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 ended up using the Awstats that was already installed on that shared hosting web server. Now, I just earlier this year purchased virtual private server space again. I am going to show you how to install Open Web Analytics website visitor tracking software.

This should take you around ten 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 version of Open Web Analytics software.

The most recent version of Open Web Analytics is 1.7.8. 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 directory folder.

For example you will want to upload it to your website root directory folder of /home/user/public_html/. Also, you can create that folder off of your website root directory and upload the folder contents there.


Once you have successfully uploaded the owa folder to your web server, you will be creating a MySQL which stands for my structured requery language database. You will need to access your MySQL server with command line or with phpMyAdmin tool. You will want to then click on “Databases” in phpMyAdmin panel.

The rest of these instructions will assume you are using phpMyAdmin web panel tool. 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 you can click on the “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”.

You will want to 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. You can look for “Add privileges on the following database”.

You will want to choose your newly created owadb database from this drop down list. You can click on “Check All” next to “Database specific privileges”. Now you can remove the check next to “GRANT” and then click on “Go”.

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

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

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You should not need to change your “URL of OWA”. You can type in localhost in that “Database Host” field. Then you will want to type in the name of your database, for this example, you could type in "owadb" without quotations into the “Database Name” field.

You will need to type into the “Database User” field the MySQL username earlier that you gave privileges to. For example you could type in "user". You will need to enter in the password associated with that “user” account into the “Database Password” field. You can then click on the “Continue” button.

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

You are actually creating your administrator login account for this tool. You will want to 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 visitor tracking software.

You should see a final “Success…Installation is Complete” web 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:


You can click on a “Login and generate a site tracker” option. This will take you to the Open Web Analytics login page. You will want to login with your administrator username and password that you just created earlier.

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

You will want to SSH secure shell into your website. Also, you will want to either login with the root account or you can sudo into your root account. 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 on Linux virtual private servers. You will want to make sure to write the file changes by typing ":wq!" without quotations.

Now you can test your website visitor tracking installation. You can test a web page on your website by browsing to that specific page. For example you would browse to

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. You can 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 website visitors by clicking on “Main Configuration”. The User Management section 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. You can click on “Add New” to add an additional website that you want to track visitor traffic for. I do not know if there is a limit to how many websites you can track visitors with this tool.

This Open Web Analytics software 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.