Parsing access.log and error.logs using linux commands

Access logs

We are using following format, which is also default nginx format named “combined”:

$remote_addr - $remote_user [$time_local] "$request" $status $body_bytes_sent "$http_referer" "$http_user_agent"

Explanation of fields is as follows:

  • $remote_addr – IP from which request was made
  • $remote_user – HTTP Authenticated User. This will be blank for most apps as modern apps do not use HTTP-based authentication.
  • [$time_local] – timestamp as per server timezone
  • “$request” – HTTP request type GET, POST, etc + requested path without args + HTTP protocol version
  • $status – HTTP response code from server
  • $body_bytes_sent – size of server response in bytes
  • “$http_referer” – Referral URL (if present)
  • “$http_user_agent” – User agent as seen by server

Lets explore some commands which can help us analyse logs.

Sort access by Response Codes

cat access.log | cut -d '"' -f3 | cut -d ' ' -f2 | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn

Sample Output:

 210433 200
  38587 302
  17571 304
   4544 502
   2616 499
   1144 500
    706 404
    355 504
    355 301
    252 000
      9 403
      6 206
      2 408
      2 400

Same thing can be done using awk:

awk '{print $9}' access.log | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn

Sample Output:

 210489 200
  38596 302
  17572 304
   4544 502
   2616 499
   1144 500
    706 404
    355 504
    355 301
    252 000
      9 403
      6 206
      2 408
      2 400

As you can see it log says more than 700 requests were returned 404!

Lets find out which links are broken now?

Following will search for requests which resulted in 404 response and then sort them by number of requests per URL. You will get most visited 404 pages.

awk '($9 ~ /404/)' access.log | awk '{print $7}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn

For easyengine, use instead:

awk '($8 ~ /404/)' access.log | awk '{print $8}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn

Sample Output (truncated):

  21 /members/katrinakp/activity/2338/
  19 /blogger-to-wordpress/robots.txt
  14 /rtpanel/robots.txt

Similarly, for 502 (bad-gateway) we can run following command:

awk '($9 ~ /502/)' access.log | awk '{print $7}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -r

Sample Output (truncated):

    728 /wp-admin/install.php
    466 /
    146 /videos/
    130 /wp-login.php

Who are requesting broken links (or URLs resulting in 502)

awk -F\" '($2 ~ "/wp-admin/install.php"){print $1}' access.log | awk '{print $1}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -r

Sample Output:

     14 50.133.11.248
     12 97.106.26.244
     11 108.247.254.37
     10 173.22.165.123

404 for php files – mostly hacking attempts

awk '($9 ~ /404/)' access.log | awk -F\" '($2 ~ "^GET .*\.php")' | awk '{print $7}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -r | head -n 20

Most requested URLs

Most requested URLs

awk -F\" '{print $2}' access.log | awk '{print $2}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -r

Most requested URLs containing XYZ

awk -F\" '($2 ~ "ref"){print $2}' access.log | awk '{print $2}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -r

Useful: Tweaking fastcgi-buffers using access logs

Recommended Reading: http://www.the-art-of-web.com/system/logs/ – explains log parsing very nicely.

 

16 thoughts on “Parsing access.log and error.logs using linux commands

  1. Nice article. I found an error in “404 for php files – mostly hacking attempts”, you have “combined_log” there instead of “access.log”.

  2. Can we grep the 404 URL from access log for particular time span for eg:- i want grep 404 error between “11/Jan/2014:18:00:00|11/Jan/2014:18:10:00”

    1. Not sure about grep but it might be possible with awk and/or custom shell scripting.

      May be run logs through a loop and separate out lines which satisfies date criteria, and store such lines in a new file.

    2. Estoy probando este parseador y pinta muy bien!

      # man goaccess

      If we want to parse only a certain time-frame from DATE a to DATE b, we can do:

      sed -n ‘/5\/Nov\/2010/,/5\/Dec\/2010/ p’ access.log | goaccess -a

        1. Hi Rahul!

          I was trying and it worked!

          To do that we need to use the command “sed”

          # sed -n ‘/22\/Jan\/2014:11:40:03/,/22\/Jan\/2014:12:23:24/ p’ access.log

          I red in the sedfaq.txt the follow lines:

          “Then I learned that sed could display only one paragraph of a file,
          beginning at the phrase “and where it came” and ending at the
          phrase “for all people”. My script looked like this:

          sed -n ‘/and where it came/,/for all people/p’ myfile”

  3. sort does not work

    awk ‘{print $9}’ access.log | sort | uniq -c | sort -r
    877 503
    4 301
    42 500
    3 405
    30 499
    3 “-”
    29 502
    24940 200
    2312 404
    21 304
    1 504
    1 403
    1 302

      1. I wanted results to be sorted according to the number of request as per the status code.

        Also I want to group all the request according to the user agent.

        awk ‘{print $14}’ access.log | sort | uniq -c | sort -r

        works but that just checks the 14th word, I need a way to check the full user agent string

        1. I tested awk '{print $9}' access.log | sort | uniq -c | sort -r and cat access.log | cut -d '"' -f3 | cut -d ' ' -f2 | sort | uniq -c | sort -r.

          Both worked on our server.

          Can you list log_format value from your nginx config? if your access log lines have different format, you will need to change $14 to something else.

          I doubt OS/Distro has any role for these commands, still, may I know which OS/Distro you are using?

Comments are closed on this article.
Please use our free support forum for support and discussions.