Namecheap.

I turned to using the Awstats that was already installed. Now, I just earlier this year purchased virtual private server space. I am going to show you how to install Open Web Analytics.

This should take you around 10 minutes if you are familiar with the concept of installing software on your own virtual private or dedicated server. I would say in my opinion most shared hosting providers will not give you root access therefore you most likely will not be able to install this website analytics software on shared hosting. You will need to download a tarball.

The most recent version is 1.6.2. You will need to decompress this tarball. It will create a “owa” folder with all the installation files.

Now you want to upload this folder to your web server. You will most likely use file transfer protocol to upload this folder. You can upload it to your website root folder.

For example /home/user/public_html/. Also, you can create a folder off of your website root and upload the folder contents there.

/home/user/analytics/owa

Once you have successfully uploaded the owa folder to your web server, you will be creating a MySQL database. You will need to access your MySQL server via command line or with phpMyAdmin. Click on “Databases” in phpMyAdmin.

The rest of these instructions will assume you are using phpMyAdmin. In the “Create a database” field enter in the name of your owa database. For example owadb.

You can either choose a “Collation” type from a drop down menu or just leave that setting alone. Now click on “Create” button. You have just created the database that Open Web Analytics will be using.

This database has no tables. Now you need to click on “Privileges”. You will need to browse back to Home in phpMyAdmin and then click on “Privileges”.

Place a check box next to at least one already created and configured user. You are giving this MySQL username access privileges to this newly created database. Look for “Add privileges on the following database”.

Choose your newly created owadb database from this drop down list. Click on “Check All” next to “Database specific privileges”. Now you remove the check next to “GRANT” and click on “Go”.

Now you browse to the install path in your web browser. For example since I uploaded owa to the website root folder I will need to browse to this path:

http://anetcomputers.com/owa/install.php

You should see an Open Web Analytics Installer screen. Now click on “Let’s Get Started…” to begin this installation. You should see a “Configuration Settings” screen.

You should not need to change your “URL of OWA”. Type in localhost in “Database Host” field. Type in the name of your database in this example owadb into the “Database Name” field.

Type into the “Database User” field the MySQL user earlier that you gave privileges to. For example user. You will need to enter in the password associated with “user” into the “Database Password” field. Click on the “Continue” button.

Under “Site Domain” field enter the domain of the website you are going to track visitors for. This example would be anetcomputers.com. Now enter in your email address in case you forget your password for Open Web Analytics.

You are actually creating your admin login for this tool. Enter in a password for the email address you just typed in earlier. Remember this email address and password will allow you to administrate this website tracking software.

You should see a final “Success…Installation is Complete” page. You have just installed Open Web Analytics onto your web server. You should see the login and password information on this page.

For example:

admin
admin123

Click on “Login and generate a site tracker”. This will take you to the Open Web Analytics login page. Login with your admin username and password just created.

Now you will be presented with tracking code. This is just computer code that you will copy and paste into your website. There is both JavaScript and PHP code available.

You want to ssh into your website. Also, you will want to either login with the root account or sudo to root. You will now be pasting this code into either the index.html or index.php file on your web server.

This depends on whether or not you are using a content management system like WordPress. You can use a text editor like vi. Make sure to write the file changes by typing :wq!

Now you can test your website tracking. Test a web page on your website by browsing to a page. For example you would browse to anetcomputers.com.

This also tests to make certain this software does not conflict with your website. If you receive a blank page then obviously there is a problem. Click on “Tracked Sites”.

You should see your website in this list. If you properly added the tracking code, then you should already see some statistics. To view more detailed information, you want to click on “View Reports”.

You can change how Open Web Analytics tracks visitors by clicking on “Main Configuration”. User Management allows you to add additional users that will have access to this tool. Tracking additional websites is also available with this software.

You would just follow the steps above to add an additional website. Click on “Add New”. I do NOT know if there is a limit to how many websites you can track visitors with this tool.

This is my preferred website analytics tool. Once upon a time, I used Google Analytics. That tracking system would slow down my website(s) and who knows what Google does with all that data.

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